Callin’ all wine-lovin’ ladies and DIYers: the coolest spot this side of The Buttery just opened in Malvern.
AR Workshop is a custom art studio where you make wood signs, photo frames, canvas pillows, tote bags and more.
Sipping all the way.
(Giving “craft cocktails” a whole new meaning, right?)
Projects are downright adorable. You go home with something you’ll actually display in your home – ta-dah! – or give as a gift.
Plus, you get to roll up your sleeves and play carpenter. Wielding a screw gun is some kind of empowering fun.
AR Workshop is really a ‘playshop’ – for moms’ nights, kids’ birthday parties, date nights, hands-on baby showers, club meetings, you name it.
Food and beverages – including the adult variety – are BYO.
Fees – $35 – $40 for kids, $65 – $75 for adults – include all materials and instruction.
We toured the studio. Yup, they’ve nailed it. (Not kidding – they actually made the industrial-chic furniture themselves.)
Every detail is thoughtfully conceived: from the hammers that serve as apron hooks and the cozy sitting area to the local notions for sale, like Main Line Candle Co. soy candles (from Malvern’s Anne Altman) and purses by LittleBags/BigImpact (from Lower Merion’s youngest social entrepreneur, Anna Welsh, 13).
Truly, from top to bottom, Malvern’s AR Workshop screams: Power to the She.
(Not to fear: there are “guy” projects for birthday parties and date nights.)
Owners are two NICU nurses at Nemours/DuPont: Gemma Hrevatis and Sarah Bakke, united by a love for crafts and an itch to start a business.
Front and center will be Hrevatis, who lives in West Chester and has 4- and 6-year-old sons. She’s going “casual” at Nemours – taking a minimal number of shifts to keep her job.
Bakke, 2017 Nurse of the Year for the Nemours Children’s Health System and a former Army National Guard officer who served in Afghanistan, will run back-of-the-house operations while she studies to be a pediatric nurse practitioner at Jefferson.
And works at Nemours.
And juggles a husband and two boys back home in Mullica Hill, NJ. (Slacker.)
Malvern’s AR Workshop is the area’s first; the nearest franchise is in Chestnut Hill.The concept – not even two years old – is blowing up. Founders are North Carolina moms Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff (i.e. AR) who met at a preschool open house in 2010 and promptly launched an Etsy store and DIY blog. There are already more than 70 AR Workshops in 24 states.
Like the women we want our daughters to be, Bakke and Hevratis tell SAVVY they’re all about collaboration, not competition.
AR’s spring schedule deliberately includes imported partnerships.
- Selena Zelezny, owner of the Bryn Mawr wine education studio, What Am I Drinking, who will lead between-craft tastings on May 12;
- DIY Network “Stone House Revival” stylist Denise Sabia will host a tray-making workshop April 14;
- Jill Kane Designs will teach nifty hand-lettering on April 29. (We’ll be there, btw.)
- Secret Ingredient Personal chef Chris Welsh will be providing light bites on Ladies Night, April 25.
Even getting the doors open for last Saturday night’s opening bash required uncommon kindness and kinship. As soon as their studio passed inspection, friends worked feverishly for 15 hours straight to fill and furnish it. Nice.
AR Workshop, 233 E. King St. in Eastside Flats, 610-783-3113.
Sweat equity: a Wayne mom’s new yoga mat invention (SAVVY readers get a third off!)
You rush out the door to yoga or Pilates.
And, darn it, you forgot your water bottle. Or your towel. Or your keys. Or your ID.
YOGI Fitness Mat to the rescue. YOGI as in: “You On the Go, Instantly.”
The mom behind the mat: Jo Ruse, runner-turned-Bikram Yoga enthusiast.
“Always strapped for time,” Ruse would frequently forget things en route to yoga, especially when she was a new mom. Running back in the house would only disturb her infant daughter just after she’d gotten settled.
There had to be a better way.
So eight years ago, she had a vision: a yoga mat with everything already attached: carrying strap, full-length towel (handy for sweaty Bikram), stainless steel water bottle, key ring and a wallet for IDs with pouch for protein bars. All in one grab-and-go place.
