Leaving the Nest and What’s Next

Saying goodbye to our son Isaac was a mixture of proud sorrow. 

This day caught me by surprise. The biggest life decisions are made in what seems like short bursts, and yet they change the course of our lives.

Both our oldest boys decided over our holiday break that they were both going to change directions and start college.  As parents, our job is to love, nurture and guide our children until they are ready and able to take the steering wheel. We move from drivers to becoming passengers, and finally fellow travelers, while supportively cheering them on in their own personal journey.  It’s a surreal moment when you take that next leap in your relationship.  There is a letting go that has to take place, and it requires faith.

When our boys made the decision during our time off that it was time to pursue the interests growing inside of them, we jumped on the bandwagon to help them put the puzzle pieces together in a short amount of time.  There were college applications to be filled out and immediately sent.  There were scholarships and financial aid to look into.  And for Isaac, moving three hours away, there was the gathering of all the dorm room necessities.

Since before the boys graduated high school, they were both an integral part of our business.  And with Covid shutting down in-person learning, we had the privilege of having them present even moreso.  They have been such important team members at Bailey Builds, and I have loved watching them grow in their abilities and their confidence.  It’s not always easy wearing both the mom hat and the boss hat, but we have danced the dance together, and I believe that it has brought a depth to our relationships that will continue to grow.

I think, as entrepreneurs running our own business, there is this satisfying dream of working side by side with your family members towards this common goal that we can enjoy together.  I have loved this time we have had with them, daily doing both work and life together.  I will cherish all the crazy memories we have made in the workshop and on the road at art fairs.  And I know that these experiences will be a great foundation for the hard work they have ahead of them, as they switch gears into higher education.

Our oldest son Isaac has just started his collegiate journey at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, MN.  He is pursuing a business degree, which I think totally suits him.  He loves the dynamics of how businesses run, and he has had firsthand experience watching and participating in a business grow and evolve.  He’s fascinated by the advancement of digital currency and the science of cryptography.  He loves people and is excited to surround himself on a campus full of peers.  Having him leave home completely has been a big change, and there is an absence in our home that I’m still trying to get used to.

Lincoln is studying at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, MN.  He is pursuing a degree in Law Enforcement.  With his love of hunting and fishing, he has long been interested in Careers as a Conservation Officer or Park Ranger.  I believe that being a part of our Bailey Builds Team has prepared him to be organized and efficient in managing his time as he delves into his schooling.  For the time being, we still have the privilege of doing life with him at home, as his college is a close commute.

For most parents, kids leaving for college is a transition that affects their home life.  For entrepreneurs of a family business, it also affects work life.  We are so thrilled for our boys!  Yet, we feel the void of their absence at work as well.  Isaac was our full time shipper, and he had the art of packaging down to a science!  I smile when I think of all the fun box building races the team would have in the office.  Isaac took his job and made it a passion!  He was such an important part of getting our art safely and securely out to the public.  We are missing him, as we search for the next member of our team to fill this important role.

Lincoln worked with us full time as a store team member and workshop assistant.  He was great at being able to switch gears as needed, to help keep our store running, as well as assisting on all the odds and ends needing to be prepped or completed in our art production.  I remember the day when he made his first sale of a large piece at the store.  He was beaming and I was so proud of him!  He is great with people, and I know this trait will serve him well in his future endeavors.  And with that, we are also in search of genuine and hardworking team members to fill those positions in our store and workshop.

So, as with any parent of a new fledgling taking flight, I am experiencing all the feelings! Yet, it all comes down to hopeful joy, as I get the great gift of watching them spread their wings!  They will do great things!  And, as the song goes… “and the beat goes on!” We’re excited for all that’s in store for Bailey Builds this year of 2022!  We’re excited to grow our team and the many facets of our business.  And we’re thankful that we get to be on this ride!

The Bailey Builds 2021 Recap

I feel like the older I get, the faster time flies.  It’s hard to believe that 2021 is over.  And what a ride it was!  We sat down with our team member Keri to reflect on all the aspects of the past year:

We delved right into the honors that were awarded us this year.  It was such an honor to win one of the “Best of 2021” awards in our first year at the Minnesota State Fair.  Out of a thousand vendors, we received one of the twelve.  At the Stone Arch Festival we won “Best of Wood.”  We were also excited to receive an “Invitational Award” at the Madison, WI Art Fair On The Square,” allowing us a spot in next year’s event without the intensive application process.  And most importantly, we won the award for the best team in small business history!

Seriously, though! We couldn’t have accomplished all that we did this year without our amazing team!

