By Analyssa Gonzalez
Longtime friends and creatives Jacqueline Maglione and Michelle Shepard have teamed up to share their love of crafty home décor.
This duo co-owns the new boutique DIY studio in the Village of Leesburg called AR Workshop Loudoun. The workshop hosts weekly instructor-led classes that offer supplies and guidance for making everything from lazy susans and wood plank signs to bottle openers and pillowcases. It’s quickly become a sought-after place for friends and families to take their home decorating to the next level with custom, charming decor, all created from raw materials.
Maglione and Shepard, both Northern Virginia natives, met in 2010 while sitting next to each other at their children’s kindergarten registration. They became fast friends when they discovered they both had twin boys the same age. “Somebody gets it,” they both remember thinking. Little did they know, eight years later, that meeting would lead to investing in a nationwide franchise that delivers DIY in a new way to Loudouners.
After being approved by the AR founders and paying a franchise fee, the duo began planning the design of their workshop and headed down to North Carolina for training. Anders Ruff Workshop, founded in 2010 by Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff in Charlotte, NC, requires new partners to be trained by them personally. While at the training, Maglione and Shepard learned how to sand, stain, operate a nail gun, cut wood, use Adobe Illustrator to customize designs and print laser-cut stencils, among other skills.
“We went into this because we loved the idea of it, not because we knew how to do it,” Shepard said.
After the training, they got to work on outfitting a suite in the Village at Leesburg. Maglione and Shepard, along with the help of hands-on husbands, Charlie Maglione and Eric Shepard, created a rustic, yet modern workshop custom to Loudoun.
“We like to say that ‘we all have a lane.’ Michelle and I run it, Eric handles the wood, and Charlie handles the finances,” Jacqueline Maglione said.
AR Workshop offers a range of classes, with projects tailored for adults, friends, families and kids. Its youth art camp classes for young crafters show them how to create wood signs, canvas pillows, and totes. Family fun nights give attendees the tools and guidance to make wood trays, porch signs, pillows and centerpiece boxes.
And everyone is welcome, no matter what skill level.
“Our motto is embrace the imperfections,” said Shepard.
“I just love the excitement throughout the entire process,” Maglione added. “I love, too, when people come in and say ‘I can’t do it,’ and by the end of the three hours, they’re so proud of themselves and already have a list of what they want to do next. The reveal at the end never gets old.”
The workshops give families and friends an excuse to enjoy time together, without technology. “We’ve created a space where friends and families aren’t distracted by the phone, unless they’re taking pictures together. That’s not the norm anymore,” Shepard said. “I love that we have created this place where people can feel safe being crafty and just talk and laugh.”
AR Workshop Loudoun is open Tuesday to Sunday and located at 1601 Village Market Blvd. SE, Suite 116, in Leesburg. Learn more at arworkshop.com/loudoun.
Analyssa Gonzalez is a senior at Tuscarora High School, completing her capstone project with Loudoun Now.