Kate Cook owns and operates Athens’ own ARTini’s, a full-service art lounge, or what she affectionately describes as her “paint-and-sip.” Kate may fantasize about living in the islands, but she describes Athens as the perfect fit and her work as quintessential: she’s living the dream, and she’s ready to expand.
Growing the Seed
Kate was working at JHouse Media when a friend told her about a studio in Denver where she’d gone to share a bottle of wine and paint with friends. Kate loved JHouse, but she was hooked by the idea of using her Fine Arts degree, creative talents, and small business acumen to make a living and meet new people every day.
She’s quick to recognize that ARTini’s sells entertainment, and if you’ve ever shared in one of Kate’s characteristically welcoming and charismatic conversations, you know she’s good at it. On top of offering instruction, materials, studio space, and booze, ARTini’s employs local Athens artists to instruct with all original pieces.
Kate considers herself a competitor in select areas, and business is one of them. When ARTini’s was opening its doors, three paint-and-sip studios had popped up in Athens within just a few months, so Kate had her work cut out for her. Luckily, Kate thrives under this type of pressure, and with the fire under her butt, ARTini’s has found success in a challenging market.
On top of its University-accessible downtown location, the studio is a versatile space, and Kate is present and available every day. ARTini’s is an artist-owned enterprise, and Kate is comfortable cooperating with other businesses and customers alike. When she started the company, she thought she’d be painting every day, but when she’s not handling management, Kate’s often busy running the technical side of the business. Her flexibility allows her to adapt to day-to-day challenges, and deliver wherever attention is needed.
Pushing Back & Giving Back
When planning painting sessions, Kate’s most pressing concern is keeping the artwork varied. She prioritizes finding new subjects and styles, and she stresses the importance of using different concepts.
The biggest challenge is keeping the artwork fresh, and keeping the public coming back. We’re always thinking of ways to create new paintings without copying others. We don’t want to step on anyone’s design toes, but you can only paint a peacock so many ways.
Local artists have a strong mutual respect, so there is a very low turnover of artist instructors. Accessible, down-to-earth networking is important to learn of new talent as well as to spread the word about the business itself.
Kate knows success isn’t just about winning customers. She does as much for the community as she can, making it a rule to donate to numerous organizations for fundraising.
Kate has a fresh perspective on networking, borne by how good she feels when meeting someone new. And while she’s comfortable in conversation with most people, taking the self-promotion angle is a struggle. She’s shy about talking to others about what she does, so she appreciates a good event. Liquid courage doesn’t hurt.
Kate thinks of networking as an “anything goes” practice. She seeks out new events and regularly goes out, shying away from people only on sensitive topics like religion and politics. On top of her artistic research, she is an avid and nondiscriminating reader, absorbing articles on culture and current events, all of which are fair game when getting to know people in the community.