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Ashley Epps inside the truck, near her work table. ROBIN WOODS/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By ROBIN WOODS
For Montclair Local

Robin Woods is a local girl-about-town, writing about activities, stores, restaurants, and

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ROBIN WOODS

interesting people that catch her eye. She’s written memoirs and personal essays as well as music and fashion columns for various New York City newspapers. 

Got something you think should be in Robin’s Nest? Write to us at culture@montclairlocal.news.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m getting better at continuing to shelter in place after two months. I don’t like it at all, but I am adapting with creative ways to continue writing about interesting business owners here in town.

There are few professions that lend themselves to going from studio and face-to-face interactions to video chats, but Ariana Hoffman of AH&CO came up with a way to keep her home decor and design company up and running the best way that she can for now. 

“I had to brainstorm how to apply my skills and pay some bills. I have to keep evolving to keep afloat and attract new clients,” she said.

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READ: MONTCLAIR GROOMERS BACK TO TRIMMING PUPS

READ: ROBIN’S NEST: BOTANICAL ARTS LIFT HEARTS, AT THE GARDEN CLUB

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Ariana is well known as an artist of all trades, and learned how to work with recycled wood and furniture pieces from a friend’s father, a furniture designer who recognized how artistic she was. She spent seven years making custom-designed furniture for the trade and for private clients. Living in Montclair since she was 5 years old, Ariana started out as a communications major at Syracuse University, moving on to work in the music industry and doing promotion for K-Rock radio. This wasn’t what she wanted as a career, so she started taking art classes.

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Robin Woods and Ariana Hoffman. ROBIN WOODS/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

People hire Ariana to create faux finishes on furniture pieces in their homes, which she said is “painting something to look like something else,” or trompe l’oeil in French. The market has changed, with imported pieces from China and big-box, inexpensively made furniture from Home Goods and IKEA. COVID-19’s keeping Ariana out of homes, although she is booked to finish projects she began before non-essential businesses shut down in New Jersey. 

“I am faking it to make it now, with no takeout or transportation right now. I will be working on a few projects outdoors or in garages for some clients, as long as there is no direct contact with them, and a separate bathroom for me to use while I am working,” she said.

Another way for AH&CO to stay in business and keep relevant is the creation of Zoom video conferencing classes for adults and children, live and in real time with Ariana and others. A recent class showed people how to make beads from paper with art supplies already on hand at home. Once registered and paid up (suggested donation fee) for a class, a user finds a list of simple supplies on her website, arianahoffman.com. Classes on Zoom last for 1 to 1½  hours. Her next planned class will take place on June 4 at 7 p.m., “Beginning Abstract Painting.” If you don’t have everything on hand now, you can order supplies online and have them shipped to your home.  

Love your daddy, uncle, grandpa, or caregiver? Father’s Day is June 21, and Ariana has a Father’s Day Zoom card-making class ready to go on June 11 at 5 p.m. Students will learn how to make cards with paper folded into different shapes, using wrapping paper, colored paper, markers, and crayons. 

Beauty is even more important now, as we’re spending so much time at home.

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Robin holds a pup while standing on the steps of the truck. ROBIN WOODS/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

PRETTY PUPS

Now, what you gonna do with that mangy doggie of yours?

We have our artistic hats on, so let’s see what we can do about our pets. As much as we’d love to get haircuts, color touch-ups, and manicures for ourselves, that’s not going to happen for a little while longer. But what to do with that somewhat smelly, ungroomed pet in the house? Have no fear, Ashley Epps and PawparazziGlam Mobile are here.

Pet groomers are open for business, and Ashley’s back on the road around Montclair with her bright pink truck. She has a license and certification as a professional pet stylist. She trained in Pennsylvania for PetSmart in 2012 and interned for more than 800 hours, while working five days a week. There’s much to learn about working with animals, starting with the basics of anatomy and the proper use of tools and blades.

“I own a Yorkshire terrier named Envy, the Diva Dog, and I was always interested from the time I was a child in dressing up animals in clothes, dyeing their hair different colors, and accessorizing with bows,” Ashley said. 

You can decide on which services you’d like for your pet, but for now, no pet parents are allowed on the truck while Ashley is working on them. She disinfects the truck before and after each animal, using a bleach solution that is safe for animals. All clients must bring their pets, canine or feline, to the truck while wearing gloves. A clean collar and lead is supplied by Ashley while she’s working, to keep things as clean as possible. It’s recommended that you brush out any mats and tangles before your pet has an oatmeal shampoo and conditioning.

It’s important for Ashley to get to know about your pet before she works on it. She asks her clients whether their dogs or cats are aggressive, and what their likes and dislikes are, before she brings them inside the truck. She then attaches a lead to the arm of her work table, using a clamp. The lead fits around the pet’s head so it doesn’t fall off the table. Although she can’t perform all of the services of a licensed veterinarian, she can snip and trim pet hair, brush teeth, and express dogs’ anal glands. If you own a dog, you know what I’m talking about.

As attention-getting and as glamorous as her truck, Ashley works six days a week, spending an hour or so with each animal and returning them to their owners cleaner, prettier, and more fashionable than ever. Of course, I asked her if she would consider grooming me if I disguised myself as a French poodle. 

A girl can dream, can’t she?

In this column:

  • • AH&C0

arianahoffman.com

  • PawparazziGlam Mobile

973-204-8196 

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