When Courage & Grace co-owners Lori Lambeth and Jennifer Adank first went into business in 2013, they sold custom wooden decor out of Adank’s basement and in customers’ homes during private parties.
Since they opened their own shop at 300 W. State St. in O’Fallon, there’s more storage space and plenty of room to host workshops and private parties for those interested in creating their own decor.
The shop’s been open since late January and a ribbon cutting was celebrated May 26. There are no regular hours at the store — workshops are by appointment.
Lambeth worked as a teacher in Hawaii before moving to the metro-east. She grew up in Carlinville.
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Q. What do you offer at Courage & Grace?
A. “We use stencils on both smooth board and pallet-style wood. It’s all customizable. You pick from 45 different colors of paint, six kinds of stain and several different techniques to get you what you want. Anything from super clear to super rustic and shabby chic. We have 2,000 different fonts to choose from. Anything you come up with, we can get pretty close to it.”
Q. Walk through how you came to be in business here.
A. “Jen first started doing this probably 10 years ago, just hand-painting designs on signs. I met her about three years ago. We started hosting mommy painting sessions in her basement. It was a play date on one side and all the moms were painting on the other side. We were successful with that so we started renting with Luckenbooth Too. Twice a month we’d just rent a room. And we were selling out of there. We started doing private parties at people’s houses. We were both pregnant, hauling all of the tables, wood signs and everything. We were like, ‘This is ridiculous,’ and just decided to open a shop.’ I’m eight months pregnant at that point, she’s five months pregnant. We signed a lease here. Haven’t looked back and haven’t moved a table since. It’s fantastic.”
Q. What’s your career background?
A. “We were both teachers prior to becoming moms. Jen taught in New Mexico and I taught in Hawaii. We moved here and were stay-at-home moms and we evolved to this. We became moms and just never went back to teaching. It’s not like we decided to stop teaching. Coming here and being able to teach adults is something different but we’re still teaching.”
Q. Do you learn a little bit, too?
A. “For sure, yes. We’ll make our samples and then people will come in and they do something completely different and it will be way better than ours.”
Q. Was it hard to transition from working out of a home to an actual storefront?
A. “It really was pretty easy. We signed a lease, painted the walls, built out some tables and that was it. Now we have storage so we aren’t going back and forth to the store once a week. It was pretty easy once we got here and weren’t moving things around nearly as much.”
Q. Downtown O’Fallon seems like it’s taken off in the last few years. What’s it like to be a part of that?
A. “We love the downtown O’Fallon area. Being from a small town, I feel like it’s such a community here. I love it. And we couldn’t ask to be on a better street. We have the stop sign right here. And we haven’t done any marketing other than Facebook. So it’s Facebook word of mouth and people driving by.”
Q. Your business here is among a string of creative, interactive-type businesses that have become incredibly popular in recent years. Why are people going crazy over this stuff?
A. “I have no idea. I think DIY is so popular right now. I think people don’t want to pay to have something they realize they can do themselves that’s perfect for them. And I think shows on TV are really pushing the DIY. People are realizing they can make these things.”
Q. Where did the name Courage & Grace come from?
A. “Jen’s husband was deployed and one of her very good friends told her she was going to have to have courage to keep the family strong and to keep the family going, and she was going to have to do it as gracefully as possible. It kind of stuck. These are words that we want our kids to think about. We want them to think their parents are strong and they do it gracefully.”
Contact Courage & Grace via Facebook for questions or to set up a workshop or private party.