If I had to narrow down a favorite memory in 2021, I would have to say it was watching and experiencing our team pull off the Minnesota State Fair.  Even though it honestly didn’t meet our goals and expectations, it blew us out of the water with what we were able to accomplish with our presentation and what we brought to the table as a team.  The Minnesota State Fair experience was a reminder that it’s not always about the end goal.  Even though the financial numbers weren’t what we were hoping for, we accomplished so much as a team, and created bridges for future opportunities.

Aside from the State Fair, our biggest challenge this year was our circumstances involving the renovation delays of our Collective Building.  Along with many other setbacks, our biggest challenge was when we were shut down while in the middle of creating production for the State Fair, forcing us to move our equipment outside in order to continue working.  Nathanael and I would agree that experience would have to be just about the most stressful time in our business to date.

There are always going to be challenges that arise as entrepreneurs, but Nathanael and I have learned to face them head on as a couple and a team.  Honestly, we have a really strong Faith.  We have a God that’s amazing and we barrel through into the challenges we face.  We know that if we’re going in the right direction, it will work out.  We also have an amazing relationship with one another, and realize that bumps in the road are all a part of the ride.  There is joy in the journey, risks and all.

When reflecting on whether there was anything that we created that felt like it “bombed” this year, there were definitely some collections that weren’t received as enthusiastically as we had hoped for.  We also weren’t able to meet the goals that we had for renovating and moving into the Collective building, which also affected our timeline and renovation of the Gallery space.  For example, we had booked a wedding for this past December, fully thinking the entire Gallery space would be up and running.  However, with our timeline not being met, we had to completely clear out our store space for the weekend to meet that commitment.  Yet, even then, we made a great opportunity out of it by opening up our store in the workshop that weekend, and we are so thankful for the support we received.

We had set many goals at the beginning of last year.  Some we accomplished, some we did not.  Though we weren’t able to accomplish the store move, we did manage to meet our goal of having more local artisan pop-ups.  We also hoped to launch a jewelry line, which has now become one of our biggest sellers.  We greatly expanded our business with our production work with the laser, leading me into my modern work.  We still haven’t figured out the whole physical gift card goal, but we’re working on it!

We also had a goal to have 50,000 followers on Instagram by the end of the year.  We are excited that we met and exceeded that goal, currently sitting at 60.5 thousand followers.  Our presence on social media is important because it allows us to share our story, moment by moment, which invites people to invest in our company because of who we are and their connection to that.

We are excited to fill the blank pages of 2022!  We have goals that we want to see happen.  We want to have our store moved and all of our production taking place in our space at The Collective.  We’d also like to continue to pursue the artists collaborative space, to further support local artists

This next year, I’d like to explore other aspects of my art and where I can take it.  I’d like to move closer to artist/designer and see how my work can be manipulated and changed to be used in different contexts.  I’m excited that I am already pursuing new creative paths and partnerships.

This next year we hope to see you at the MN State Fair.  We’ve also applied to art fairs beyond our region, so we look forward to those possibilities.  We will be showcasing our modern artwork at many art fairs this year.  As always, you can connect with us through our website, social media, and in person at our store in Duluth.

To all the people who have supported us during this last, crazy year:  Thank you!  I think Covid has been a part of shifting people’s mindset into supporting local businesses.  We have been so thankful for all the people who have come out to support us.  Your participation and investment in the Bailey Builds business is supporting the livelihood of our family and team members, and we are excited to see where the next year leads us.

If you’d like to watch the video version of this recap, please check out our YouTube channel.

Last Minute Shopping Ideas At Bailey Builds

I feel like the older I get, the faster time flies.  It’s hard to believe that we are just one week away from Christmas Day!  It feels like yesterday when we were setting up and running our first ever studio at the Minnesota State Fair.  It was just a second ago that we celebrated the coming holiday with our Small Business Saturday event and Duluth Winter Village. 

And now, here we are!

The trouble with time flying by is that it’s easy to find yourself behind.  You realize that your list of last minute gifts that need to be purchased is, well, larger than you expected.  

If you find yourself in that spot, I totally get it!  I’m also relieved that I can find a thoughtful gift for just about everyone on my list at our Bailey Builds and Friends Store!

I thought it might be helpful to take you on a field trip through Bailey Builds and Friends, to give you some great gift ideas for even the hardest to shop for on your list.  If you live locally, our awesome team would love to help you in person!

Sometimes we might feel overwhelmed by how many gifts we need to purchase for our friends and family.  We know what that’s like, so we’ve created a table of gift ideas that are all under $30, and there is something for everyone.  We have locally made, hand-poured candles in an array of aromas to please anyone’s senses.  We also have pint glasses and really fun drink kits of all kinds that are a great treat for the tastebuds.  Speaking of tasty, have you tried MN Marshmallows decadent mallow squares yet?  We have several of her signature flavors to choose from.  We also have mugs, wooden kitchenware, soaps, jewelry, and so much more in this price category.

