Saturday, December 9, 2023

Williamsburg Couple Opens Newport News Paint and Sip Business

Olivia Wirkkala, co-owner of Wine and Design Newport News, shows off some of her paintings. (Olivia Wirkkala)

WILLIAMSBURG — Opening a business was an idea that came to Olivia Wirkkala and Brandon Gist after a date night brought them to a wine-sipping art class.

The Williamsburg couple began to really work on that idea, and opened their Wine and Design storefront in Newport News in November 2022.

“Brandon and I were consumers at first. We went to a Wine and Design in Richmond on a date night. It was so much fun, so relaxing, and had really good engagement. We decided that we wanted to open something similar,” Wirkkala explained.

Wirkkala, whose primary job is in real estate, wasn’t always passionate about art. She had no background in it, and has really picked up all her knowledge from owning the business with Gist.

“I’ve grown to love art through the business. It’s something that you can grow to be good at and it can become really therapeutic. I think it’s a great way to zone out and really focus on the people around you and what you’re creating. That little break from life is so important and what I love the most,” Wirkkala said.

Wine and Design offers multiple classes, and according to Wirkkala, customers come in for a variety of occasions and celebrations.

“People come in to have fun and celebrate, to have date nights, birthdays, anniversaries. That aspect of a business was so appealing to the two of us. We really wanted to be able to create that for other people,” Wirkkala said.

The Wine and Design studio in Newport News is lined with paintings from various events. (Olivia Wirkkala)

At the Newport News location, Wirkkala and Gist offer kids classes, paint and sip, team building, DIY classes, mobile painting, craft nights, makeup classes and more.

A popular item is the “Splatter Zone”.

“The splatter zone is one of our really big attractions. Customers come in and get bowls of paint and just throw it at a canvas or an item that they bring in. It’s a great stress reliever,” Wirkkala said.

While the experience may be about painting a picture, for Wirkkala and Gist, it’s also about learning about their customer base.

“Aside from the painting, we love to ask people about what brought them in. If people are on a date, we ask them how they met, we share stories, and that can make a big difference in people’s lives. We really work hard to promote a fun environment,” Wirkkala said.

Wirkkala is quick to mention that no art skills are required, the staff at Wine and Design walk customers through the entire process from start to finish.

“We like to teach and it really doesn’t take any pre-existing skills. It’s all about having fun,” Wirkkala said.

The two are hopeful to continue to grow the business and one day open a secondary location in Williamsburg.

While Wirkkala teaches the classes, Gist helps with the business end. The two are grateful to be in business together.

“For a lot of people, owning your own business is a goal that people have in their mind but it’s not something that seems very feasible. I always had my eyes on selling real estate, so after achieving that, Brandon and I wanted to own a business and we just took the jump one day and figured out how to do it and it stuck,” Wirkkala said.

For more information or to sign up for a class, visit

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