Women Business Owners Series: Moneek Pines-Elliot founder of ARTrageous Brush and Flow
Moneek Pines-Elliot talks everything business!
As part of our series on Women Business Owners, we recently sat down with Moneek Pines-Elliot, founder of ARTrageous Brush and Flow, to learn more about how she started her business, how she gives back to her community and the beauty of bonding through art!
What prompted you to start ARTrageous Brush and Flow?
Moneek: I always had the mindset of wanting to work for myself because I thrive off of other people’s energy and I had a passion to have something of my own. I was thinking about how to incorporate art and be with people. I need people – it’s therapeutic for me and I love making people feel good.
One day, I went to another “paint and sip” studio. On the way home, I started thinking of the names of people I would invite to my own studio. After that, I had my first event at my home and invited my parents and colleagues to try it out. I didn’t charge for it – I only asked for donations – and just wanted to find out what they liked and what they thought I should add. After that, I held similar events at other people’s homes as well as at hotels, schools and churches.
I decided to keep going with it and now I have my own brick-and-mortar space. ARTrageous Brush and Flow officially started in 2016. We’re in a unique location in Germantown near Johnson House that was connected to the Underground Railroad here in Philadelphia.
Can you tell us more about your events and other offerings?
Moneek: My couples’ events are one of my favorites. People think men don’t want to paint but it’s for everyone. I love seeing the men join and couples bonding and building their relationships. We also have kids’ events including parents and grandparents. I also like to incorporate music – especially Philadelphia-based music. One time, we had a reggae night and painted Bob Marley and sometimes have karaoke and paint. We’ve even done painting with pets and gone out into the community to a museum and drawn people’s pets.
Others programs include private, team-building and fundraising events.
You are clearly so focused on making people happy and sparking their creativity. What do you do to make your customer experience special?
Moneek: I always try to include special touches whenever I can. We have fun food, like ice cream, and I love to have contests and games with prizes and a lot of free events. If I know a customer (or anyone) who is having a bad day, I like to make them a wreath and bring it to their house to surprise them. I one time went to a customer’s house and left a porch leaner with art on it. She loved it. I love to bring surprises to my customers.
How many people work for you right now?
Moneek: My daughter-in-law is the lead artist and my youngest son helps assist. I also have a set of twins who help out and run paint parties.
So, how do you promote your business and get people in the door?
Moneek: I do a lot of free social media promotion on our channels and we get a lot of word-of-mouth advertising from our customers. I also received a grant for $5K to run online marketing like ads on Facebook and Instagram.
ARTrageous Brush and Flow is obviously a mission-driven company. The concept of giving back to the community is very clear. How does social responsibility factor into your business?
Moneek: I started something I call the “Little Art Studio” after seeing the “Little Free Library” around town. Instead of having books people can take for free, the “Little Art Studio” has free art supplies. It’s located right outside our studio and I had a free event the day I launched it so people could come in and see what we do. I often offer free programs like that and go all out so people will enjoy themselves with art.
Also, I partner with North 10 for an after-school art program. I love bringing art to city kids who don’t have access to these kinds of activities. I created a “Passport Through the Arts” program where the kids can “travel” all around the world, discovering new places and painting them.
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? What’s the most challenging part?
Moneek: My favorite part is making people feel good while they are creating. I love seeing people smile, having them come back for other events and sending other people to me. I really love hearing how I impact people and make them feel.
Getting funding is challenging – I went through the Small Business Association. Knowing all the rules is complicated and capital is challenging. My advice is to just talk to people and don’t be afraid to ask questions. People do want to help if they see your passion.
What advice do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own businesses?
Moneek: Just do it – don’t wait for everything to be perfect! I’m not the typical business owner. I don’t have a business degree. I have a straight art degree. I’m now in the process of making a business plan – I never had one before. I let the passion drive me. Don’t let people get in the way. Find your tribe. Find the right people who share your dream and stay away from dream killers.
What are your plans for ARTrageous Brush and Flow in the future?
I’m looking to expand into another space in the Philadelphia suburbs near where I live. I also plan to start a non-profit that would bring all kinds of artists together to support each other and the community – because art is healing.
Learn more about ARTrageous Brush and Flow (and stop by next time you’re in Philly!)
Read about more inspirational women business owners like Moneek Pines-Elliott.
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