Carl Nicolas had a vision of bringing a cool and swanky venue to Chicago that focused on those looking for a fun and relaxing environment. The Lake County, Illinois native knew he wanted it to be something different, but couldn’t quite put his finger on what it should be.
He then realized that Chicago had a lot of bars and clubs, but nothing in between that fostered an experiential element. Through his on-going brainstorming, the concept of Pearl Paint, Sip, and Hip was born.
After three years of planning, Pearl finally opened its doors this past summer at 2105 West Division in Chicago. A chic alternative for those who want to be social minus the typical bar and club scene, the ultra hip venue pairs an eclectic mix of music with warm ambience to offer a refreshing spin on the classic paint and sip concept.
N’DIGO recently caught up with Nicolas to learn more about the bustling business and what sets it apart from other paint and sips.
N’DIGO: Please tell us who is Carl Nicolas and a little about your background?
Carl Nicolas: At my core, I am a good person that tries to use the gifts I was given to help and enhance others. One of my gifts is a prowess in business. I have a background in the entertainment business and I wanted to use that knowledge to bring something new to the Wicker Park/Chicago community.
How did the concept for Pearl Paint, Sip, and Hip come about?
I was with a friend who brought me to a “Paint and Sip” about three years ago. At the time, I thought the venue I was at was a bit boring, but I believed the concept was cool. A few years later, I had the time and the opportunity to start a new business and I wanted to do something that did not focus on food or alcohol. I thought that doing a Paint and Sip from a hip hop angle would be something cool and different. So, I put the work into finding the right location and from that Pearl was born.
What are some of the difficulties and hardships you faced in bringing Pearl to fruition?
Honestly, the first hurdle was finding the right location. Originally, Pearl was supposed to be in Hyde Park, but unfortunately the landlords at the location I found decided to go with a restaurant concept instead.
That was a real blow because I had my heart set on a Hyde Park location. I also lost a location that was going to be on North Avenue in Chicago. It got to the point where I almost gave up until I found my current space. Once I found the right location, it became about making Pearl look and feel like a cooler, more hip Paint and Sip.
What are some of Pearl’s unique characteristics that will allow it to stand out from other Sip and Paint businesses?
Pearl is different in every way from your standard Paint and Sip. First, the paintings that we paint are far more contemporary and have an edge to them. You may paint a cool phrase one day and the next day we may be painting your favorite album cover.
Second, we play music that will keep you dancing and bobbing your head while you paint. You are likely to hear your favorite song or artist playing on our five in-house speakers. We believe music unlocks the artistic spirit so the music we play is designed to get you into the mood to paint.
Third, our ambiance is modern and we have decorated our walls with images of classical hip hop artists like Biggie and Aaliyah. All in all, we cater to those that want to Paint and Party! Our décor in itself sets us apart from the average paint and sip.
Take one step in Pearl and you are overwhelmed by the colors and paintings and the design of the space. We also are an event space for those who do not necessarily want to paint. We can do everything from painting to throwing a bachelorette party.
There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Talk about the behind the scenes team that makes Pearl happen?
We have a lot of team members that have helped make Pearl the success it is today. First and foremost, our marketing and social media fingerprint is handled by Nikki Lee from the 523 Marketing firm (@523marketing). In little over two months she has helped us get over 4,000 followers between Facebook and Instagram.
Also, our ambiance and style of the venue is thanks to Jacinta Fischer, the lead interior designer from JMF Interior Design. I also have a great team of artists who help create the images that are painted daily. Some of my artists are Nicole Bradley (NicoleBradleydecor.com), Amber Snearl (@ambersnearlart), and Just Flow (@justfloart), just to name a few. Our publicist Catrice Armstrong (@catricearmstrong) has been influential as well.
Name three principles or ideals you try to abide by in your business dealings.
I try to keep business and life pretty simple. My ideals are:
1) Always be fair.
2) Say what you mean, mean what you say.
3) Don’t be afraid to fail. I believe you’re only one idea away from living your dream life. You must be brave enough to follow through on the idea and understand that every failure teaches you a valuable lesson for the next time.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
People are surprised that I have no artistic ability at all. I believe I got a C+ in my high school art class. They find it funny that a non-artist has opened an artist-focused business.
Best advice or words of wisdom for aspiring business professionals?
I would say find something you are passionate about and find out how to do it better. And keep going even when it gets tough. Remember, it is the people that never quit that have all the success.
Favorite quote or affirmation?
“Whether you think you CAN or think you CAN’T, you’re right!” – Henry Ford
What’s next for Carl Nicolas and Pearl Paint, Sip and Hip?
First, it is to make Pearl Paint, Sip, and Hip the most popular Paint and Sip in Chicago. Then hopefully franchise the business to other locations.
(For more information on Pearl Paint, Sip, and Hip and it’s upcoming events, visit www.pearlpaintandsip.com.)