Sometimes your favorite home décor items are those made especially for you. Things with a terrific backstory can provide the most lasting interest and joy. That’s what Emily and Dan Kobes, owners of Crafty Wilhelmina, hope to offer their customers—beautifully designed home décor signs meaningful to those who purchase them.
Emily grew up in Edina and attended Calvin Christian School where her father is the administrator. Her mother is a first-grade teacher at Concord Elementary and the love of being an educator trickled down to Emily who would later become a middle-school English teacher. But after she and Dan welcomed their first child into the world, Emily decided to leave full-time work to be at home with baby Judah.
“I wanted to stay at home, but I needed a creative outlet,” Emily says. She took a class on a whim where she learned how to make a hand-painted board sign. While teaching, “I loved decorating my classroom and having quotes and words all around,” she says. “Making that board was kind of fun and I thought, ‘I can do this and share it with family and friends, maybe even start a business.’” Dan thought going into business was a great idea. He is a CPA by trade and is the “numbers guy” behind Crafty Wilhelmina.
Wondering about the name? Well, the Kobes rescued a 20-pound mutt a few years ago. Her name is Wilhelmina after a Dutch peppermint Dan and Emily enjoyed as kids. Wilhelmina has a lot of personality in a small body. She is mischievous or “crafty” in the other sense of the word. The dog is usually Emily’s working companion, sitting next to her as she designs and paints. So, the name seemed appropriate and meaningful, just like the Kobes hope their decorative signs will be for their customers.
Some of their smaller signs, made from repurposed lumber or lumber the couple picks up at local home improvement stores, take about an hour to make. The wood is painted with chalk paint and decorated with words made from lettering machine stencils. Their bigger, more elaborate pieces, like a 6-foot growth chart, can take three hours, or even days, to complete. Emily says the designs can change frequently because she gets bored easily. The couple’s work is inspired by passion and profound words like those found in hymns, Bible verses and popular quotes. “I love custom work,” Emily says. “I want to make things that someone really wants.”Much of the Crafty Wilhelmina creations are either custom pieces or popular pieces sold through their website and at the Morningside Holiday Market in Edina. The couple hopes to do more custom work and expand their web offerings, making Crafty Wilhelmina pieces even more accessible to shoppers.
So if you love the look of hand-painted signs but have always wanted one reflecting your personal passion, Crafty Wilhelmina can likely create just the item you’ve been searching for.