Alaina Turner, an Air Force veteran and franchisee of Painting with a Twist in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an excellent example of a veteran who has seamlessly transitioned from military service to entrepreneurship. In 2016, Turner was still serving in the military after 20 years on active duty and had recently become a single mother, sharing custody of her son. She needed to fill extra time while her son was with his dad, this is when she rediscovered her love of art and painting. Turner had always stayed active in art by painting military emblems and murals to boost the spirit and morale of the airmen. At this time however, in addition to her full-time active-duty commitment, she sought a part-time job at Painting with a Twist in Panama City, Florida. She quickly realized the fulfillment she gained as an art instructor at this franchise. She had discovered her dream. 

Painting with a Twist is the nation’s original and largest paint-and-sip franchise. The concept aims to inspire guests to come together to experience a unique ‘getaway’ that includes friends, wine and painting. Experiences at Painting with a Twist are led by local artist-entertainers, and guests gather to create and socialize in a step-by-step process that transforms bare canvases into fun art. After Turner’s first event as an instructor, she immediately fell in love with the fun and inclusive environment created by Painting with a Twist. It provided her with solace and a strong sense of community, fueling her passion and leading her to pursue it wholeheartedly.

Despite her immense passion for art and painting, Turner had no prior business experience. Therefore, finding the right resources to learn the intricacies of owning and operating a successful business became her priority. However, having spent 24 years and counting in the Air Force, she faced challenges, not knowing many people to turn to in the community. Undeterred, Turner sought guidance from local veteran entrepreneurs, who generously shared their insights into running a business. Additionally, she enrolled in classes specifically designed for veterans looking to become business owners after serving in the military. While all of these newfound resources and Turner’s own dedication to research proved invaluable in her journey to entrepreneurship, joining an experienced franchise system that had tools, resources and training to help owners navigate business ownership seemed like a logical move.

“I decided to open a Painting with a Twist because I saw how much art lives and breathes here in Grand Rapids,” said Turner. “At Painting with a Twist, we are bringing art to the masses. The studio exudes a sense of happiness, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never touched a paintbrush or are an experienced artist seeking an outlet to paint; you can create something beautiful to be proud of and have fun in the process. We’ve had people initially walk in unsure about being there, but they always leave with smiles, grateful for the fun night and the chance to try something new, regardless of the final artwork. Our strong community ensures that everyone feels welcomed, inspired, and accomplished. Opening this new location is a dream come true, and I couldn’t have achieved it alone. My heartfelt thanks goes out to my friends and family, the community, my Painting with a Twist family, and all the local veteran entrepreneurs for their unwavering support!”

While her passion for art and painting was the main draw to become a Painting with a Twist franchisee, a major selling point for Turner to join Painting with a Twist is the brand’s strong focus on giving back. The founders of Painting with a Twist met while giving back to their local community and made giving back a core value of the franchise through the Painting with a Purpose Program. Each month Painting with a Twist studios across the country host Painting with a Purpose events in collaboration with local non-profit organizations where proceeds from the events go back to the organizations. To date, the brand has raised nearly 7 million dollars for local non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity, Multiple Sclerosis, Odyssey House, the Vera Bradley Breast Cancer Foundation and most recently, Make-A-Wish.

Turner’s studio has been open since April, and in this short time, it has already made significant waves throughout the Grand Rapids community, garnering rave reviews from guests. It swiftly became a staple of the community and a go-to destination for various occasions. Whether it’s an enchanting date night, a fun-filled outing with friends or a birthday celebration, Alaina’s studio offers a welcoming and rewarding experience for everyone involved, leaving them feeling accomplished and inspired. 

Turner plans to keep this positive momentum going forward by continuing to give back to her community through various fundraisers. She aims to create a fun environment where guests can experience something new and exciting while supporting worthy causes. Alaina’s dedication to the community shines through just as it did during her time in the military. Her Grand Rapids studio serves not only as a hub for artistic expression but also as a platform for making a positive impact on the lives of others.