After spending 28 years running an insurance appraisal business with her late husband, Cyndi Morelewicz, owner of Painting With a Twist in Palm Coast, made the decision to purchase her franchise in late 2016. Her daughter raved about a visit to a location in Jacksonville and Morelewicz, who had recently lost her husband to a long hard battle with ALS, needed something positive to focus on.
"I was tired of being sad," she said. "I needed something to lift up my spirits and to keep me going. I always loved the arts so when my daughter told me about her experience, I looked into it. I really liked what I saw. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to be around happy people and to give the residents of Palm Coast something to do besides bowling. Also, my husband always wanted to volunteer when he retired, but passed away before he could do so. This business model gives you ample opportunities for fundraising, something we focus on. In a sense, it's a legacy for him since he wasn't able to do that."
This wasn't Morelewicz's first go-around with a franchise. The insurance appraisal business was a franchise. She also operated a franchise in Erie, PA. She knows how franchises work. Morelewicz enjoys the proven systems and the support structure provided through the corporate office. When her husband passed away, she was set on doing something on her own, but admitted that with the backing of the franchisor she didn't feel like she was out there by herself. Even with plenty of support, just getting the doors opened proved to be an early challenge.
"From the time I made the decision to move forward to the time we opened our doors, in March of 2018, was a year and a half," she said. "That time was spent working with the city, finding an ideal location, working with an architect on the build-out and dealing with two hurricanes. It wasn't easy, but I was determined to do it. Failure is never an option for me. I did receive some assistance from the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center. It's a free program for small business owners. I worked with Ray Peter. He was there by my side every step of the way to help me get through the city bureaucracy and other obstacles. I'd recommend them to anyone in Flagler County."
The reception from Palm Coast and neighboring residents has been tremendous. Morelewicz and her team of talented artists work hard to provide a fun and entertaining experience for bridal parties, birthday parties, date nights, girls nights and anyone looking to paint, sip an adult beverage and relax in a very casual setting. "We tell them it's fun art, not fine art," she said.
Looking ahead, Morelewicz is focused on becoming more well known in the community. She admits that it's tough to get out there, but through radio ads, paper ads, Facebook ads, word-of-mouth and satisfied customers, she's determined to put herself on the map. She would also eventually like to have two locations. In addition to providing more customers with an incredible experience, this would also allow Morelewicz to employ more local artists, something she loves being able to do.
Morelewicz offers up some tried and true advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to take the plunge into small business ownership. "You have to step out of your comfort zone and try it," she said. "If you don't, you stay stagnant. I knew if I didn't step out from where I was at, I'd be bored. I wanted to meet people and knew if I didn't do it for myself, no one would do it for me. It wasn't easy after the previous few rough years, but I just thought one morning to go for it and that I wasn't afraid to live life to the fullest. What do you have to lose? You're not going to die."