Personally, I can’t even manage three dogs while finding my wallet, so when we sat down to interview Brenna Erickson of Revelation house, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Not only was she in the middle of making hundreds of signs out of her home, she had four young boys enjoying summer vacation all while her husband worked 60 hours a week. To us, Brenna and people like her are the backbone of the American “makers” economy, those small artisans that are symbolic of a sort of renaissance of American manufacturing. We may not be making cars in Detroit, but we’re making signs in Michigan, and shelves in Texas, and shower curtains in North Carolina.
Brenna spoke a little bit about how she got started, and I think it echoes the experience of so many of us who go to work for ourselves. She was employed in a well-known keepsake chain (which shall remain nameless…) and just knew she could do a better job making some of these things than an overseas factory. So, she struck out on her own. First, it was lemonade stands, shipped all over the country, but the enormous weight was problematic. As she sought a new venture, she was interrupted by having four boys back to back over 8 years. But that was just a small pause for Brenna, who jumped right back into the crafting market once the boys had grown a bit.
The way she seamlessly blends being a mom and a maker is inspiring. During our interview, one young man came in with eyes full of tears, and she didn’t miss a beat, answering our questions, comforting her son, and eventually, he became the star of the interview as he hammed it up for the camera. She noted that she’s grateful that her boys were born so close together because now they’re all “each other’s best friends.” This helps too because her husband working so many hours means she only really sees him on Sunday, which has become a very special day of worship and family, two key elements in Brenna’s life- elements which find their way into all her products.
Her signs help her communicate messages of faith and love, and each one is carefully crafted by hand- no vinyl lettering, everything hand painted and stenciled- and her unique background helped her combine her love of “painting and power tools.” An interest in fine arts was always encouraged growing up, but she also gravitated towards her father’s construction business, helping build houses in the summers. By combining these interests, Brenna has been able to find a business that she truly loves- and so do we!
And so “Revelation House” was born, named after her future goal- her “Revelation”- of a house in the country with her boys, with Brenna and her husband working together full-time hand making beautiful products to share with her customers. Sounds like a wonderful idea to me. We’re proud to help support her on her way, and we hope you will too.