Small Business Spotlight: Board & Brush Creative Studio

Paula Weigel, owner of Board & Brush Creative Studio in Apex, grew up making things.

Paula Weigel, owner of Board & Brush Creative Studio in Apex, recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the store’s opening.

It was tough going at first for the business, which hosts workshops for customers to create wood signs and other custom home decor projects. During the instructor-led classes, attendees are guided through the ins and outs of power tools, paint, art, and assembly, with all materials supplied by the studio. While Board & Brush is a national company, each studio is locally owned.

Paula Weigel, owner of Board & Brush Creative Studio in Apex, grew up making things.

“While I enjoy the creative process, what I love even more is showing people how to be creative themselves, especially empowering women and giving them the confidence to produce something from scratch,” said Weigel.

The lifelong DIYer shares her insights about creativity and creating a space for people to have fun — even during a pandemic.

Why did you want to work for yourself?

I’ve always known I wanted to own my own business, and I’ve been involved in arts and crafts all my life. Through a corporate career and starting a family, it never seemed to be the right time to actually take that first step. I really value my time, and I knew that owning my own business meant that I could define my life in the way that I wanted it to look.

What attracted you to the franchise?

I was a potter for many years, and had a similar idea about 20 years ago. It would be a community space where people could learn a skill or a trade through classes in one part of the space, and they could sit and read books or drink wine in another part of the space. When I found Board & Brush, it was very similar to the concept I had in mind, and the farmhouse aesthetic fit my own personal style.

Did you grow up building things, using power tools?

I did! I grew up on a farm in the mountains of North Carolina and was always tinkering and making something out of raw materials.

My dad’s side of the family had a plumbing business, and my mom’s side of the family was full of amazing seamstresses, so there was always someone using their hands and making or fixing something. When I bought my first house, I was living by myself, and didn’t want to rely on anyone else to help fix things around my house. I learned very quickly what tools I needed to have on hand.

Stencils make creating custom signs easy.

What were your early challenges — opening in the pandemic?

Aside from supply chain issues with obtaining materials and building out our space, my biggest challenge was determining whether we were doing the right thing. We were opening a business that relied on a very in-demand and expensive commodity (wood), in a space that encouraged people to share tools and work together in an indoor environment.

We didn’t want to be socially irresponsible and encourage large gatherings, but our lease had started. If we hadn’t opened when we did, we would not have been able to open at all.

We knew that the price of wood would eventually level out, and we could position people 6 feet apart. We opened with small workshops, where people had their own sanitized tools and could sit away from others. Masks were required, and we did everything possible to make the studio clean and safe for people who were interested in getting out of their house for a couple of hours.

We also had the challenge of explaining this new DIY concept to the community, and trying to generate different revenue streams like virtual workshops and wood kits that people could do at home. It was hard to build a brand based on a fun, in-studio experience when many people weren’t comfortable coming into the studio.

Melissa Barbour, of Cary, attaches a support to the back of her sign with a couple of screws.

What’s been the best aspect of owning a business?

Oddly enough, the best part of owning this business came from opening during the pandemic. With small workshops, I have been able to talk to almost every single person who has walked into the studio. I’ve gotten to know so many of our customers, and so many have become friends.

I really want this studio to be a staple in our community — a place where people can come and learn something and have fun, but also where they feel welcome and like they are a part of our family. Many of our customers’ names are now on signs on our walls, so they can see themselves in the studio and feel a sense of belonging and community.

Apex father and daughter Colin and Sasha McGinley, 14, work on their projects during a recent class.

When you’re not helping others create, what is your favorite craft activity?

I don’t think I could pick a favorite! I really have too many hobbies and crafts that interest me but not enough time to spend on them anymore.

I really enjoy gardening and sewing, and I like creating mixed media art projects (paper and fabric on canvas). If I had time to sit, I’d love to learn embroidery. My grandmother taught me how to crochet, but I’m not terribly good at it, and I don’t think I’ve ever finished a crochet project!

As a family, we’re big into DIY, so there is usually a house or yard project that we spend time on together.

Board & Brush Creative Studio
1485 Kelly Road, Apex
(919) 267-6017 |

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