Local woman turns hobby into business

Published 11:27 am Monday, November 24, 2008

It started out as using something she loved to do as a way to add to her income. But on Mother’s Day this spring Becky Thomas decided to take the plunge and turn an avocation into a business venture.

That’s how “My Mother and Me” gift and decorating shop got its start.

“I have five children. I have always supplemented my income by making crafts and during the course of a couple of illnesses I was no longer able to go back to my job,” Thomas said. “I love the primitive stuff and always thought I would open a shop.”

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With a garage on their property Thomas and her husband, Greg, weren’t using, she did just that.

“I make shelves, candles, aprons, wreaths for the different seasons and Christmas, made out of pine, primitive with checked ribbons, rusty bells,” Thomas said. “I’m just a country girl at heart.”

Inventory is changed for each season with end of season merchandise discounted.

The primitive style of décor has always appealed to this country girl.

“It is warm. It is something people can do themselves,” she said. “Mothers who stay-at-home with babies, they can get a little bottle of black paint and candle holders and distress them themselves.”

With four daughters and a son, Thomas gets a lot of help from the distaff side of her family as the girls go out visiting all the country gifts shops they find. The skills she uses to create her merchandise are largely self-taught.

“I made my first dress out of necessity in seventh grade on an old Singer pedal sewing machine,” she said. “I have just taught myself, not having the money to buy all of that stuff, I would make it.”

Her seamstress specialties are aprons, clothes pin bags, pillows with ruffles, and curtains.

“I love to make curtains. I have always enjoyed making something that other people could come into their home and enjoy as well,” she said.

For those thinking about opening their own niche business, Thomas has definite advice.

“Start small. Unless they have a couple hundred thousand, you have to start small,” she said. “People can get so burned out so fast. You can get very frustrated. You have to stay on top of things. You have to keep your shop full. If there is not a lot of money where you can buy (inventory), you have to make some of your things.”

And making things is part of the joy of having her own shop, said Thomas, admitting she could spend all day in front of her sewing machine.

As to far as the future, Thomas is philosophical drawing on her faith.

“You never know where the Lord may lead us,” she said.