Finding a repurpose
It all started with a May snowstorm last year. Kent and Milissa Bailey, of Webster City, noticed a huge limb had come off of the crab apple tree in their backyard.
“So we took it to the brush pile,” Milissa Bailey recalled. “I have wanted a trellis on the back of our house forever. So I said to Kent, you can build a trellis out of those branches. So he built one. And then another.”
Waste not, want not, Milissa Bailey thought, and since they were raised by Depression-era babies, she decided to use the extra scrap wood and craft some stars out of the rest.
“Someone saw our trellises and said, ‘You guys should go to market for this.’ We did this just for fun, but we decided to go to the Webster City Farmers Market,” she continued.
The business continued to spiral upwards, as friends brought over a bale of barbed wire and asked what the Baileys could possibly construct with it. The pair started constructing primitive pumpkins out of the wiry material.
“It’s been just over a year,” Kent Bailey said. “Our first farmers market was the first Saturday of last July. We started going to these shows and other people would ask us to come to their shows. That is how it started rolling. Now our products are going to be in six different stores. It’s amazing what has happened.”
Kent said that a year ago, they were primarily making their products out of sticks: trellises, arbors, candle centerpieces, birdhouses, and wine racks. A year later, the pair still constructs the same items, but now also creates furniture and art out of reclaimed wood.
“That is what everyone wants now,” he said. “We have also started to dabble a bit in ‘junk’. People are wanting to buy repurposed, reclaimed things that have been turned into something else.”
With the reclaimed wood, Milissa started painting after the couple was given barn wood from a friend.
“Before that, we weren’t doing any of that,” Kent said. “This was only a few months ago. We started thinking, ‘Maybe we should start making benches.’ Then we talked some more and said, ‘Maybe we should paint something on them. People might like flowers.’ Now, that has taken off.”
The couple has to find time at night and on the weekends to make their creations come to life, as they work full-time as owners of OHP Marketing.
“If we have a couple hours during the day when our OHP business is handled, Missy will come out and start painting or I will go out to the garage and build stuff,” Kent said. “What is nice about it, being business owners, we have that flexibility.”
Milissa said it has been fun to take time out of their normal working day to find material for their products.
“The other day, we were reclaiming wood off of a friend’s barn,” she said. “It is kind of fun to be out of the office, instead of being inside doing graphic design, writing, or recording.”
The couple has also enjoyed pondering the back stories of each of their pieces.
“We are kind of history people, so we are always wondering what each piece was used for,” Milissa continued. “We have a piece out back that we are dying to put together. We think horses came over the fence and have just worn a groove in the wood. We are out there and thinking, ‘This is so cool.’ Some people might look at it and think ‘What are you talking about?’ A piece that we just got done, it was an old cedar livestock feeder that still has the flapping doors on it. It had such a cool rust patina. We hand painted words on it and put it online. Within 30 minutes, this gal goes, ‘I love it, it reminds me of my childhood growing up on an Iowa farm. Where are you located?’ “
“Another fun thing about all of this, is being down at the shows and farmers markets,” Kent added. “They are their own little community. We all have fun, the vendors hanging out together.”
The Baileys said they wouldn’t be creating their repurposed items or stick masterpieces if it weren’t fun.
“It’s been really rewarding to make something that people really like and want to buy. We still get a really big kick out of that part of it. We really enjoy it,” Kent said. “We know, it’s not for everybody. Some things you like, some things you don’t. We know that. Right now though, we really have fun doing it.”
You can find Boone River Rusticks products online at www.facebook.com/BooneRiverRusticks and www.etsy.com‘shop/BooneRiverRusticks. You can contact the business at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their products can also be found at SOS Vintage in Webster City, Tangerine Zebra in Ames, Barn Happy in Cedar Falls, Shoestring Garden in Tama, and re:home in Winterset.