Bondi’s newest retail startup finds silver lining in COVID-19 forced rethink

Bondi Paint Club is a family-run business. From left to right: Ella McGuire, Founder Lisa McLean, Teddy Walton, Alastair Walton and Louis McGuire.
Bondi Paint Club is a family-run business. From left to right: Ella McGuire, Founder Lisa McLean, Teddy Walton, Alastair Walton and Louis McGuire.

Bondi’s newest start-up retail business, Bondi Paint Club, has found a silver lining in COVID-19 because its isolation-forced turn to delivering services online has opened its business up to national and international customers that were never in the original business plan.

Lisa McLean, Founder of Bondi Paint Club said: “Live streaming fun paint and sip classes for adults and creative classes for kids stuck at home in isolation has delivered customers we never dreamed of having before CORVID-19 struck.

 “We’ve had Australians living in Milan, New York, Cape Town, and London setting up private events or joining classes. Plus groups in Newcastle, Orange, Mullumbimby, Melbourne, Brisbane, Geelong and Mackay have booked our art sessions.”

What exactly does Bondi Paint Club do?

Bondi Paint Club is a family-run business – including fifth generation Bondi-siders –  that was all set to open its Bondi Beach shopfront art studio in February when the world suddenly changed.

“The isolation restrictions may have delayed the opening of the bricks and mortar art studio but not our desire to get the business open to customers,” said Lisa McLean.

“Our business mission is to put a paint brush in everyone’s hand. The imposition overnight of isolation restrictions meant we had to quickly become competent in online streaming, ecommerce and shipping or we were going to sink. It has been scary, fun and exciting all in one package.”

A recording of a Bondi Paint Club artist instructing how to paint her ‘Koala Kin’ artwork

Importantly this new found take up of online activities has meant artists from the struggling arts and culture sector are being offered work.

“We have employed local artists at a time when the arts and culture sector is reeling from isolation practices. That is a positive for us and we want to see how we can expand the team to employ more artists.” 

To enable people to paint from home, Bondi Paint Club sells and delivers a suite of art packs containing easels, brushes, paints, aprons and canvases, including a sustainable pack.

‘Paint and sip’ classes are a new social phenomenon where adults, with little to no experience, are instructed to paint a pre-selected artwork while sipping wine, beer or kombucha alone, on a date or with friends online.

Lisa McLean believes these types of experiences are essential at this time. “Now more than ever people need the pleasure, laughs and the focus of paint classes. It’s a fun distraction from the social restrictions and watching too much Netflix.

“For families, our kids classes give parents a break while our artists keep their kids focused and having fun,” Lisa McLean said.

Bondi Paint Club hosts birthdays, corporate events, kids parties and other private events.

“We are getting a lot of interest from people who are looking for ways to celebrate their birthdays or work events,” Lisa McLean says. 

“We’ve had requests for themed parties, from people who have had to cancel holiday plans. It’s great to provide a social platform for people so they can still interact and have fun with friends.”