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A Leap Of Faith: The Inception of Bailey Builds

“Finding Fire” podcast recap Part 1

The start of a new beginning for me, was when I chose to quit what had been my dream job, when I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me anymore.  The feeling I had when I realized I was no longer where I needed to be, was that of devastation.  I had really thought my position as a worship leader at our church at the time was going to be what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life.  If the certainty of the realization that chapter was closing had not been so clearly apparent, I would have never stepped out to pursue this amazing opportunity of our business, to support local artists, dream big, and make an impact in our community.  It felt devastating in that beginning moment, but looking back I am so grateful.

At the age of 38, I walked away from the job I had for almost 6 years.  I knew I didn’t want to go back to working as a teacher, which is what I went to school for.  So, after contemplating what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I woke up one night and it became very clear to me: I was supposed to do what I love to do, and I needed to pour my whole self into it.  I make a lot of my decisions off of faith, and I knew that this was a divine intervention to redirect my life.  I knew that I was supposed to be intentional about it, and to share the experiences of my journey with others.  I knew that social media was a great tool for entrepreneurs, and would be an important platform for me to share my journey, and be authentic along the way.  I knew I didn’t  have to have it all together.  I just needed to be real.

As I began to take steps to walk out, in faith, this new declaration for my life, I started writing a blog.  I also wrote a lot of music, and started performing around town.  And I also loved building things, so I began building a lot of furniture out in our garage.  The furniture turned into a lot of scrap wood, and the scrap wood turned into mosaics, and the mosaics turned into the Bailey Builds of Duluth, MN.

Nathanael also had a great job of 15 years at a local Auto Body Shop.  He loved working there, and it was a great way to support our family, as I was mostly at home, raising our kids.  His job allowed me to start my own business, without needing to worry about the income for our family.  Starting out, I was making maybe $5 an hour with all the time I put into my work.  Even though it was a small amount of income coming in, it all helped, being I was putting quite a lot of hours in working out of our garage, between caring for the kids and home.  

When things really started kicking into gear, and the business started growing, I looked at Nathanael and playfully proposed to him his two options.  -That I either find a strong, young, fit guy to help me in the garage… OR he could join me!  … And, of course he joined me!  And that’s when Nathanael decided to join me full time, in the summer of 2016.  It was a real leap of faith for him, because his job was integral to supporting our family.  Yet, we knew it was the right time to start working together as a team, and build on what I had begun with the business; and we haven’t looked back!  The two of us together are way better than working on my own.

We actually thought in the beginning that we would continue working out of our garage, which was a 25’X25’ work space.  Yet, we simultaneously had all of our family stuff in there, along with tools, and bikes, etc.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that continuing to build our business out of the garage was not going to work out.  We also realized quickly that we had different work habits.  I work best in chaos, and Nathanael likes things neat and orderly.  We both agreed that we needed space to spread out and do things our own way.   This is when the real growth of our business began, when we purchased our first building as our workshop, which has now become our Duluth Makers Loft, Store, and Gallery.

Come back for Part 2, as we talk about our dream, why we do what we do, and our understanding of entrepreneurship.  And, if you’d like to listen to our podcast with “Finding Fire” in their episode titled: Faith, Passion and Entrepreneurship With Bailey Builds,” which aired on April 12, 2021.

Meet The Jericho Collection

“….It’s about perseverance.  It’s about the journey.  It’s about being faithful when no one is watching, and being faithful when everyone is watching.”

Our new Jericho Collection came about in the moment.  I had been thinking about how to morph the modern mosaics into the bluffs.  I have also been enjoying that people are liking the phases of the moon in our modern pieces.  -So, I set out to incorporate the phases of the moon and the modern bluffs.   I wasn’t completely thrilled with my first prototypes.  I loved the modern feel of it, with the addition of the moons.  I loved the combination, but it wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be.  It wasn’t until Nathanael tried a new technique on them, by spraying on the ombre technique with wood stain.  Once we had the moons on and sprayed the ombre, it literally popped off the page and came to life.  It felt really unique and different from anything else.

We knew there was something special about this collection, and so we wanted to take good thought into what we should name it.  The overall response we were getting about it from our team was that it invoked feeling, and we wanted the name to resonate with that. So as I was doing some searching online, I found the name “Jericho,” which is the name of an old city in Israel, and is Hebrew for “city of the moons.”  We knew immediately that this was the name!

