(ROCKWALL,TX – Jan. 11, 2017) A large crowd gathered at Mellow Mushroom to witness Rockwall Painting With a Twist’s debut on CBS’s ‘Undercover Boss’ during a watch party on Wednesday, Jan. 4. Among them was a woman who many locals might call the star of the episode – Rockwall Painting With a Twist Instructor Bree McCleskey, who sat with all her supporters and relived a moment in her life she won’t soon forget.
The episode featured Painting With a Twist CFO and Co-Founder Renee Maloney as she tried her hand at painting, teaching, and even stocking shipments of art supplies in effort to find out more about her company. Clad head to toe in hippy-style, mismatched clothes and hidden behind glasses, contacts, a fake nose ring, and bleached blonde hair, Maloney managed to keep her identity a secret from her employees, posing as a woman named Savannah.
“When this process started, I wasn’t sure what the disguise would end up being,” Maloney said. “Since I have dark hair, I knew that we had to do something drastic. Wigs didn’t look very good, so we bleached it blonde. We went with sort of a messy, disheveled look.”
McCleskey said that although she had met Maloney previously at conferences, she didn’t recognize her at all during the filming process.
“I was so used seeing her looking tall and sleek… I never would have thought that was her,” McCleskey said. “The hair was a mess, her clothes were baggy, and she had a demeanor like she didn’t feel very confident about herself. My mind would never have gone straight to Renee.”
Rockwall Painting With a Twist Instructor Bree McCleskey (left) mingles with guests at the Undercover Boss watch party at Mellow Mushroom on Wednesday, Jan. 4.
Since Maloney considers herself a “numbers person,” this made her tasks for McCleskey especially daunting. McCleskey asked Maloney’s undercover persona “Savannah” to create a piece of original artwork for submission to the corporate library. McCleskey explained that approved designs are used in studios all over the United States, but artists are not compensated for their work. Maloney decided based on her experience with McCleskey, that system needed to change.
McCleskey found out the 18 designs she has submitted to the company have generated $250,000 nationwide. In the wake of her findings from the episode, Maloney has implemented an Artist Advisory Board, and McCleskey will serve as one of the seven board members. Maloney hopes this new avenue will give her company a better opportunity to compensate artists for their design work.
Perhaps the biggest impact McCleskey made on Maloney was rooted in her ambition for serving others. McCleskey explained that Rockwall Painting With a Twist has monthly painting nights to benefit local charity organizations, and that her passion for helping those in need comes from personal experience.
Bree McCleskey (left) with Painting With a Twist CFO/Co-Founder Renee Maloney in her undercover guise. Photo courtesy of CBS.
After revealing her identity as CFO, Maloney decided to honor McCleskey with a gift of $20,000, and a promise to donate the nationwide profits from her original design of a rainbow zebra to the charity of her choice every time it is painted for the next two years. McCleskey said this generosity brought her to tears, and the greatest gift of all was the chance to give back.
“Out of all the rewards that came out of this situation, this was the one that really touched my heart,” McCleskey said. “It is really the most important one to me, because it doesn’t matter who we are in this world if we’re not giving back and helping other people.”
To top things off, Maloney had one more surprise up her sleeve: a franchise location for McCleskey. After receiving training at the corporate headquarters, McCleskey will open her very own Painting With a Twist. She hopes to stay in the DFW area.
“When she said that I was going to get my own franchise, I just lost it,” McCleskey said. “I thought I was going to faint. I was really trying not to cry on camera. I was so incredibly thankful.”
Maloney said she was overjoyed to honor the employees she came to know while filming the episode, and that the experience changed her perspective forever.
“I’m an ‘Undercover Boss’ junkie, and that is my favorite part of the show,” Maloney said. “It was so rewarding. Everyone that I worked with has changed my life.”
McCleskey has not yet chosen a charity to benefit from her rainbow zebra proceeds, but she says she has it narrowed it down to two options. Rockwall Painting With a Twist will offer a rainbow zebra painting class this Saturday, Jan. 13. McCleskey said the seats already filled up immediately, but stressed that aspiring artists can paint their very own rainbow zebra for those in need at any location nationwide.
By Julie Anne White, Blue Ribbon News reporter.
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