By Hayley Crandall
Milwaukee local Jesus Nañez always knew he wanted to serve the community. He loved working with all different kinds of people and enjoyed time spent volunteering. So, Nañez started planning how his and his wife’s careers could focus on the community.
One of his volunteering experiences focused around painting parties. The “parties” served as a way to introduce neighbors to one another through painting. Nañez loved the volunteering so much that he started hunting for ways to bring it to more people.
His initial idea was to bring the event to the non-profit world, but while working in it Nañez quickly saw the flaws within the industry.
“I tried to create a non-profit but I got to see how difficult that was and how much politics there is,” said Nañez. “The mission gets lost sometimes in the struggle to say alive.”
So, Nañez double backed on this plan and, with his wife, opened The Farmhouse, a paint bar and banquet hall that still serves the community through creativity and donating.
Nañez still wanted to reach more people than just at the brick and mortar store so the business tested “at home” projects, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that the concept took off.
For weeks now, The Farmhouse Facebook page has been hosting live-streaming daily tutorials on its various projects for everyone cooped up at home.
“There’s a lot reasons people don’t leave the house besides the stay-at-home order,” said Nañez. “So, we were really thinking about what our community needed.”
The streams see hundreds to even thousands of daily views and feature step-by-step, follow along instructions for crafts such as traditional painting and elaborate mosaics.
It even offers Milwaukee specific mixed media projects that feature icons such as the coastline.
Relatively new to the paint and sip, The Farmhouse has seen great success as being one of the first to utilize streaming as a way to bring the business to homes.
“I feel really proud that we were one of the first studios in the country to start doing this,” said Nañez.
Other studios across the country started reaching out the Farmhouse for tips and tricks on bringing the industry virtual.
“We had a lot of studios reach out to us from all over the country,” said Nañez. “We helped out a lot of people. We gave them information and tips on how to stay afloat.”
Another key part of The Farmhouse is hosting events, something that is not really possible for the time being. Despite the apparent obstacles, the Farmhouse found a way to continue its events – they just took them digital, too.
Through its business Zoom account, The Farmhouse allows people to book virtual, private painting parties, not very much unlike the one’s typically available in-person.
There is a 10-person minimum and it costs $30 per person, according to Nañez. So far, they hosted five and have no plans of stopping them even after the Safer-At-Home order is lifted.
“It’s your group of people and then the instructor is teaching the class,” said Nañez. “And we have a bunch of fun games that happen between painting. It’s fun. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Every month they also host a virtual painting birthday party for 10 lucky people picked randomly from Facebook comments.
Each one receives a free painting kit for the party.
The paint and sip have also utilized pick-up and delivery services to get craft supplies to customers.
Craft kits are available for curbside pick-up and through DoorDash or Grubhub delivery. There is even an option for out-of-state shipping. The Farmhouse has shipped to states as far as California, according to Nañez.
“We really wanted to have a delivery option available, but we didn’t have the capacity to do it ourselves,” said Nañez. “I’m definitely thankful for the Grubhubs and the DoorDashes of the world because they are making it very easy for us to expand our footprint.”
With the success and strong feedback, Nañez doesn’t see The Farmhouse stopping their virtual business venture.
“Even after the stay-at-home order is lifted, we’re going to continue this because it has such a wide reach,” said Nañez. “Our videos are viewed by people all over the country so it’s pretty cool.”
Even just the engagement and interaction with customers has been so positive for not only the customers but The Farmhouse employees as well, according to Nañez.
During the live streaming, painters watching are encouraged to send in progress photos and receive feedback or help from the instructor.
“It’s a great sense of community. Even for us, we get to engage with these people,” said Nañez. “That a huge plus size for that.
We’re not here just alone, we’re still engaging, having that classroom feel.”