One Company, Three Great Shops

Poverty Barn is the parent company of two other businesses: Roo's Remnants and 4 Left Turns. Between the three, we've got you covered when it comes to home decor, baby and kid items and anything related to racing. Visit the links on the left to find out more about what we have to offer.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Breakfast, Anyone?

Every now and then a friend will call or message us with an urgent request.  They have a great idea for a gift for someone, and they want to know if we can make it.  Or they've seen something we make and want that item or something like it.  Usually there is a deadline involved.

Can I say it now?  I thrive under pressure!  There, I've thrown down the gauntlet and tempted the dare fairies.  And at Christmas no less.  Bring it on!

Last Wednesday, a friend from church had a last-minute idea for something she wanted for her daughter's wedding.  The couple's last names start with "Ham" and "Egg" and they have adopted the nickname "Ham & Eggs."  Take that all you Hollywood couples with the silly combo names like Brangelina!

Anyway, the idea was for a sign that would have their nickname and the wedding date. (Did I mention the wedding was on Friday?)  We discussed ideas for a few minutes, and decided on a framed chalkboard with vinyl lettering.  I was pretty sure we had the perfect chalkboard at our shop, which we did, so I set to work.

Below are images of he finished piece, and the happy couple in a pretty wedding pose with the sign.  I just love how it turned out, and that everyone liked it.  There is nothing more satisfying than being able to see the vision of a customer and turn it into reality.

Congratulations, "Ham & Eggs" and to the Mother-of-the-Bride!  Thank you for thinking of us when looking for your special project.

The Barn Girls

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dis-mantling the Mantel

Several years ago, my husband and my son decided that instead of putting up the usual Christmas houses on the mantel for Christmas, they would create a street scene out of Legos.  They built store fronts, a Christmas tree lot, buildings under construction and much more.  All of this, of course, was built along a Main Street that was also a rail line.

This rail line consisted of engines and flat cars that carried cargo and all of the necessary workers to get the job done.

It turned out great, and I have to admit, I was very impressed with their skills.  They tweaked it many times and of course, since it was so awesome, it stayed up well past Christmas.  Strike that, many Christmases. In fact, I am not exactly sure how long ago they built this but I do know that it was impossible to dust and it even sprouted a few cobwebs over time.

In the last few months, I'd begun to grumble about how I would like to reclaim that mantel space, especially after all of the beautiful stagings I have seen on Pinterest.  I wanted a real, grown-up look instead of the "our playroom has overflowed to the living room" look.  Since the youngest person in my house is about to graduate out of his teens, that seemed like a reasonable request.

So while my husband was out of town for a week, I persuaded bribed my son to move all of the pieces of the Lego scene to the top of our entertainment center in the basement.  After much whining and cajoling (I'll let you guess from who), I walked in one day to see the mantel completely empty.

My immediate response was tears prickling in my eyes, and no, they weren't the tears of joy and excitement I had expected.  Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense that a page in my life had turned, and I wasn't sure that I was ready for that chapter.  Seeing the mantel absent of Legos after all of those years somehow underscored the fact that we are no longer a household of parents and kids, but a household of adults.  It made me kind of blue.

For about ten minutes.

Then I got out all the stuff that I'd been making and stashing away, imagining that some day it would look so pretty in all its glory in its proper place.  I set it up, re-arranged, stepped back, moved a few more things, and finally, it was done. The mantel had been reclaimed.  It had grown up.

Now when I walk in the room, I see something that says "Adults Live Here."  While I love the way it looks, and I'm glad I did it, there's still a part of me that actually misses the Legos.

Then I look at the sofa table and the dust-covered block of Lego City buildings and the busy cars and people and I get over it. Immediately.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

We love garage sales

It was a beautiful Saturday here at home, and there was a city-wide garage sale event going on near Jesse.  With that in mind, we loaded up ol' Blue and set off to see what we could find.

