Dorothy’s mantra in the The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home,” resonates in Stacey Nau Taylor’s philosophy as one of Wheeling’s newest female entrepreneurs. Taylor is owner and operator of “Art with a Twist,” a unique one-of-a-kind art studio that opened in April 2014 at 2215 Market Street in Wheeling’s Centre Market district.
After a slow first two months, word of mouth and visits to her Facebook page have led to a constant stream of visitors to the shop where the walls are lined with shelves of pottery of every shape and description waiting for someone to try their hand at painting. Blocks of tile color squares offer patrons a chance to select the palette for their artwork from the tubes of paint lined up in displays below.
Natural wood picnic tables covered with clear plastic invite customers to spend some time relaxing with a paint brush and a ceramic vase, piggy bank, holiday decoration, or any number of pieces just begging for colorful paint. She has a kiln room in a separate section of the business in which to fire the painted pieces to a shiny glaze.
The business offers ceramic and canvas parties, as well as the daily walk-in painters who may select from ceramics, canvas, and glass mosaic projects. Birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, paint and sip parties, and most recently, a bachelorette party, are included on Art with a Twist’s menu of activities. Private parties utilizing the entire shop can be held after hours, although the back section of the shop is used for parties during the day, while the front of the business remains available to regular customers, she noted.
Delighted with the popularity of the business, Stacey is quick to acknowledge that she never wanted to look back and have “what ifs” by not following her dream of opening a ceramic and canvas paint store in her hometown.
The idea for the shop was generated several years ago during a family vacation to Gainesville, Florida. She visited a ceramic shop there and enjoyed the experience so much that the idea of opening her own shop started to form. After a few years, Stacey said the idea “just kept coming back” into her mind, although she never had never told anyone about it until she made a decision to make it a reality.
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“I just knew I had to do it,” Stacey said. She informed her husband, Scott, vice-president of TaylorMade Printing in Wheeling, about the idea. He was immediately supportive, as were Stacey’s parents, Bob and Marlene Nau. Everyone pitched in to get the space ready for operation, including the couple’s two daughters, nine and 13. Stacey had gotten invaluable start up info and advice from the woman who operated the ceramic store in Gainesville during two subsequent vacations. She had everything in place on paper when she took the plunge.
Because Stacey had saved over the years as an employee of the family-owned printing business, finances weren’t going to be an issue. Location was going to be the key to the success of the venture, she admitted. As luck would have it, she discovered the empty building in the Centre Market, move-in ready, and available. She negotiated with owner Frank Calabrese who was enthusiastic about a new enterprise moving into the structure whose former tenant had vacated the building. Calabrese had renovated the structure several years earlier, adding woodwork and ceiling light fixtures that were originally part of the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy.
Stacey said the business permit process with the city of Wheeling was “smooth sailing,” including the inspection of the kiln by the fire department. “The city officials were excited about the opening of the store and told us they hoped we did well,” she noted.
During the past summer months, she was surprised and gratified by how many grandparents brought visiting grandchildren from out of town to the shop for some fun time painting together. Customers she said, have come from both sides of the Ohio River, from Steubenville to Powhatan Point and from Moundsville to Pittsburgh.
Now that Art with a Twist is continuing to grow steadily, Stacey said she is “thrilled, excited, and happy” about having taken the plunge as a business owner. “I never envisioned myself here. I thought I would be always be at the print shop. But I’ve had good feedback and might want to expand.”
Citing that Florida vacation as providential, Stacey mused about her feelings now that things are off the ground and going well, “It’s nice to take a vacation, but is always good to come back to Wheeling. I think this is a great opportunity for Wheeling – something unique that we have never had before, and it gives kids and adults something else to do as a family. Any age group, young and old we paint them all,” she quipped.
Her advice to other women: “Take the leap and trust your judgment when you have a voice in your head telling you to go for your dream.”
Further affirming her decision, and giving her a thumbs up on its operation, is her twin brother, Steve Nau, successful owner of Lil Xtreme Productions, a full-service promotional marketing business in Houston, TX, with clients that include the New York Jets and Fox Sports. He visited his sister’s shop not long ago and was duly impressed, Stacey said with a wide grin.