You might think that surely there’s nothing for those teenagers in your life that could be found in an artisan store.  Actually, my friend recently brought her teens there to scope out what they loved at the shop.  Her son’s top picks were the great pairing of locally made Mike and Jen’s Hot Cocoa, with a bag of Minnesota Marshmallows.  He also loved the handcrafted leather journals and the beautifully thrown coffee mugs, such as that of Burdock Ceramics.  Her daughter loved the homemade soaps, fun bandanas, and the plethora of amazing jewelry.  They both love stickers!  They look for new ones everywhere they go, and Bailey Builds has a lot to choose from.  To inspire fun conversation for the whole family, my friend picked up a pack of fun question cards that we carry called “Chat Pack,” which are a great way to make dinner time more engaging.

Do you have a friend or relative who loves all things wood?  Of course we have so many Bailey Builds designs to choose from, with many different size options in each collection.  We also have a good selection of olive wood items, from beautiful cake knives, to cutting boards that are both beautiful and functional. And to accent, we have Bailey Builds coasters and the whimsically carved trees of Steve Martindale.

For those friends who love all things cozy, I like to pair one of our artisan mugs with some Mike and Jens Cocoa or Well Rooted teas that we carry.  Another great gift in this category is beautifully handmade hats and mittens from WormeWoole, a local Duluth artisan.  My hands have never felt something so soft and cozy!  Those friends who also love to create that cozy atmosphere in their homes will appreciate our beautiful throws, pillows, and textile bags and baskets we have to choose from.

What about that dog loving friend?  Get her something she will love while spending time with her favorite fido.  We have beautifully handcrafted leather dog leashes that are sure to make her smile.  Pair it with one of our fun, hand screened bandanas and she and her pal will be ready to take on the town.  Speaking of leather, did you know that we carry a selection of handcrafted leather purses?

What about those family members who love to stay busy?  Our Bailey Buildables Kits make the perfect gift, with several options to choose from.  These make great gifts for crafters of all ages.  We also have five different Bailey Builds Puzzles to choose from, for another way to create art.

Another great gift idea is to create a pamper pack for that friend who loves self-care items.  We have a wall full of options, such as aromatherapy neck wraps, bath bombs, soaps, deodorants, lip balms, and more.  Pair them with one of our locally made tea towels, or loose leaf tea, artisan mug, and candle.  You can really have fun with this gift idea.

For that friend who loves history and all things Duluth, we have a special gift idea that you won’t find anywhere else.  We have created beautiful wood maps of our great city, made in part with wood from the oldest homestead in Duluth, MN.  These make a beautiful conversation piece, and come in a few sizes.  We have also created a city map within the shape of Lake Superior.

We love all of our local artists represented at Bailey Builds, and we think one of the prints we carry would make an amazing gift this holiday season.  We have several styles to choose from, and they all are truly inspiring.  From earthy to whimsical, you should definitely take the time to peruse them.

I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired and ready to take on the last few gifts on my list!  We would love to personally help you get your last minute shopping done as well!

We will be open today from 10am-5pm, as well as Tuesday-Thursday, from 10am-5pm.  We will be closed for the holidays, as well as a winter break, and will reopen on January 13, 2022.  Come see us before the new year!

Holiday Fun and The Bailey Builds Workshop

The Holiday season of 2021 has proven to be a wonderful and magical end cap to an extraordinary year!  We have had so much fun entering into the joy and spirit of Christmas with our Bailey Builds Small Business Saturday event, as well as joining the Duluth Winter Village at the DECC last weekend.  Today we are so excited to be hosting our Storefront at the Bailey Builds Workshop in the Collective.

There is something magical and captivating about the inherent creativity in the air of a workshop.  You can sense the potential and endless possibilities of what has and will become in a space filled with tools and material just waiting to unite into a beautiful unfolding of something unique and special.  That’s how we feel about our workshop!  It’s a space that I get the privilege of coming to, where I can immerse myself in raw potential and see where it takes me.  The ride has been epic and serendipitous.

The magic of what takes place in a workshop has always been a mesmerizing and exciting ideal.  Think of the most famous workshop we grew up dreaming about as little children, no other than St. Nicks!  The idea of happy, busy elves humming to the tune of their favorite carol, while hand crafting the perfect doll or train, is a nearly universal childhood experience.  I may not have elves in my workshop, but I have the most amazing team one could ask for this side of the North Pole!

