Wednesday, August 10, 2022

AR Workshop in Kiln Creek Offers Hands-On Classes To Create Personalized Home Decor

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NEWPORT NEWS- Jen Mills and Megan Waters decided to go into business together over five years ago and opened their AR Workshop franchise, a wood sign studio and DIY workshop, in Port Warwick. Nearly three years later, the sisters had outgrown their storefront and moved their shop to the Fairway Plaza Shopping Center in Kiln Creek next to Bright Heights Learning Center.

Mills describes AR Workshop as a destination business, where people sign up for classes, camps, and special events to curate arts and crafts projects in an instructional group setting. Project choices include porch, plank, and framed signs; wooden trays; centerpiece boxes; pedestals; ornaments; pillow coverings; canvas bags; and more.

AR Workshop, which was recently named one of the 150 Hottest New Brands by Entrepreneur magazine (it ranked #13) has 200 locations nationwide. Mills and Waters opened the eighth store in the United States.

“We hold workshops, where people can come in and make personalized home décor items,” said Mills. “Our staff walk customers through the project from beginning to end with choosing raw materials and colors that are specific to what their desired outcome is.”

By the time the workshop is completed a few hours later, customers leave the shop with a finished product that’s ready to hang on their walls at home or gifted to someone else as a personalized memento.

When the Grafton High School graduates went into business together, Mills, who graduated in 2004, and Waters, four years later, were interested in starting a new project together that would provide opportunities for their shifting lifestyles.

“My sister had business experience she gained through owning a clothing boutique in the past, so we meshed our mutual interests in crafts, along with her business and marketing expertise, and decided to go into business together,” said Mills.

Prior to starting the new venture, Mills was a stay-at-home mom who was looking to reenter the workforce and gain employment outside of a typical 9-5 position.

“This allowed me the flexibility to drop my kids off at school, pick them up, and spend time with them, but still have my own identity to learn what it takes to own and grow your own business,” said Mills. “Now my sister has young kids, so it’s given her the flexibility to do the same.”

The shop also offers DIY to-go kit options that customers can order online and craft at home.

“Through covid, we really adapted a lot with the DIY kits,” said Mills. “The take-home projects became very popular with not only adults, but with kids and schools at the time, and continue to be popular today.”

Now that people are starting to feel more at ease meeting in public spaces, the shop offers an alternative gathering spot for locals to reconnect in a creative environment.

“We hold a lot of youth and adult parties,” said Mills. “We host teambuilding events, birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, date-nights, and really any event people want to celebrate. There’s no age limit, so we serve people both young and old.”

The summer months tend to be one of AR Workshop’s busiest times of the year with the younger crowd. “Our youth summer camps are really popular. We hold our first summer camp session next week, and that one has already sold out,” she said. The shop currently has four additional summer camp options for customers interesting in registering.

“We really offer a mix of everything and have a retail boutique side to our business where we sell personally-curated items that are available for people who are just popping in to grab a gift or something special for themselves,” said Mills. “There’s really something here for everyone.”

AR Workshop is located at 1405 Kiln Creek Parkway, Suite A, in Newport News. Workshop and summer camp options are available on the shop’s website. To keep up with current AR Workshop’s current offerings, visit its Facebook page, or call 757-750-0650 for more information.

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