ELEMENTS

Makers Series

Chapter 2 : Lindsay Brook Designs

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Meet your maker

Lindsay Brook Designs

We've said it once, we'll say it a million more times : we are happy to carry locally made goods in our store. The featured vendor today approached us just a few weeks in to us opening and has been an elements tried and true brand ever since. 

 

The part of the story of local makers that intrigues me the most is really the part of our personal story that seemed so impulsive - how, when, and why did you decide to quit your other jobs and choose to devote your time and attention to a single project that you believed in? Johnnie and I dreamed about and pined over this concept for a store for a long time, but when it came to finding the space - we just had to jump, thinking was secondary and we just had to sign the papers and get to work. Why? I'm pretty sure we were and still are a little insane. 

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The how and when: For Lindsay, she was working 2 part time jobs and then added on her seamstress work to make some extra money. Working pretty much all day, then coming home and working more can be exhausting. It took a few Pepper Place market set ups to say "I'm doing this, committing, going full force in to Lindsay Brook Designs". 

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Special pieces from fellow maker and Elements vendor, Small Woods Studio, hung above her sewing machine - pretty good advice from Ron Swanson sewn beautifully by Tammy. 

The hardest part for Lindsay : There is a misunderstanding about having a "craft". It's not just a hobby but it is her career and her business. Yes there is a LOT of sewing but there is also branding and labeling, building websites, pushing your goods at markets, and wandering in to retailers and networking. (All of these aforementioned 'to-dos' on top of the most important task - creating quality handmade goods) Did I mention she was also raising her 3 kids--pregnant 2 different times, in the height of the growth of LB designs? She is a full fledged girl boss. 

But the best part always outweighs the hardest part for her :  "I can be more flexible so I can be more generous". She can rearrange her schedule to be there for her family and friends. And not only has it made her time more open but it has allowed her to contribute monetarily to people and causes and organizations that she finds important. Of course we want our businesses to sustain us but Lindsay reminded me that we also need our businesses to fulfill us in a variety of ways. 

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Through all of our conversation - there was a consistent theme - being generous and mindful. Generous with time and space and companionship. Mindful of her waste, who she was impacting and how she could impact someone more. My time with Lindsay was such a breath of fresh air. To be connected on a personal level with a maker that we carry in store is something I never thought I'd get to have in the retail business. It's not only about selling - the best part to us is this connection. 

Thank you to Lindsay for opening up your home to me.

Chapter 1 : "Trimming the Hedges"

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A prefacing note about Elements in general: a large portion about the concept of our store is based in our ability to house local goods and host local makers. We know and have had the pleasure of encountering so many talented people in and around the Birmingham area, and we wanted to create a space that local vendors could be a big part of the make up of the curation of our store. 

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Chapter 1: 'Trimmin'              the hedges'

We recently visited TJ Beckham's shop of TJ Works Wood. This post is a product of time spent there.

It all started a little over a year ago with a TV console. Birmingham area native, TJ Beckham, saw a need in his home and built it. That's the spirit that he carries with him daily. He sees a need or a problem and he just fixes it. Simple as that. TJ grew up the son of a contractor and worked as one himself for several years which opened up the door to woodworking.  

 

He's a tall burly guy with a beard and a shop that would make Ron Swanson proud. With woods around him, a centrally located table saw [which he says is key and absolutely necessary], a simple window AC, and just steps away from his back door you can find TJ out there, creating....."trimming the hedges" as he refers to it. 

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TJ-"Everybody needs their own 'trimmin' the hedges'; it's about personal space...Johnnie, I'm sure Mallory tells you to get out of the house sometimes, you're getting on her nerves..."

J- "yeah, mine is 'I'm going to dig a hole!' "

[it's all true...I send him outside, he digs holes, and I get some quiet for about an hour]

TJ-"yeah, so I grew up with my mom and my sister and I just had to go out and cut a tree sometimes. Get out of the house and get space"

His version of trimming the hedges (good for all of us) turned in to these creations: the jewelry he makes with jigs that he troubleshot for months, the cutting boards that we now use to serve our friends cheese (and act fancier than we are), live edge coasters from fallen trees, tables, and stands...all found in our store in Crestwood but made just a few miles away. 

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We focused mostly on his jewelry crafting : TJ goes to Woodcraft, where he can peruse through all of their scraps. The quintessential saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" rings true here. He finds interesting types of wood from Walnut to Spalted Tamarind and sees past the leftover saw dust and misshapen chunks. He then takes them home and uses premade jigs to splice the piece in to unique pieces of jewelry. No single piece of a necklace is the same as the next or the one before it. Each one cut is another finger risked. All made for you. [I was surprised to know that it's still nerve racking to run those pieces through his table saw; I was pleased to know that he uses proper cautionary measures to ensure he doesn't actually lose a finger while making these pieces.] 

I've known TJ for years now. And he's always been a go-getter. Every month I felt I was hearing about a new project of his. It really is inspiring to see someone continue to pursue. Period. Whatever that may be. We don't have to stop learning just because we're not in school. You can continue to find new hobbies, new likes, new skills. And, if you're like TJ, they may just end up being lucrative. Even if it doesn't - keep making things, keep learning things, and keep working out your brain muscles. Go outside and trim some hedges...a new project may come to mind.

 

And thank you so much to our friend, TJ - for opening up your home and shop to us; for letting us get a peek in to how you work; and for bringing us cinnamon rolls.