We had the good fortune of connecting with Gia Ciliento and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I just remember thinking if I don’t do this now, I may never get the courage again. It has been nearly 10 years since I started my business and sometimes I look back and think, Gia, you are crazy…what were you thinking?! I jumped in so fearlessly without all the answers, but with the dedication to figure it out as I went. I figured if I’m going to work my butt off, I might as well work for myself. From that point it became more doing than thinking.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started The Brush Bar, a Paint & Wine Bar back in 2011. When we started, everyone thought we were crazy. I was convinced that if I could just get your guard down (insert the wine), I could show you how amazing art could be and that truly everyone can be creative. We really tried to provide people an experience that was new and fresh! Once people tried it, we knew they would be hooked. With social media, things just started to take off. People would post their fun photos with their amazing art work and before we knew it, things were catching on! Running a business and trying to stay relevant, especially as competition starts to come in, is never an easy thing. As other studios starting popping up, we just continued to pride ourselves on offering the best customer experience. Our staff and their love of art has always been a reason that folks keep coming back. I’ve always loved having a social/experience type of business, but when COVID hit, it really put a lot of things into perspective about the future and how to go forward. After realizing people needed art, we started offering free classes every Saturday night through FB live, having people joining in from all over the country. Many asked for supplies or how they could support us. From this, The Art Box by The Brush Bar was born. We created a shippable product that contains all art supplies in addition to a video tutorial with one of our artists. This pivot has kept my employees working, our business to stay relevant and the ability for us to spread creativity to places near and far. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish during this time and even more proud of our ability to adapt to new things no matter how crazy things get. My staff is amazing and their willingness to stay with me and keep trying new things amazes me. I am learning lessons every day, some more expensive than others 🙂 I think hiring good help is a must. Sometimes I think I can do everything, but quite frankly, I can’t. Invest in good people, allow them to grow. Ask for help, leaning on other businesses during this time and being truly open to new ideas is so important as your business grows. The highs and the lows are no joke, so as hard as it is, try to focus on the big picture and how you can keep moving towards your goals. We still want to create that art experience for people and especially in this time, creativity is so important. Art can really be healing and bring so much joy, so we just want you to keep creating and maybe we can help 😉
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
While most states are getting ready for cold weather….we are getting ready for our PERFECT season, which is about 60’s/70’s so something outdoors is a must. Our hiking trails are amazing and Camelback Mountain is a staple and could be done on even our coldest day. Food is always high on my list and if you’re in our neighborhood (Old Town Scottsdale), a glass of wine from Scapegoat followed by a delicious dinner at FnB would be perfection. Maybe swing by the Local Donut (you can literally order any donut and it will be amazing) for some breakfast one day or even Hash Kitchen for brunch if you’re up for something a bit more upbeat. A breakfast burrito from Berdena’s is life changing and a visit to Schmooze cafe is perfect for an afternoon espresso pick me up! Oh and go see my girl Valentina at Nonna’s….the salmon pasta will change your life! If you need a little glam for a night on the town, check out The Sparkle Bar, they will get you looking fresh! When you’re ready to shop, go check out The Merchantile, a place filled with small businesses and amazing locally made gems!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my crazy, loving, impossible, amazing family. From sitting around the kitchen table coming up with hundreds of business names, to believing in any idea (no matter how crazy), and for being all the other things I need them to be, there is no way I would be here without you. Also, the amazing community of small business owners I have gotten to know over the past 10 years is incredible. Knowing that if I have a problem, I have someone to reach out to is absolutely priceless.