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Our Story

Posted by Kristina Lough on

Painted by the Shore began before I even knew it was a business.   My Aunt/Uncle bought Indian Neck Liquor (still family owned) in our hometown of Branford CT, & I offered (or my Aunt suggested- we can never remember which) to I paint a few wine glasses as decor in their shop.  I was 16 years old.  A few months later, to my downright shock, someone bought one of my glasses.  So I painted more & every time they sold I would restock, always drawing inspiration from our shoreline community & the current season.  Later I expanded into other products, including ornaments.

Ten years later I was a full time corporate accountant, still painting as a hobby, when I was blessed with a month of sales at their shop that topped my ENTIRE year prior.  It hit me, my side hobby & creative outlet from the accounting world, could be much more.  So I started participating in local craft fairs, took on a few dozen wholesale accounts around the world + sold through some amazing outlets online, including Wayfair which I was super proud of.  (P.S. Check out that original logo on my shirt below!)

Then we reached a crossroad, business was had me up late every night & filling every weekend.  It was time to take a leap of faith, & leave the security of the 9-5 OR take a step back from painting & return Painted by the Shore to the creative outlet/side hustle it once was.  My husband Eric & I together chose the leap of faith, & 5 months later I was pregnant with our son.  A soon-to-be busier life led me to explore scaling options, including: outsourcing, taking on studio help, creating with different materials. 

Nothing worked, or upon reflection today, nothing felt right.  But from soon after he was born our son has been a part of our small business process, learning & even setting up (with help) his own painted rock business last month.  He is a big part of my why with the business, & one of the reasons I work as hard as I do.

The following year, shortly after Cooper turned one, I was taking an online marketing class that suggested teaching a workshop in your craft as a way to build brand awareness (thank yous to Megan Auman & CreativeLive for that one).  As someone who grew up wanting to do every creative job under the sun, including be an art teacher, I was game for that. 

My first workshop was in collaboration with our amazing neighbor Nicole, whose family franchises Dunkin', one of which has a side conference room.  I designed a coffee mug in a "let it snow" theme, was ready to go & realized 20 minutes before start time that I forgot my paint at home.  Thankfully my mom was coming to the class & grabbed it on her way, but I swear I will never forget that feeling.  Seven amazing family members/family friends joined me that night.  I learned so much. 

After that I collaborated to hold our second event with Stonington Vineyards, one of my first wholesale accounts.  The day finally came, & we had not 1 or 2 but FIFTY signups.  I was so nervous on the way out that a friend who was helping me drove.  I told her it was because of a car issue.  I am so sorry Jessi- I was terrified to say out loud that my hands were shaking too much to safely grip the wheel.  I can already picture your reaction reading this, we'll laugh about it over our next shared bottle of wine :)  

It rained all morning (this was an outdoor event), then cleared while we were en route, the power went out, then came back on & we ended up with about 3 dozen amazing supportive guests that day. I'll be forever grateful to each of them, & to this day my eyes well up every time we run into one another at the Vineyard.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday- I took a deep breath, stepped out from behind the table they set up for me, the nerves dissipated & it just flowed.  That was the moment that changed our business forever.  I fell in love with teaching, with talking to everyone, breaking designs into steps & with finding a new way to work with people to help them incorporate art into their everyday lives- our motto from the day the business formed in 2013. Here's our class from June 2017, & yes the sun came out!!

Following those two events I took a few months to think, continuing to paint & sell my work.  I wanted to really process falling in love with a workshop concept that was never my plan, & ultimately decide whether to pursue it.  But the truth was I knew that first second of my event at the Vineyard.  So I continued to teach- 13 events total that first year, ending with a group of 50 at Chamard Vineyards.  It was at that last event of 2017 that I knew we were going to make it as a workshop focused company.

Less than three years after that first class we have a team of 13 incredible women across 3 states in New England, a line of home craft kits (DIY in a BOX), Painted by the Shore teaches dozens of classes on a monthly basis.  And going into 2020 we're going to be sharing our biggest news yet, an expansion I never dreamed possible at that first workshop.  Something that will take us down the East Coast, & ultimately across the United States. 

I wanted to end Our Story with a thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  Without that first person who bought the glass a 16 year old girl painted, those who took a chance in coming to my first workshop & the 1,000+ who visit our events each month we wouldn't be here.  Painted by the Shore wouldn't exist & grow & thrive without each of you.  I'm grateful & thankful every day. You've made my, & now our, dreams come true through this business.  Love, Kristina

P.S. As promised, below is your peek at how we're celebrating Small Business Saturday this year.  Click HERE to check out our DIY in a BOX Holiday Collection, & I can say from experience- kiddos LOVE those single ornament kits + they're a great way to occupy them while you're waiting for holiday treats to come out of the oven!

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