Life’s Patina was born ten years ago this coming February. It was born out of a love that developed while utilizing old, cast off objects in the restoration of our two hundred year old farm that we had moved into 4 years prior. Whether you’ve been following us since our inception or you’re new to joining us, I wanted to share with you our story – our beginnings, where we are now with this organic, grassroots business, and where we are going in the future.
Willowbrook Farm was much more than we had been looking for when we were house hunting 14 years ago but its stone walls, eclectic style of a farmhouse that had been added onto generation after generation, massive stone bank barn, stone walkways and all of the other fascinating accoutrements, lured us in and called to us to make it our home. To be honest, it certainly called to me much more than my husband or our five children, then ages 5 to 15 for they were sure that it was haunted, but upon each visit back, the stones began to talk to them too. And I, being a bit of a persuasive personality when I believe strongly in something, probably hit them with a brick or two from those same walls… a proverbial persuasive brick mind you.
I had always been a junker, since my indoctrination into it much to my chagrin, as a teenager who on family road trips, would refuse to get out of the antler laden or whatever had been found on the latest trip, family car, when we pulled into a rest stop or anywhere else for that matter. You see, my dad could neve refrain from stopping at wherever there was a treasure to be found… on the side of the road, in an old barn, bar or restaurant.
Much to my unwilling mind, I was silently taking this all in while protesting loudly to my parents, as I felt that was my role of course – that of the naysaying teenager. Again, unbeknownst to me, I was also soaking up the history laden places that we had visited while on those family trips; From Monticello, Williamsburg, The Grand Ole Oprey, Mount Vernon and Valley Forge National Park to the wooden clad house that sat upon the sea in Maine and New England, they had all had a profound effect on me. That coupled with moving into quite a “work in progress” farm of my parents’ dreams when I was 14, fostered and grew this love of the old. While we may eternally discuss the effects of nature vs nurture…The letter writing of my mother and her fetish for old china, collections and her inability to part with no longer needed objects as well as my grandmother’s love for a celebration and making things combined with the aforementioned experiences formed the perfect storm, and have become to me, something that is deep within. All of which I have founded Life’s Patina on.
The behemoth barn that sat on the property that we were now calling home was filled with lots of cast off treasures when we moved in. Fortunately for me, many were collected by the former owner who I suspect has the same love of the old as I do. Upon restoring the interior of the house, I often hauled these and other treasures inside to present to the builder who would silently cough under his breath, “crazy lady”, as I would ask them to be installed here or there or made into this or that, especially when I asked him to keep the rust on these treasures or the chippiness of the wood finish.
Soon my dreams of turning old things into new began to seep into my mind for a business. The connection between this beautiful historic barn that stood just mere feet from my home and this business that I was forming in my mind began to take literal shape. Supported by my husband, after writing him a very lengthy letter as to why I felt that I needed to take this business on even with the caregiving of the kids and this property and assisted by the experience of a very dear friend in the business world… both aptly named Chris…I traveled totally out of my comfort zone and took the leap of opening Life’s Patina.
In preparation, Chris and I designed our website with a web designer that I had found in the creative inspirational pages of the magazine Where Women Create founded by the phenomenal Jo Packham. I hungrily digested magazines like this and other websites which told stories of women who had followed their passions and their calling, like Sharon Santoni’s My French Country Home whose magazine we shall be carrying at the Mercantile. We designed the logo by going back and forth over email with the web designer who resided in the state of California. The conversations would look something like this: Me: “Can you please use an oval and this script and this color blue and brown and use this tagline”… what the heck was a tagline? “Can you please (I still say please to google when asking it to do something in the kitchen much to the amusement of my family) insert a topiary which will refer to growth and life?” Very professional sounding terms they were not, just an expression of what I could see in my mind. Back and forth we went until we had come up with our logo.
One of which I have loved dearly since the beginning. Chris knew of a sign guy who could create a label that we could affix to an old door that I had found that would hang from an architectural salvage item that I had hauled home from Pheasant Run Antiques in my Dad’s open trailer. That trailer became an appendage to my mom Suburban, that I soon would grow very adept at driving in order to haul things home out of state places like Virginia and Massachusetts and the states in between.
All of you who have visited have seen that Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm sign and logo upon entering the barn… and let me assure you that you will continue to see that logo and sign as you enter the barn for it is near and dear to my heart and symbolizes our beginnings.
But as we grow and expand our business towards our dreams, we realized we needed a logo to reflect both our past, present AND future… Branding that celebrated both our achieved dreams from the past and the future dreams we’re working towards. And thus, we are very excited to share with you, our updated branding, a new logo and a newly designed website that reflect the direction in which we are moving. One that reflects our direction for the next decade if we are going to be continued to be blessed by our faithful supporters, followers and visitors. You see… this hobby of turning someone else’s junk into a new treasure, that turned into a business that turned into a way of life has slowly crept into every aspect of my being. That interest in history and wondering who walked these floorboards that we now tread has created a passion in protecting and revitalizing such buildings and spaces. A fervent obsession where every old crumbling building that I gaze upon, I feel, has an important story to tell. A story that is based on the lives of people, of people that although have passed from this earth, have left their imprint, as all of us do. Their imprints are often wiped away by the passing of their descendents as has been so obviously enforced in the countless nameless photo albums, family bibles and family heirlooms of these faces of the past that we find on our picking trips. These stories are told in the gilded chandelier that we find in an old barn.