We love when our work comes together in such an effortless way; where our team works together in this really organic way that is not forced, and we knew that this was happening with this collection.  It was evolving into this deeper meaning, and we wanted to give it time to really reveal itself.  We originally planned on launching “Jericho” earlier to our email subscribers, but we decided we wanted to give it more time to simmer a little bit, because of the depth of meaning that it holds.  When we’re making collections, we always try to come up with a description to go with it.  And when I first posted it on instagram, the description came to me so quickly.  When this happens for me, I just know that I am on to something.  Nothing about this collection has felt forced.  Everything has felt natural and organic.

One of the first things that I thought of when I looked at these new pieces was perseverance.  A lot of people right now, including ourselves, have had to face perseverance this year.  -With COVID, with social injustice, and with other personal struggles.  Whether we want to or not, we have to push ourselves to keep going.

Another theme in these pieces that resonates even more clearly with us is the concept of the journey.  Even with this collection, it has been a journey to get where we are with it now.  It’s also about the journey of our lives, learning along the way.  -And it’s not necessarily always about the destination.  It’s about being faithful when no one is watching, and when everyone is watching.

There is something to be said about being consistent and faithful and authentic to who you are and your beliefs when no one is watching; but also when you’re being faithful when everyone is watching.  And I’ve even asked the question of which is harder: when no one is watching or when everyone is watching?  I thought about it in reference to this journey we’ve had with our business.  I have had such a heart for the artist community, even before I was an artist.  When I was home with the kids 12 years ago, I wanted to do something tangible for the arts community, and to be invested in them.  Now, when “everyone” is watching, I’m thankful that I’m still invested in this vision.

This collection really holds something dear to our hearts, and to our whole team.  We’ve never had a meeting with our entire team where there was this unanimous connection with the art.  The Jericho Collection really brought us together in this way.  We didn’t have to say anything about the artwork, and yet it moved everyone in a personal way… and that is the beauty of art.  

With our Jericho Collection, we are trying something we’ve never done before.  We are giving everyone the opportunity to preorder a piece.  So often, with our launches, our collections sell out before everyone who wants has the opportunity to purchase one.  With wanting to share the message and the art behind this collection, we want everyone to have the chance to get a piece.  So we are trying out the preorder model, keeping it  open for two weeks.  We want to give you the opportunity to see the pieces in our social pages, and have the time to decide which would be best for your space.

Another new and fun thing we’re adding to this collection launch is some accessories that are actually free with our preorder purchases.  The larger pieces will include a trucker hat with our in-house designed Jericho patch across the front of it.  The smaller piece will include a Jericho patch that has self-adhesive.  If this collection really speaks to you, you’ll be able to enjoy it’s meaning beyond your wall art.  These will be included in the same shipment as your Jericho piece.

Our hope is that the message behind the Jericho Collection will encourage you and inspire you to press on and be faithful and persevere on your journey.  We hope you come along as we continue to share our heart behind Jericho.  Presales launch Thursday April 8, at 7 pm.  Once this collection sells out, these styles may not be available again.

Ready Set! Don’t Go…

Opening A Small Business in 2021 Update…Staying Positive During A Renovation Standstill

It’s both exciting and daunting to realize that we are just a little over 10 weeks away before we are slated to open the Bailey Builds Collective building to the public.  With all that is happening around here, we thought we’d give a little update.  There are so many moving parts to keep track of, but we have a great team on board!

We are waiting on lots of things to come together.  We have completed as much investigative demo that we can do.  There are still studs and wall structure left that we can’t touch until we get the approval of the city, so that we are sure to stay within code.  We are working with our structural engineer to figure out where the load bearing walls are,  and what kind of beams we put in for the appropriate support.  Once we get their guidance, we can pull permits and begin working on the next phase.

We realize, through experience, that opening a new space is always difficult.  -But during 2020 and 2021 it’s very difficult, with it’s own set of unique challenges that weren’t as prevalent before the pandemic.  We’re trying to stay proactive and work on the simple things ourselves, while we wait for other parts to fall into place.  We have continued to push forward, through projects such as leveling the floors in our upstairs space.  We had planned to buy construction grade plywood for underlayment, which is a perfect example of how Covid has impacted how we do things.  Construction plywood used to be $18 a sheet.  -Now, it’s $50 a sheet!  It was actually less expensive for us to create our substrate with cabinet grade plywood.  So, needless to say, our studio floor upstairs has a really nice floor!  A floor that you’ll never see, as it will be finished up with durable vinyl laminate.