Often times, we are hard-pressed to find "real" garage sales, where junk is spread out all over the place and there are lots of hidden treasures.  Too often, all we see are driveways full of Little Tikes stuff, mountains of clothes, and a variety of dated, tole-painted items.

Today was not one of those days.

We've learned that older neighborhoods usually have the best junk, and talking to people can lead to even more fun finds.  It's kind of like taking a cue from American Pickers.  How often to they find the next "honey hole" because they bothered to ask if there is anyone else around who collects and sells stuff?

Most, if not all, of what we found today will be used in our shop.  With less than two weeks until opening day, we're getting down to the wire when it comes to selecting just the right pieces for sale and display.  With a store like ours though, we imagine that it will be re-arranged often, with pieces traded out, to keep it fresh and fun.

Here's what we found on today's outing:

I'm not sure what it is about old printer's type pieces, but I love them.  This set is especially cute because it's for pricing store items, so it should come in handy. The only bad news is that the capitol "B" and "D" are missing. Everything else is there though, so it's a pretty cool find.

This second set of stamps includes two sizes of numbers, a decimal, 
dollar and cent sign.  Not too bad for a mere $3.

We got this pair of really nice old chairs for a bargain.  My plan is to paint them, 
(do I have to sand them first?) 
and then use vinyl lettering on the backs to make them adorable.

We absolutely could not resist this gorgeous five-panel door! It even has really cute door knobs and hinges!  We're thinking we may cover it with hooks and use it as a jewelry display.

Believe it or not, this is our new bathroom door.  Not seeing much in the way of privacy here, right? Well, my plan is to cover the pains in etched glass vinyl and then to stick suction cups on the side that faces the hallway for even more hanging display area.

So there you have it, a day full of great finds and really good prices.  We bought some other crafty stuff and the best craft supply garage sale ever, and we'll be using those to make things for the shop.

We are really looking forward to our grand opening on October 5, and we will have more more in our blog about the shop as things come together.

Thanks for stopping by!

Valerie & Jess
The Barn Girls

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Don't Box Me In

 Here in the Midwest, we have been experiencing a record-breaking drought.  After weeks and weeks of unbearable heat and no rain, it really starts to get to you.  You find yourself looking up at the sky in search of a stray cloud, checking the radar, and watching the evening news just hoping for those words indicating that even the slightest of changes is on the way.

And then when you do hear it, and you've been disappointed numerous times, watching storm clouds zip by close enough to smell the rain, but withholding it from your parched little patch of a yard, you scoff, switch off the television and decide that it's just never going to happen.

Last night, we were told, once again, that there was a slight chance of very scattered showers today.  Imagine my surprise upon awaking, to hear the pitter-patter of rain drops on our window.  Like manna from heaven, precious drops of liquid fell from the sky, and this time, instead of releasing just a few teasers and then drifting on, the clouds hung around for hours and let loose.  It was amazing to finally get a break from our dry spell, and even though it will take many more mornings like this to make up for our eight inch deficit, we are very grateful for what we received.

Rainy days stir in me a desire to create, and there has been a project on my mind for weeks for which I've had all the supplies.  It's a simple little project that I came up with one day while walking the aisles of my favorite craft store.  I had bought dozens of clearanced gift card tins for another project, and had several leftover, and when the colored chalk caught my eye, I knew just how to put them to good use.

All you need for this project, besides the ugly tins and chalk, are a can of chalkboard spray paint and some sponges. Paint the lids with a couple of coats and let them dry.  Put the chalk in the tin, cut a sponge to fit the leftover space, and voila!  You have a travel-sized chalkboard!

I spiced mine up a bit with some vinyl and used an elastic hair band to keep the lid firmly in place.  These will be for sale at I Am What I Am on Main Street in St. Charles beginning Tuesday.

