Taking projects from Pinterest to Mainstreet

New Hopkins shop offers guided approach to DIY projects

by Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers

In the age of Pinterest fails, it’s easy to start a shiny new craft project, only to find that you don’t have the time, resources or patience to complete it — or if you do, it looks nothing like the picture you found on the Internet.

Fortunately for would-be artists with a lot of enthusiasm but not much experience, Jill Miller of Hopkins has a solution: a brick-and-mortar shop offering step-by-step classes for a wide variety of do-it-yourself or DIY projects.
Miller began setting up shop for her new business in October. Dubbed “Projects in Person, LLC” (PIP for short), Miller said she’s been hard at work getting the old building ready for a December opening.
“It’s been a learning experience — as a DIYer, it’s hard to not want to do everything myself,” Miller said with a laugh.

Miller’s background is in education.
During her years as a teacher, she found a store near her workplace that specialized in upcycling: taking old materials and making high-quality, trendy items. Miller was hooked, but quickly found home crafting to be a commitment, both in time and finances. While crafting websites such as Pinterest provide a wealth of ideas, projects more often than not are much more difficult than they appear and the final product may look nothing like intended.
“It ends up being three times the cost and three times the work to make something yourself, and it’s easy to give up,” she said. “I started thinking, ‘Why can’t there be a place to teach people how to do this stuff in person?’”

Workshops currently offered at Projects in Person include handmade cutting boards and customized wall art although seasonal projects will be added, said owner Jill Miller.  (Submitted photo)
Workshops currently offered at Projects in Person include handmade cutting boards and customized wall art although seasonal projects will be added, said owner Jill Miller. (Submitted photo)

After the birth of her twins, Miller started reconsidering career options and realized that idea could be a viable option.
“I thought about what I really wanted to do with my life, and this is it,” she said.

Miller, a lifelong Hopkins resident, said that Mainstreet was a perfect spot for her shop, with its backdrop of quaint small businesses and antique stores.
“I’m a total Hopkins geek. I just love this place,” she said. “The revitalization in this town has been amazing and I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Part of it runs in the family: Miller traces her lineage to the Hance family, owners of the Hopkins hardware store since the 1960s.
With so much Hopkins history in her blood, she was thrilled to find a business location with a charming story and a lot of character, Miller said.
“If I’m going to get people out of their house to do things, it had better be a cool place,” she said, explaining that the historic building used to be a combination saloon and shooting range, according to local historians.

In a world full of online craft resources like Etsy and Pinterest, Miller said her concept stands out not only for its unique location, but because it’s a hands-on, face-to-face process.
“Anyone can sell crafts on the internet. The difference here is the experience,” she said. “What people are most proud of are the things that they’ve made themselves.”
Participants not only get a charming household item to bring home, but have the pleasure of sharing with people how they built it with their own hands. Most of her current workshop offers are scheduled for about two and a half hours, including instruction.
“Everything takes time, but nothing is too complicated,” Miller said. “You leave with a finished, ready-to-use item … it’s a beautiful product.”

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Better yet, PIP provides the tools, materials and instructions needed to complete the project without the hassle and expense of having to gather necessary items or track down specialty tools.
“You just get the sexy, fun part of the DIY,” Miller said.

Similar to wine and canvas programs, Miller said the activities are catered toward adults, although she envisions a possible future partnership with nearby Kiddywampus to provide kids’ activities.
“There aren’t many places for adults to just play like this,” she said.
Miller considered offering adult beverages with this workshops, but opted out for a number of reasons.
“It’s so hands-on that there isn’t really time to drink. I tried,” she said with a smile. “Plus, a brad nailer and a martini aren’t the best combination.”

However, Miller has added the some events will include food and beverages catered by outside businesses.
Miller said her first-ever workshop is scheduled for Dec. 3: at press time, it was already nearly sold out.
“I’m not nervous, but there are some first-day-of-school jitters,” she said. “It’s so exciting to have the whole vision finally coming together.”

Jill Miller, of Hopkins, is the proud owner of the new Projects in Person LLC on Mainstreet, which offers a do-it-yourself experience through guided workshops with tools and materials provided. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Gabby Landsverk)
Jill Miller, of Hopkins, is the proud owner of the new Projects in Person LLC on Mainstreet, which offers a do-it-yourself experience through guided workshops with tools and materials provided. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Gabby Landsverk)

For more information, visit projectsinperson.com

Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]