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Check Out Julie Yawitz’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Yawitz.

Hi Julie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
We have a daughter named Kaitlyn, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. My husband and I have been very proactive about getting her the services she needs. From the time she started high school, I had been looking ahead to what comes next for her. It has been my goal to keep her engaged in her community and for her to have meaning in her life. I was struggling to figure out a plan for her for post high school. I could not find the right fit. She wasn’t ready for competitive employment, yet, I did not feel like she would be happy in a day program. I was looking for something in between. At the age of 21, students age out of Special School District and are left to figure out what comes next.

Two years ago, on Mother’s Day Weekend, I walked into an AR Workshop Franchise, looked around and instantly felt this was going to be the next step in Kaitlyn’s Journey. AR Workshop had everything Kaitlyn and I love- Crafting, a relaxed happy environment and lots of parties. I came home and discussed it with my husband. We decided to contact the franchise and pursue purchasing An AR Workshop Franchise. AR Workshop is based in Pineville, South Carolina. It is a Women’s Owned Company.

I had been an Adolescent Therapist at a Private alternative Middle and High School for 26 years. This was a huge career change for me, but I took the leap and embraced the change. I had so much to learn. I retired from being an Adolescent Therapist in December of 2019. We started construction on our new space in January of 2020. I went to training in February of 2020 in Pineville South Carolina and I returned with more questions than I had when I left. As we were finishing up our space and preparing to open, COVID hit.

We opened our doors on May 20th, 2020. We had a very slow opening and we were mostly doing curbside pick up. Our friends were very supportive and ordered projects to create at home. We taught virtually, which is what got us through the holidays. We eventually were able to host small classes and are now open at full capacity.

Kaitlyn has worked with a job coach since we opened which has helped define her role. Kaitlyn likes routine and predictability. She helps prepare for our classes that are in person as well as our To -Go -Kits. Kaitlyn creates labels on the computer, does light cleaning and does our retail inventory. She has meaningful tasks and LOVES being at AR Workshop. Kaitlyn calls the store “Her Small Local Business”!

We are approaching our one year anniversary. It has been a very interesting first year filled with many learning opportunities. We see Covid as giving us an opportunity to open slowly and get a better understanding of the business. On May 26th, we are hosting our official Grand Opening/First Birthday/Ribbon Cutting. We are so excited to welcome everyone into our space.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been smooth but it has been fun! We learned how to teach virtually and how to give people an AR Workshop Experience from home. We had to be very creative and pivot.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
AR Workshop Olivette is a DIY Crafting and Wood Working studio. Our workshop is for all skill levels! You can register to come by yourself, with a group, or book a private party! We provide all of the materials, tools, and instruction. You will choose your project type (wood or canvas) and your design from our Project Portfolio. Everything is stencil-based so we need at least 24 hours to prepare your project for you. You can customize your project at the workshop with our designer paints and our line of non-toxic wood stains (no fumes!). We also make Chunky Knit Blankets. Most of our adult projects range from $40-$70 and our youth projects range from $40-$45.

We offer classes, girl’s night out, date night, team building events, private parties, birthday parties, summer camp and more.

We have Youth Classes, Camps, and an Educational Series for Youth.

The calendar on our website shows available public workshops, or you can contact us to book a private event! The workshop is available seven days a week for private parties, with exception of scheduled classes as shown on our calendar.

We want you to feel at home here and hope this studio/retail shop becomes a favorite gathering place for you, your friends and family. We look forward to meeting you and providing a welcoming, fun environment for you to create beautiful home decor projects.

We only require masks if people are attending class that have not been vaccinated. We require masks for kids camps and youth classes.

You are welcome to bring in wine, small snacks or appetizers to enjoy at your private events!

How do you think about luck?
In a weird way, we see COVID as good luck. It gave us extra time to learn the business and get a grasp on how things would go. We learned to Pivot from COVID. We kept trying different things.

When I started looking at the franchise, an old coworker came to mind who would make the perfect manager. She was an Art Teacher at the School I worked at and had left to stay home with her kids. We hadn’t spoken in 4 years. The timing was perfect. Her youngest was about to start kindergarten and she was considering going back to work. She came on board and we make a great team! We balance each other very well!

Contact Info:

  • Email: olivette@arworkshop.com
  • Website: www.arworkshop.com/olivette
  • Instagram: @arworkshop/olivette
  • Facebook: arworkshop/olivette

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