Judy Browne is the creator and founder of Denver based Workshop for Women, where she offers fun, hands-on classes in basic home improvement skills for women.
She is also a certified home inspector with Pillar to Post.
We spoke with her about how she started the business and where it’s going.
Thirst for Knowledge
“Women want to know more about home improvement because more single women are buying their own home or their husbands aren’t really the handy type,” Browne said.
Empty-nesters also make up a significant amount of students. The main goal of the workshops is to go over the basics.
“Women are embarrassed by their lack of even basic (maintenance) knowledge. They would just shut down, “ Browne said.
She developed nine different foundational classes, with subjects such as “Home Maintenance” and “Attaching Things.”
“Every class stands on its own, with the exception of the woodworking class,” Browne said.
Pulled by Construction
Browne started her workshops in the fall of 2005. Initially the classes were taught in a central Denver house but it evolved into on-site classes, either at Front Range Community College in Westminster or workshops hosted by local businesses.
It was an idea that kind of pulled her to it. Browne, working as a mechanical engineer in 2000, started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
“I was working a four day week so I’d go out on Fridays and work with Habitat,” Browne said. “Pretty soon I was liking Friday’s better than the other days of the week. I was pulled in by construction…it felt like a true calling,” Browne said.
She left her day job and volunteered with Americorps, the domestic corollary to the Peace Corps. One of the memorable projects was working on the “women-built” house, a project done every year.
“What I found out was women were thirsting for this knowledge. There were only Home Depot classes at the time and that wasn’t hands on,” Browne said.
So she started teaching women herself. Currently, the business is expanding online with how to videos and e-books of her manuals to be released soon. “I love what I do, I’ve never had a bad customer.”
Check out her upcoming classes here (archive link; sadly Judy no longer offers classes, but she still has a website). Workshop registration includes a written manual to take away and tools to borrow for the hands on exercises.