Another area that we have had to think outside the box is with the sourcing of our displays and fixtures for our retail space.  Our friend designed the space around specific items, but most everything is sold out, with extended delay times.  As we have set our goal to be open at the beginning of June, we have had to come up with alternatives to make our deadline.  So we took a day trip down to IKEA and bought, as many as they had in stock, of some really basic pieces of furniture that we can DIY hack.  There will be a lot of things that we need to build from scratch.  So, if you’ve ever wondered how to DIY a retail store, follow along with our adventure of the Bailey Builds Collective!  We’re even creating some DIY display windows for inside the building, as we can not order them in time.  Despite the hiccups along the way, we are committed to opening, and we’re on track for the same opening timeline.  We have a great crew of people working for us who are willing to jump in with what needs to be done, when we get the ok.  So right now, it’s the waiting game.

It seems our faithful shop dogs are enjoying all the creative energy.  Even Oakley, as you may have heard last week, managed to pen a rap about all the fun.  We keep selling our product through all of this, thanks to all of you!  We have been able to hire another full time staff member.  We are so excited to have our longtime friend, Matt, join our team.  He has been involved in the design of our new space and is now working in the woodshop with us, helping us build and finish things.  He gives great feedback when we throw out new ideas, and we’re lucky to have that addition to our team.

We’re rolling with the punches as they come along.  We have a plan, but sometimes we have to wait a week or two to move forward.  But when we really get moving on this project, hold on!  It’s going to be a great ride!  We are go getters, and it may look like it comes easy… but it doesn’t.  We have just learned to have a positive attitude and keep moving forward with our goals.  Sometimes we have to take breaks, but we pick right back up when the light turns green, or we find another way.  It comes down to working hard and having a “glass half full” mentality.  Being optimistic, even about the challenges in our way, gives us the invitation to be innovative and creative, and push the limits.

Stay tuned, and come along for the ride!

Shopdog Talk: Tile all gone, doggone it!

Tile all gone, doggone it!

What’s a fido gotta do to get some tile around here??!!  While all the ruckus is going on around me with walls being busted down and remodeling in the works, I’m just trying to mind my own business and find a cool spot to take a nap, after making my rounds checking on staff morale. But wouldn’t you know it, every time I find that perfect cool spot on the tile… it’s missing!

So I make my rounds and I find another cool spot of tile.  -And next time I turn around… it’s missing! It finally came down to one lonely spot of tile, still large enough to let me lounge out a bit. But I could see the look in my determined people’s eyes… It wasn’t going to be for long! And doggone it, wouldn’t you know, despite the look on my big, puppy dog face, I returned that final day to find… You guessed it… No tile! I know my people have great plans and all!  But I’m just saying, as the furry companion keeping things real, and slightly drooled on, we got to make sure we secure a nice, cool spot for the beloved shop dogs around here!… I’ve got to admit, however,  the cool cement corners aren’t so bad either. We’re all making changes, shop dogs included!  Bow-wow-wow! -What to do but hunker down with a bone and wait to see what happens next!

If you want to get a grand tour of the demolition at our new Building, you can get personally escorted by my rap lovin’ dog bro Oakley, and his dog-cam.  Just click the link!

We are transforming a funeral home into an artist haven

Big Plans In The Works!

We have been hinting for some time that we have a lot of exciting news to share with you, and the time has finally come!  Nathanael and I took some time to think back on this journey in just the period of this last year.  A year ago, as we were facing the beginning of what has been such a long year with the world health crisis, we stepped out on a limb to explore what seemed to be the impossible.

As we sat in the truck with the dogs, facing our new Bailey Builds Collective, it was hard to believe that it was a year ago when we first laid our eyes on this building.  Even though it had been on the market for some time, we were unaware that it was nestled behind our store just a couple blocks back and over.  One day, Nathanael noticed the building, and was intrigued.  We were at a place with our business where we were already renting a second space, and knew we needed another place of our own.  We were at a pivotal point with our business goals, and we just knew that the right workspace was what would set us up for success as we pushed to create a workshop that could handle the needs of our growing production load.

Finding out that the building was once a funeral home made us pause, but just for a moment.  We were excited to see what potential we would find on the other side of those walls.  The visionaries in us knew that we could take something that had turned many others away, and turn it into something new and amazing.  After all, that has been an ongoing theme for us since the inception of Bailey Builds.  It has always been our angle to take and repurpose the old, and turn it into a work of art.  -Challenge accepted!

I can’t believe it’s been a year!  What a year it has been!  We now own this building, and a lot went into being able to make this happen, with a lot of bumps along the way.  -But here we are!  And now we are renovating it and getting it ready for community use, which has been a huge part of our vision that we are now preparing for.

The first thing about The Collective that drew us in was the amazing garage space, perfect for use as a woodshop.  Why not buy a funeral home for the garage?!  Once the keys were handed over, we immediately renovated the garage space to be used as a workshop, and have been building in there ever since!  However, there are 9000 more square feet to this building and we are so excited to finally spill the beans on what we are planning for the rest of the space, as well as the changes that will take place over at our other building on Grand Avenue.