It has been amazing the journey our workshop has taken.  What started in my backyard garage 6 years ago as a crafter of one, has become a full on team of people crafting, designing, marketing, and shipping.  And better than elves, we have four awesome shop dogs that playfully set the tone while we work.  I get to go to work in my favorite work bibs and cozy flannel, with my favorite guy, and a hardworking team!  I couldn’t ask for anything better!

Tom Rafalovich for Duluth Trading Company

One thing I miss at times, is our old workshop that is now the Gallery and extension of our storefront space.  Besides the space having an awesome, rustic industrial vibe, it allowed a direct connection to our storefront.  Many of you may remember shopping in our store and being able to peer through the door into the workshop, seeing us busily crafting.  In the very beginning, we even stored some of our finished pieces there.  Though not ideal, it invited shoppers into our space to pick out that perfect piece for their home.  There is something invigorating about being in the midst of it all, where you can feel the creative energy of the process.

Today we give you that opportunity to be in the midst of the process by shopping in our workshop space at the Bailey Builds Collective.  For this one special day, we will have our artwork, along with our best selling items from our storefront there for all of your holiday shopping.  With all of our Bailey Builds style holiday cheer, you will be able to meander through the place where all the magic happens, into the fruition of that special piece you are choosing to invite into your home.

Thank you for all the ways you have supported our small local business!  We have truly been blown away by the response we have received this holiday season.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day at our Bailey Builds Small Business Saturday event two weekends ago.  It was a wonderful kick off to the joy of this season, as our community came together to support many local artisans that joined us.  And yet again, we felt the warmth and support of our great city at the Duluth Winter Village last weekend.  Whether sunshine or blizzard, the overwhelming response went straight to my heart, and I am so grateful for being a part of such an amazing community of artisan and makers, in a city that supports the arts.
While you are out and about today, we hope you will stop in at our workshop, just a couple blocks from our storefront Bailey Builds and friends, which will be closed today for a scheduled event.  Our Bailey Builds Collective and Workshop is located at 601 N. 56th Ave. West.  Happy Holidays!

Support the Artisans at Small Business Saturday at Bailey Builds!

Today is filled with holiday fun as we are thrilled to go all in this year for Small Business Saturday!  We have missed hosting these great Northwoods gatherings, so we are making a party of it today!  Cozy up in your favorite winter hat and gloves and come to our indoor and outdoor event!  Bring the whole family, there’s something for everyone!

We have a cozy campfire to snuggle up to, with hot cocoa and freshly made donuts on location.  There is music and puppetry, and a real, furry friends petting zoo!  We have partnered with our friends and neighbors Shake It! across the street to provide a large tent full of local artisans.  This is a great opportunity to find those unique and special gifts, while supporting our local community.

At Bailey Builds, we are excited to bring back our festive holiday party, as we participate in our city’s Bailey Builds is having our holiday sale today!  Take advantage of 15% off a Bailey Builds art purchase of $500 or more.  This same sale will be available online for 24 hours, from 7pm on Monday, November 29 until 7pm on Tuesday, November 30.

As always, our store is filled with a wide variety of artisan goods from local artisans and beyond.  Today, we are excited to have many talented local artisans joining us in person!  Here is just a little information about some of the artisans you can expect to see today:

The Cozy Hen

The Cozy Hen makes scrumptious, mouth watering cheesecakes that people drive miles for!  Heather’s cheesecakes are famous for their perfect texture and balanced flavor.  Heather has several crowd pleasing flavors that are sold by the slice or by the whole.  Can’t decide on which flavor?  No worries!  She also sells a sampler cake with a variety all in one!

Sorvik North

Lisa is the creative behind Sorvik North.  She makes beautiful jewelry, with birch bark as her centerpiece.  If you’re looking for jewelry that is infused with the Northwoods, make sure to check out Sorvik North.

Burdock Ceramics

Burdock Ceramics will be bringing their beautiful, nature inspired pottery.  This duo team, Rita Morris and Barry Sands, craft each piece on the pottery wheel, and then hand paint them with delicate drawings of nature.

Tidy Details

Kaitlyn is the proud owner of Tidy Details LLC, a professional residential cleaning, home decor, and staging service in the Twin Ports.  She  will be offering their quality and effective cleaning and home products, and home decor.  You can also find out about their amazing cleaning and staging services.

White Spruce Market

Bailey is the founder of White Spruce Market.  She creates personalized gift boxes, ready to ship, and filled with a beautiful selection of handcrafted goods.  She prides herself in beautiful packaging, filled with intentional gifts.

