By Lee Noles
MONROE – Growing up in Lancaster, S.C., Laura Lynn Nixon remembers enjoying summer days swinging on the front porch of her family home in her quiet Southern town.
The memories of Nixon’s youth influenced her to open Signs of Heaven, a business she runs with her teenage sons. They create rustic farmhouse signs and sell them throughout the country.
“It’s not run of the mill,” Nixon said. “It’s unique. You can tell a lot of time has been put into this. There is a quality to them.”
The opportunity of owning the business almost passed Nixon by after she thought it was too late to make an offer to buy the sign-making company. Nixon found the business online, but the advertisement had been there for several months. It wasn’t until the next morning when Nixon decided to text the owner.
“It was still for sale,” Nixon said. “I was excited about that.”
She bought the company, renamed it and got pointers from the former owner on how to create the signs. Nixon starts by going to a lumberyard and picking the wood she would like to use. Pine and poplar wood are the best Nixon said because of their abundance and the ability to stain and paint them. The process is certainly a family affair with her 16-year-old son, Matt, cutting the wood and designing the sayings that go onto the piece. Nixon’s oldest, 19-year-old Davis, uses machines to sand down the wood before switching to doing it by hand to give the piece a more distressed look. Nixon handles the staining and marketing, which has seen her Facebook followers grow from 200 two months ago to 5,300.
“It’s a natural progression for us,” she said of working with her two sons.
What hasn’t been natural is how fast the business has taken off. Figuring at least a year to get their name out there, Nixon said they have filled more than 30 custom orders and another 50 from sales in their first two months. One of Nixon’s favorite stories was creating a sign for a woman in Virginia who texted Nixon and said in capital letters how much she enjoyed her newly delivered gift.
“As I read it, I showed it to Matt and we were just smiling because someone (in another state) was enjoying a project we worked on together,” said Nixon, who has also sent 10 signs to California. “There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
Nixon said she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with the business when she first started. At first, she thought she’d make signs for family and friends. Then she thought of keeping it local before realizing she wanted to make it bigger after the responses she got. She said they are checking into Amazon to get to a larger audience while maintaining accounts with Facebook and Etsy. What Nixon won’t change is why she started doing signs in the first place.
“God is the center of everything we do, and we just didn’t want another business to bring in income,” Nixon said. “We wanted God to be in the center of it all.”
Where to find them
Signs of Heaven is at Peddler’s Paradise in Monroe. Nixon can be reached at signsofheavengmail.com or at www.signsofheaven.com.