It was six years before Ruse’s vision took shape. Encouraged by pals in October 2016, she created a prototype and applied for – and has since received – a U.S. patent.
Like Dorothy in Oz, Ruse found the perfect manufacturer in her own Philly backyard. The factory’s first run of 250 rolled out last July – shortly after she spent the night camped out in a lawn chair at Xfinity Live so she could audition for “Shark Tank.”
Sixth in line, she got the audition but didn’t make the cut. (None of the other 300 Philly hopefuls did, either.)
But she did make new friends that day and she kept on plugging.
In early March, Ruse launched her online store and landed her first sales outpost, Focus Fitness in Bryn Mawr, come April.
Along the way, she’s forced herself to ignore the naysayers who called her dream – admittedly “held together by duct tape and a prayer” – “a silly idea.”
She’s even had to tune out her own family.
Raised in Pottstown in humble circumstances, Ruse says neither of her Polish-born parents made it past 6th grade. “Their third date was at the altar,” she says, a reference to their arranged marriage. Her father worked odd jobs; her mother cleared tables at the Coventry Mall.
Ruse admits she was sometimes “embarrassed” by her hand-me-down clothes and parents who couldn’t speak English.
But “they’re one of the things that drives me,” she says. “They wanted me to drop out in high school … But I saw them struggle and I didn’t want that hardship.”
Ruse beat the odds and went to college. She’s now the school librarian at Penn Wood Elementary in West Chester.
This isn’t Ruse’s first fling at entrepreneurship.
For three years, she designed and sold WOOF Baby – kiddie clothes geared to pet owners. “I’ve always loved the idea of starting something new.”
But these days, YOGI Fit Mats are Ruse’s baby.
She’s self-funded and once she gets some sales under her belt, she says she’ll try entering the Shark Tank again.
Here’s hoping this dogged inventor does the Main Line proud. Fingers crossed, this time they’ll bite.
YOGI Fitness Mats are available online and will be sold at Bryn Mawr’s Focus Fitness beginning in April.
***SIZZLING HOT DEAL for SAVVY readers: Use code SAVVY50 at checkout for $50 off a YOGI Fitness Mat (with carrying strap, full-length towel, stainless steel water bottle, wallet and key ring. Offer valid for “Original” mats (reg. price = $150/SAVVY price = $100) and “Express” Mats (reg. price = $135/SAVVY price = $85.) Makes a great Mother’s Day or birthday gift, too.***
King of Prussia Mall goes under the knife – again!
Get ready for a lighter, brighter KOP Mall. Owner Simon Property Group plans a “dramatic” multi-million-dollar remodel of the area of the mall formerly known as the Plaza.
Renovations include upgraded LED lighting, new floors and finishes, glass handrails, fresh new colors in the “luxury” wing, additional soft seating with phone-charging stations and renovated restrooms.
The work begins in April and will take place in the wee hours when the mall”s closed. Should take at least a year.
It’s the mall’s ninth major facelift and its third in three years. Btw, Simon’s still not elaborating on reported plans to turn the old J.C. Penney and nearby parking lot into offices and residences à la NYC’s Hudson Yards. Hmmm.
Nova Nation now tougher to crack
Put your Vs up.
Villanova navy and white flags are bustin’ out around town. This weekend’s Final Four appearance – the basketball team’s second in three years – will do that.
Iggles fans are especially enamored with this T-shirt, given to players and sold on campus this week. (We’ll be wearing ours with pride in San Antonio on Saturday.)
Sill, amid the hoopla, a few folks might secretly be wishing Team Nova wasn’t so darn successful/popular. Take, for example, all those hopeful high schoolers denied admission last week.
With applications through the roof (and a new Early Decision option), Villanova’s getting verrrrry picky.
The school received a record 23,000 applications this year for just 1,700 spots for the Class of 2022, plunging acceptance rates from 35 percent to 28.8 percent. This puts Nova firmly in league with “peer school” Boston College, where the acceptance rate this year was 27 percent.
Now, BC still has the edge and only offers non-binding Early Action. ED typically lowers acceptance rates so Nova, over time, could easily catch up.