Shire Draft Woodworking & Arts

Nate is the maker behind Shire Draft Woodworking and Arts.  He loves to work with wood and create beautiful things, using both new and repurposed materials.  He will cover all aspects of what they do, with a special focus on art.

Cook’s Country Connection

This amazing crew will be joining us with all their cuddly critters! Their aim is to connect people to each other, animals, and the land. Be sure to stop by and see these friendly critters, they are sure to bring you some joy!

Shake It

Shake It! makes healthy shakes, soups, and sandwiches that are both filling and delicious!

Mae’s Little Shop of Macrame

Megan is the incredible maker behind Mae’s Little Shop of Macramé! She’s only been at it about a year and her business has already grown so much. We can’t wait for you guys to meet her, you’re going to love everything she makes!You can expect to find plant hangers, keychains, ornaments, wall decor, and more! Versatile, gorgeous, and made by hand makes these items perfect for gifts this holiday season!

Lairehby the Holiday Elf

We are lucky enough to have our very own Holiday Elf joining us this Saturday! Meet Lairehby and her wonderful puppet friends!! Lairehby will be wandering around our event spreading so much joy! She also has a few activities prepared for any kiddos who would like to join her and her friends

Cold Rain and Snow Jewelry

Anne is a metalsmith, mom, and outdoorswoman living along the shores of Superior. From Lake Superior Agates to one of a kind turquoise, each piece of handcrafted jewelry is beautiful and unique. Wear these pieces on the trails or to your favorite holiday party

Sass & Solder

Cass makes the most incredible stained glass ever. She has pieces for decor and pieces that are not only beautiful, but also functional! Her pieces are truly one of a kind and make the perfect gifts for yourself and loved ones. We can’t wait for Cass to join us for her first ever Small Business Saturday!

Clay Creations by Carlie

Carlie is the wonderful jewelry maker behind Clay Creations by Carlie joined us last year for Small Business Saturday and we are SO happy she will be back for this year’s event that is going to be bigger and better!! Carlie creates clay jewelry by hand right here in Duluth, MN. She has a pair of earrings for literally everyone!!

Nucleus Fine Art and Jewelry

Melanie the artist and maker behind Nucleus and Fine Art Jewelry will be joining in on the fun this Small Business Saturday at Bailey Builds and Friends! Melanie Lieb is a visual artist working in multiple media which include painting, jewelry, sculpture, ceramic and installation. You can expect artistic contemporary copper enamel jewelry, linoleum cut holiday cards, and fun holiday gnomes!

On behalf of Bailey Builds and all of our local artisans, we thank you for shopping locally and supporting our small businesses!  We can’t wait to greet you! Follow along on Instagram and Facebook

Come and join the festivities at:

Bailey Builds and Friends

5727 Grand Ave.

Duluth MN

Saturday, November 27th


Small Business Saturday at Bailey Builds!

I’ve realized that after Thanksgiving, we all decide it is now acceptable to pull out our favorite scarf and mittens and embrace the fact that winter is underway.  The crisp air and falling snowflakes tickle our noses, and our toes once again greet the icy earth beneath us.  The great north woods winter is officially upon us!

And we have the holiday season to usher it in with welcoming arms, warmed by our favorite wool and fleece sweaters.

At Bailey Builds, we are excited to bring back our festive holiday party, as we participate in our city’s Small Business Saturday event, always the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We are so excited that this year we are able to bring back the big, white tent and fill it with some of our favorite local artists!  We are closing off the street and kicking off this month of Christmas cheer with something for everyone, including the kiddos!

We are excited that our neighbors at “Shake It” are partnering with us, opening up their lot across the street that will house our large maker’s tent.  Enjoy the best of holiday artisan shopping, and grab yourself a healthy and hearty shake or sandwich, too!

Our store will be decked out for the holidays, and our holiday sale that you’ve come to look forward to will take place in the store all day!  From 10-5, you will have the opportunity to receive the gift of 15% off Bailey Builds art purchases of $500 or more.  And don’t forget to bring in any tokens you’ve collected from our Bailey Builds birthday month!

You can’t have an outdoor, Northwoods style party without a campfire!  Again, we will have a campfire right in the square to warm up by.  Take a break and enjoy  our free and fresh, homemade donuts, made on location!  The warm, doughy biscuits, deep fried and smothered in cinnamon and sugar are simply delightful!

And don’t worry!  We’ll have hot cocoa to wash them down!

Our Small Business Saturday event is truly for the whole family!  Bring the kiddos!  There will be furry, barnyard friends there to enamour the young and the old!  We also have a new, very special addition to spread the magic of the holiday season!  Our dear friend and very talented puppeteer will be walking about, delighting children with her whimsical voices and puppets!  You won’t want to miss this!

