One of the great blessings of being an exhibitor at a craft show is meeting the other exhibitors! This was true for us last spring when the boys and I set up at a craft show and met a family who turns junk into jewels. The show started out with road detours, rain and a gloomy outlook for sales until I looked outside and saw a cute pop-up trailer decked out with crafts for sale.
I knew I had to get out there and see who was behind this work of art. That is when I met Christine Brown of Barbed Wire Browns. She was a ray of sunshine on that gloomy day and her and I became fast friends. We spent the next 5 hours darting back and forth to find more about each other and what we sell. Our children, who were all salesmen, of course, began getting to know each other too.
I discovered that Christine was an artist. She creates jewelry from recycled finds, beads, paints, and gardens. She is a mother of four, homeschools and the children are an integral part of her craft business. I fell in love with her jewelry and she fell in love with our feedsack totes. At the end of the day, we exchanged items with each other along with phone numbers in anticipation of getting together soon.
Grayson, Grant and I went over to the Brown’s house for our first visit and an interview about her junk into jewels business. The Browns live in a well-established, oak-lined neighborhood with an HOA. However, when you pull up into her driveway, you think you have traveled to the country! Her front yard is comprised of many small vegetable and herb gardens, the side yard houses three chickens, two bunnies, a motorhome, a boat, and some kayaks, and the back yard is their junk finds. Piles of pallets, small appliances, and whatever they may have found on the side of the road that day.
The driveway is home to their painted pop up camper. As she gave me the tour, it was obvious that art is an integral part of every day for this family. Little ones drawing at the kitchen table, Caroline, 14, finishing up a painting in the art studio and Ethan, 12, pulling the copper wire from roadside finds to help turn junk into jewels.
Christine’s husband, Scott, works from home as an architect and is able to be involved throughout the day in various activities. This family’s lifestyle is centered around art that is expressed in many ways. We sat down at the back porch dining table overlooking the pool. There were several pieces of jewelry in progress spread on the table. My eye caught a certain necklace and I told Christine that I would love to purchase that from her today. Her reply was, “No, let’s sit down and make one together as we visit!”
My first question was what inspired her to start Barbed Wire Browns? Christine answered, “ A big part of Barbed Wire Browns is inspiring others to use their gifts, try new things and take time to play. Adding to the beauty around us, as artists, is a way we can bless others and glorify God.”
By doing this as a business, how do you use it to teach your children? Christine: “Working together as a family provides so many ways for us to model for each other what it looks like for faith to be backed up by action. Opportunities for discussion, positive actions when thing go wrong, handling disappointment, molding character, and understanding our own strengths and weaknesses.”
Do you set goals for the production of pieces and monthly sales? Christine: “No, we value the process of creating, so the end result is not our primary goal. We like the challenge of salvaging and re-purposing. Sometimes a piece does not go the way we expect and it has to be re-worked to become something worthwhile. The downside really is selling our own work! We love it! But in order to create more, we must sell what we have already made. We try to keep our designs simple, but diverse to be affordable. We would rather you leave here and go make something beautiful yourself, but we are happy to sell you something we have made too!”
How are you teaching Godly principles to your children with your business? Christine: “Barbed Wire Browns is such a tangible overflow of what we believe. In a small way, it points to so many things God does. He turns the ugly, broken and discarded into his treasure and delight. He is the greatest artist ever and calls us alongside to co-create with him. He lives in us and works through us in such amazing ways and uses us to create more beauty.”
What benefits have you seen in your children and as a family from your business? Christine: “I think the top two things my kids see regularly is that everything we do matters, big and small, and can be done with regret or wrong motives. Striving to do everything to glorify God is a lifetime endeavor. Second, the kids see what is it like to step out in faith and be who God made you to be. To wait for His plan to unfold.”
Outside of business goals, do you and your husband have personal goals for the children as they work with you? Christine: “We definitely want to teach them about work and money, instill a good work ethic. We want them to understand the difference between who they are and what they do. Understanding their purpose and gift of work is key. Faith and trust really is our goal. We want to be ready to do what God has planned for us. We want to be ready to follow his lead.”
After our talk, we all sat down to a lunch created from Christine’s garden. Fresh salad greens, homemade dressing and banana bread I had brought to round it out. Grayson and Grant were making plans with Ethan for another play day at our house. Christine and I chatted about mutual interests and discovered ways we can help each other in our creative businesses.
Christine’s passion for bringing out gifts in others is apparent in her personality. I was not envious of her life, although I was quite impressed. Instead, I felt excited to go home and take another look at projects I had put aside and breathe new life into them. I also booked Christine to come to teach an art class for our co-op in the fall.
Grayson and Grant had spent some of their time helping Ethan with his motorized bicycle project. They became inspired to learn more about small motors. I have a feeling we may be picking up our own junk on the side of the road soon!
Have you met a person or family working a home business who have inspired you? Inspiration can come from many sources. As you and your family live your daily lives, pay attention to what makes you take a second look. Turning junk into jewels can come in many forms. Ask questions! Learning about another family’s business can spark ideas for your own. Don’t be afraid to give your idea a try.
Sometimes as adults, we stay within our comfort zone and don’t want to risk failure. This was true of myself for many years, but when I stepped out in faith onto an unknown path, the blessings were tremendous. It may not always pan out, but if it does, your family may be headed down a whole new path with lessons learned along the way, preparing you for the next adventure!