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Wine, women and distressed wood slabs transform Julie Selby's company into one of the fastest growing franchise companies in the country.

"There are many days," said Selby, a 50-year-old independent financial writer who became the owner of a thriving business called Board and Brush Creative Studio Franchising, "where I sit and go," Wow, how did it happen? ? & # 39; "

What happened is this: in 2015 Selby and his partner – others on the next one – opened a small studio in Hartland.

The place was a place where people – groups of women, for the most part – could make decorative signs with a rustic look, attractive enough to be exposed at home, sipping chardonnay, listening to music and having fun in general.

It was a take-off of the already popular paint-and-sip concept, but in which the quality of the finished piece depended less on the innate talent than on the ability to handle a brush, use a stencil and follow the instructions step by step.

He hit an agreement.

In less than four years, Board and Brush has moved from the only store in Hartland and from headquarters to Selby's dining table to a 15-employee company with 165 studios in 35 states. Selby said he had enough signed contracts in hand to bring the number of studio copies to over 200 by the end of 2018.

As a comparison, Painting with a Twist, a Louisiana-based company that calls itself "the leading paint-and-sip franchise", had 55 stores after four years.

But it's not just Selby who is taking do-it-yourself bank holidays at home. Similar companies have sprung up across the country in recent years: companies like AR Workshop Franchising, Fort Mill, S.C.

That company, it seems, was founded by Maureen Anders, the former neighbor of Selby in Hartland and co-founder of Board and Brush.

They were members until Anders moved to South Carolina and had a decline in property shares that landed in federal court before being resolved in June 2016.

The settlement left Selby and her husband, Curt, as the sole owners of Board and Brush. Anders, meanwhile, almost immediately opened his first AR Workshop.

Just over two years later, the AR Workshop has 94 studies: an initial growth as impressive as Board and Brush.

On average, the new franchise companies open 1.3 franchised units in their first year and 4.5 units in their second year, according to a recent study by the industry research firm FRANdata. Board and Brush and AR Workshop far exceeded that pace.

"They are drawing on a hot trend at this point," said franchise researcher Marko Grünhagen of Eastern Illinois University, talking about craft and beverage studies. "This" shabby chic "decorates in the furniture industry – you see it everywhere."

And the self-described non-creative people like Sheri Jopek, a repeating Board and Brush customer, are finding out that they do not have to be Picasso to produce wall decorations.

Wind Lake's 48-year call center worker, Jopek is among a group of friends who saw something on Facebook on Board and Brush in 2016 and decided to give it a try.

"We went to our first event and we were impressed," he said.

Since then, they've come back five times, more recently this month, and are already talking about another visit.

"For those of us who are artistically challenged, come in and make something that is absolutely amazing," said Jopek, whose creations include a gift for his father, his kitchen decor and a "Home Sweet Home" sign "da dandy. with intricate textures that now hangs in his living room.

All he had to do while sharing laughs with longtime friends.

The social aspect is important, said Cortney Heimerl, independent arts organizer in Milwaukee who helped create the annual showcase of Hover Craft for artists and artisans.

But what is also interesting for the new studies, he said, is that "you can go away feeling … to be successful in being creative".

Said Selby, "We are building people's trust to be do-it-yourself".

Heimerl recalled visiting a do-it-yourself ceramic studio on the east side of Milwaukee in the early 2000s and thought about how unusual the idea was. Now, people are flocking businesses that offer their directions and materials to create craft items.

reported: It's like a painting bar, but you can create anything found on Pinterest in this Milwaukee studio

It could be a sort of reaction back to life that is increasingly turning to electronic devices.

"I think people feel really satisfied when they can actually do something with their hands," Heimerl said.

In addition, he said of studies like Board and Brush, "the real signals they are creating are really trendy right now."

Also increasing the growth of Board and Brush as a franchise company is the relatively low cost to open a study. According to the disclosure document, an affiliate needs $ 62,000 to $ 89,000 to start operations. AR Workshop says its affiliates need $ 66,000 to $ 116,000 to get started.

As deductibles, those are relatively modest sums. While some franchise companies require less investment, many of the most popular franchises cost more.

The opening of a subway sandwich shop, for example, requires from $ 150,000 to $ 329,000. Orangetheory Fitness says affiliates should have $ 563,000 to $ 999,000. Starting a McDonald's requires $ 1 million to $ 2.2 million.

Selby agreed that the relatively low initial cost for affiliates helped grow Board and Brush.

With little marketing effort as well as empowering some posts on Facebook, he said, Board and Brush has earned over 2,000 requests to open studies.

"I still have to pay a broker or any type of finance company or franchise a penny," he said.

But the trends vanish, said Grünhagen. As impressive as the growth was, "the question you need to ask is what is longevity," he said.

Ben Litalien, founder of the FranchiseWell consulting firm based in Virginia, raises the same question.

"This is a fairly new niche and we are seeing evidence that people are in love with it, but I do not know that we have a good understanding of its long-term sustainability," he said.

For now, though, it is ahead at full speed. Selby said he expects Board and Brush to end the year with about 220 studies.

"If we do not achieve this, it will be because we have decided not to do it," he said.

Anders, South Carolina, said the AR Workshops will soon have 105 locations and are running for another 100 or so in 2019.

He said his business will continue to evolve as trends change, while Selby said that Board and Brush will explore new opportunities in the projects it offers.

"We want customers to come back, be interested and entertained," he said.

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