Photo by Vinson Images
I guess if I really think about it- it started with an awful stencil project that Josh and I decided to do about 3ish years ago. He had a wine rack that needed repairing and a new paint job in a bad way. We spent two weeks hand stenciling white paint on the front and back of this silly wine rack with an 8x8 plastic stencil. It makes me laugh looking back on it because we made that project so hard on ourselves. That one project was really the start of it for Josh and me though. We had the itch to actually make something- not just refurbish it. So, we got to it. Garage shelves, flower boxes, baggo boards, picture frames, tables, wood plank shelves- we tackled it all and loved every second of it. The shop was our happy place where we could create and bring the designs that we had in our head to life, and there is just something that has always been so fulfilling with that. I have always enjoyed all forms of art, but being able to try new projects with your best friend- who could share your pain and frustrations and happiness was even better!
Then, the unexpected happened! My boyfriend, Teddy, proposed to me! So now we all had a wedding to plan! Throughout the wedding planning process, I just couldn’t find things that screamed ‘Teddy & Holly’- so what do we do? I asked Josh, ‘What if we make a few things for the wedding?’. So- I got to researching and we got to designing. We started with just a few lanterns. Those quickly turned to more lanterns, then coasters, an amazing wood frame for one of our engagement photos for guests to sign and to top it all off, matching earrings for the bridesmaids to wear and a tie clip and cuff link set for the groomsmen to have. So not only were we able to deck out the reception with handmade decor, we were able to give the people closest to us a handmade keepsake from our special day as well. Somewhere amidst all of this planning a light bulb went off. We could do this for real and not just for our wedding. I’m not sure that any of us thought that a marriage proposal would end up in a new business venture but it seems like the best things always happen unexpectedly. We truly do hope that you love the products that we have poured our hearts into this past year. Each piece is hand made and no two pieces are exactly the same. Each piece of wood that we find and mill all has its own characteristics and that’s what I truly love about the variety that we are able to offer you. We truly hope that you can live in a Natural State of Grit & Grace.
Photo by Vinson Images
As with all things, when more than one person is involved, there is more than one side to the story.
When I look back on where this whole thing started for me, the first thing that stands out to me and my interest in wood was when my Dad would build shelves and other small household items and refinish old pieces of furniture. While I didn’t get the itch then, I was fascinated with how a natural resource as simple as wood could be the basis for so many different things and is one of the earliest memories that has stuck with me throughout my life. Different phases in my life have prepared me to take this leap of faith into building a business with my best friend, but for now I’ll share how it really got started for me.
Pressing the fast forward button on life to the year 2015/2016 while at my job, I had a friend named Cory that had been building tables, shelves and other related items for his home and others as he had time. His passion got me thinking about what things I might be able to build for my home. Very quickly I started purchasing some of the tools I needed to make a few things for my home and garage when I wasn’t out golfing, hunting or some other hobby of mine.
I quickly went to researching and found some things I wanted to build. With some help from my friend Cory, we quickly put together a coffee table for my living room and I was hooked! While I wasn’t thinking about starting business in the world of carpentry, I couldn’t help but get excited about what I could possibly do with a few tools. I quickly called my best friend Holly for some help in building my first set of shelves in my garage. As most of us do in a DIY project, we head to the local store to gather some materials and well, we forget, underestimate or just don’t expect all the things we need for the project. I recall going to our local retailer four times that day, but was able to walk away with a sense of accomplishment. With some more research and some additional purchases, I decided to build a miter saw station and mobile project table and that was just scratching the surface. I couldn’t wait to jump into the next project that we could build together.
Since that time, Holly and I have let our imaginations drive us to have fun building things that have been functional while dragging her at the time boyfriend along for the ride. I was addicted to letting my imagination drive me to honing my skills and trying new techniques. I’ve had my share of frustrations along the way, but never let a problem or lack of knowledge hinder me from doing what I set my mind to. Wood working was not something I really gave much thought to until I started working with hardwood instead of pine. I don’t recall the project or the exact time, but when discussing some plans with Cory, he introduced me to working with rough cut lumber and man was I in awe of the whole process of starting with a tree that was cut to rough thickness, planning to the appropriate thickness and letting the beauty of the natural wood shine through. While we continued building more functional things like pipe shelving for our homes, tables for dog crates and many other things, we knew there was more that we could do.
Holly and I had begun thinking further about a business we could both be passionate about, still not really considering wood working, but Teddy had other plans. Teddy informed me that he was going to propose to Holly, which wasn’t a surprise to me, but it sure did change our approach.
With Holly & Teddy planning a wedding, the ideas we had changed. I began to work on some ideas of things I could do both to help with the planning process, but also some gifts that I could make for two people that mean so much to me. I started with some simple things, but quickly realized I needed to do something different and out of the ordinary. When I decided to upgrade my table saw for significantly more precision and consistency, it changed my entire approach to what was possible. At that time the initial ideas of what is now Grit and Grace Made started to surface. I shared some initial concepts with a few of our friends that knew Holly and Teddy and was excited to get these projects underway without letting Holly know what I was up to. Knowing that Holly didn’t like it when I kept things from her and that she would have some (strong) opinions on the subject, not to mention I hate keeping secrets, so I let her in on my plans to build a few things. After sharing those ideas we added and removed some ideas from the list without realizing that these would be the ideas that built the basis for what we are building our business on. The original ideas that we had were our Walnut with Maple inlay cufflinks, tie clips, and coasters.
As Holly continued through the wedding planning process, she had come up with a number of things that she wanted for the reception and of course we jumped right in to build some wooden lanterns for the reception. When I say some wooden lanterns, that was what we started with and we quickly realized that we needed significantly more and we ended up making over fifty of them. Following the lanterns we added some 4” x 4” post coasters to add to the rustic feel. At this point we had started to throw around the idea that we could start making some of these items and selling them on the side. Realizing that we needed to begin rounding out what we would make, earrings became a topic that I just cringed at every time that Holly brought them up. I give it a shot and well, it worked after a few different tries we had it figured out. All of the wedding party and some family members were able to have their own keepsake from Holly and Teddy’s special day and I couldn’t have been more proud to stand by their side.
When they returned from their honeymoon we got right into planning mode on what products, wood, etc. that we would want to use in our products, searching for all the local mills for different options, shopping some old barn wood and many others we have worked double duty in our jobs and our passions to share with you something we are proud to sell to others and share with others.
We hope that you are able to enjoy the products that we have to offer as much as we enjoy building each and every one of these one of a kind pieces.