Surviving Breast Cancer and a New Business at the Same Time

Surviving Breast Cancer and a New Business at the Same Time

Breast Cancer SurvivorNew Jersey business owner provides inspiration for national fundraiser.

Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Colleen Carlee, of Montclair, N.J.

She celebrated 15 years as a woman in a man’s world working as a trader on Wall Street for Bear Stearns, before deciding to stay home and raise two children. When free time opened up, she started teaching part time. Then, as her children grew older, free time turned into wanting her own business. So after researching various opportunities, she purchased a Pinot’s Palette franchise and had visions of introducing her new business at 351 Bloomfield Ave. to the art-loving community of Montclair and filling her studio with customers painting canvases, sipping wine and enjoying life

That’s when a new kind of obstacle showed up.

Carlee was preparing to open her franchise when a routine mammogram and devastating news interrupted her hectic schedule. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Fortunately, it was caught early.

“I think in a way it was a good distraction,” Carlee said of her diagnosis. “I didn’t have time to really dwell on it. And I never got that ‘Wow, this is so horrible’ feeling.”

Instead, Carlee scheduled her surgery for a lumpectomy, pushed her grand opening back three weeks, informed Pinot’s Palette headquarters of her plans to move forward, and kept everything in motion.

Two years later, Carlee is happy and healthy just like her thriving business.

“This was a bump along the road,” Carlee said. “You find out and you deal with it. I had my grand opening and then did my radiation that fall. And everyone at the Pinot’s Palette home office was so supportive. It makes you realize what is important in life,” she added. ”Because it could all be gone tomorrow.”

Pinot’s Palette is one of the country’s fastest-growing franchises in the booming paint-and-sip industry, and Carlee runs one of the chain’s most successful studios. But the good news doesn’t stop there.

Next month the national chain is hosting its first-ever national fundraising event, benefitting the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Breast Cancer SurvivorOn Nov. 7, Pinot’s Palette studios nationwide will donate $15 per guest that evening to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. And many studios will be doing even more to raise money on the local level for contributions.

“As soon as we were big enough to take on a national cause, it was an easy decision on which cause it needed to be,” said Charles Willis, Co-Founder and President of Pinot’s Palette. “This is our demographic. Whether it’s women like Colleen inside our franchise network or the thousands of people our studios serve across the country, we see and hear stories of breast cancer patients and breast cancer survivors. And we were ready to use the reach and influence of Pinot’s Palette to help a great cause.”

Now cancer free, and with a flourishing business of her own, Carlee is excited about the opportunity to support a cause that she knows, first-hand, is so important to so many people.

“I was so happy to hear this was a program to benefit breast cancer awareness,” Carlee said. “Huge strides have been made, but there is still such a long way to go. And every dollar we can raise puts us one step closer to finding a cure.”

For more information about Pinot’s Palette franchise opportunities or to locate the nearest studio, visit

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