By Tracey Porpora Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This year, Renee Sarno, who hosts "Paint Nite" parties at different Staten Island venues was named one of the "Top 20 Under 40" by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.
In 2016 while working in Borough Hall, Renee Sarno, 29, was looking for a side job to help pay down her student loan debt.
A painting enthusiast, she answered an advertisement for an artist and party host.
This piqued Sarno's interest because when she was formerly working in Manhattan, she started to attend paint-and-sip events, and found them interesting -- and more importantly, fun. Never before had she tapped into her penchant for art in this way.
"I just loved sitting and painting. It was relaxing," she said.
"I then got big adult paint by numbers [canvasses] and I would go home each night and do them after work," added Sarno, special events coordinator for Borough Hall.
Before Sarno knew it, she was teaching people how to make fun and easy paintings for their homes as part of a business called Paint Nite.
"The licensee for the business at the time hired me. Then she said she was going to move away," said Sarno. At that moment she jumped at the chance to own her own business.
So she submitted an application, and was chosen to become the licensee for Staten Island's Paint Nite.
"Before I knew it, I wasn't just the artist, but the owner," she added, noting that was in March 2017.
"When I tell people about my background in art, I always say, 'I'm just like you,'" she said. "I learned from just going to paint-and-sip nights."
PARTY PLANNER In addition to the painting aspect, Sarno enjoys "hosting a big party" in different popular bars/restaurants -- like Joyce's Tavern in Eltingville, The Phunky Elephant in Rosebank and Trackside Bar and Grill in New Dorp -- across the borough.
"I get to help Staten Islanders have an affordable night out, and I'm so happy I can help people enjoy their leisure time out with their friends," she said.
"This isn't your typical paint class, this is a paint party. A night out doesn't have to mean standing around in a crowded bar," added Sarno, who has branded Paint Nite Staten Island as the #SIPaintParty.
A new addition to Paint Nite Staten Island is all-ages events.
"Since I started with Paint Nite, everyone has always asked me if I host children's events, and now I do," said
Sarno, who teamed up with Egger's Ice Cream Parlor in Richmond and Piece of Cake in New Dorp to host ages 6-year-old and up with "Paint with Me" events.
TOP 20 UNDER 40 This year, Sarno was named one of the "Top 20 Under 40" by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation and was in the first class of participants in the Women Entrepreneurs of Staten Island Incubator Program.
"I never thought I would be a business owner, and I amaze myself every day with what I have accomplished in such a short amount of time. I love that I get to help other businesses while running my own business; bringing business to bars and restaurants on a slow night of the week -- everyone wins," said Sarno.
ANOTHER BUSINESS COMING SOON Hosting Paint Nite parties at different Island venues keep Sarno busy, but that hasn't stopped her from planting the seeds of a second business.
She will be launching a sister business to Paint Nite in October, but she can't reveal what it is just yet.
"It's been in the works for a few months now," she explained. "Everyone is going to love this new nite experience Paint Nite is rolling out, and I'm grateful to be one of the first local partners in the country to host these events and share them with Staten Islanders."