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The Maker: Smith & Co Creations

Erin and Keenyn Smith’s handcrafted block letters are the ultimate statement pieces. Illuminated from within, they somehow manage to look both elegant and rugged. “I haven’t seen anyone making letters the way we do,” says Smith & Co Creations co-owner Erin Smith. “They’re made from reclaimed trim, including rough saw marks.”

The venture started simply enough. Erin wanted a farmhouse decor–inspired “S” for their mantel. “I asked my husband if he could build what I had in my head, and, bless his heart, he did,” she says. They made some extras to give as gifts, and, by popular demand, Smith & Co Creations was in business by 2015. Today, they sell about 400 letters each year.

A general contractor by day, Keenyn salvages used materials, and, by night, the Indy-based couple gets to work in their garage. “Once the kids are in bed and everything is quiet, we break out the saws,” Erin says. While Keenyn uses circular and table saws to rework boards, Erin draws each letter by hand. Assembled using wood glue, clamps, hammers, and nails, letters vary from 10 inches to six feet tall. They’re available lit or unlit, and can cost as much as $800 each.

The letters have attracted customers like the Minor League Baseball Association, restaurants, and resorts. “A Colorado restaurant put our letters on their rooftop, and since then, Guy Fieri came to do an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Erin says. “They’ve also had celebrities like Kevin Bacon do photo ops in front of them.”

With marquee endorsements like those, the Smiths are well on their way to seeing their own name in lights.

Comiskey joined the magazine in 2006, shortly after completing an MA in journalism at Indiana University. During graduate school, he served as arts & culture editor of the Indiana Alumni Magazine and wrote for newspapers throughout the state. Comiskey’s long-form features have won a number of Society of Professional Journalists Awards, and have taken him inside sperm banks, across the country in a semi, and to the home of the world’s smallest books. He lives in Zionsville with his wife and three children.

Email him at [email protected]