Sign of a party

Sarah Gora made her first sign for fun seven years ago. Now she’s made a side business of sign painting parties.


Sarah Gora’s sign painting parties take place in a home, but she usually meets at a place such as Becca’s Cafe in Weston to plan details with the host.

When Sarah Gora constructed her first wooden sign, she spent some time on it, and was pretty pleased when it was done. She posted the photo to Facebook to see what her friends thought.

It didn’t take long before someone asked Gora to make one for her too. Others followed suit, and for about seven years Gora found herself making custom signs for people.

Today, Gora’s business is a little different: In November, she launched The Olive Branch Wooden Sign Company, hosting parties where people paint signs and drink wine (if they want).

Gora says she got the idea from sign creation Facebook groups, which are an international thing, she says. Gora, who works as a customer service representative as Linetec, says the parties are taking off.

The parties work like this: Gora buys the wood in bulk with a contractor account, cuts and preps all the wood, and stains them so they’re ready to go. The person hosts the party at their house and provides the wine, with guests each picking out the sign design of their choosing. The groups spends about 3-4 hours painting under Gora’s instruction, and in the end pay for and keep the sign they created. The host can create their sign for free.

The parties have been popular, Gora says. Each time she hosts one of the parties, another woman asks her to inevitably to host one. So far, the biggest party she’s served has been 14. They’ve been exclusively women, and haven’t generally been centered on an event; it’s more about having a good excuse to socialize over a glass of wine, Gora says.

Gora primarily operates out of the Wausau area, and charges a traveling fee for anything outside of a 25-mile radius. She recently received interest from someone wanting to host a party in the Milwaukee area.

Gora’s interest in wood signs was nudged along by her dad, who had experience in woodworking and helped her with that first sign. She never expected it to become a business. But as more and more people asked her for signs, she found it consuming a lot of her spare time, including the time researching signs and the business side of it.

Olive Branch Wooden Sign Company essentially combines two trends right now: wine/painting parties and DIY home décor. Gora doesn’t see it becoming a full-time occupation; the Kronenwetter resident is happy with her job at Linetec. But she is working on expanding her line of available signs, which include her own creations and licensed signs from other creators. She’s also working on new products like a wooden serving tray, and plans on having an open house-style event where anyone could come in and create a sign.