I hope you enjoy this project, and wherever you are, I hope you are getting rain if you need it, sun if you don't.  Have a blessed day!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Three Girls and a Mini Van

It’s Sunday afternoon, and we’re rolling along I-70 about thirty miles from our planned stop in Columbia, Missouri when my grand-daughter starts to fuss. My daughter, Jesse, and I exchange a look before she unbuckles and climbs into the back seat to see what she can do to calm her firstborn.

Olivia’s cries quiet upon seeing her Mommy, and then I hear the sound of a story being read.  Jesse starts with a book about Olivia the pig and moves on to one about Elmo and his Sesame Street friends.  As she does, I swipe at the tears that roll down my face while trying to keep the van on the road.

My mind is filled with memories - of other trips down this same highway - when it was I who read to a fussy girl, to try and distract her from the fact that she was strapped into an unforgiving car seat.

As the book pages turn, so turn the pages of my heart, and soon Jess asks me if I’m crying.  I confess my weepy cruise down memory lane, we both choke up, and then we laugh those sticky-wet-laughs that only two misty-eyed Moms can share.

Life has come full circle.

What brought us to this mile-marker on a dark gray ribbon of highway is a three generation girls weekend where the youngest of our trio, being a wise three-and-a-half months old, has not only dictated our moves but graced us with her lively brand of humor.  A year ago, who would have guessed that we two would become we three and we girls would have started a small business, been moderately successful, and would take a weekend road trip to dream, discuss and shop for that venture? Who would have thought that we would be on the eve of making the decision about whether or not we are ready to take our little enterprise to the next level?

[There was a smile on my lips as I wrote that last line because we didn’t set out to start a business, the business pretty much started us. Why, then, do I even imagine that we have a modicum of control over where it takes us tomorrow?]

And now that business, known as Poverty Barn, binds us together as no blood relation ever has.  Mother begat daughter, and business begat the deepening of a friendship that started in the womb.

We three girls spent a wonderful, albeit stiflingly hot, weekend in Kansas City combing vintage shops, antique malls, and retail stores for fun finds. Every time Jesse points at something old and beautifully time-worn, I grin at the irony. It wasn’t long ago I would have had to bribe her to hit up a flea market, estate sale or junk shop, and now she is the one doing the coercing.

It’s that full circle thing come ‘round all over again.

Our business-that-found-us is one that also suits us well.  Jesse has always been creative, spending hours as a child with boxes of crafty goodness.  Her taste in supplies has evolved from little girl fascination with pony beads and glitter glue to more grown-up fondness (obsession) for fabrics, patterned paper and ribbon. She sews, does machine embroidery, makes the cutest paper goods ever and her ability to mass-produces magnets is rivaled by none.

While Jesse works the soft-goods and baby angle, I tend more toward designing home decor via computer screen.  My vinyl cutter and I are very close, and I love to combine cuts with colorful canvas backgrounds.  Scripture, sayings, and word-collages are the mainstay of my creative day, but I also dabble in paper goods, magnets, and odds-and-ends.

Jesse’s tastes run her way, mine run mine, and somewhere in the middle, we overlap.  It’s a meshing of creativity hot-glued together with a mutual fondness and respect for each other.  I could have made no better choice for a business partner, and for that I am thankful. Truly blessed.  She is Rory to my Lorelei, and on our girls weekends, there are many Gilmore references.  We place orders and make reservations under our pseudonyms and talk about the romance of a thousand yellow daisies. We are silly, honest, mutually brought to tears by our realization of how quickly time passes when you are watching a child grow up. We are sentimental to a fault.

This is what makes our business work.  We share goals, dreams, and visions of not only surviving, but thriving. We want to help other visionaries reach their goals. We want God to be at the center of everything we do. We want our husbands to support us, celebrate our successes, and not chastise us for our failures.

We want to leave a legacy for the third generation Barn Girl.

It’s a simple concept:  Make what we love, sell it at a fair price, treat our customers like family and welcome the spirit of creativity that swirls in every breath we take. At the end of the day, celebrate with a slice of French silk pie.

Is it a coincidence that the pie is in the shape of a circle?

