Sheena Niles first thought of investing in a creative space for crafting about 20 years ago when she received a painting made by her husband’s grandmother.
The painting sparked a conversation between Niles and her mother-in-law, who told her about a place where the grandmother used to paint and receive instruction from other artists.
As Fort Wayne’s “wine and canvas” or “paint and sip” scene has grown over the last several years, Niles has been inspired to create her own business where she could offer similar services with a twist—in a space large enough to host events and offer more than “paint and sip” someday.
The Art Loft is located at 4430 Coldwater Rd.
Today, she is the owner of Fort Wayne’s small business called The Art Loft at 4430 Coldwater Rd., which offers step-by-step instructional classes to help people of any artistic ability create a masterpiece and enjoy the experience with wine, beer, soda, and water available for purchase.
According to Niles, her favorite part of her job so far is meeting new people—especially those who feel like they don’t have natural creative talent.
“My favorite thing is when people come in, and they’re like ‘I have no art experience at all; my painting’s going to be awful,’” she says. “Then, when they leave, they’re super excited because they did something really good, and they’re proud of it.”
The Art Loft hopes to provide a social environment for creatives with beverages for sale.
A Fort Wayne native, Niles is currently living in Spencerville with her family. She has been married for almost 20 years and is the mother of four children, ages 4 to 19.
She says that while she has always been passionate about art, raising her family came first and delayed her ability to open the business until September 2018.
“About three years before, we were going to start it, and then we found out we were going to have our last child,” Niles says. “When she was old enough to go to daycare/preschool, we started this.” The business has 3,000-square-feet of space to rent for special events.
Since opening last year, Niles says the local community has been supportive of her concept.
One thing that sets her business apart from other “paint and sip” companies is all of the space she has to work with. Her front room is about 3,000-square-feet, and she strategically chose this location to host a variety of events from birthday parties to corporate outings—even things not having to do with art.
In fact, she has already hosted 5 wedding receptions. Along with offering a venue space, the extra room also has an advantage for her classes.
“When you come in, you’re not going to be touching the person next to you,” she says. “You’ve got a lot of room to spread out.”
Right now, the Art Loft offers two-hour guided classes where an artist leads participants in creating pre-determined projects, usually painting on canvas or wood.
Over the next few years, Niles plans to expand her business with new opportunities and mediums.
“Starting out, we’re more of a ‘paint and sip,’” she says. “In the future, (we’re hoping to be) more of an art workshop where people have a variety of things to do.”
Visit The Art Loft
The Art Loft is located at 4430 Coldwater Rd. in Fort Wayne. Learn more at www.theartloftfw.com.