Maybe it’s happened to you: You started a cute craft project and it turned out so ugly you ended up hiding the creation in a closet.
That result isn’t likely at AR Workshop, a DIY boutique craft business that opened in Colorado Springs in early October.
The Voyager Parkway shop, which offers guided craft classes, is one of 135 AR Workshop franchise locations across the country and the third in Colorado. There are also locations in Boulder and Castle Rock.
Grace Stopani, with her husband, Abe, opened the local AR Workshop because they believe in community and craftiness.
For 12 years, Stopani has been part of a small women’s crafting group. Each month, the women meet at someone’s house and tackle a project, whether it’s making jewelry or soap.
“It’s always been so fun to just show up and do a craft and hang out with the girls,” she said. “In this day and age, there’s a lot of online connection, but not a whole lot face to face.”
She wanted to bring the essence of those hangouts to a larger audience.
“My experience of looking forward to that every month, being creative, has been so great,” she said. “I wanted to offer that to more people.”
At AR Workshop, Stopani and her staff walk people through how to make projects — ranging from framed wooden signs to pet beds to tote bags — step by step.
All of the materials are provided and there are always several choices of colors and stencils to make the craft your own.
The process makes messing up nearly impossible. It also ensures people leave with something they’d actually display in their home.
“Whether or not you have any artistic talent or craftiness at all, it’s for everybody,” Stopani said. “We’ve all had Pinterest fails, which is so discouraging. When you come here, you know this is going to work.”
Perhaps that’s why the concept has so quickly taken off.
In June 2016, designers Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff opened the first AR Workshop (named after the initials of their last names) in Pineville, N.C., with an “industrial farmhouse” aesthetic in mind. The workshops are all outfitted with teal and gray color schemes and made to look like pages out of a magazine.
“Everyone has a Pinterest board with ideas, but how many of those do you actually sit down and do?” Stopani said.
“You worry, ‘Is this going to turn out stupid?’ To know it’s going to turn out well and you’re going to have a good time doing it, that’s why people want to do this.”
AR Workshop has become a go-to spot for birthday parties and bachelorette parties, girls nights out.
It’s also something fun to do no matter the occasion.
Since opening, Stopani has noticed groups of strangers bonding over the crafts they’re making.
“I’ll see people at the same table having the best time and I thought they came together and I find out later they didn’t know each other at all,” she said. “And I was just blown away, because I thought they were best friends.”
She sees lots of “happy faces.”
That’s what she has experienced in her craft group of 10 women.
“It’s all about the connections,” Stopani said.
“Some girls were single when we started and now they’re having babies and getting married. Just that shared life together has been so life-giving.”
Also a plus? Starting and completing something you made with your own two hands.
And liking how it looks.
“It’s ridiculously satisfying,” Stopani said. “The first project I ever finished, I wanted to hold it up, like, ‘Behold. Look what I’ve made.’”
“We see that every night,” she added. “When people make something, they’re so proud of it.”