Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email ktaylor@entrepreneur.com

After two decades of climbing the corporate ladder in the cosmetics industry, Rupa Kale was ready to run her own business. But in looking at everything from restaurants to beauty boutiques, nothing quite clicked. Then, she found Bottle and Bottega, a franchise specializing in painting and wine parties. Now, she's ready to help the Chicago-based franchise take over New Jersey.

Name: Rupa Kale

Franchise owned (location): Bottle & Bottega in central New Jersey

How long have you owned a franchise?

Bottle & Bottega Central New Jersey launched in February of 2013.

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Why franchising?

I wasn’t necessarily looking at franchising opportunities. Rather, I was interested in starting my own business, whether it be with an independent or franchise concept. All I knew was that I wanted to be my own boss.

I explored a number of different business ownership opportunities in the foodservice and retail sector. I considered everything from opening my own restaurant to launching a clothing or beauty boutique. None of these ideas stuck, until I discovered Bottle & Bottega. The brand’s unique differentiators such as their use of real art by real artists and inclusion of all art forms, combined with the franchise’s comprehensive training and support system, drew me in and compelled me to take the leap.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Prior to launching my Bottle & Bottega studio, I held a range of roles in the fashion and beauty industry. During my 18-year corporate career, I worked for Jones New York, Fila and Liz Claiborne, just to name a few. In my most recent position with L’Oreal USA, I served in corporate supply chain finance.  

A couple years before I left my corporate job, my husband and I welcomed our twin boys into the world. The birth of my children combined with my desire to start my own business drove me to resign from my job in May 2012.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I was introduced to Bottle & Bottega by a friend who had become acquainted with the Chicago-based concept. She mentioned that the paint and sip category had been gaining steam in the South. She advised that I look into similar concepts to see if one of these franchises might be right for me.

I conducted extensive research before I signed an agreement with Bottle & Bottega. I eventually came to the conclusion that this was the perfect business for me. I was impressed with the brand’s leadership team and their dedication to guiding me through the decision-making process. I was taken away by the sophistication of the brand and its capacity to innovate. And, finally, I was drawn to Bottle & Bottega’s unique differentiators including its one-of-a-kind events, pop-up to studio launch, chic studio layout and more.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

The franchise fee is $20,000. The overall cost is about $65,000-$125,000. The investment covers start up inventory, insurance, fixtures, studio décor and all build out costs, initial rent, operating capital and franchise fee.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I had a number of mentors that helped me through the process of launching my studio.

Nancy Bigley and Stephanie King-Myers, the co-owners of Bottle & Bottega, were instrumental in guiding me through the decision making process and getting my business off the ground. Their complimentary skill sets have helped me in everything from operations to sales, hiring and customer service.

My involvement in B.I.G. and BNI International has also proven invaluable in driving the growth of my business.

B.I.G (Believe, Inspire, Grow) is a rapidly growing business support, education and networking organization comprised of more than 1,500 intelligent, creative and entrepreneurial women. BNI International is the largest business networking organization in the world, with over 150,000 members worldwide. We get together to share our business ideas and build upon our professional dreams.

One of my biggest supporters and mentors is my husband. He offers brilliant customer service and sales advice on a day-to-day basis. My husband is a general surgeon, currently working in the field of medical equipment sales for Bayer.

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The BYOB aspect of the business offered a unique set of challenges. Townships expressed reluctance to provide us with the permits we needed in order to operate.  Fortunately, we found a town that was willing to equip us with the appropriate licensing. Moving forward, other art and wine studios should have less difficulty. I like to think that we helped pave the way for other BYOB service-oriented businesses that are looking to open up in New Jersey.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

There is no secret to success in franchising. The key is hard work and perseverance. Everyday, I roll up my sleeves and get involved in the running of my business. I sweep floors, hand out flyers, answer phones, you name it. I will do whatever it takes to build the company.

The additional piece of advice that I would share with aspiring franchisees is to remain teachable. I am constantly learning how to operate my business more efficiently. I have learned new strategies from customers, vendors, the corporate team, fellow franchisees, my family and even businesses down the street. I am always keeping my ears open to absorb as much insight and experience as I can.

What’s next for you and your business?

Bottle & Bottega is ready to take over New Jersey.

This is such an exciting time for us. We are hosting the grand opening of our permanent studio location on July 31st, which will raise money for a local foster-based rescue organization. The fundraising event will feature a silent auction, a special celebrity guest, mural painting and more. We are expecting 100-150 guests and hope to raise at least $2,000 for Home for Good Dog Rescue.

Additionally, we have a number of exciting promotions coming up in the next couple months. We will be hosting an Art Hunt in the fall that allows our social media followers to scavenge for paintings that are strategically placed at our partner venues throughout the community. We will also be hosting a number of large-scale corporate events, wedding themed parties, and holiday parties, among others.

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