We are so thrilled to bring you some of the best of the best local artisans in the area!  So many artisan genres will be represented.  I can’t begin to cover it all, but let me highlight just a few:

Burdock Ceramics will be bringing their beautiful, nature inspired pottery.  This duo team, Rita Morris and Barry Sands, craft each piece on the pottery wheel, and then hand paint them  with delicate drawings of nature.

The Cozy Hen is a locally beloved baker of the most scrumptious Cheesecakes your taste buds will ever have the pleasure of sampling.  She will have available for sale several of her most popular holiday flavors.

White Spruce Market creates personalized gift boxes, ready to ship, and filled with a beautiful selection of handcrafted goods.

Sorvik North creates beautiful and earthy jewelry using birch bark as its centerpiece.

Round Barn Studio creates quilt designs out of reclaimed wood.

Tidy Details is a professional residential cleaning, home decor, and staging service in the twin ports that will be offering their quality and effective cleaning and home products.

Shire Draft Woodworking and Arts will have a booth that will cover all aspects of what they do, with a special focus on art.

This is just a sample of what you can expect at our Bailey Builds Small Business Saturday event!  We are thankful that our city has realized the importance of setting aside a special day to showcase the talented and hardworking businesses of our area, supporting the true American spirit of entrepreneurs.  When you shop local, you help support your local economy, and the local people in your midst who fuel the livelihood of your community.  We hope you take the opportunity to spread the spirit of the season with hand crafted gifts by local artisans this year!  We can’t wait to greet you!

Stay tuned for more details of the Bailey Builds Small Business Saturday event on our social media outlets on Instagram and Facebook.  Come and join the festivities at:

Bailey Builds and Friends

5727 Grand Ave.

Duluth MN

Saturday, November 27th


The Christmas Tree Hunt

On a frosty November morning, with the aroma of turkey and stuffing still wafting in the air, my gratitude for all the important things in life lingers, as the anticipation of the coming month arises.  The hustle and bustle of holiday business, the crisp air and falling snow, and all the details of Christmas dance in my head as I light my pine scented candle.  The culmination of the year has arrived, and I can’t wait to begin embracing it!

This is how I feel every year at the close of November.  There’s just something extra special about December.  There are so many ways to look at it.  It is the final chapter of the year at hand.  It is the month when the world ushers in the most cheer and good tidings.  The practice of compassion and giving is on the forefront, and the desire to dig a little deeper into the simple moments of timeless tradition seems to beckon.

I love the traditions that my family and I share.  And one of those traditions is heading out into the woods as a family to cut down our Christmas tree.  It’s a tradition we embrace every year.  The location may change, the family or friends we enjoy it with may change, but the joy and excitement it brings never fails.

On our Christmas tree expeditions, we like to make a day of it.  We pack the thermos of homemade hot cocoa, with plenty of snacks to go around.  If we go somewhere that we can have a campfire to warm up by, we’ll plan for that, too.  With our warmest boots and our coziest gloves we’ll all pile into the truck, dogs included!

I know there are a lot of theories on obtaining a fresh Christmas Tree.  Some people like to spot a nicely trimmed and tied evergreen at a Christmas tree lot.  Others like to pick from precut pines at a tree farm.  Any way to enjoy fresh greenery is a good choice, but my family and I like to enjoy the hunt of it.  Finding our tree is like searching for hidden treasure.  It’s somewhat magical as we gaze up at all the beautiful evergreens stretching out and pointing to the heavens.  In excitement, we tend to spread out as nature calls us in.  You can understand why one might get lost in the woods, because getting off trail is part of the fun.

Once we’ve circled the area, we all share our favorites and take a vote.  When we’ve landed on the “chosen one,” the true grit comes in, as we do things the old fashioned way.  Now that our children have gotten older, the process of hand sawing the tree isn’t quite as arduous as it used to be.  There are plenty of strong hands to get the job done!  We even get the shopdogs Albert and Oakley in on the fun!  Albert likes to play sled dog and help drag the tree back to the truck!  These are the moments of laughter and family time that I like to seal into my memory, to draw from on those more hectic days.

Picking out a Christmas tree can be somewhat like picking out a new family sofa at the furniture store.  What I mean by that is, they always look smaller than you think, until you try to cram it through the front door and into your living space.  I always have an inkling that perhaps we’ve gone a little too monumental, but the “go big or go home” mentality runs in our blood, even when it comes to Christmas Trees.  Luckily, our current home has a vaulted ceiling that puts up with our lofty evergreen conquests.

