Good things often happen unexpectedly. Ryan Fitzgerald of Tulsa, Oklahoma, helped a friend of his parents fix computer issues on a tool called a “plasma cutter”. Ryan says when he discovered the tool would cut metal, one thing led to another, and he began using the plasma cutter to make shapes out of old barn tin.
He posted his creations on Facebook and received positive comments, so Ryan and his wife Amanda sold the tin designs in their first craft show. He says the results were unbelievable. They kept on going and created a business called “Fitz Fabrications”.
"I’d approximate probably 90% of our materials that we use for our products are recycled or repurposed somehow. A lot of it literally comes from old barns that are in our area – Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri," says Ryan. "We’ll either take it down ourselves or we’ll go to a junkyard that somebody’s just piled it up, and you know, they’re just throwing it away."
The Fitzgerald’s rent space at a warehouse in Tulsa, where they cut the materials. Ryan says the two of them brainstorm, and come up with all kinds of tin treasures from rustic wedding gifts, to shapes of a favorite state, to LED illuminated signs. They’re made out of stuff that’s old and recycled, but develop new, special meaning.
"We really find that there’s the concept that you can take something old, worn out, something that people don’t want anymore and you can put a little love and care into it and you can make something that people want to hang in their spaces that encourage them, inspire them in some way, and we just love that concept," says Ryan. "My wife and I just have always been blown away by that."
Besides the grueling schedule of traveling and selling at craft shows, Ryan works at a church and Amanda is a schoolteacher. Ryan says their goal is to eventually get off the road a bit and focus more on Internet sales.
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