In the cracked and distressed mirror leaning against the wall of an old home.
In the uneven crumbling stone wall of a farm.
One can only imagine the savings and the pride that the past owner had felt when gazing up at their newly installed chandelier… the emotions that have been portrayed by the faces that have gazed into that cracked mirror… and to the sweat, labor and means of survival that were poured into constructing that stone wall. Yes, these are only objects and old homes that have been discarded to make way for the new and it is never a good thing when we are too attached to our things but I feel strongly that there are lessons learned in the study of these old things, in the admiration of how they were created and even how the simple home kitchen tool was created with longevity and a craftsmanship that has long ago been forgotten for speed and the “latest and greatest.” We live in a disposable society where both the stories and the objects no longer have relevant meaning.
It is our intent to continue to give these objects a platform for their stories to be heard. For these buildings to hear the sound of laughter within their walls again. For adaptive reuses to be created and assigned to these crumbling and often overlooked structures. To give a platform for the relevant meaning to the stories of all who have gone before us… who have celebrated life, in its simplicity and in its decadence… In its laughter and in its sorrow… In its past and in its present. We aim to protect these and other footsteps on the floorboards that while we tread on them, we are not erasing. We also intend to create new footsteps to be layered on the old, creating new stories and celebrations to speak of, to enhance the stories on the outline of the old.
We are thoroughly thrilled about the direction in which we are moving and to celebrate we have been in the rebranding phase of our little business over the last year! While our current atmosphere of living within the confines of Covid-19 have imparted difficulties, we are moving full steam ahead with the opening of our second location, The Life’s Patina Mercantile & Cafe in Historic Yellow Springs Village.
To reflect the expansion of our little grass roots enterprise of Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm with the opening of our new Mercantile & Cafe in the Village of Historic Yellow Springs… talk about a place whose past inhabitants left indelible footsteps…we have updated our logo to reflect our direction and our expansion. A logo that encompasses our humble beginnings as well as our dreams for the future. One that prompts us to look back at the past as well as take a hopeful look forward at the years to come.
In order to encompass both our Willowbrook Farm location as well as our coming soon location at Historic Yellow Springs, we decided to add the simple word, “Co.” to our name and transition from Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm to Life’s Patina Co. This simple update allows us to encompass both of our locations and any other growth that we might experience in the future (we have some exciting plans and possibilities up our sleeves!). This new logo will allow us to share our information and our happenings at both of our locations with the least amount of confusion and the new designs will be appearing in product that we are collaborating on with some of our artisanal makers to bring to you!
We have also been working on building a new website that will incorporate both our Willowbrook Farm location and our Historic Yellow Springs location in one place. One that can be home to all aspects of our business – from workshops & events to private gatherings and venue rentals, barn sales to vintage rentals, our new Mercantile & cafe to our blog and online shop. One in which you can find the information that you are looking for and reach out to us in a localized place and enable us to work more efficiently with requests, inquiries and information. One in which we can easily disperse our content that we have been creating all along to celebrate the beauty of life past and present. In that vein, do not worry, for you will see many elements of our past melding with our future in our rebranding. We are not changing Who we are, our mission remains the same. We are rather making room for our little business to grow. We’re honoring the milestones that led us to where we are today, but also taking the opportunity to consider the things we want to strive for as we move forward. The launching of the new website is planned for early November and we cannot wait to share it with you! We will be doing lots of giveaways, promotions and fun stuff in the weeks leading up to its reveal so stay tuned as we post about those happenings!
We have been working with a dear friend and new team member… Suzy… to create an interactive map for the new website whose artwork will grace the pages of many of our new images and branding. We are so very excited to share all of this newness with you while maintaining the core value of what we have developed at Life’s Patina over the almost ten years that have passed. Time sure does fly when you are working really hard and when you love what you do! Although… in this climate…does anybody really know what time it is and does anybody even really care?
I know that it is time to give wholehearted thanks to my little team. A team that works either part time or full time to further the message of what Life’s Patina is all about and helps bring it to fruition… I couldn’t do it without you. Our working schedule has looked different in the months since this pandemic entered all of our lives, but we have forged ahead, working so much behind the scenes to make these changes to reflect our future. From Maggie to whom the main communication has been happening with the new website designer and is assisting in all things related to the rebranding. To Julie, who is my daily partner in the operations of this business who has been accepting, unpacking and pricing all of the new orders in the barn while holding this fort down. To Lynda, who does the behind the scenes bookkeeping and accounting while running her own business. To Suzy, who has just joined us in helping to procure the health department requirements in the opening of our new Historic Yellow Springs location and whose artistic abilities you will see in a variety of offerings at Life’s Patina Co. To Brett, who alongside our son Christopher, has helped to install some of the vignettes in the barn at the last sale and who is working on some of the construction at the Mercantile in Yellow Springs. All of these people working together have enabled me to focus on the renovations of our new Mercantile & Cafe, the direction of this business and the design and installation of the past Fall Barn Sale and upcoming Holiday one. We are a little team that dreams of big things… and works together to fulfill those dreams.
So without further ado… I give you Life’s Patina Co! We’ll be sharing progress updates in the coming months, so stay tuned. We are truly so glad you’re here to join us on this continued journey!
~ Xoxo, Meg