Most definitely not. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quick Saturday Project

Several years ago, I found this lonely red chair sitting outside of a re-sale shop, and I just couldn't resist.  I had no idea where it was going to fit into our home, but I just knew that it would.

Since then, it found a place in our Americana kitchen.  When not in use, it is home to a couple of pillows and a Teddy Bear.  When we have company, it gets put to work.

In the past year, I've fallen in love with my Silhouette Cameo, and while I make gifts for others, and create pieces to sell in our Etsy shop and in local retail spaces, I have done very little for myself.

Enter the chair.

It has been calling my name for ages, a blank canvas that I pass by dozens of times daily.  I just didn't know what I wanted to put on it, and I never made the time to actually do it.  Today I made time.

I hope you like my chair re-do as much as I do. Now when I pass by, not only will I smile at the cheerful red of this rescued seat, but my heart will be warmed by the verse that it bears.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diving in for a Dumpster Dive Makeover

 A few weeks ago, while dropping our newspapers into the big recycling bin at our local grocery store, my husband spotted this magazine rack among the discards.  He pulled it out and threw it in the back of our van thinking that we could use it as some kind of display piece in our business.

It's been sitting in the garage ever since, but the other day, it occurred to me that this would be a great piece to use out by the pool for storing towels, lotions and toys.

I found some cute shapes that I cut on my Silhouette Cameo, applied them to the little metal front pieces, and voila!  Discarded plain Jane piece transformed into something very useful.

A small wicker basket in the bottom rack holds lotions, small toys and bug spray while the upper racks are perfect for the oodles of beach towels that we go through.

 With 100+ degree temperatures predicted for the next week or so, I'm thinking we'll be getting a lot of use out of the pool.  This little makeover will definitely come in handy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

First Fruits

 As kids, my siblings and I were always forced to work in my parents' garden.  Trust me when I say that their idea of a garden was no little 10x10 plot with a few tomatoes, some corn and a few bean plants.  Oh no.  This was (and still is) a HUGE plot with everything from green beans and peas to row after row of corn, zucchini, radishes, pumpkins and several types of lettuce.

At the time, weeding and later harvesting that produce, out in the heat and bugs and other skittering critters was definitely not how I wanted to spend even one minute of my day.  Looking back, I have to admit that I was horrible about it, whining and carrying on and usually a major slacker when it came to actual productivity.

I swore to myself that when I grew up, all of my veggies would come from the store like normal people.

Fast-forward many years, several homes and two grown kids later.   While I have to admit that I'm still not a gardener, I have made a couple of feeble attempts at home-grown.  Most of my labors were enjoyed by rabbits and squirrels, but every now and then, a sweet, succulent tomato actually made it to our kitchen and was thoroughly enjoyed. This, I mused, must have been why my parents did what they did.

We've been in our current home for nearly 19 years and up until this year, we've had this neglected side of the house that we've wanted to fix up.  Terracing has been discussed, stone steps to the back yard, and even a box garden idea was tossed around.

Leave it to my clever and amazing hubby to finally take the initiative to bring the box garden to life.  I have no idea what inspired him, other than the prices in the grocery store produce aisle, but in a matter of a few days, he "threw together" this wonderful little box garden, filled it with soil, put in plants and voila!  Veggies!

I love walking outside and seeing the vibrant reds and yellows of turning tomatoes, the greens of the peppers and the golden marigolds lining the edges, in hopes of keeping away some of God's hungry little creatures.

The other night, my hubby brought in this perfect little cherry tomato, and I just couldn't resist photographing it and sharing this, our first fruits of the season.  It's a beauty of a cutie and it makes my mouth water for more.

Maybe this time, the garden will inspire less grumbling and more appreciation.  Ah, the things life teaches us as we grow up!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pickin' Pics

A quick album of some of our favorite recent picks.  As you can tell, we've had a lot of fun, and our enamelware obsession is going to require an intervention soon.

Doll/baby-sized bed springs.

