In our maker profile blog series, we will introduce you to the creative, skilled, and talented makers who sell their goods at our shop. In essence, these makers are the inspiration and soul behind Locally Made Savannah’s entire concept. Enjoy!
Low Country Life
Barb Frazier and her husband, Don, first moved to Bluffton from New Jersey in 2018. They quickly settled into the Lowcountry way of life. They appreciated the slower pace and their welcoming community. However, that all changed in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barb and Don found themselves confined to their property, so they would take long walks in the woods behind their home.
During one of these walks, they found a really cool piece of wood. Barb had always been very artistically inclined, constantly working on crafting projects in her downtime. So she got the idea to do something crafty with this particular piece of wood. She had been watching wood-burning technique videos online, so she bought a cheap wood burner from Michael’s and free-hand burned a design into the wood. Don added the hardware, turning it into a serving board. Soon, Barb was addicted and started burning every she could get her hands on!
From Hobby to Business
Barb shared some of her early wood-burning creations on social media. A friend admired her work and asked Barb to make a serving board with her dad’s favorite baseball team logo. She did and continued to share her boards online. Soon, more and more people saw the boards and asked for their own. Thus, a business was born!
Barb began taking orders, set up a workshop in her garage, bought a better wood-burning kit, and named her company something simple and straightforward: Barb’s Boards. She sources most of the wood she works with from all around Bluffton. She meticulously cleans and sands each piece before burning a design on it and applying a food-safe bamboo oil.
Barb’s designs are always done free-hand (except for logos) and often nature-themed. From sea turtles to birds to flowers, she is constantly using her beautiful Lowcountry surroundings as inspiration. That is unless she gets a custom request. She has burned everything from boats and golf clubs even a sanitation dump truck!
More Than Just Boards
Propelled forward by her customers’ requests and the different types of wood she was finding, Barb’s Boards swiftly expanded into more than just serving boards. With the help of Don, Barb also makes noodle board stove coverings, candles, wooden spoons, bathtub trays, and wineracks.
When a customer asked for a swing, she had no idea how to make one, but she said, “Sure!” She got her hands on a piece of pine lumber, cleaned it, sanded it, burned a sea turtle design on it, stained it, and looked up how to tie the ropes online. She is truly a self-made woman!
Then, Tonya, the owner of Locally Made Savannah, reached out to Barb on Instagram about the new shop. Barb knew that Locally Made would be a brilliant opportunity to introduce her artwork to an entirely new demographic. Tonya was so enthusiastic about Barb’s talent, and she simply had to get her work into the shop right away.
Barb appreciates Tonya’s transparency and how communicative she is about sharing customer feedback. When Tonya mentioned that some customers were looking for wedding-themed products, Barb went straight to her workshop and created some bride and groom boards!
Colors Speak Louder Than Words
Barb is very excited about the future of her business. Now, she is not only taking requests for custom designs, but some customers are even bringing their own pieces of wood for her to work with. Pretty much, if someone asks, she’ll do it. She may not have a website, but customers can find her work at Locally Made or reach out to her on Instagram.
Once in a while, Barb will burn a beautiful design like a Purple Martin into a board, but to her, it looks unfinished. So she’ll add some paint to really make it POP, and she is thinking about doing that more often. Barb has also enjoyed experimenting with different colors of resin. She started using it in her coasters and has been brainstorming ways to incorporate it into her other products.
Outside of dabbling in colors, Barb feels so blessed to be able to live out her life’s passion for creating art. She attributes much of her success to her loving and helpful husband, Don, and supportive members of the community like Tonya, who champion small, creative businesses like hers. The Lowcountry is a unique area made up of art and nature lovers, so it’s nobody’s surprise that Barb’s Boards has taken off the way it has!