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Board & Brush offers a unique take on home decorating

Board & Brush offers a unique take on home decorating Board & Brush offers a unique take on home decorating



Many local businesses provide customers with products made right here in central Wisconsin, but the new Board & Brush in Marshfield gives people an opportunity to create their own masterpieces. Under the instruction of owners Tanya and Andy Woltmann, those that attend their workshops leave with beautifully crafted and personalized home decor that they have made themselves.

When one walks into the workshop that the couple has set up in a small brick building just off Central Avenue, the first thing that will catch their eye is the multitude of custom built wooden signs that adorn the walls of the space. These signs certainly have the look and feel of something created by professionals, and one certainly would not blink an eye seeing any of them in a local crafts shop or the home decor section of a department store. But there are two major differences between these signs and those you might find elsewhere.

The first thing that is immediately noticeable is that, unlike the pieces offered by the nationwide chain stores, the messages displayed here are specific to those whose homes they were meant to adorn. They were designed with a very specific person and purpose in mind.

This is due to Board & Brush’s second secret ingredient. While the first was quite obvious, the second would be very difficult to distinguish without someone first enlightening you to the fact.

“Most of our boards in here are first timers,” Tanya said. “People that have come in and never done it before.”

And it is this important piece of the process that is equal parts impressive and necessary for Board & Brush’s final creations to distinguish themselves from similar products. While walking away with your own custom-built set of bag toss boards is certainly nice, the main thing that the company provides is not just the tangible end products, but the experience of creating these items yourself.

By signing up online for one of their workshops, customers get to pick out a project from Board & Brush’s extensive catalog and then customize it with their own names, dates or other information to make it their own. All of the materials and tools are supplied by the studio, so one only needs to bring themselves and an open mind to have fun. During the sessions, Tanya and Andy walk everyone through the various steps needed to create their chosen projects, from sanding to painting, walking around the studio and giving each person assistance as needed. The atmosphere during these workshops is light and friendly, airy pop and country music playing in the background as the attendees chat and laugh as they work.

The overall Board & Brush brand is on a national scale. There are over 250 locations in the U.S, and even more internationally, but each of these studios functions more or less autonomously.

“The project process is the same,” Andy elaborated when asked about the relationship between their studio and the overall brand. “But otherwise, they’re pretty much there as a resource to guide us and help us. They’ve got that recipe that works.”

Indeed, they do seem to have hit on something. Utilizing a perfect blend of DIY, hands-on customization and a modern rustic style, the experience offered by Board & Brush captures something of the current cultural zeitgeist.

Individuals have become somewhat disillusioned with the artificial feeling that mass-produced products from big name companies come saddled with. There is a significant want for something that is custom-made by an individual and with the power of the Internet, artists and consumers can more readily find and connect with each other. Board & Brush functions in the same vein, even going a step further by providing an outlet for the consumer to become the artist themselves.

“You know, this is different than a wine-andpaint, and stuff like that, because there they have a scripted ‘okay, well, this is the picture you are going to draw, these are the colors you are going to use, this is how you are going to do it,’” Andy said. “This right here, we give you the tools, but you’re going to do all that stuff on your own. You’re going to pick your own colors, you’re going to pick your own color stain, you’re going to pick your own style of painting technique. And we are going to guide you through how to do that.”

When the Woltmanns recently moved their family back to Marshfield after having lived in Indiana for the past four years, there was something that they wanted to bring back with them to their old home, and that was the Board & Brush experience.

Tanya was the first to discover the workshops during the family’s time in the Hoosier state and it wasn’t long before Andy and their two daughters were joining her.

“I took one daughter, and then the other to a workshop, before coaxing my husband to give it a try, and we were all instantly hooked,” Tanya said.

Family is a huge part of the Woltmanns’ past with Board & Brush and it played a big influence on why they wished to open their own studio. Both Andy and Tanya still work their full-time jobs, with Tanya working from home for a marketing firm and Andy taking night shifts at the local hospital. While it may add to their already busy schedules, running the studio also gives them some much needed time with the family.

“I’ve been a traveling respiratory therapist through the whole pandemic,” Andy said, “so I haven’t been home a lot. So this is another avenue Continued on page 26 Board & Brush

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for us to do something together.”

Their two daughters help aid in the workshops, so it really is a time for the entire family to be in one spot, working with each other and having fun. They hope that they can provide this same service for those that attend their workshops.

And while the Woltmanns may be more artistically inclined than your average person, with Tanya more interested in the paint and design aspects of the projects and Andy focused on the woodworking side of things, the proof that anyone can take on these projects, regardless of their skill set, is on constant display. From kids to adults, beginners to experts, all ages and experience levels are welcome.

The fact that they get to help people with varying skill sets and that these workshops are very much designed for families are big parts of why Tanya and Andy wanted to bring Board & Brush to their hometown community. They certainly seem to be Continued on page 28 continued from page 26

providing just that, as, in the short time that they have been in town, the community has welcomed them with open arms.

One of the benchmarks that the larger Board & Brush organization sets for its individual studios is that, in order for the studio to fully open, they need to reach 1000 followers on their Facebook page. The Woltmanns reached that number in just one week, showing just how much support the local community has given them.

“It’s been a whirlwind for us,” Tanya said, “We didn’t realize how big of a deal it was.”

After speaking with others who had been part of their same training group before opening, the Woltmanns soon discovered that it often took months for other studios to reach the follower goal. After hearing that, they realized that they had found something special.

“We have a lot of opportunities to collaborate locally,” Tanya said. “Board & Brush offers us what they call their national suppliers, for our wood and our hardware, but we have the option to stay local.”

“We can cross market with other companies,” she added, “We have a local bakery down the road and we can do ‘Moms and Muffins’ where we have their muffins or cupcakes here while people create.”

The pair has other plans to work with area businesses to try to further build upon the connections they have already made. Reaching out and being part of the community is an important piece of what Andy and Tanya hope to bring with their new venture.

Ultimately though, making sure that everyone is having fun and walks away with something they can be proud of at the end of the day is the driving force behind the Woltmanns’ efforts.

“My biggest fear is that I don’t want you leaving here with something you don’t like,” Tanya said. “We had a little girl here, she did a growth ruler, and she ripped her stencil off and the paint kind of smudged. You could just see the disappointment. And I looked at her and said, ‘Everything is fixable. Let’s fix it.’ So I’m helping her and I said, ‘Now, I need you to be honest, my heart will break if you leave here and I find out you don’t like it.’ She gave me the biggest hug and she goes, ‘It’s great.’ And that’s our biggest thing. We don’t want you to leave here unsatisfied.”