It’s hard to believe that we are entering our sixth year living the clear calling that I felt in my life: to do what I love. In the beginning, I wasn’t even totally sure exactly what that would mean for me. All I knew was that I had reached the T in the road, and I knew it was time for me to head in a new direction.
After 13 years working at the same job, I realized that what had first drawn me in was no longer present. I realized that I was going through the motions, but the passion and purpose wasn’t fulfilling me like it once did. It was hard to think of switching gears without a clear path, yet I knew deep inside that the time for closing one door to explore another door was at hand, and I needed to walk in faith, trusting that the right door would open.
I can remember the night I felt clearly that God was telling me to do what I love to do.
That was my starting point. I began making a list of the things that brought joy and purpose to my life. I loved being a mother and a wife. I had a passion for music and writing. I was just starting to get a real itch for building things out of recycled wood. I decided that, through the creation of a blog, I would focus on these things. I was writing. I was playing music for pleasure at local coffee shops. And I was tinkering in our garage, building lawn furniture and furniture for my home. All the while, I would share these pieces of my life on my new blog.
As I poured my time into these pockets of life that brought joy, a rhythm and order began to settle in. Friends started noticing my craft for building, which sparked the opportunity to create custom furniture. I realized that building things tapped into a new faucet of my creativity that I wanted more of. During those beginning months, I spent countless hours in our family garage honing in on my skill, experimenting with design and function.
As I made myself available to the idea that building things could be the answer to the income I hoped to replace, I took custom orders through word of mouth, and even took on some bigger projects that required me to build on site. I was building benches and coffee tables, laundry sorters and dining tables. I even built floating bunk beds and desks for a friend. I was putting in many more hours than I was recouping in money, but I was finding my way.
It wasn’t until I signed up for a craft fair, that I truly realized that the potential to make a profit was a reality. I had no idea what to expect at my first real show, which was the Duluth Junk Hunt. I just built as many pieces as I could and went with lots of hope, but little expectations. The warm and enthusiastic response I received was motivational. It was hard to believe that people loved my work. I didn’t even really know what to call myself at that point. Was I a crafter? Builder? Artist? Whatever the case, that craft fair was the first time I went home with a profit, albeit small. After figuring all of the time I invested and the supplies that needed to be purchased, I estimated I made about five dollars an hour. It was less than minimum wage, but it was a start! It was enough to inspire me to keep going.
At this point, I was still experimenting with my style. I loved the way lines created interest and movement. In my early work, I incorporated a lot of chevron and herringbone elements to my furniture. I also loved working with recycled wood. Originally, my favorite part about utilizing recycled wood was that I could usually find it for free. It may have taken a little elbow grease to pry apart pallets and remove nails and screws from old boards, but the profit was higher than with buying new lumber. Moreso, I realized just how beautiful and unique old, weathered lumber could be.
And there is such beautiful symbolism with taking something old and discarded and giving it new life.
Probably the craziest story I could share from those beginnings, is the laundry sorter I made that went viral on Pinterest. I had found the building design through a tutorial online. Once I posted my version, I had countless requests for orders from people who found my post. I made so many hand-crafted laundry sorters for people, juggling the shipping of large, bulky items. It was through this experience that I began to realize that furniture building wasn’t my destination. Yet, I knew it was leading me somewhere.
I just hadn’t discovered quite where.
I can’t wait to share with you next week, how furniture building evolved into what Bailey Builds is known for today! Make sure to follow along on Instagram for all the fun opportunities we have during our Birthday month of October.