Two sisters from Bridgeport, West Virginia decided to start their own crafting business called, “Corks and Spoons”, after realizing that their long history of artistic abilities was beginning to spark an interest with close friends and relatives.
In the basement of West Virginia resident, Brenda McKinley’s, household, an inspiration is on the cusp of reality.
With the help of her twin sister, Linda Seckman, the two have created their own unique business called “Corks and Spoons”; handcrafting and painting wooden kitchen utensils and cork-based products.
Twins In Sync
Brenda always had artistic talents that always shined, however, in the last year, she has been noticing that her friends and family have taken more interest than usual.
“We realized that this would be something fun to do after we retire, right now the business is in its raw stage, where we’re still trying to figure everything out,” Brenda says.
While Brenda finds her inspiration through her own expressive abilities, Linda finds muse in one of her relatives, who also makes whimsical cork-based crafts.
“My uncle sent me a bunch of cool little things he made, and one of them was a cheese-spreader that was made with a cork, and that idea evolved into so many other crafts that we’re making today,” says Linda.
The dream team quickly made many prototypes to see how friends and family reacted, and of course, the feedback was all positive.
In fact, their mother, Joan Sendling, has even helped out a little. When she heard about Corks and Spoons, she began to knit baby diaper covers and matching hats for the girls’ inventory.
“I think it is great what these girls are doing, because they have always been so into art,” says Joan, “I always thought it was a shame that it wasn’t put to use. I’m excited to help out all that I can.”
As soon as the idea was bantered around, the twins made haven in their workshops—their very own homes.
A Method to the Madness
Although this artsy duo have full-time jobs, where both work at CONSOL Energy, they juggle Corks and Spoons in a well-paced manner. However, it is much more time consuming than they estimated.
Each craft has a careful process that must be followed to ensure maximum quality and inventiveness.
McKinley does all of the painting for Corks and Spoons, and she says the process to complete one spoon takes priming the handle, painting the handle, and then adding the design or pattern, all of which could take a full hour, plus drying time in between coats of paint. Not to mention, putting a polyurethane coating as a final-touch to make them dishwasher safe.
In her endeavor to make all spoons unique, Brenda puts in many hours of this process.
“I usually have four or eight spoons all being primed at one time, so by the time I paint the first spoon and last spoon, most of them will be dry,” says Brenda, “It takes me about four or five hours to get a set of spoons finished before polyurethaning them.”
Of course, the spoons and kitchenware are only one aspect of their crafting, and take the longest to make. Luckily, Linda carries her weight in the cork and bottle cap crafting. One of her favorite items to make are the alphabet letters that are made out of smashed bottle caps.
Each letter crafted takes approximately 50 bottle caps, and even then, Linda still has to cut them to frame the letters correctly, and glue them slowly, patiently letting the caps dry as she goes.
“It takes me about four hours to make a letter from beginning to end,” says Linda, “I have the letter already cut out of wood, and we always have an assortment of bottle caps already collected and sorted from local restaurants and friends.”
Seckman loves the idea that making these letters is a way of recycling, and getting the community involved.
The Price is Right
The two see Corks and Spoons as a way of relaxing and doing what they love. However, it’s not all fun and games.
“Starting a business that succeeds is hard work,” says Brenda.
When it comes to pricing products and factoring in their time and effort, the two glue themselves to Excel spreadsheets, making their Crafts Inventory, to make sure everything adds up.
“For our first batch of products, we invested about $1500 in the raw materials and start-up costs, like glue, paint, beads, things like that. We also had to take into consideration the amount of time we put into making each of these crafts,” Brenda says.
The two use inspiration from previous craft shows they attended, observing how other vendors priced their items, while also noting the quality of their products.
Both sisters are accountants, so calculating these hard numbers is a breeze; another reason that they think the business will flourish.
“We want to make sure we are compatible with other prices of items that are similar to ours, although our items are pretty unique,” says Linda, “At our first craft fair, we think we were pretty right on with our costs.”
The twins admit that they have some changes to make with prices, and have already began making those adaptations to further develop their inventory and success at craft shows.
Since the two work full-time jobs, they want Corks and Spoons to just act as a hobby for the time being. After all, with families to juggle, it is hard to ensure full effort on a daily basis.
The team has already entered one craft fair, and made almost $1000 in orders, which was their goal. For the next two years until they retire, the twins mentioned that they would like to see what interest they receive on their products from a variety of people—strangers and friends.
Until then, they will continue to make their art on the side, and enjoy the extra profit.
“We want to devote all our time to these crafts and participate in all the local craft shows if our feedback stays positive,” says Linda, “Eventually, we would love to sell items on etsy.com in order to broaden our audience.”
The adventure is just beginning for these ladies who have finally created the unique business that they could have only dreamt of.
The sisters have already began reaching out to the society via social media. By setting up an account on Pinterest and a page on Facebook, their friends and family who might not live locally will now be able to experience the full effect of Corks and Spoons.
Brenda has also reached out to her daughter about spreading the news about Corks and Spoons, all the way in North Carolina at High Point University.
The two said that the quick transition from working one job to having Corks and Spoons on the side was smooth and painless.
“It’s a work in progress,” said McKinley, “We were always wondering what we were going to do when we retire, and now I think we can finally stop searching.”