New business offers do-it-yourself training for creative signs

Redlands resident Donna Hoffmann at her grand opening for Board & Brush Creative Studio on Saturday.

From the outside, it looks like a charming shop with an artsy feel. Inside, there’s no mistaking this is a place for creativity to blossom, DIY confidence to take hold and memories to be made — and your own signs.

You need not be a master craftsman to sign up at the Redlands studio, with novices feeling right at home at Board & Brush thanks to the instructor-led format of the workshops during which attendees are guided through the ins and outs of power tools, paint, art and assembly. All materials supplied by the studio.

Each workshop lasts about three hours and attendees can select from hundreds of design templates. New ones are added each month. The company works with top graphic designers around the country to create the designs, most with a vintage farmhouse look. A workshop cost is $68 and pre-registration is required.

The studio owner and Redlands resident, Donna Hoffmann, brings skills in home improvement, teaching and marketing to this new venture. In other words, as close to a perfect mix of talents as you could get for someone running a sign-making studio. Hoffmann, who recently retired from a long career in higher education that included marketing a local college and teaching design classes, was ready for the next chapter and Board & Brush proved just the right fit.

“I’m a one-woman DIY pro,” laughed Hoffmann. “I’ve done everything from renting a jackhammer so I could remove blacktop in my backyard to stenciling and painting inside my home.”

Hoffmann found out about Board & Brush from her sister who lives in Wisconsin and happens to know the corporate owners. The company is headquartered in Hartland, Wisconsin.

“My sister had taken her staff to a workshop and told me how much fun they had so I looked it up online,” Hoffmann said. “When I visited her in Wisconsin, I attended a workshop and I was hooked.”

The first sign Hoffmann made was the design that reads “Grateful Hearts Gather Here.” She said it’s still her favorite and, while she’s created lots of signs to display in the studio, that first sign is staying with her.

Hoffmann admits she thought interior design would be her next career move, not owning a business, yet she’s relishing learning the ins and outs of running a business.

“I love this town and I’m excited to be a small business owner here,” said Hoffmann. “I feel confident this is the right fit for Redlands and the right fit for me.”

For crafty types considering a workshop, Hoffmann is sure they’ll create a phenomenal art piece at her studio. She’s also just as certain that the person new to DIY projects will be equally excited about their finished piece.

“I’ve seen workshop attendees worry that their work is not good enough but it is always good enough and more,” Hoffmann enthused.

The Redlands Board & Brush Creative Studio is in Park West Plaza, a mile from downtown, with easy parking and unique dining nearby. Inside there is seating for 24. Hoffmann mentioned décor touches including cheery yellow window treatments and a display wall of colorful paints. “I feel good in this space and I think my customers will too.”

Hoffmann expects the new fall and holiday designs to be especially popular.

“I’m opening at a great time, leading into the fun of the holidays,” she said.

While Hoffmann is busy putting the finishing touches on the studio, she does encourage local non-profits interested in hosting a fundraising workshop to contact her directly at the studio.