Enamelware colander, dipper and little pots.

Crayola chalk box.

A pyramid of benches and enamelware.  Yum!

A rusty green metal box becomes a sweet showpiece for our next event!

A slide box, whose slot are just the right size for a business card.

What's better than plain old enamelware?  Enamelware that stacks, of course!

A tall skinny cabinet that holds lots of goodies.

We love flea markets, garage sales, junk shops and Etsy.  Ahhh....

Friday, June 1, 2012

When a Door Opens

About a year ago, Jesse called me up and asked if I wanted to join her at a craft fair.  She'd been sewing cute wallets and billfolds and setting up at few shows and she was tired of going alone.  I had a few things of my own to put out, so I agreed.

On the morning of our first joint show, we were awakened by tornado sirens, and it was no drill. In a haze of sleep-induced grogginess, my husband and I did our usual turn-on-the-tv, check the radar-on-our-phones thing and realized that there was, indeed, severe weather approaching.  Fast.

We weren't frightened for ourselves, because we have decent shelter in our basement, but Jesse, Joe and the dogs have no basement, and, as it turned out, Jess was home alone, huddling with her hounds in the bathtub, praying that the storm would pass and staying on the phone with us for comfort.

Fortunately, no twisters touched down, no damage was done, and we made it to the show only a little tardy.  As was everyone else.

That first show was in a smoky VFW hall and the shoppers outnumbered the vendors by only a slight margin. However sparse the turnout, we made a few sales, had a lot of laughs and really enjoyed ourselves.  It was an inauspicious beginning to what was about to become an all-consuming passion.

What followed was a whirlwind of craft shows, farmer's markets, a web site, launch of our Etsy Shop, Facebook and Twitter pages, and eventually, we stumbled upon Pinterest.  Sigh.  It not only fed our creative lust, but gave us one more place to tout our rapidly-growing product line.

We didn't really set out to start a full-fledged business, but Poverty Barn had a mind of its own and before long, whether we were ready or not, Jess and I became more than two names on a checking account.  We became small business owners.

The last year has taught us a great many lessons.  We've been a part of two great shops and just really immersed ourselves in the experiences.  Those partnerships have inspired us to dream of having our own brick-and-mortar store some day.  And we mean that quite literally.  No modern strip mall will do for Poverty Barn. We need wood and exposed brick, wavy glass windows and tall pressed-tin ceilings.  Those things will be the perfect backdrop for us.  Eventually.

The best part about this business is that we are in it together, a mother-daughter team that works like a well-oiled machine.  Through this experience, I've gained new insight to the creative creature that lives inside my daughter.  I've watched her blossom not only with motherhood, but with the mindset of a true marketer.  She is brilliant and gifted and despite the way her room looked when she lived here at home and the way her office looks now, she really is organized.  We make a great team, and I will be forever grateful that she invited me to be a part of this.

It's funny because I mourned the passing of days as she prepared for her wedding almost two years ago.  I feared that once she left, her world would revolve around her husband, household and eventual children.  The empty nest, while appealing in some ways, held a certain trepidation over my being left to gather dust as I scrambled for any remnants of herself she might save for me.  Well, all I can say is that this Mom is definitely not gathering dust.  There's no way Jess would let me!  And honestly, I think we spend more time together now than we ever have. And with Olivia added to the fray, the mixture just gets sweeter.

As I look back over this past year, I find myself humbled by what has become of this little enterprise.  Not only have we made sales, but more importantly, we've made friends, and not just the Facebook kind.  I would like to say thank you to our families who have prayed for us, supported us and cheered us on.  I would also like to thank the fellow artists, shop owners and small businesses who have contributed to our success.  Without each of you, we would never have made it this far.

Most of all, I would like to thank Jess, for opening the door and inviting me along for the ride.  It may have started out on a dark and stormy morning, but it's been fair skies and smooth sailing for all the days since.  You rock my world, Sugarlump.  Never give up your dreams!
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