Sawdust & Sundries

The Inspiration Behind The Gibson Co.

written by LINLEY MOBLEY | photography courtesy of SAMANTHA TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY; THE GIBSON CO.

On a bright Saturday afternoon, I parked in front of The Gibson Co., an old, quaint white house turned into a sweet, peaceful, inspiring store filled with furniture, art, gifts and more. On the porch sat a large, antique wagon wheel, and before I opened the door, I could already hear people laughing. The inviting aroma of coffee met me as I walked inside, and two smiling faces turned to greet me.

Husband-and-wife team, Mark and Clarissa Gibson, opened The Gibson Co. last fall, and the shop’s charm and aura have kept people spreading the word ever since.

ONE WOMAN’S TRASH

The shop is full of furniture that Clarissa has restored as well as unique pieces from local artists and crafters. Clarissa, also known as The Redo Gal, has always had a knack for turning something old and worn into something beautiful and treasured.

“Anytime I’ve seen something get thrown out, I’ve always been really sensitive about it because I can immediately look at it and see just how beautiful it could be,” Clarissa said. “When we first got married, we were young and couldn’t afford much, but I knew how to make things pretty, so I started restoring old furniture to put in our home.”

Clarissa’s talents truly came to light one day when her parents gave her some old chairs they’d found on the side of the road. As soon as she saw the chairs, she knew exactly how to revamp them. She bought supplies, painted and reupholstered them, then snapped a picture to show her mom.

“When my mom saw the chairs, she was really excited and encouraged me to start doing this type of thing for other people,” she said. “I’d never thought about that before; this [knack] had always been something that came naturally to me and gave me a sense of peace. I loved the process of it — getting gross and grimy, covered in paint and sawdust and making something beautiful.”

Clarissa continued working on different pieces of furniture for her and Mark’s house, and as she shared the photos of her completed projects with friends, talk of her talent quickly spread. Soon she started receiving requests from friends to restore furniture, and in 2012, The Redo Gal started to take off.

Throughout the next year or so, Clarissa received so many requests she was able to quit her job as a daycare teacher to pursue her passion full time. She logged her progress, posting before and after images to a blog and Facebook page under the title of her trending nickname.

“I loved seeing people fall in love with Clarissa’s work and recognize her talent, because I’ve always known it was there,” Mark said. “And it was amazing because all of a sudden, The Redo Gal became our main source of income.”

MORE TO GIVE

As The Redo Gal gained traction, the Gibsons felt called to something bigger. They had always wanted something to call their own, something important they could leave for their two kids, Adiel, 8 and Lela, 6.

“Clarissa and I were sitting around one night and it came to us,” Mark said. “We started thinking about the possibilities of having a store where we could sell The Redo Gal furniture as well as give other local artists a place to sell their work. In just one night, we basically had our entire plan put together and everything started falling into place.”

In June 2016, the Gibsons started piecing everything together. They approached local artists, began signing contracts and filling storage units with future merchandise. They planned to launch their store in September 2016; however, when September rolled around, they found out the original plans for their space had fallen through. That same day, Clarissa drove past a small house that was just down the road from their home and directly beside Browns Bridge Church, which they attend. It was a place she’d driven by hundreds of times but never noticed. This time, she saw a “For Lease” sign stuck in the yard and pulled into the drive.

“We found ourselves standing in front of this little white cottage and it was kind of ugly, but that’s sort of my thing — turning ugly into beautiful,” Clarissa said. “I just felt so much hope while I was standing there; I saw our future in this little house.”

Everything clicked for the Gibsons at that point. Clarissa called the number on the sign and within an hour, the owner showed up and immediately handed her the keys.

“He told me that he knew I was meant to be here,” she said. “It was pretty weird, but awesome at the same time.”

The very next day, the couple signed the lease and started turning the 1930s house into the new home of The Gibson Co.

Mark and Clarissa wanted to stay as close as they could to their original opening date, so with the help of their friends and family, they hunkered down and worked hard cleaning, painting, replacing floors and pulling weeds to make the little house into something beautiful again. Mark made countless trips to and from their multiple storage units, filling the rooms with Clarissa’s furniture and pieces from other local artists.

Just two and a half weeks after signing their lease, they had turned a shabby white house into the warm and inviting artisanal shop they’d envisioned. On October 13, they hosted their grand opening party complete with live music in the courtyard and fare from Lake Burrito and Malvi Mallow.

COME ONE, COME ALL

The Gibson Co. now showcases about 30 local artists. Each room of the shop is filled with goods ranging from candles, paintings and pottery to jewelry, bath bombs and throw pillows.

“Our goal is to help encourage artists to pursue their passions without having to worry about managing their own store or marketing themselves,” Mark said. “We want to take that burden off their shoulders and help give their artwork a good home.”

“Another goal of the store is to provide unique and well-made items that are affordable for people on a budget,” Clarissa added. “We don’t want it all to just sit here on the shelves; we want to sell it!”

Although The Gibson Co. is still in its first year, Mark and Clarissa have already opened their event space and have big ideas for what else the store could offer.

“We’d love to get some food trucks out, host little art festivals or concert series,” Mark said. “We don’t want to just be another store in the community; we want to do what we can to be an active part of the community and give back.”

Clarissa agreed, adding, “It’s great to have a place to call our own, and the shop allows me and so many others to express ourselves through our craft, but more than anything, I love the relationships I’ve made with our team, the artists and the people we see come in the store.”

Among the many artists they team with are The Rooted Elm, Vintage Roux, Angelic Whimsy, Elena Grace, Southern Escentuals, Suburban Mom in Jeans, Krysteli Art, Mountain Hope Pottery, Measures of Grace, 4 Purple Turtles and Lori Keim of Sweet Georgia Blue. Keim said, “It has been a pleasure working with The Gibson Co. — this new little gem of a store in Forsyth County. They enthusiastically incorporate my paintings with all the other unique, locally made treasures. It is truly a beautiful place to shop.”

Like any successful entrepreneurs, Mark and Clarissa are proud of what they’ve accomplished so far with the store. Above all, they just want to create a place where people feel welcomed, loved and accepted — no matter what. thegibsoncoshop.com