Retired police officer finds new passion as owner of The Happy Painter


From working as a police officer to becoming a professional baker, Genevieve Nino painted herself a new career path when she and her husband, John, bought The Happy Painter—then Cafe Monet—in November 2016.

“We came into [Cafe Monet] because they were hiring. I started talking to the owner, and the owner said they were going to sell. It was like fate, so we ended up buying it [and]I quit my job [as a police officer].”

Customers at The Happy Painter choose a premade piece of pottery, such as coffee mugs or piggy banks, and then paint their own design on the craft. Pottery choices at The Happy Painter can range from $8-$45. The business also has space for birthday parties and private rooms, camps, a bring-your-own-drink and -food option, and discounts for Texas State University students.

Nino said even without having artistic talent, she loves when people come into her store and want to make a gift for somebody.

“I’m not an artist,” she said. “When people walk by they think, ‘Oh, I can’t paint,’ but what I want people to know is, you don’t have to paint. We have stamps and stencils to give them ideas, and they’re amazed at what they can make.”

As the company continues to grow, Nino said she and John are considering changing the hours of operation after the summer season to being open by appointment only during the week and open with regular hours on the weekend. They would also like to be the first choice people think of when it comes to adult and children birthday parties.

Nino said giving back was important her when taking over The Happy Painter and said she frequently holds group sessions with local rehabilitation centers and mentally ill patients at the studio.

“As a police officer, you give back so much and you help people, so here one of the main goals is giving back,” Nino said. “We changed the name to The Happy Painter because people are happy when they are here, and then when they come back to pick up their pieces they are happy.”

While Nino said she never expected life to take her where she is today, she said she has no regrets.

“If this is one of your dreams to own your business, then I would say, ‘do it,’” she said. “Whether you fail or not, whether you succeed or not, at least you can cross it off your list that you did it.”

The Happy Painter
145 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m., closed Mon.

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Starlight Williams
Starlight Williams joined Community Impact Newspaper July 2017 after graduating Loyola University New Orleans. She spent her time covering city government, education and business news in the Buda and Kyle area. Starlight moved on from Community Impact July 2018.
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