Guest Post by Poverty Barn Girls

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I have the honor of introducing my first guest post today!! One of my best friends since we were little girls, Jesse Behlmann, has a mother-daughter business with her mom, Valerie Perkins. As they've cutely been nicknamed, "Barn Girls", Valerie and Jesse (and now Jesse's brand-spankin'-new baby girl, Olivia) are the team behind Poverty Barn. I have multiple pieces from them, and their work is flawless, sweetly handmade to perfection and carefully packaged (if you order online). You can also visit them in store locations in the St. Louis, MO area! Without further delay, here's our Q&A:

Q: What encouraged ya'll to start your own business and why did you pick the name Poverty Barn?
A: The whole thing was actually Jesse's idea.  She got a sewing machine for Christmas and started making really cute wallets and then decided to sell them.  Going it alone was kind of boring and a lot of work, so she asked me to join her.  I came up with a few of my own little crafty ideas, and we were off! We chose the name Poverty Barn because my husband had suggested it years ago.  We like it because our products are reasonably priced, for the main reason that everyone deserves to be surrounded by things they love and they shouldn't have to go broke in the process.  Nearly all of what we sell is under $50 and the majority of that are less than $25. - Valerie Perkins
A: I got a sewing machine from my husband on our first married Christmas. Mom and I took a quilting class together and then after that, I kept seeing cute projects online that other people had created with their sewing machine. That gave me tons of ideas, which combined with my love for buying fabric, led to the creation of our business. I set up for the first time in June of 2011 at the Kirkwood Farmer's Market with only 3 wallets. Our little enterprise has grown leaps and bounds since then. Mom started making things and joined me and now we are at the point where we have to pick and choose what to set up at our craft shows since we are typically limited to  a 10x10 foot space and make way more than can fit in that space. - Jesse Behlmann

Q: What inspires you to create what you do?
A: My inspirations come from many different places, but the best ones are usually the ones that are on my mind first thing in the morning when I wake up.  I love to create canvases with scripture and I have a great time doing the personalized pieces. Sometimes the ideas come directly from my customers which is often challenging, but still a lot of fun. - Valerie Perkins
A: I get a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest and from things that I see when I am out and about. I like to take ideas and then modify them to better meet the needs of my customers such as taking a cute pattern for a tote bag and adding a bunch of pockets to hold all of their gadgets. Also, as I mentioned previously, I have an obsession with fabric. Especially bright and colorful fabric. I love pairing up fabrics and making pretty combinations for the products that I sew. - Jesse Behlmann

a custom piece i asked them to do. not only is it sooo well done,
they took time to hear my wishes on it and absolutely did just that!
Q: Being a mother-daughter business (and now grandmother-daughter-
granddaughter), what's been the most rewarding part of being able to run Poverty Barn?
A: For me it has been spending time with Jesse, and now Olivia.  You never know how much you will miss your kids until they grow up and move out.  Working jointly has allowed us to spend a lot of time together, and I think we're better friends now than we have ever been. - Valerie Perkins
A: I also think that the most rewarding part of being a mother-daughter business is spending time with my mom. She is one of my best friends and I love spending time with her. I think I actually get to see her more than I did when I lived at home since I was always so busy with school, work, and friends. It also gives mom more time with little Olivia which I know she loves - Jesse Behlmann

Q: What sets Poverty Barn apart from other handmade businesses?
A: I think the fact that we neither one consider ourselves "artists" makes us different. Personally,it's a term that makes me uncomfortable because I can't draw to save my life. Besides that, maybe the idea that while we want to make a profit, we're not in this to just rake in as much money as possible. We keep our profit margins fair, tithe, give to charities and walk away with enough to feel good about the whole thing. - Valerie Perkins
A: Another thing that I think sets Poverty Barn apart from other handmade businesses is our originality. We get a lot of ideas from Pinterest and even other people, but we don't copy. We add our own special twist to each piece that we create to make it our own. - Jesse Behlmann

jesse sent me this as a gift and i love it! it's thin and easy to slip in
my work apron pocket, and just so dang cute!
 Q: What's your favorite piece you've ever made? 
A: My favorite is usually whatever I'm working on at the moment, because I can't wait to see how it's going to turn out.  I still love the "Attributes of God" canvas and the "See St. Louis" design.  They are both near and dear to my heart. - Valerie Perkins
A: I think one of my favorite pieces is the mini wallet. It was a modification of my original wallet that started this business. I also really like making our little magnet tins. It is fun to find new images for the magnets and they are typically very popular in our shops and at our shows. - Jesse Behlmann

Q: What's a favorite that you haven't made yet but can't wait to?  
A: Olivia's wall art!  I've had the vision in my head since before she was born but I just can't seem to get it done.  I would also like to create a piece for our home but that one's on the back burner for now. - Valerie Perkins
A: One thing that I can't wait to make is a purse that I have had a pattern for for quite awhile now. I finally found the perfect fabric for it. It is black with New York City icons and Burroughs printed on it in bright colors. Now I just need to find some time on a day that Olivia cooperates to sit down and get it done. I also have some awesome keychains in the works right now. - Jesse Behlmann

Q: Where would you like to see Poverty Barn go in the future?  
A: I would like to see us continue to grow at a comfortable pace so that we do not get overwhelmed but really see ourselves as a viable, here-to-stay business. Long-range, I want to have our very own store where we sell not only our own work, but have space where we can help other budding small businesses like ours get started. - Valerie Perkins
A: I also really want to open our own store. We have learned a lot from working with other stores where we have our products. I think that combined with our heart for helping other small business crafters could be a great combination for a shop. Until then, I would like to get our products in a few more stores; expand our online presence with our Etsy shop, website, and social media outlets; participate in some larger shows; and even plan some of our own craft shows. We are coordinating our own craft show this December for local artists on Etsy and I can not wait to see how it goes! - Jesse Behlmann

a gift from mrs. perkins - designed because of my blog title :)

How to Find the Barn Girls: 

*edited on June 10: here is the link from Poverty Barn to their little blog post they made telling followers to head on over here to check out the Q&A! just another plug in for their blog :)

1 comment:

  1. Katie,
    Thanks so much for inviting us to do this! It was very nice of you to showcase our little business this way!



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