From left, AR Workshop franchisors Michelle Bentzen and Leigh Champlin have brought the DIY spirit to Fresno with their new business.

published on September 21, 2018 - 1:38 PM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

Two cousins with a lifetime of crafting experience have brought a popular DIY workshop franchise to Fresno, and it’s being met with success.

Located at 1134 E. Champlain Dr., the AR Workshop studio opened less than two months ago, and it’s been well-received, with five to six classes being taught a week – they’re also getting repeat customers. At AR, customers are given the chance to make their own boutique goods for their homes, with classes on such items as wooden signs, lazy susans, centerpiece boxes and pillows. Customers are also able to customize what they make.

The AR franchise traces its origins to the design company Anders Ruff, founded in Pineville, North Carolina, in 2010 by Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff, who became friends after meeting at a preschool open house. After six years, they started AR Workshop, having received numerous requests to teach others how to make their own DIY projects.

The AR Workshop in Fresno came into being through the efforts of cousins Leigh Champlin, a retired teacher, and Michelle Bentzen, a retired communications and marketing specialist. Champlin learned about the AR franchise from a friend and ventured to their location in Roseville, and was immediately impressed and noted a lack of workshops like this in the Fresno area.

Champlin joined Benzen in opening up Fresno to the business. In addition to their day jobs, both of them have a lifetime of crafting experience under their belts.

“Both of us have always loved interior design and décor, and crafting of all types – scrapbooking and everything,” Bentzen said. “So this kind of fell in line with what we both have already enjoyed doing for so long.”

As for their customers, their level of experience ranges from experts to beginners. By guiding them, however, Champlin said they often find that the world of DIY is far less intimidating than previously imagined. Things are further simplified for those in attendance by premeasuring the components needed for their projects.

“We have experienced crafters as well as people who’ve never crafted and think they aren’t crafty at all,” she said. “And what’s fabulous about us is we walk them through every single step, and they leave with something that’s beautiful that they are proud to take and hang up or display in their home.”

According to Bentzen and Champlin, the costs for classes depend on what item is being made. This can range from $15 to $65 per class.

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