Cherie Barker always dreamed of having a store where she could refinish furniture. She just never dreamed that her husband, a truck driver, would be the one to make it reality.
But when Cherie set her sights on buying a kitchen island for $2,200, destiny intervened.
“I told her I could build one cheaper than that,” her husband, Taylor Barker, recalls. “She said, ‘Build it then.’ I did build it, and I never stopped.”
Taylor not only built the island, he soon built end tables and a coffee table to match.
“I was surprised he could do it so well,” Cherie says. “But he wasn’t surprised. We saw it as an opportunity.”
Taylor’s talent for furniture making flourished so much so fast that four years ago the Barkers established a furniture business in Tennessee. They recently gave it a new name, Cherie’s Boutique, and moved to a new, coveted space on bustling Broad Street in the heart of Kingsport, Tenn. Now Cherie’s longtime dream is becoming reality.
Taylor, an over the road owner operator leased to Heniff Transportation, spends about three weeks on the road at a time. He gets only seven to 10 days of home time a month and spends nearly all of it crafting and repurposing masterpieces in his wood shop.
While the Barkers repurpose everything from doors and windows to beds and benches, customers love Taylor’s window-style coffee tables and “man cave” coolers most of all. His coolers have taken off in a big way, thanks to their following among famous country singers such as Daryle Singletary and Joe Diffie. Cherie’s Boutique also sells used furniture and other unique items.
Painting and repurposing are Cherie’s passions. The idea of giving new life to old items excites her. “I love recreating something new out of old things, saving something,” she says. “Grandma’s dresser doesn’t go to the trash heap and you make it beautiful again. It’s art with function.”
Taylor, meanwhile, may have begun building as a hobby, but by now he knows building is in his blood. His father was a contractor, and Taylor himself has an innate gift for working angles and numbers. It’s only natural that he took up woodworking. “I like to think of something and create it,” he says.
But for the Barkers, it’s not enough simply to create. “I believe that to be successful you have to give back,” Taylor says.
And boy do the Barkers give back. They do a lot for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and for military veterans, using their business to support those causes whenever they can.
“I’m a veteran myself. I spent 10 years in the military, so I understand what veterans go through,” Taylor says. “I don’t care if my name is mentioned in any benefit I do to help veterans or kids. I just do it to help. If you can’t help your fellow man when they need help, then you’re really useless.”
Taylor’s band (he’s also a talented musician) has performed in 100 benefits and was once the opening act for The Band Perry. “At the end of the day, we’re all people, trying to accomplish the same dream of life,” Taylor reasons.
The Barkers are living their own dream right now. Taylor loves seeing the smiles on his clients’ faces when they see their heirlooms transformed. And while he’s had a CDL trucking job for 20 years, he hopes his furniture business thrives and he can retire from trucking. Until then, he’ll continue to balance both careers.
Cherie, for her part, embraces the opportunity to repurpose furniture and at long last live out her dream. “It’s surreal,” she says. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here. Working toward a goal is one thing. To look up one day and know you’re there is a whole other thing. It’s like arriving at Disney Land.”
For creative gift ideas anytime of year, check out Cherie’s Boutique on Facebook and follow Taylor on Instagram. Got a similar story of your own? Connect with Drive My Way on social media here and share your story with us.