"We must accept finite disappointment but must never lose infinite hope."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Each of us bears a scar - a healed battle wound - that represents a difficult time in our lives. The story behind each mark is as unique & different as the person who wears it. We learn from our experiences but are constantly reminded of our trials & tribulations by the permanent emotional imprint it has left. For some, battles are only won by maintaining trust a better day will come. It is a choice - & oftentimes a very hard one to make - but in all things, hope is the last thing to die.
That is why I can't express how much I love the story behind my next feature.
Hope Farm Co is a business owned & operated by husband/wife team, Cyle & Shannon Lewis of Brunswick, GA. Whether it be a wall hanging, a nativity set, an ornament, or cake topper, each piece is carved with an inspiring message. "choose HOPE," "be KIND," "give thanks," "choose happy," & "you have strength" are but a few bits of advice you will find on these hand-made (literally), rustic home furnishings. With almost 2,000 Etsy sales, Hope Farm Co has instilled optimism in the homes of people all over the world & the impact it's making is nothing less than magical. Preserving hope may take lots of courage but it's something we all harvest deep down. - Perhaps we need but a "little" reminder here & there.
Though the brand became official in 2015, Cyle & Shannon have been makers all their lives. With their creative vision and ability to design, build, & construct, they began selling pieces in 2012. Hospital boards that complimented a baby's nursery with space for height, weight, date, & time, evolved to seasonal door hangers (that caught the eye of many friends & neighbors) & other celebratory/seasonal collectibles. The idea of cake toppers originated from the "Hunny B" in what used to be Hope Farm & Hunny B (Cyle's sister)! Two antiquated birds facing each other with a stamped "Mr" & "Mrs" began selling very quickly outside people they already knew.
Then came the signs. & the stories. In whatever season a customer may have been, they found themselves on the Hope Farm Co Etsy site in search of encouraging words, "small" reminders to "choose hope" & to "quiet your heart." Some customers found themselves coming back to share their testimonies with Cyle - who takes time to read & respond to every message with heartfelt words - or to purchase more. They shared with me stories of couples who have suffered infertility or lost a baby, individuals who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, & even happy stories with happy endings such as a recent adoption. In fact, their "Gotcha Forever" signs are their top-sellers. With a date & a child's name, these signs commemorate for many the exact moment the family became official.
So how did the name come about?
The story represents moments on a timeline like puzzle pieces that interconnect perfectly.
Shannon, a long-time musician, discovered by chance an unintentional common denominator in his music: hope. During a long car ride to Cyle's grandmother's bed & breakfast in North Georgia, the couple passed miles of farmland & signs. It was in this moment the couple began to connect the dots. Cyle says, "We were talking about the life pattern we both felt God was speaking to us which was sow, cultivate, harvest - which are the main steps in farm life..." While you won't exactly find dirt, animals, or plants, you will find a couple, - with their own story - nurturing & growing an important concept with the greatest of care. They truly are farming hope.
When I asked the couple to share any message with their customers, they responded with: "That life is worth celebrating, & the little things do matter, a small sign for someone being adopted or a 'Choose Joy' sign in a troubling time can mean a lot for someone. That there is always a bright side & we are what we think! We tend to fulfill what we believe about ourselves & what goes on in your mind does matter. We spend a lot of time listening to Audible & books that renew our minds like Psycho cybernetics & a whole lot of talks about neuroplasticity & how we can control our thoughts & what is in our mind influences what’s in our hearts & ultimately determines how we live our life. Our brains are neuroplastic & can change which means the words we surround ourselves with are important." Truly inspiring they practice this in their personal life!
Each piece is 100% hand-made. While a more automated process via machine-cutting has the potential to save a lot of time, over the years the couple has found an efficient way to streamline their work process & improve work flow. Somehow, I find this just adds to the authenticity of their story. In my profession, this can be compared to the use of film - a once-almost obsolete process that some people associate with the inability to move forward. (Yet, that's how I entered into the world of photography.) Shannon says, “We take antique inspirations, with a touch of modernized implementation. There’s a time & a place for high-tech, but there’s a unique look & feel to handcrafted items. Sure they take a little more time to make; I like to think they're worth it." For a certain category of people, the craftsmanship, the process, & the end result contributes to the piece. Its story begins long before it enters the home.
There is a lot in store for Hope Farm Co. The story behind the business is as unique and full of hope & encouragement as each individual piece that leaves the couple's shop. Whatever is to come, it will stand on a strong foundation of faith, an amazing partnership with one another, & a beautiful story having no parallel.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” – Romans 15:13
You can find their work at the following:
(Continue scrolling for more photographs!)