Jumping back to the topic of our NEW Bailey Builds and Friends store, in our new Collective building, we have already been demo-ing and designing the layout for the bigger, better space to sell and support local and hand crafted art and goods. It’s a crazy mess right now, with construction debris and Albert and Oakley’s dog food cans strung across the room, but we can see the amazing features coming together!  There will be a wall dedicated to our new launches, a gift-wrapping station, and space to add more community artists.  Another cool feature will be a fireplace with a mantle, so you can test out our art pieces and see how they might display in your home before purchase.

Most of our artwork will be displayed in the new store, but some will still remain at our current location.  Like I said, we have big plans for The Gallery building as well!  With the store leaving, it opens up the opportunity to create one large space to accommodate a vast array of gatherings!  We’ve already held weddings, anniversary parties, adoption celebrations, and pop-up artists.  Soon this space will be able to accommodate even more!  We are expanding The Gallery significantly by building a staircase that leads to another story above it on the current flat-top roof!  We have always loved the potential up there, and creating an enclosed, four season space, with lots of windows and plants will be amazing.  With the current Airbnb Loft adjoining this space, you will have the opportunity to rent the entire building.

The only drawback to losing the Gallery space is the ability to support our community by hosting local pop-ups for artists.  However, we have a solution over at The Collective!  We will be creating some amazing spaces for outside the building.  We want to line our parking lot with cute little artisan huts, so that our local makers have a safe, clean, and warm space to showcase and sell their work on Saturdays at the Bailey Builds Collective.  

Not only will makers have the opportunity to sell their work, they can also rent a creative space in the collective to create their work!  We have sketched out our vision for an artisan community space in the upper floor of our new building.  There will be thirteen rentable spaces for artists to create their work, while being in community with other artists.  We will be adding windows and plants to create an inspiring atmosphere, so be sure to stay tuned for more information, if this is something you would be interested in.  We will be taking applications for these spaces in the near future.

We hope you follow along, because we can’t wait to share this journey with you!

“The Modern Mosaic” Collection

It’s safe to stay in the habit of doing what works, and what you know people like.  I enjoy creating the classic mosaics and bluffs that have become the bread and butter of our business.  Along the way, I have played with color combinations, and different shapes and sizes to add interest and intrigue, and I have loved where this artistic journey has taken me.  Yet, the visionary aspect of who I am always has a need to push the envelope further.  While many of my ideas are still taking form in my mind, my latest project has been a work of exploration and pushing my inner boundaries.  Enter: “The Modern Mosaic” Collection.

I knew for a while that I wanted to play with creating a more layered visual experience.  I wanted to create a collection that intrigued the eyes on a different level, playing with texture in a more monochromatic scale.  I wanted the interest to lie in the shapes and lines, and their relationship to one another, rather than how the colors compliment each other as a focus.  I wanted the design to draw the eye in, in an almost maze-like fashion.

This new concept meant coming up with a whole new way of approaching the wood.  Building the “Modern Mosaic” Collection would take new strategies and use different methods to create the precise lines and spacing that would give this collection its understated elegance.  In our traditional collections, part of the charming characteristics are the presence of uneven edges and raw textures that come with a more rustic art piece.  The “Modern Mosaic” Collection would seek the opposite, instead thriving on smooth and articulate lines and spacing to create the clean, modern vibe.

The “Modern Mosaic” Collection is much more time intensive than our classic mosaics and bluffs.  Unlike our classics, whose strips of wood come together like puzzle pieces, the “Modern Mosaic” pieces are precisely placed to create a stunning dual textured piece that finds it’s beauty partly in the order of it all.  To get the spacing just right, many of the pieces require several steady and patient hands on deck.  It has definitely given our woodshop team a great opportunity to work together as a single unit.  Every detail has to be closely monitored to ensure that each strip of wood maintains perfectly smooth edges, and each layer of stain provides the clean and saturated finish we are striving for. 

This collection has been a growth experience for me as an artist.  It felt intimidating at first, and I tried to talk myself out of it, because it felt overwhelming to transfer the ideas from my head into wood form.  Once I allowed myself to let go of the planning and be “in the moment,” that’s when the creative process could truly flow.  What transpired were clean lines, with a fresh look.  The finished product has truly brought joy to me, as an artist.  I love this addition to our Bailey Builds lineup.  I think it fills a needed space for those looking for something different.  I’m excited to see how this collection unfolds in new ways, and how I will continue to play with shapes and color to diversify this collection.  I’m thrilled to introduce this new labor of love and creativity!

