A Lady Worth Emulating
A few years ago, after I was no longer raising kids, or employed in any way outside the home, I asked myself what I’ve always wanted to do when I didn’t have the majority of my time defined for me each day. Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I did during those years! But time changes things, and I found myself in a new season of life.
I thought of the times I had read Proverbs chapter 31 and how impressed I was with the woman described there! She was home-based and thoroughly committed to her family and her home, yet she was not just”the happy homemaker” whose skills didn’t stretch beyond making cookies (although I’m sure she could make a mean batch of cookies in whatever form of stove she had!)
But no, it didn’t stop there. She was an astute business woman, and a compassionate and generous person in her community. I wanted to be like her.
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands” OK, thought I, she’s a sew-er. I like to sew. I’ve been sewing ever since my 7th grade sewing class. So I started an etsy shop, made table runners, and used some of the photography skill that I had recently developed to display them. The shop was then entitled “Bev’s Table Creations” Etsy has about two million sellers, and it seemed when I looked at the shops that sold runners, there had to be thousands of table runners! I didn’t expect to get anywhere fast.
But the first week, my phone went “cha-ching” (the sound of a cash register indicating an etsy sale). You’re kidding! I was incredulous! I sold a runner! But being such an unbeliever, it turns out that I didn’t have enough fabric to fill the order. So off my husband and I drove to Denver, three hours total there and back, to get the fabric I needed since the fabric store in my town was out. We spent way more money on gas than we made on that runner. But from then on, I was well-stocked and ready to go.
And much to my amazement, my runners sold and sold. It turns out women love to have seasonal table runners for special occasions. And when I started making reversible runners, with ,say, Thanksgiving on one side and Christmas on the other. The orders got hard to keep up with.
But guess what. Sewing has always been fun for me but when it became such full time work, I knew that I didn’t want to do this long term.
But I did loooove being an entrepreneur. And that was the spirit of the Proverbs 31 woman. It didn’t have to take the specific form of sewing.
The Challenge That Started Everything
Now Mike, being fully immersed in his corporate job, had no intention of doing entrepreneur work. But I asked him if he would consider making something out of wood for the shop to expand the potential a bit.
Little did I know that latent within this man who had pretty much never done any woodworking in his life, lay undiscovered giftedness!
OK, this is a blog, not a book. So fast forward. Bev’s Table Creations is now Rocky Mountain Glow, with wood products being the main attraction of the shop. And Mike, it turns out, like Michelangelo who said he could “see” David in the stone before he sculpted it, Mike is able to “see” lamps, candles, and other awesome wood items in a random wood log, and make it into something beautiful!
We knew we were on to something when we got an order for 16 centerpieces comprised of Mike’s awesome candles and a little decorating handiwork on my part, to be used at the Broadmoor Hotel. “Hey, people really like this stuff,” we commented to each other.
An Unexpected Inspiration
Then I did something kind of weird. I signed up for a class at the local senior center. I had never done so before. It was a wood burning class. I expected to be surrounded by feeble classmates barely able to hold the hot iron. But much to my amazement, I was instead surrounded by very talented, gifted, and able artists! And I learned much from them and from the teacher.
I was however disappointed when I and one other woman in the class who were the only newbies had to work the entire 6 weeks on an ugly “tree spirit” rather than on the cute little squirrel that the others got to work on.
But as it turned out, learning to shade and color leaves would be a valuable part of our business in the future, but I had no idea of that at the time.
Not only that, but a group of the men in the class were into making walking sticks because wood carving was also among their areas of expertise, and they, along with the teacher, would go out with a pick up truck and gather wood for sticks.
I listened carefully to their conversations, as if a fly on the wall, and brought it all together as an idea for our shop. What if we made customized walking sticks with wood-burned names and designs?
Long story short, these sticks have become our best sellers. I also do some wood burning on lamps.
Fun Work Improvements
So the final part of our story I would like to share is the improvements we recently made in Mike’s working conditions. I have a lovely workshop in our lower level, where I even have a little kiln for making fused glass jewelry, as well as all my other endeavors.
But Mike has worked in a corner of our garage and outside sanding in wind, cold, heat, and snow.
I should mention that during the past year or so, Mike has come to love this work as much as I do, and when retirement comes upon us, we’re going for it full time. Wait! I thought retirement was for stopping work. That’s not how we see it. We’ve only just begun!
Mike says he finds that the time flies by when he is doing wood working, and that it is therapeutic for both body and soul. Remember the Proverbs 31 woman who “works with eager hands’? both Mike and I find that we love this work!
Back to the point, Mike needed some improvements in his working conditions if this thing was going to be long term.
He also has been using mainly hand tools. That’s nice for home projects, but our sales have doubled since this time last year, and we need to keep up with the pace.
With a little coaxing (Mike is always slower to spend money on anything than I), we both agreed that we need to invest in some things that make our (especially his) work “faster and easier,” which has become our theme for the year.
The first thing we did was to get a small chain saw. We had been sawing down our “standing dead” aspen with a hand saw (and after a while I pooped out because it was just too hard) but now we can zoom through the forest finding the dead wood that we need. Yes, we have permission to do this. It is legal to take dead wood from the national forests as long as it is not to large and not too much.
The next thing we did was to purchase an awesome Sunset shed for a workshop for Mike. How fun it has been to get it ready.
Our son Ricky came over to help Mike put in the electrical stuff needed to have power. Mike did the digging and wiring outside and Ricky did the wiring inside.
And now we have room to roam…room for such items as this band saw, which among many other features, is able to make these wood slices…something which used to take a huge amount of time and energy. But now…it cuts like butter.
Rocky Mountain Glow may or may not become a super thriving business. But one thing is for sure, we’re having a lot of fun giving it a go!