Consider Villanova’s abundant blessings: top-flight academics and a national sports presence, an exceedingly well-oiled alumni network/money machine, a lovely campus just a short train ride from newly hip Philly, and coming soon, a state-of-the-art performing arts center and on-campus student apartments and shops.
So yeah, smart money says they’ll catch up.
Bad Day, Mike Jerrick
Anyone else catch the latest brouhaha over Fox 29’s “Good Day” host Mike Jerrick?
Viewers know Jerrick’s shtick: he’s the clueless, sometimes outrageous “uncle” of his younger, cooler co-host, Alex Holley and Wynnewood’s Karen Hepp.
Playing for laughs, Jerrick walks a fine line. Last January, his bosses said he crossed it when he called “bulls…t” on live TV about Kellyanne Conway’s claim of “alternative facts.”
Lots of folks think he crossed it again a few weeks ago on International Women’s Day. Pole-vaulted over it, in fact.
And in a creepy, lascivious way –– although his bosses at Fox 29 so far appear to be giving him a pass.
HBO’s John Oliver sure didn’t, skewering Jerrick on national TV for his March 8 nonsense. Here’s a peek – judge for yourself. Fast forward three minutes into the clip for the Jerrick part.
We Rise: Area U.S. House races and women
Pop Quiz: How many of PA’s 18 U.S. Representatives are women?
But there’s new reason to think that may change in November.
For starters, there’s Chester County, where Republicans are scrambling and Dems are stoked. After ranting about redrawn district lines and dropping hints for weeks, U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello just dropped out. The Republican incumbent – and the party’s best chance to fend off a challenge from Devon Democrat Chrissy Houlahan – announced Sunday he’s bowing out of the race for the new Sixth District. On Tuesday, he officially took his name off the ballot.
Among his stated reasons: Local Dems and “the left” who are “more engaged” and “candidly more angry” with Trump “by the week.” Btw, Costello says that like “many Republicans,” he disagrees with Trump’s words and actions “from time to time.”
Costello also cited concern for his young family. Just 41, he has an infant and a 4-year-old at home in West Chester. If not for a car issue, he says would have been on the field the day a gunman attacked a House baseball game in Virginia last year.
All well and good, Rs say, but couldn’t the congressman have told us sooner – maybe before the deadline for candidates to get on the ballot? The county’s GOP leaders are now playing “Getting to Know You” with attorney Greg McCauley, the only other R on the ballot.
Meanwhile, there’s a pink wave over in the newly drawn, Dem-friendly Fourth Congressional district in Montco, but it could become a washout.
Three women have been vying for the Dems’ nomination: gun reform activist Shira Goodman, State Rep. and proud grandmom Madeleine Dean, and State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, co-founder of Emerge, a group that encourages women to run.
Then along comes Joe Hoeffel, 67, former three-term congressman, who (at his wife’s urging), throws his name in the ring at the 11th hour.
Hoeffel, it should be noted, is pals with State Sen. Daylin Leach, the longtime Main Line pol who lusted for the very same seat, then dropped out amid allegations of questionable interactions with female staffers. It’s quite possible that Leach lovers will go Hoeffel.
So, come May 15, will Hoeffel play spoiler? Will the women’s vote be splintered and the man with the most name recognition, the guy who crashed the party, walk off with the nomination?
Montco Dems, btw, failed to endorse a candidate at their recent nominating powwow, although sentiment seemed to favor the ladies. Definitely a Dems primary to watch.
Leno unloads in West Chester
Comedian Jay Leno crashed West Chester’s March for Your Lives last Saturday. (Not to worry: his 169 cars and 117 motorcycles are just fine, thank you.)
The former late-night host was in town for a classic car event.
Or maybe he was checking out the wondrous acoustics at the Academy of Music, where he’ll be performing May 19.
Either way, Leno grabbed the mic in downtown West Chester Saturday. And the crowd, 1,000 strong, roared.
“It’s sad that it takes something like this to get us riled up,” Leno said, reportedly making a point to give a shoutout to the Sikhs and people of various faiths marching together. “It’s great to see so many young people committed to something so good …It makes me proud to be an American.”
Us too, Jay.
