Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Escaping Reality

You’re tired, exhausted and need to recharge. What do you do? For the Tatum family, the answer is easy. It includes your most comfortable pair of jeans, a thirty minute drive on a back road, a quick stop for an orange soda, land for miles and a cabin with a tin roof. The Tatum Farm, in small town Alabama, is more than a place. It’s a state of being. It’s an escape from daily stresses and an opportunity to rediscover the peace that comes by simply surrounding yourself in nature.

I tell you all of this to introduce to you our new brand, logo and identity for the cutting board business. I’ve taken you through our decision to live out of a suitcase and our new business venture with custom wooden cutting boards. So it’s on to the next step- creating a business identity. First we set the boundaries. Here is what we decided to look for in a name:
  1. a memory- something that would remind us of something personal (an experience, an object, a time, etc.)
  2. a connection- we want a name that can resonate with others
  3. a bridge - the name needs to connect back to the sawmill, trees and ultimatly the cutting boards
  4. an essence- we want the name to capture the authenticity of the boards
Hmmmm…. days and days passed with ideas coming and going. One four hour road trip was dedicated fully to names and reminiscing on great times. The process was fun, interesting and exhausting. We went through several names and then several logos, but knew instantly that the name and brand we landed on represented all we had hoped it would. It’s a piece of our lives, and a theme we hope you will embrace.


The past few weeks have been an adventure and I cannot express my gratitude to you for your support. It brings me such joy to hear your comments and feedback. Encouragement and support was displayed in abundance from dear friends and family during our recent trip to my hometown of Ozark, AL. I am now experiencing that same support during my time in Mobile. Thank you!

So today, I invite you down an old road to escape reality with us. Sorry, no cell phone service here. Just a few rocking chairs under a tin roof. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Changing Paths

The name of this blog is changing lanes, but this post is about changing paths. Career paths.

Now, I’ve only been out of college for three and a half years, so it’s not like I had this smooth path that I’d paved for myself. Nonetheless, I would have never guessed that I’d be managing a website, selling a product that three months ago I knew little about.

Top of the line, wooden, end-grain cutting boards is now my full time job. We’re working with web developers now creating a logo, website, identity, and marketing plan.
But why cutting boards? Well, I’m glad you asked.

John has had the opportunity to meet many people through his work on heavy duty truck accessories. He carries products from many suppliers, and has particularly gotten to know one located in El Campo Texas (near Houston). Tough Country is family owned and operated, and they truly take the word family to the next level. Employees of Tough Country have been there for years, because they say that they’ve always been treated “as if they were family.” During our stays in the Houston area, we’ve been able to learn about Tough County and discovered ways to do business together. Which brings me to the cutting boards…

Tough Country has a sawmill offering services mainly in custom carpentry such as staircases, paneling, flooring, molding, etc. Two years ago, C.O.O Kurt Pratka was looking for the perfect Christmas gift for his family. Having access to a sawmill, Kurt hand made a batch of cutting boards. The recipients of the boards raved about them and that batch quickly grew. People wanted more of these cutting boards. In the town of El Campo alone, Kurt has a hard time keeping up with the orders and requests. With the John Tatum “I can do that” mentality, the website idea was born.

As I stated earlier, we’re developing the product by making decisions on style, size, working on logos, web layout, marketing and more. John and I have visited the sawmill and personally met the people that work each day to create these hand crafted cutting boards. It’s petal to the metal and I cannot wait to introduce the website to you in a few weeks!

I’ve been told to find out what it is that motivates me and use that to guide my career path. I used to think that meant I had to be doing work that could change the world. I was wrong.  It’s not a job that changes the world- it’s people. It’s how we chose to live our lives each day that makes a difference and those choices don’t end at 5:00. Selling cutting boards won’t change the world, but it will and already has changed my life. As far as being motivated for this new career path... consider it done. I am motivated by being a part of something pure, something honest, something unique, and something personal. I am motivated by being a part of something I can take pride in and something I can watch grow because of the work that I am doing. That something just so happens to be running my own cutting board website.  I could have never guessed that my career path would lead me to being a part of the freshly approved Tatum International, LLC. I don’t know what all that entails, but I look forward to making my way on this new career path.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What Are We Doing?

