Hobbyhouse Comes to Boro Park: Provides Relaxing, Vibrant, and Creative Fun
By Yehudit Garmaise
Sitting at a table surrounded by Laya Heilpern’s signature pink and yellow walls, while upbeat Jewish music plays, cotton candy, popcorn, slush, and ice cream are served, and many different interesting and colorful art activities beckon, no one can resist working on a masterpiece.
“Customers look at the projects, want to do them, and somehow they just start making art,” explained Mrs. Heilpern, who owns four different locations of Hobby House, a painting and crafting experience, now located at 3915 14th Ave in Boro Park.
Fifteen years ago, Mrs. Heilpern opened her first Hobbyhouse in the basement of her Monsey home, however the popularity of her store encouraged her to move to a storefront at 11 Main Street in Monsey three years ago,
In April, Mrs. Heilpern expanded further, when she opened a new store in Monroe, and in June, she opened two new locations: one in Boro Park and a summer-only location in the new Mountain Mall in Monticello.
“I am a busy lady, Baruch Hashem,” Mrs. Heilpern said with a laugh. “People trust my place: they are comfortable leaving their children. Even when adults come in, everyone is comfortable, and anyone can make something special.
“You really don’t need to know anything. Everything is guided.”
Once they get started, however, people can work on their own.
“All of our projects are very do-able,” she said, “People often say things like, ‘I never thought I could do it!’ or ‘My child finally has found a creative outlet.’
Not only do mothers drop off their children at the different Hobbyhouse locations, but teenage girls come by after school, bochurim come in groups to paint, and dates come in for a night out, but Mrs. Heilpern also happily remembered, a group of bobbies, who came by one afternoon to paint.
“How did you hear about us?” wondered Mrs. Heilpern, who asked her happy customers.
“Kol Mevaser!” they enthusiastically responded, as they were looking for something fun and different to do.
“They kept telling me, ‘You have such a great store!’”
In addition, people always tell Mrs. Heilpern that they can better express their thoughts while they are painting: either in their pieces they are making: or even as they speak to the people with whom they came.
“Conversation flows: Not to mention the therapeutic effects of painting and making art,” she explained.
When Mrs. Heilpern was growing up in Boro Park, she loved to make intricate arts and crafts, but she never found opportunities in the neighborhood or at school to paint, to create, and to express herself.
“In those times, nobody did anything about their passions, and very few modes of personal expression were available,” Mrs. Heilpern explained.
When, like all mothers, Mrs. Heilpern needed fun activities to keep her kids busy, she always provided them with a variety art projects, which her children always loved and never tired of doing.
After seeing how much she loved providing her own children with interesting and creative fun activities and considering her positive experiences as an elementary school English teacher, she realized that she wanted to create a business that provides a kosher, fun, vibrant, and artistic environment for the community.
“Whatever kinds of crafts I want in my store, and I think I will enjoy, I can just bring them in,” explained Mrs. Heilpern, who then gets further satisfaction when her customers see her creations and want to copy them and interpret them in their own ways. “There is so much to do in Hobbyhouse. You can always come back and try something new.”
In addition to walk-in customers, Mrs. Heilpern said she provides her services for birthday parties, bas mitzvah parties, Chanukah parties, day camps, melave malkahs, bungalow colony gatherings, corporate events, family reunions, and shul and school events.
One nice activity took place after 70 girls, who attend Bais Rochel in Monsey, completed learning Iggeres haRamban. As a reward, the school brought the girls to Hobbyhouse so they could each paint their own letter holders to take home.
Mrs. Heilpern said her largest event, in which she enlisted the help of all the camp’s counselors, hosted 750 campers, who all happily crafted.
For events that would normally require groups to rent halls and hire entertainers, Hobby House can be rented out for simchas and parties that provide creative fun.
On an everyday basis, Hobbyhouse does not require reservations, although groups of 10 and larger should reserve tables in advance. Most locations are open from 12pm to 7pm, but earlier and later hours are always available.
When we turn the clocks back in October, Motzei Shabbos is a busy time in the four different Hobbyhouses.
“It is beautiful to see,” explained Mrs. Heilpern. “A mother, a father, and six children around one table: all painting.”