Also taking a turn at the mic: Conestoga U.S. Government teacher-turned-activist-and-media-darling Deb Ciamacca, a former Marine who’s been interviewed on national and international TV. “The politics of the few can’t dictate the safety of all of us,” she opined in West Chester.
This just in: An 18-year-old student at Bonner-Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill was arrested Tuesday for allegedly planning to “shoot up” the school on May 1. An Tso Sun, an exchange student from Taiwan, is set to undergo psychiatric evaluation. Officials searched his closet and found 20 rounds of 9mm ammo, a military ski mask, ammunition clip loader, a military style ballistic vest, crowsbow with scope and light and a garrote strangulation gear. He allegedly warned a friend not to attend school May 1 because of a planned shooting spree and the friend alerted the school social worker.
Returning to Saturday’s protests: Flyer’s anthem singer Lauren Hart and hubby Todd Carmichael (founder of La Colombe Coffee) added star power to downtown Philly’s March for Our Lives, then penned a heartfelt editorial.
And Malvern’s Most Outspoken Mom – and we mean that in a nice way – Marybeth Christiansen, PA “legislative lead for the national group, MOMS Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, tells us she spoke to 20,000 or so at Philly’s March for Our Lives, sharing the mic with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Mayor Kenney and a Columbine shooting survivor, among others.
BTW, you can thank Christiansen and her cohorts for pushing the issue vis-à-vis domestic violence in our state’s capital. A bill that (finally) forces domestic abusers to turn in their guns pronto has unanimously cleared the PA Senate. Stats clearly show that having guns in hand often turns wife beaters into murderers.
Huge Harrisburg hurdle. Jumped. Now, onto the PA House.
And since it’s Easter/Passover week…
Seems the youth marchers may have God on their side. Or at least His earthly vicar, Pope Francis.
Just one day after Marches For Our Lives around the world, the Pope devoted his rather extraordinary Palm Sunday sermon to young voices.
“The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” Francis said. “There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. … There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.” The Pope went on to say, “You have it in you to shout” even if “we older people and leaders, very often corrupt, keep quiet.”
Now, to be clear, the Pope could have been talking about the upcoming Synod of Bishops themed “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” But it’s also a fair guess that he watched some Saturday morning TV that week.
Urban Air: A LOT to take in
Your kids – and the kid in you – should be bouncing off the walls at this one: Urban Air plans to put a Trampoline & Adventure Park at 2700 DeKalb Pk., E. Norriton by year’s end.
The award-winning national chain says it’ll make the short drive from the Main Line well worth your while. Think 34,000 sq. ft. of state-of the-art trampoline arenas and attractions like indoor Dodge Ball, ropes and climbing courses, an indoor coaster, Slam Dunk Tracks, Spin Zone bumpers, a Runway Tumble Track, Urban Warrior Course, a TUBES obstacle course, a Warrior Battle Beam and more.
We’re already hearing the shriek of young (and young at heart) partyers. Are you?
This and That
Play water polo, punch your ticket to the U.S. Naval Academy? Sure. Just ask Episcopal Academy senior Skyler Schork. An elite player, Skyler spent the last three summers in SoCal, training and competing with the San Diego Shores Water Polo Club.
Still, water polo’s not a sport at the Academy so Sky’s road to Annapolis was, shall we say, less traveled. Seems she and her sibs were at a Christmas party hosted by Todd Scott, owner of Platoon Fitness in Bryn Mawr, and the two got to talking. She told Scott she wanted to go to USNA but worried about “the attendant physical and mental demands.”
Platoon set her up on a training schedule, as it often does to give athletes an edge.
And Sky had no limit.
The rest is herstory. “She taught us more than we taught her,” Scott tells SAVVY. Sounds about right. A superhuman work ethic like Sky Schork’s can’t be taught.
Wayne’s Plank Studio will open in new space in the shopping center near the Strafford Farmer’s Market (371 W. Lancaster Ave.) April 9. First week is free.
Radnor Police will host an “Active Shooter and Safe School Symposium” April 18 at 6:45 p.m. at the Radnor township building at 301 Iven Ave., Wayne. Speakers include FBI and Delco DA’s office. It’s free but do let them know you’re coming at vdimaio@Radnor.
