Things are starting to shape up in a whole new way for business owner Pam Benziger. The master crafter and wood worker has taken her gift from home parties and corporate events to a brick-and-mortar location at 1275 E. F St., Suite 9A, Oakdale.
What started as a labor of love to assist her husband, Realtor Kevin Benziger, with client gifts quickly morphed into something more nearly six years ago. She originally began with learning to make porch signs for her husband’s clients.
“I did some research, figured out how to do it and I love it,” she said of making the signs. “So, I started getting really into it.”
Quickly learning she enjoyed working with wood and the memories it sparked from her childhood, Benziger shared that, growing up with a father who was a “hobby carpenter,” the smell of the wood took her back to a “happy place” filled with nice memories.
“I watched a ton of YouTube videos and really enjoyed learning how to build things,” she added.
Benziger shared when she first started the business, she wanted to offer something different beyond the typical paint parties which were growing in popularity.
“Anything can be painted any way, in any style to go with their home,” the crafter said of creating wood working items which are transformed into home decor. “I know how to teach people all the techniques.
“I use stencils, I’m not an artist,” she continued. “The only thing I can paint by hand is sunflowers because I love them. So, I can’t teach someone how to paint on a canvas, but I can teach them this.”
Recognizing a niche for both products as well as a potential business, Handmade Blessings and Handmade by You was launched. Initially she did host paint parties and sold some custom items on Amazon. As the paint parties began to take off, Benziger created partnerships with others in the business which resulted in contract work with larger companies.
“Things were just starting to take off and then COVID happened,” she shared of her in home crafting business.
Continuing to host parties less frequently during that time, Benziger shared as things began to open up, she noticed people being more hesitant in hosting events in their homes as they were prior to the pandemic.
“It’s so funny, I had been praying about the space and I had not verbalized it at all to him,” Benziger explained of having thoughts of opening a space to host workshops in town but not discussing it with her husband initially.
She did share her thoughts and dreams with a close friend, but still had not mentioned it to her husband Kevin.
“I was definitely praying about it,” she said.
Through conversation, the idea for her location in town was prompted by her husband, who offered space within his own office for her to grow the business.
Proving to be a full circle moment and a bit surreal, the space which now hosts the workshop was also the location of her first job many years ago, formerly Oakdale Village Drug.
“The idea behind this business is to come and have a fun experience with your friends or just by yourself and meet people you’ll become friends with,” Benziger said. “Then go home with something you’re proud to display in your home or give as a gift. Creating family heirlooms even.”
“People have even said that to me,” she added of the heirloom comment, noting the fun of making something the family will be left with that they personally made.
The classroom seats 12 and classes are currently scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays. Price varies by project and class time is blocked out for three hours per project. Registration and payment for classes may be done on her website: handmadeblessings.com.
“They’re normally three-hour classes,” she said. “I don’t know if it will fully take three hours but I’m scheduling it that way because I know that it could, depending how things go.”
Currently Benziger pre-cuts the projects, then instructs the class on assembly. All materials, as well as paint and stencil (if needed) are provided in the class.
“If you like to craft, you’re going to love it,” she said of Handmade Blessings and Handmade by You. “If you’re not sure about it but you like what the project is, I promise you you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll enjoy the process and be proud of what you made.”
As for the “why” behind her passion for the business and bringing it to a storefront, Benziger keeps it simple.
“Honestly just showing people what they can do,” she said of what excites her most. “When a client comes in and says they’re not crafty and leaves with something amazing.”