CHANGE. Change your body, change your hair, change your car, change your office, change your clothes, change your habits, change your life. The only thing constant in this world is change and you don’t have to look far to find talk on the matter. I know that life is ever-changing, but it’s the big changes that spin us into an unfamiliar consistent chaos. And that is what this blog is about. Change. In the mist of the worst financial recession since the great depression, my husband and I have quit our “real” jobs, sold our house and left town.  

This was six weeks ago. As you can imagine, we’ve spent hours, upon hours in the car changing lanes trying to get to the designated destination. After staying three to four nights we would turn around to drive to a new destination. Somewhere in Louisiana I decided that I wanted to document this journey. If not for anyone else,for myself.

A little background for those reading. In May of 2008 I married the love of my life, John Tatum. He’s charming, honest, loyal and a good ‘ol country boy. One of John’s best qualities, is that he’s an unsuspecting dreamer. He sees possibility in his surroundings. He has big thoughts and big dreams. I knew this when I said “I do,” but nothing could have prepared me for the life I would soon be living.

About a year and a half ago, John decided he wanted to get a bumper for his truck. As a person that can count the number of trucks she’s been in on one hand, I just could not understand the reasoning behind this massive piece of metal on the front of a massive truck. We lived in Mobile, AL and he drove down a nicely paved road five miles to work. Why the need for this equipment? It beats me, but he made his decision and his purchase. Upon John’s web searching he was disappointed in what he found and saw possibility for someone to offer something better. So he did. While working a full time job, this finance major discovered how to build his own e-commerce website that today offers hundreds of heavy duty truck products. He taught himself not only to build the website, but also how to market the website. John quit his “real” job and has been full time with his website now for four months. The business continues to grow each month and there are now four employees of Peacemaker Truck Accessories.  Needless to say, I am now thankful for that “useless” purchase.

Meanwhile, I was working for a non-profit organization and a mission I whole heartily believe in- working to offer young women across the country opportunities to realize their potential. My participation in Distinguished Young Women (formerly America’s Junior Miss) enhanced my life in many ways, opening my eyes to a world full of possibility. After two fulfilling years of dedicating all I had- I felt it was time to move in a new direction. After discussing this with my husband he made the comment “Wouldn’t it be funny if the house sold this month?” You see, we had put it on the market in January of 2011 just to see if we would get any bites. For ten months there were no bites. We had talked about picking up and moving, never truly embracing the idea as a potential future. The next thing we knew, an offer had been made and our lighthearted conversations were now a reality.

I knew what was happening in our lives was bigger than both of us. God had intervened and was giving us a big shove into the land of chaos and out of our warm comfy beds. But where would we go? What would we do? Are we ready to buy a forever house and settle down? We put up the first wall and countered significantly higher than their offer. Our real estate agent discouraged it and told us they would probably walk. They accepted.  (Jaw hits ground here.) Wall two: “If they find any problems with the inspection we are not paying to fix anything.” Ha! Nice try, but the inspection came back clear. WHAT were we going to do? We were not prepared to move, didn’t know where we wanted to be and honestly never thought that selling the house would actually happen. As we packed up our house of three years we couldn’t seem to make it more than one hour without asking “What we are doing?”

Here we are, six weeks later; bags packed, the remains of our home in three storage units and a little gas in the tank. John sells truck accessories every day and our constant dialogue revolves around new ideas, projects and businesses (More to come on this). We’ve traveled to Panama City, Birmingham, Opelika, Ozark, Mobile, Orange Beach, Las Vegas, and Houston, TX and always arriving to loving family members and friends. It’s been a wild ride and it’s only the beginning.

So what ARE we doing? Where are we going? What is our plan? All valid questions, and we are on the journey to the answers. I am sure there will be many miles until we truly reach the answer. I can only hope, as we continue on our path, that we keep our eyes on the road and prepare ourselves to change lanes.