Megan Sortino is putting the power (tools) to build things in people’s hands at her Hammer & Stain DIY Workshop.
Megan Sortino was a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, when she sought help from a woman named Lisa Huigens with distressing and chalk painting her furniture. The project was right up Lisa’s alley. As the owner of a do-it-yourself workshop called Hammer & Stain in Gainesville, Lisa was no stranger to sanding and painting and working with wood.
Fast-forward to 2017, and Megan, an occupational therapist at UAB, was starting her maternity leave when Lisa’s workshop came to mind again. “I had been thinking about opening a Hammer & Stain,” she says. “I knew it would do really well in Birmingham. I said, ‘Alright. I have 12 weeks, I have a good baby…’”
You can probably guess what happened next. Megan opened her Hammer & Stain workshop, the company’s 13th of 65 individually licensed locations, in Hoover in November 2017. Lisa came to Megan’s shop and completed a three-day training with her, teaching her how to build different projects from start to finish. “We can do any project that we want with us being individually licensed,” Megan says. “We can do anything customized.”
That’s where Megan’s natural creativity and an online community of fellow Hammer & Stain owners come in. “We’re all coming up with a new project. We share building specs and the design file. And we had an owners retreat a few weeks ago where I got to learn more,” she says. “We learned how to rust metal. Bigger build items that we can do are really cool, like cornhole and children’s picnic tables and planter boxes for spring. Being able to go out of our comfort zone and build larger projects is pretty awesome.”
Megan says she had never used power tools or a vinyl cutter before opening her workshop, which is something she shares as encouragement with many of the people who walk through her door. “We cater to all DIY skillsets,” she adds. “We definitely help anybody and everybody make a project.”
Megan and her instructors will step in and help first-time participants with steps in a project that require the use of a sander or nail gun or other power tool, but she encourages even the most timid beginners to give it a try if they can pluck up the courage because “they might go home and feel like they can do their own projects.” Take the #LadiesWhoBuild class participants, for example. They built their own coffee tables and sofa tables.
“It’s really more about the experience, too,” she says. “They can come in and enjoy themselves with their girlfriends.”
But Hammer & Stain sees plenty of male participants, especially in couples’ workshops like the Valentine’s Day dinner workshop. “We do have guys in here, and they love it,” Megan says.
She also offers summer workshops for children and Mommy and Me workshops. Children-focused projects include string art, scrabble tile sets, tic tac toe sets and light-up palettes. Corporate events, private parties and traveling workshops can be scheduled as well.
Projects for adults aren’t limited to wooden signs … or wood, for that matter. Classes can focus on softer projects, such as floral arranging, cookie decorating, blanket knitting and hand lettering. Seasonal projects like palette Christmas trees are also offered. All materials are provided by Hammer & Stain.
“It’s really awesome to be able to be a small business owner,” Megan says. “It’s not something I ever saw in my future. All of it was self-led, and it’s been a big learning curve along the way, but something that I’ve been so grateful for—the opportunity to own a small business in Birmingham.”
Hammer & Stain DIY Workshop is located at 3704 Lorna Road, in River Oaks Village near Once Upon A Child. Follow Hammer & Stain on Facebook @hammerandstainbirmingham and Instagram @hammerandstainbham.