The great part of celebrating the holidays with a fresh evergreen, is the built in greenery we can glean from it for the rest of our home.  What can’t fit through the front door turns into festive, aromatic trimmings to decorate with inside and outside of our home.  There’s just something about the sight and smell of greenery that makes you feel cozy and makes your spirit bright.

We’ve never been into a color coordinating, perfectly decorated tree.  We love the ornaments that hold special meaning, mixed in with the paper chains our kids still love to make.  Our perfectly imperfect tree, fully lit with it’s fair share of lights, holds a special place in my heart, and I look forward to it every year.  Just thinking about it makes me eager to embrace it once again.

We are excited to bring the spirit of Christmas into our Bailey Builds and Friends storefront once again, giving you a great opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit as well!  We are so excited to kick off the Holiday season with lots of our artisan friends during our Small Business Saturday event on Saturday, November 27th.  Bring the kids, and save room for homemade donuts and hot cocoa!  Keep checking in on our Facebook Event Page for more information!

Our Epic Last Year, And It’s Not Over Yet!

In January of this year, as we embarked on the beginning of 2021, we gathered with our team to plan for what would become an unpredictable, yet epic year for Bailey Builds.  As the sunlight streamed through the window panes of our gallery, we sat together  in our cozy socks, with warm cups of coffee, ready to share more of ourselves with each other, combining our strengths and vision for the new year.  We had plans, we had timelines, we had listed our boxes to check.  And yet, this year reminded us that the ability to innovate is truly one of our greatest assets when life doesn’t go just like we planned. 

And, there are always hidden treasures and blessings to be discovered along the way.

In the beginning of the year, our biggest project was the renovation of the funeral home building into our fully operating Bailey Builds Collective.  We had set the month of June as the Grand Opening of our Bailey Builds store in the new location.  We had planned on having our artist work space available to the community shortly thereafter.  We even had design work mocked up to expand the gallery into a larger event space.  While all of these things are still very much a part of our grand plan, they weren’t able to happen in the timeline we had anticipated.

Our Collective building has come a long way.  We have spent countless hours working on the demo-ing of old walls, sorting through random artifacts of the old funeral home, and enjoying the storytelling of the process.  Yet, as a series of setbacks arose that were out of our control, we have had to modify the expectations of our timeline and focus on making the best out of our usable resources.  This mindset is a key component in the ability to innovate.  You’ve got to be able to take what you have and rearrange the pieces until you have what works for that moment or period. 

Rearranging the pieces of the tangram of Bailey Builds, if you will, led us to making the best lemonade we could out of the lemons of our circumstance.  We chose, in the meantime, to have a Grand Reopening of our current store location, extending our merchandise into the gallery space.  We had procured so many wonderful items from local and regional artists, so we wanted to make those items available to our customers.  The space has turned out beautifully, and is the perfect solution while we wait to continue our work at The Collective.

In the midst of the innovation that we have needed to practice as entrepreneurs, we have been splendidly surprised by the wonderful opportunities that have sprung up in the last year, fully embracing the blessings they have brought.  We have been thankful that 2021 brought back some of the art shows that were amiss in 2020 due to the pandemic.  For artists, these art shows are an integral part of the bread and butter for the year.

We had the privilege of participating in fairs that were new for us.  In June, we had such a warm welcome at the Stone Arch Art Festival in the Twin Cities.  This is the event that kicked off our Arches Collection, which continues to remain a favorite.  We were also thrilled to be honored as a Festival Favorite for this year!

In July we experienced our first Ann Arbor Art Fair, which is the largest Juried Art Fair in the country.  We were blown away by the response we received, and had such an amazing time.  The Ann Arbor Art Fair also showcased the release of our Gatsby Collection, which has truly continued to transform the art we create.

It was during the Ann Arbor Art Fair that we received a call to one of our biggest unexpected adventures of the year.  We were asked by Motortrend to participate in the promotion of the rebirth of the Wagoneer.  I designed a piece that represented the birth of a new generation of Wagoneers, while still paying homage to the classic original.  We recreated this piece as a special keepsake for the participants of a Fireside Chat put on by Motortrend and Wagoneer, at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  I was even invited to participate on the panel, alongside Wagoneer designers.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience!

As soon as our feet hit the ground back in Minnesota, after our fairytale experience in California, it was all hands on deck to prepare for the MN State Fair.  We dived in head first, embracing the challenge to stand out in the massive crowd by building our own Bailey Builds Studio on location!  Our team worked around the clock for nearly a week, and the result of our labor paid off.  Our studio space was a beautiful place to showcase our work at the most trafficked state fair in our country.  We had the privilege of meeting so many of you, as well as being presented with one of the Best of 2021 MN State Fair Awards.

