Board and Brush started as one do-it-yourself craft studio in 2015. Now it's in 35 states.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Board & Brush Creative Studio
Wine, women and slabs of distressed wood are turning Julie Selby's company into one of the fastest-growing franchising firms in the country."There are many days," said Selby, a 50-year-old freelance financial writer turned owner of a booming little business called Board and Brush Creative Studio Franchising, "where I just sit there and go, "˜Wow, how did that happen?"™
"What's happened is this: In 2015 Selby and a partner "" more on that later - opened a small studio in Hartland.  The place was a spot where people - groups of women, mostly - could make rustic-looking decorative signs, attractive enough to display at home, while sipping chardonnay, listening to tunes and generally having a good time.
It was a takeoff on the already popular paint-and-sip concept, but one in which the quality of the finished piece depended less on innate talent than on ability to handle a paintbrush, use a stencil and follow step-by-step instructions.It struck a chord.In less than four years, Board and Brush has gone from that single outlet in Hartland and a headquarters at Selby's dining room table to a 15-employee firm with 165 studios in 35 states. Selby said she has enough signed contracts in hand to take the studio count to more than 200 by the end of 2018.
By way of comparison, Painting with a Twist, a Louisiana-based firm that calls itself "the leading paint-and-sip franchise," had 55 outlets after four years.But it's not just Selby who is taking do-it-yourself crafting parties to the bank. Similar businesses have popped up across the country in the last few years "" businesses like AR Workshop Franchising, of Fort Mill, S.C.That company, it happens, was founded by Maureen Anders, Selby's former next-door neighbor in Hartland and co-founder of Board and Brush.They were partners until Anders moved to South Carolina and they had a falling-out over ownership stakes that landed in federal court before being settled in June 2016.
The settlement left Selby and her husband, Curt, as sole owners of Board and Brush. Anders, meanwhile, virtually immediately opened her first AR Workshop.
A little more than two years later, AR Workshop has 94 studios "" an initial growth spurt as impressive as Board and Brush's.
On average, new franchising companies open 1.3 franchised units in their first year, and 4.5 units in their second year, a recent study by industry research firm FRANdata found. Board and Brush and AR Workshop have far eclipsed that pace.
"They"™re tapping into a hot trend at this point," franchising researcher Marko Grünhagen of Eastern Illinois University said of the craft-and-drink studios. "This "˜shabby chic"™ decorating in the furniture business "" you see it everywhere.
"And self-described non-creatives like Sheri Jopek, a repeat Board and Brush customer, are finding that they don"™t have to be Picasso to produce wall-worthy decor.     A 48-year-old call center worker from Wind Lake, Jopek is among a group of buddies who saw something on Facebook about Board and Brush in 2016 and decided to try it."We went to our first event and we were hooked," she said.Since then, they"™ve been back five times, most recently this month, and they"™re already talking about another visit. "For those of us who are artistically challenged, you walk in and you make something that is just absolutely amazing," said Jopek, whose creations include a gift for her father, decor for her kitchen and a dandy looking "Home Sweet Home" sign with intricate tracery that now hangs in her living room. All of which she has gotten to make while sharing laughs with longtime pals. The social aspect is important, said Cortney Heimerl, an independent arts organizer in Milwaukee who helped establish the annual Hover Craft showcase for artists and crafters. But what's also attractive about the new studios, she said, is that "you can come away feeling "¦ successful at being creative."
Said Selby, "We"™re building people's confidence to be DIYers. "Heimerl recalled visiting a do-it-yourself pottery studio on Milwaukee's east side in the early 2000s and thinking how unusual the idea was. Now, people are flocking to businesses that offer them guidance and materials to create craft items.

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115 Hill St
Hartland, WI 53029, WI

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