By the funky name of their business, Dumpster Darlings, you might think that Barbara Miley and Tasha Condon occasionally "dive" into dumpsters searching for cool stuff others have ditched.
Nothing could be further from the truth . . . mmm, well, there was that one time, shares Condon, with a wide grin after she spills the beans.
Seriously, the mother-daughter tandem deal in cast-off items as they work to transform them into something quite different from which they were originally intended.
"Dumpster Darlings is a mixture of repurposed and rescued items," says Miley as she describes their shop.
"We like taking something old and turning it into something new and usable," Condon added.
"We take something we like and make something different. Sometimes we freshen it up. Sometimes we take something we don't like and try to make it into something we do like," said Miley.
As for their relocation to Watertown from their hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana, it really came about with the toss of a coin.
Miley's brother and father used to live in this southeastern Wilson County village, and she visited them here several years back. When daughter Tasha retired from the military last fall, Miley, her daughter and her mother planned a month-long camping trip.
"We were not sure where to go and were thinking about Florida or Tennessee. I really wanted to go up to Watertown," said Miley.
"I had been stationed in Hawaii and was not really wanting to go to Florida," Condon said.
"So we flipped a coin," said Miley.
"Heads Tennessee and tails Florida. We flipped it several times and it kept coming up heads. We were fated for Tennessee," Condon said.
So the three-generation trio loaded up their truck with camping gear and lazily motored up the Natchez Trace to Nashville over four days. They wound up pitching their tent in Edgar Evins State Park near Center Hill Lake.
"We camped there a couple of weeks and came down here when we got tired of being in the woods. We walked round the town square and saw this empty building. We asked who owned it and talked to the owner and the next day put down a deposit," Miley said.
"The night before we talked it over: 'What could we do?'"
While brainstorming they hit upon the same idea. "We looked at each other and asked, 'Can we do that?' 'We can,'" said Condon.
Indeed, they can. They opened shop two months ago and are working away turning what might be throwaways into functional, unique creations. Among several items they have transformed: a rabbit cage into a hutch, dresser drawers into a wall shelf, a suitcase into a small table, a pallet into a shelf and a crate into a dish holder.
Prices on their vintage reborn products range from $1 to $345.
"We started with a couple of thousand dollars and an old pickup truck," Miley said of their venture. "We find items at yard sales, flea markets, junk stores and people bring us things."
"Our family and friends like to bring us pieces and show us a challenge," added Condon.
Occasionally lending a hand in the store are Miley's grandfather Tony St. Philip and Condon's daughter, Allie Wilkerson, 16, a junior at Watertown High School. Miley's mother, Bobbye Crawford, also comes up from the Pelican State to help now and then.
Miley has been a waitress, managed a doctor's office and most recently was director of the YMCA in Bogalusa. She also sells Nerium skincare products. She has three other children, Laura and Matt, who live in Sandy Hook, Mississippi, and Trista Weaver of Bogalusa; and she has seven more grandkids.
Condon enlisted in the Army in 2006 as a medic and was honorably discharged in October.
"In 2010 after I deployed to Afghanistan, I went to nursing school and have been doing critical care ever since. Now I'm taking a breather and going to start back to school in May to finish my RN at Cumberland University," she said.
"People are starting to realize we are here. We're getting our name out there, and some people have been calling us 'the Darlings,'" smiled Condon.
As for their catchy business name, Miley noted they originally came up with Junk Gypsies but then discovered that was the name of a TV show. Once they hit on Dumpster Darlings, they liked it instantly.
About their partnership Miley says, "Tasha is amazing at this kind of stuff. I can come up with an idea, and she can make it happen."
"And Mom is good at cleaning up my messes. We work really good together," said the junior Darling.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at email@example.com.