Meet the “Modern Mosaic” Collection: Bold, yet beautifully understated, with straight lines and spherical accents, “The Modern Mosaic Collection” brings a whole new flavor to our Bailey Builds Mosaic Art.  We are excited to bring a progressive approach, with raised patterns that beg your eyes to stay awhile.  “The Modern Mosaic Collection” will add dimension and interest to any space.

ORC: One Room Challenge Week Four

Week 4 of the One Room Challenge has been a focus on finishing up the structure of our space.  Though not the funnest part of the project, it is a very important part of making the rest beautiful.  This week has been spent doing the tedious process of the walls.  Sheetrocking has taken up the week!  This heavy, dusty job will lay the foundation for the design work and color scheme that is to come.  We are so excited that we will soon be able to make our vision come to life!

Stay tuned for more!  And check out our family project Vlog “Bailey Builds” on Youtube.

ORC: One Room Challenge Week Three

Week three of the One Room Challenge was a continuation of structural modifications and design planning.   With our ceilings “popcorn free,” it was time to make accommodations for new lighting.  This involved cutting holes in the ceiling and running some electrical wires, in preparation for the fixtures to come.  We also continued our work of hanging sheetrock, mudding and taping.  With all that is involved in the completion of sheetrocking, it gave our crew of kids a lot of chances to hone in on their new skills.

Besides the electrical work we accomplished, we also took this time to work on the laundry room ductwork.  We also needed to move a pipe to a new location, to accommodate the plumbing for our washing machine, sink, and dog washing station.  To continue the work of the dog washing station, we installed cement board in that space, prepping it for tile.

Our design focus continued the work of keeping the staircase open.  We love the open look, so we continued to open it up, while making sure we had the necessary support in place.  In order to ensure substantial structural support, we decided to create a kennel area under the staircase landing.  Besides the structural advantage, it will also give our dogs a cozy spot to rest, that is out of the way.

 We are excited that our work this week is getting us closer to tackling the fun parts of renovation, as we continue to visualize and plan this new, multi-faceted space.  Make sure to check our process out on our vlog on Youtube.

If you’d like a better view of our project, check out our vlog on Youtube!

ORC: One Room Challenge Week Two

Our week two has focused on both design and structural elements, as we work toward creating one large, laundry/mudroom to accommodate all of our needs.  In our goals for design, there were certain existing elements that needed to be removed.  A major element that needed to go, was the popcorn ceilings throughout the space.  This felt like a very daunting task, but our removal system was quite successful.  We used a water sprayer to saturate the popcorn texture.  Once it sat for a while, we were then able to easily scrape it off with a putty knife.  The bigger job was the cleanup afterward!

Another existing element that needed to be removed was the panelling that covered a few walls.  As a part of this project, we needed to fill in a section of a wall that we were keeping, where a doorway currently existed. We also began framing up the new closet in the space, which will house the washer and dryer. 

 As we continued to work on the structural elements of the walls, we realized that we needed to commit to some of the design elements we would incorporate into this new space.  My husband Nathanael and I are not always major planners.  We don’t have our projects completely worked out before-hand.  -That’s just not how we roll.  Instead, we process and figure things out as we go along.  This works for us most of the time!  Sometimes… we need to pause to figure out important components.  This was the situation we found ourselves in for this week.   We realized that I needed to commit to a laundry sink in order to know what our wall dimensions should be.  -Wayfair to the rescue!  I love Wayfair for their user friendly shopping platform, as well as their great prices and ample options.

Nathanael and I are not always major planners.  We don’t have our projects completely worked out before-hand.  -That’s just not how we roll.  Instead, we process and figure things out as we go along.  This works for us most of the time!  Sometimes… we need to pause to figure out important components.  This was the situation we found ourselves in for this week.   We realized that I needed to commit to a laundry sink in order to know what our wall dimensions should be.  -Wayfair to the rescue!  I love Wayfair for their user friendly shopping platform, as well as their great prices and ample options.

As we continued to figure out our dimensions, we realized our doggy washing station would need to be relocated to a different spot.  -Good thing we enjoy the challenge of  meeting obstacles as they come!  This seemed like a good opportunity to spend some time designing our dual purpose space for cleaning both dogs and bikes!  Our kids are big into mountain biking.  We wanted a space that could accommodate the maintenance of our bikes as well.  In our design decisions, we want to create a space that can be both modern and striking, yet be suitable for dirty messes, but clean up well afterwards.  -We are up for the challenge!

If you’d like a better view of our project, check out our vlog on Youtube!