Lisa Lofland, a paralegal who lives in northwest Columbus, was talking to her sister, Lori Giffin, now a resident of Hilliard who had worked at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana for the past 17 years.

They were discussing the future.

"We really need to do something that we love," Lofland said she recalled saying.

Giffin loved taking classes at Brush Crazy, a business in Great Falls, Montana, that offers customers a chance to unleash their inner artist. Lofland said she also enjoyed the experience on a visit.

Now, the sisters will find out if they really love the concept as they are poised to open the first Brush Crazy franchise in the former Video Central store at 1299 Bethel Road. The grand opening is scheduled to run Aug. 24-27.

The first Brush Crazy opened in Great Falls four years ago, the brainchild of Dawn Marsh, the creative director, and her husband, Doug Marsh, marketing and business director.

"At Brush Crazy, we believe that gathering with others is the best way for people to learn, grow, be inspired, feel connected, be healthy, give back and celebrate," the firm's website said.

"We are building a place that facilitates those gatherings, by helping people be creative with art that feeds their interest while connecting them with others who share their passions."

The Marshes were in Columbus during July helping Giffin and Lofland prepare for the opening of the Bethel Road site.

They had owned an apparel business in Great Falls, but sold it to their employees and moved to Austin, Texas, to get away from Montana's harsh winters.

After six years, the couple returned to Great Falls and took back the business when it was on the brink of failure, Dawn Marsh said.

They decided to launch another venture in the space where their old one had been.

"It started out as what we would consider a paint-and-sip studio," Dawn Marsh said.

Initially, they offered one size of canvas along with step-by-step instructions for customers to complete paintings Dawn Marsh had created.

Now, Brush Crazy, the original location and the new Columbus one, have 11 sizes of canvas, along with ceramics and wood pallets. Would-be artists can attend classes or take part in "open paints."

Although the Marshes hired a franchise attorney three years ago, they weren't in a rush to expand, Doug Marsh said.

"We just keep taking it to the next level," he said.

"They were awesome to work with," Lofland said.

"I was kind of thinking she was going to say no," Giffin said of calling Dawn Marsh to inquire about a franchise. "When we finally decided things were going to work, there's been no turning back."

Columbus makes an ideal location for Brush Crazy, Dawn Marsh said.

"They could probably have two or three studios and still support it," she said. "It just seemed like a really good fit for everyone."

In addition to classes, which start at $30, the business will offer open-painting times, Lofland said. Customers who don't finish their painting in a class may return to do so at no extra charge, she said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1