After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, friends Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney found a way to twist a tragedy into a purpose. The storm flooded Deano's house and destroyed Maloney's husband's three truck stops in Mandeville, La., but the two fundraising enthusiasts wanted to focus on helping their community recover.
Knowing their neighbors needed to destress, they thought it'd be fun to hold events where people could learn to paint, drink wine and relax. They jointly invested $10,000 and, in 2007, opened Painting with a Twist, which offered two- to three-hour painting classes four times a week. They kept prices low, $35 to $45. "It was bring your own wine. We supplied everything else," said Maloney. Once a month, they donated a day's worth of sales to charity.
The business did well enough for Maloney and Deano to expand: Today they own 4 locations and the business has 81 franchise locations nationwide. Maloney expects to add 70 new locations by the end of the year.
"In a world of mass technology, where things are bombarding us every second, we want to let people have a normal, relaxing and meaningful experience for a few hours," said Maloney.