It’s a sign of the Muskoka times. Hand-crafted signage marking laneways, boathouses, docks, fireplaces, and bunkies has reached an all-time high on Pinterest and Instagram. Examples: Lake Rules, Life is Better at the Lake, and this self-assured favourite: Come In, We Are Awesome! Riding the wave is Kristen Moller, signmaker and sole proprietor of Muskoka’s Sign Decor Co. Moller’s made-in-Muskoka barnboard signs are sold on Instagram to a swelling clientele in cottage country and beyond. Moller has been in business less than six months and already sales are booming. MuskokaStyle caught up with the signmaker in the midst of a pre-summer rush to ask how she broke into the bespoke biz…
MuskokaStyle: What’s your background?
Kristen Moller: I grew up with two parents running their own businesses; I’ve been exposed to entrepreneurship for the last 25 years. My mother is the local children’s entertainer, Jam Sandwich, and my father is Brian Yeo, a retired woodshop teacher and now full-time cabinet and furniture maker with Creative Forest Furnishings Of Muskoka.
MuskokaStyle: So, you were born into creativity…
Kristen Moller: I’ve always loved painting and creating. I started by putting encouraging-uplifting-beautiful words on paper, and then onto wood. I love just curling up with a coffee or tea and spending time building, painting, and creating these pretty little pieces of home decor!
MuskokaStyle: What was your motivation for making and selling your own signs?
Kristen Moller: As much as I could disagree, my husband decided that our house did not need a wood sign in every single room! So I thought I would create this little business to see if others might be interested. I did a bit of research and could see on Pinterest and Etsy that they were quite a popular item. I have been so overwhelmingly surprised with the response. Hand-painted rustic decor on wood seems to be very trendy right now!
MuskokaStyle: What’s your signmaking process?
Kristen Moller: I am fortunate that my dad has a fully functioning wood shop right next to my parents’ house. This little business started with my dad and I spending some quality time in the wood shop together — plaining, jointing, and cutting wood; it’s been such a special thing to get to work on this little business together in the last few months. Once I have my raw material, I have a small vinyl cutting machine that allows me to cut ‘stencils’ out of vinyl that I design 100% myself on my computer. This allows me to create custom designs and enables me to really make a sign any size, any font, any design, and gives the finished product a very crisp and perfected look when finished.
MuskokaStyle: What are Muskoka’s cottage and home owners looking for in decorative signage?
Kristen Moller: Cottage and modern interior decor trends have transitioned back into more rustic and simple ways of decorating. Whether it be a simple piece of barn board that says : “BAKERY”, or “FARM HOUSE” in the kitchen, or an inspirational saying painted onto wood in the living room, or even a (GPS) coordinates sign above the doorframe. Painted wood signs are so simple, yet they really can give a space a custom and creative touch.
MuskokaStyle: Your specialty appears to be GPS coordinates signs…
Kristen Moller: I was asked by a good friend if I could make her a sign that had the specific coordinates of her parents’ Muskoka home. I did so, posted it on Instagram… and from that day on, it has by far been my No.1 selling sign!
MuskokaStyle: Why do you think coordinates signs are so special?
Kristen Moller: Coordinates signs are a unique gift and perfect for any home, cottage, or apartment. They make a great housewarming gift, wedding gift, destination wedding gift, anniversary gift, or gift for the family with a family cottage, cabin, or beach house. The fact that you can pin-point a specific location on the map, and make a piece of decoration using those coordinates, is so sentimental. It’s a way of keeping a memory or perhaps several memories alive. These signs are be great conversation starter as well.
MuskokaStyle: How can people purchase your signs?
Kristen Moller: As it stands right now, people can purchase my signs and get in touch with me through the Instagram @SignDecor, or email: kristenmoller1[at]gmail.com. Each sign is made-to-order so every piece is unique and one of a kind. Each piece of wood will be different with its own knots, rings, and other “imperfections” giving each sign its own character.
This is what I love about handmade creations. Each sign comes ready to hang with a saw tooth hanger installed. Depending on my schedule, it generally takes me no longer than one to two weeks to complete my projects once the order has been placed. I accept cash, or e-transfer as payment. And I LOVE doing custom signs! So if anyone has an idea for a new piece, I am happy to work with them in order to create exactly what it is they’re looking for, to suit their space.
MuskokaStyle: Kristen, thank you! It’s been a pleasure.