If this was where our year ended, it would have been epic.  But we still managed to squeeze in another amazing art fair.  The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Art Fair On the Square was a phenomenal way to end the art festival season.  We received the great honor of an Invitational Award, which invites us back to participate next year without having to go through the competitive application process.  It was also our best two day art show ever, selling over ¾ of our inventory.

With less than two months left of the year of 2021, we hope to close it off with a good dose of cheer during this holiday season.  We love this time of year!  We love making handcrafted art that warms any space it finds its home.  We love pouring into our community, encouraging an atmosphere of joy and connection.  We look forward to sharing our fun holiday collections, and we hope to see you at our Small Business Saturday Event on Saturday, November 27th, at our Grand Avenue store.  Thanks for being a part of the journey with us!  We are so thankful for you!

The Bailey Builds Journey: Growing Pains And Where They Have Led Us

I remember teasing Nathanael about the idea of quitting his job to work with me someday.  Yet, the busier and busier my business became, the reality that I needed help became more apparent.  The seed of that idea had been planted in Nathanael’s heart, and time caused that seed to grow into real opportunity.

Nathanael was working in a field that he loved for a company that offered a lot of security.  The idea of leaving all that behind to build art in our garage seemed like a major risk.  However, we were already risk takers back then, and Nathanael had always loved the idea of being an entrepreneur, owning his own business.  This seemed like a natural opportunity to come alongside me and run with it!

We took the leap of faith and Nathanael quit his secure job of many years.  Our joint office became the garage in our backyard, and we began to work out our rhythm.  We soon realized that our process was quite different from one another.  While I’m a bit all over the place, fully immersed in my creative moments, Nathanael thrives on order and organization.  He kept his workspace tidy, while I had piles that made sense to me.  Learning to work together to come up with the most efficient process was important.  Nathanael built us each personal work benches that catered to our individual needs, and  we learned to create harmony with one another in our approach.  

With the need to stock up on any reclaimed lumber we could get our hands on, and the growing number of orders we were securing, we were fighting for space with the lawn mower, bicycles, and other home items infringing on our workspace.  It was time for a new workspace.  It was a daunting thought to invest in a workshop, but the opportunity to purchase the old Texaco gas station on the west side of our city was perfect timing.  As risk takers, we took the plunge.

Buying the old Texaco building ushered in new opportunities to expand our business.  Not only did we have an amazing workspace, but we were able to create more income by creating our Maker’s Loft Airbnb in the old apartment in the upper floor of the building, as well as rent out the front space until we were able to expand our business to include a storefront.  With a lot of elbow grease and a large amount of fresh paint, Nathanael’s famous quote became a reality: “What once fueled cars, now fuels the arts.”

By the fall of 2018, I was sharing all my favorite workwear from Duluth Trading Company with my instagram family, as their clothing became my go-to wardrobe in the woodshop and beyond.  We were running our woodshop, airbnb, and our own storefront Bailey Builds and Friends, and our business continued to grow.  By summer of 2019, I had become a working model for Duluth Trading Company’s womens collection, which was such an honor and amazing experience!  Yet, as our business continued to grow and our art production continued to expand, we began to feel those growing pains once again.

By the start of 2020, feeling cramped in our workshop, we decided to rent a warehouse building nearby as the answer to needing a larger production space.  At this point, we had our sons working for us part time in the woodshop, as well as one of my best friends working for us part time as a writer, sketch artist, and with our Airbnb management.  At this point, we were ready to commit to the next level of our team, by adding on a full time position that would focus on our marketing presence.  I don’t think we knew at the time that this big decision would be the start of creating our amazing team of currently over 10 people!

All of us can relate to the hardship that the year 2020 brought, with the reality that the world was in the midst of a catastrophic health pandemic.  The trickle down effect it had on families and small businesses was dramatic, and our economy is still trying to recover.  Though these times became hard, and we struggled through business shutdowns and loss of sales, we pressed on and continued to pull from the deep well of our entrepreneurial spirit.

During a time in our country when businesses were shutting their doors for good, we stepped out on the ledge, in faith, and bought another building to expand our business and our vision for the future.  Though the timing seemed risky, we purchased an old funeral home, just a couple blocks away from our storefront and workshop turned gallery space. In the end of July, 2020, we were handed the keys of our new building, with so many dreams in store for this new space.

We have loved sharing the journey of Bailey Builds with you this month.  Next week, we’ll share about this last epic year and the fun we still have in store through this holiday season.  Thanks for following along!