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A couple of true DIYers

Using their strengths, sisters start a handmade gifts venture

September 21, 2013
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL

Growing up on a farm in Madison, sisters Jennifer Graven of Marshall and Amber Forslund of Chaska were taught to "do-it-yourself."

Drawing on that, the two have come together to start Two Farm Girls, where they make various crafts and homemade gifts. They have a presence on Facebook, Etsy, an online craft store, and at craft shows.

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Sisters Amber Forslund and Jennifer Graven started a new venture, Two Farm Girls, where they create a variety of decor and handmade gifts.

"We have always said we're very crafty and very do-it-yourself type of people," Graven said. "We were very much raised that way by our parents."

"We kind of always did crafts with our grandma and mom when we were little," Forslund said. Their mom also taught them how to sew when they were younger, Forslund said, and they "cursed her name." But the two then realized the benefit of knowing how to sew.

Graven said she and her sister had some home projects and found that some of the things they wanted cost a lot of money. Forslund said they made their own wedding and baby gifts for others.

One of the items they make is a large framed upcycled magnetic chalkboard. Graven said that she had told her father she wanted something to house her kids' artwork. They ordered industrial-strength metal and used old barnwood from her grandfather's farm in North Dakota, she said.

"It was somewhat sentimental," Graven said.

People started making comments about the upcycled chalkboard and how much they liked it, Graven said, so that got the sisters thinking. Graven has a marketing background. Forslund is a seamstress and has a background in fashion design and merchandising.

"She said, 'are we going to do this?' because we always threw it (the idea) out at family events," Forslund said.

The two talked about starting a business while at their parents' house and began thinking of names and a tagline. That's how Two Farm Girls was born with the tagline of "handmade gifts you'll show and tell."

"We really share the duties of everything," Graven said.

"Our strengths work so well together," Forslund said.

The sisters also make chicken wire frames, fabric covered inboards, applique onesies and soap dispensers out of Mason jars, along with other items. Graven and Forslund said they also personalize gifts, like putting the name of a baby on a onesie or the first initial of a child on one of the inboards.

Whenever one sister will find a project idea, she'll share it with the other.

"Our text streams are very long and have a lot of photos," Forslund said.

The sisters will get together at their parents' place in Madison about once a month to do their one-of-a-kind items, either drilling holes to make the soap dispensers or a chalkboard using barnwood.

"When we do (anything with) big assembly, that's when we head to the farm," Graven said.

"We work well together," Forslund said. The sisters said their father is also a big help with several of their projects.

The sisters search for items to upcycle, making old things new again.

"We find things at Goodwill, thrift shops and garage sales," Graven said.

Graven also recently got a new sewing machine, and she's been getting some pointers from her sister.

"It's been nice having her show me," Graven said.

Graven said they are still starting out, seeing what people like and don't like. Their first show was the Slayton Women of Today's Autumn Boutique earlier this month. They will being doing shows in Lake Benton, Clara City and the Twin Cities area in the near future.

"We've sold more than we ever dreamed," Graven said. "This is something that has been a dream. We are so, so enjoying it."

"It's kind of exciting to see people like our stuff as much as we do," Forslund said.

She said they like to hear back from their customers, and when they get a request, they'll start working on a prototype.

Graven said they've been close as a family, and this venture is an opportunity to spend more time together.

"I just think it's fun working with my sister, having sister time," Forslund said.

The two have taken a bunch of custom orders on their Etsy shop and have enough to keep them busy.

"We have 15 custom orders we're working on, so we just divide and conquer," Graven said.

It's been really nice that Forslund is in Chaska, Graven said, as she can deliver to the metro area, and Graven can be the southwest Minnesota hub. Graven said they've gotten orders from around the country, including South Carolina and Ohio.

And they're always coming up with some new ideas, one being kids' tents.

"We have a whole bunch of little things we're working on," Forslund said.

 
 

 

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