If you follow us on Instagram, then you’ve probably seen us sharing adorable milk painted children’s kitchen play sets like this one.
They are the workmanship of our newest featured artisan, Olive Branch Woodworking!
The faces behind Olive Branch are Chris and his wife Helen. They actually named the business after their first son, Oliver. Helen had his name picked out years before he arrived. They both love the solid vintage feel to it (and you know we highly approve of all things vintage). It reminded Chris and Helen of newsy caps and suspenders! The underlying namesake of an “olive branch” also struck a cord with them. In a time seemingly filled with hatred, bigotry, and intolerance, they view the olive branch as a representation of all that is good, peaceful, and loving in the world. And of course, the obvious fact that a branch comes from a tree was also not lost when they named their woodworking business.
We asked Chris and Helen how they got into making children’s play sets. It came back to Oliver, just like the name of their business. When he lost interest in plastic toys and wanted to play with Chris’ power tools, Chris had an idea to build Oliver the original “Kids Workbench”. It was a huge hit, and when Chris posted a few photos of it on his Facebook page, he had friends immediately asking him to build one for their children. Helen had the idea to launch a side business, so they gave it a shot and set a few goals to test the waters. A college friend commissioned Chris to build a craft table for LEGO’s. That, combined with a few workbenches and commissioned Christmas gifts tripled their initial goal for the year.
We asked Chris why he and Helen prefer to use our non-toxic Milk Paint over any other type of finish for their products. Being an environmental scientist by trade, Chris is acutely aware of the chemical exposure risks brought into the home from mass produced toys. Together, they researched the most kid-safe and eco-friendly paint and sealer options on the market and landed with our Milk Paint! From there, they found their local MMSMP retailer, Annabelle Rector of Reinvented Vintage, in their hometown of Little Rock, and she introduced them to the MMSMP product line.
The non-toxic aspect of our Milk Paint is at the top of Chris and Helen’s list of favorite things about our products. They can pronounce all five of our simple ingredients too! They love how our Milk Paint absorbs like a stain and becomes part of the wood. It allows the beautiful grain to show through and it won’t ever chip or peel. As an added bonus, their burned-in logo comes out crisp compared to typical craft paints that just bubble and melt.
Tricycle, Farmhouse White, and the lighter blues and greens like Eulalie’s Sky and Layla’s Mint have been unbelievable hits with Olive Branch’s customers. They create that vintage heirloom quality that Chris and Helen strive to achieve with their work.
As a husband and wife team, Chris and Helen balance one another out perfectly. They both felt it was important to have a woman-owned small business to promote their belief in shattering stereotypes and the glass ceiling. Helen works miracles every day, managing Olive Branch, running her own business with Young Living, and corralling their two boys all day every day. (Can any of you relate?)
From a logistics perspective, Helen runs the business administratively and financially, Chris builds the toys, and they both have late night painting parties! Oliver and his little brother, Elliott, are both great at testing out the toys for quality assurance.
Helen is also a hobbyist photographer, which is immensely helpful in their product photography. Their business partnership stems from a driving force to secure financial freedom for their family, doing what they enjoy. Chris absolutely loves creating heirloom toys and gifts that will hopefully be passed down for generations, and they are both passionate in creating a safe and healthy home, free of toxic chemicals. Together, they feel they are on a path to success and they can’t wait to see what new adventures they will share together. We’re pretty excited to watch them grow too!
We asked Chris and Helen if they had any advice to share for folks who may be new to using our Milk Paint. Chris emphasized the importance of a good mix. When he first started using Milk Paint, he wasn’t mixing the water and powder together well enough and ended up with a speckled appearance on a Lucketts Green piece. It took one phone call to his local retailer, and she suggested all sorts of tips, like using an old mixer for large batches, keeping mixed paint in the fridge, using a small mason jar (or something with a flat bottom) and mixing often when painting. They haven’t had a single problem since!
Chris reports, “the [Milk Paint] retailers are extremely knowledgeable about the MMSMP product line so absolutely reach out if you have any questions!” We quite agree with him! Regarding the price of the products, he views everything from a lifecycle perspective, cradle-to-grave. When he paints with MMSMP, he never doubts that the child playing with his creations on the other end is safe from toxic chemicals. He can’t put a price on that. Health benefits aside, Chris says, “the quality of this paint is superior to anything else on the market. The bonding properties of the milk paint to raw wood are really incredible, and for painted furniture, the MMSMP Bonding Agent works amazing – no sanding or prep necessary! Plus, the sample size bags offer a great way to test the waters with Milk Paint.”
Are you a fabulous artisan who is using our Milk Paint products in unique and creative ways? We want to know about it! Do you know someone who is wildly creative with our Milk Paint? Share them with us! Send an email to [email protected] with their information so we can feature their beautiful work. We’re all about helping you and others move mountains in your homes!