Brittany Travis and her mom, Debbie, were talking in the car when they shared an aha moment. Brittany had been working for a respected international advertising agency headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was the job she’d envisioned for herself since mapping out her career in college. She started there as an intern and worked her way up to account supervisor, managing big brands like Horizon Organic and LÄRABAR. But something felt off. While the work required Brittany to tap into her creative side on a regular basis, she longed to use her skills as a do-it-yourselfer to bring her own ideas to life. Her passion: creating customized gifts for friends and family.
Debbie had recently left her role heading up operations in her family’s manufacturing business. She started her career working for a national health care provider and was there for a decade. But she found herself wanting to contribute in ways that weren’t conducive to a corporate environment where everyone was expected to stay in their own lane. She decided it would be far more rewarding to work in the family business, so she joined her parents and four brothers and made it her mission to move the business into the modern world—bringing sales and other systems online. After helping the company achieve continuous and significant growth over the next two decades, Debbie decided it was time for a new challenge, so she sold her shares in 2016.
For years Debbie suggested to Brittany that her DIY projects could make a profitable venture. The contemporary home décor Brittany created was one-of-a-kind, her craftsmanship was picture-perfect, and receivers of the gifts raved about them. For Brittany, there was no better feeling than creating something with a specific person in mind and presenting them with a gift made just for them. As mother and daughter chatted in the car that day, they realized it was the perfect time to combine their skills and passions to build a business together.
In 2017, they launched B+D Custom Crafts. The company offers a wide variety of unique gift items, but it’s B+D’s focus on handcrafted and customized gifts that makes them stand out. They work closely with their customers to create keepsakes that feature the city, state, family name or phrase of their choosing. Each piece is made by hand in Minnesota and has its own unique story. Brittany and Debbie also offer crafting classes for groups of all ages and skill levels. They bring their word art, monogramming and yarn art classes to their customers’ locations for both public and private events. Classes are perfect for fundraising, team building, birthdays and bridal events.
After a year of working a full-time job while simultaneously building B+D, Brittany left her agency gig and joined her mom in the business full-time. Since then, the two women have continued to grow their enterprise. Their partnership works well for them because each focuses on what she does best. Brittany is customer facing and spends her time working on the creative aspects of the business—designing custom pieces, developing new products and managing all things marketing. Debbie ensures the business is running smoothly, focusing on sourcing materials and making all areas of operations more efficient. And because entrepreneurship is in her DNA, she’s always thinking about how to take the business to the next level.
In addition to their online shop, B+D hosts pop-ups and participates in shopping events throughout the Twin Cities. Their products are also available at several retail outlets nationwide, and they’re constantly partnering with new retailers. They’re also thinking big in new ways. They recently started exploring the possibility of developing a multi-use space that would house their inventory, provide a location for classes and other events, and offer fellow makers and creatives a unique collaborative working environment where they can explore new ideas, experiment and get messy. Debbie and Brittany hope to announce official plans later this year. The mother-daughter duo couldn’t be happier that their careers converged to become B+D Custom Crafts, and now they couldn’t imagine working any other way.
For more information about Brittany and Debbie’s business, visit BDCustomCrafts.com.
Photo: B+D Custom Crafts
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