A grateful SAVVY shoutout to this month’s new advertisers and sponsors – SAVVY wouldn’t be here without you! Please patronize them early and often:
- Campli Photography who kindly took those fab pics of AR Workshop for us this week.
- Platoon Fitness. This edition’s sponsor. Read about them below. P.S. SAVVY readers get free training!)
- Village Wellness in Berwyn. You can still click for your free SAVVY gifts.
- Hunter Reed Fine Homes and Estates. Click, drool, scroll, drool, repeat.
- Austin Hepburn Installs Windows and Doors. Get your new Pella and Andersens here.
- Danley Homes in Bryn Mawr. Carriage homes sold out; only a few townhomes left!
- Mojo Fitness. Super fun dance workouts with serious results!
And a huge thank you for sticking with us: Your Organizing Consultants (Anna Sicalides), Beth Mulholland/Gabriella Peracchia Team at Berkshire Hathaway, Camera Shop in Bryn Mawr, Restore Crysosauna in Haverford and Wayne, Realtor Sue MacNamara and Day Spa by Zsuzsanna in Wayne.
If you’d like to join the party, support relevant, readable community journalism, and showcase your business to thousands of loyal, local SAVVY readers, contact [email protected] or give her a buzz at 610-304-4996.
By Courtney Mullen from Team SAVVY
When I first saw the name, “Platoon Fitness,” visions of drill sergeants, army crawls through mud, and ropes courses with sand bags held high danced in my head.
But, alas, I was sorely mistaken – and only somewhat sore afterward.
Platoon Fitness, it turns out, means something else entirely.
When I reported for duty, I was greeted by Platoon’s upbeat and kind owner, Todd Scott, and my amazing personal trainer for the day David Ruhl, aka “The Injury Whisperer.”
Platoon’s state-of-the-art, 10,000 sq. ft. facility is a two-story adult playground (kids welcome, too!) with turf flooring, a mat room for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing and MMA, an Infrared sauna, massage suite and so much more.
“Yeah. We have all of the toys here,” Scott tells me.
But Platoon doesn’t rely on toys so much as its highly qualified and loyal regiment of trainers. Most have nearly 10-year tenures and are cross-trained in a variety of disciplines.
The “platoon” is the company’s one-for-all and all-for-one team of trainers, a band of brothers and sisters that eats, sleeps and works together.
Trainers’ quarters (“The Hooch”) include sleeping barracks for those with 4 and 5 a.m. start times and a mini-mess hall with kitchenette and couch. Cook for one and you cook for all.
Think of Platoon as a friendly army encampment, with tactically trained officers focused on a singular mission: the peak health – in every sense of the word – of everyone who walks through the glass doors.
When I arrive, I tell Trainer David I’m a bit of a fitness junkie, that I’ve tried everything – barre, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, Les Mills, Zumba, step and kickboxing – but have mostly been sticking with cardio workouts, i.e. running and Flywheel.
I also tell him my knees hurt.
Like the conscientious fitness coach he is, Dave listens and asks questions throughout my session so we can both fully understand my background and body.
For the next 45 minutes, The Injury Whisperer takes me through a series of movements – some I’ve tried, others brand new. All performed without a peep from my problem knee.
I thought I’d miss the endorphin rush of cardio. But with Dave’s pinpoint moves, his careful and knowledgeable one-on-one guidance, and those Wu-Tang tunes pumping through the air, I was flying high.
A Platoon motto: “we’ll kick your butt or hold your hand.”
I got a good dose of both.
Dave’s also a licensed massage therapist, so he likes to work a little TLC into his training sessions – no extra charge.
Post-workout, I was just sore enough to feel it when I sat down – nothing too terrible.
And later that same day, I could have sworn that my waist looked smaller and my tush looked perkier.
So yeah, I’ll gladly sign up for more of derrière kicking with compassion at Platoon.
Not looking for personal training? No problem. Other Platoon offerings include:
- Corporate Wellness
- Group Training
- Platoon Outdoor
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Self Defense and Mixed Martial Arts
- Triathlon Training
- Platoon Corrective
- On-going fitness seminars.
City mouse? Platoon has a second location at 716 Walnut Street.