A Culture of Inspiration 0:04
Hi friend. Come on in to a Culture of Inspiration. I’m your host, Sarah Brown, co-owner of Counter Culture DIY and your inside source for all things resin art. Just like our business, this podcast is built on giving back – to our customers, our staff, and to you, the artists community. So in each episode, we will be sharing inspiration, showing support for one another, and fueling your fire as an artist. So let’s jump right on in and get creative.
Sarah Brown 0:41
Hi, everyone, and welcome to a Culture of Inspiration. I’m your host, Sarah Brown, and I’ll be joining you each week to help inspire you on your artistic journey. Whether you are just starting out or you’re an expert in your craft. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a full time professional artist. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. Or if you’re someone who doesn’t even consider yourself creative. My hope is that you will find something here that resonates with you and gets your creative juices flowing. Today’s episode is primarily an introduction to the podcast and to me personally. In the coming weeks I’ll be introducing you to other artists, influencers and other professionals, as we cover topics like imposter syndrome, coping with anxiety and depression through creativity, talking about how to monetize your hobby, and so much more.
I really hope you’ll tune in each week to see what I’ve cooked up for you. So to start, I thought I would just share a few little tidbits about me personally, so you know me better as we embark on this journey together. I am a mom of a beautiful 11 year old daughter Nina and a wife to Barry, who if you follow our business very much on the socials, you’ll know who Barry is. He is Mr Counter Culture DIY and we have known each other literally our entire lives since we were probably in diapers. I like you, am an arts and crafts enthusiast. I love ALL the crafts. I started out as mainly a scrapbooker then got into other forms of paper craft which led into mixed media art, which led into resin art. I’m also a musician. I sing, I play piano and keyboards and I’m also a songwriter. So when I’m not talking to you on this podcast or on one of our social media channels, I’m probably playing a gig with my band.
I am an animal lover. I love dogs, primarily little dogs. Our family has a little dog that you’ll see pop up occasionally on our socials. Her name is Lacey. We adopted her about a year ago and she dominates the household. As anyone who has a little dog will know.
Before I found myself working full time for Counter Culture DIY, podcasting to the masses, I spent most of my adult life working as a retail manager. I spent the last eight years of my career managing a store for one of the largest specialty retail brands in the US. And it was really a perfect fit for me. I loved my job. I loved what I did. I’m a people person at heart. I’m also a shopaholic at heart. So working in a retail store around products that I love, with a team that I love, and dealing with customers who I loved was really a joy for me for many years. However, if you’ve ever worked in corporate retail before, you know that the schedule is pretty brutal. And to have a growing child in my house who needed me on weekends or in the evenings after school, it was very difficult to balance work and home life when I was gone every weekend, some evenings, and being the manager, if something came up, it fell on my shoulders ultimately. And so, so much time was being taken away from my family that once Counter Culture grew to the point that I could leave that, I was so thrilled and so blessed that about a year ago I was able to go full time to the staff of Counter Culture DIY and have that time with my husband and my daughter back with my extended family and friends, have my weekends. It’s been just the greatest blessing and we have worked so hard to get to the point that we’re at now. And I’m so thrilled to share that that’s where we’re at as a family and as a business.
But what I want to share with you today is a story about where we were several years ago before we reached this point. I hope when you hear this story, it will encourage you to keep persevering and keep pushing toward your goals. So 12 years ago, my husband and I were pretty much broke. We were raising my nephew, while both of his parents were deployed overseas with the military. We were both working multiple jobs just to pay the house payment, and we were barely doing that. We got help from my sister and her ex-husband too, for my nephew, but it just wasn’t enough for us to get ahead or to even catch up. My poor nephew asked me after a week straight of eating canned beans and sliced hotdogs for dinner, if we could have anything else to eat? It was that rough. And it was about that time that I found out I was pregnant with our daughter. We had hardly any food in the house, no money for anything, and now we had a baby on the way. A moment that truly shaped our future and has really formed my outlook over the last 12 years was when my cousin showed up at our door with two paper bags full of groceries. And she wasn’t wealthy by anyone’s definition, but she knew that we were having it rough, and so she took some of her money and brought us groceries. She got us fresh fruits and veggies, milk, pasta, and my nephew was delighted. No more beans and weenies for him, thank goodness.
I don’t know how much she really thought about what she did. But that act of kindness from my cousin truly changed my life that day. And I made a vow to myself that someday when we somehow dug ourselves out of the ditch we were in, that we would find ways to help others the way she had helped us. And she didn’t make a big show of it. She didn’t tell anybody else about what she had done. She didn’t post it on social media, although social media was kind of a fledgling thing at that time. She just showed up for us when we really, really needed somebody to show up for us. It was a rough year, but when my daughter was about six months old, I landed a decent full time job. And my husband did the same. My sister returned safely from Afghanistan and my nephew went home to her.
We were a family of three, and we were generally paying the bills, which was a huge improvement for us. Over the next few years, I worked extremely hard and moved up the ladder to better and better jobs. And we pulled together enough money to remodel the kitchen, in our 1960s split level home. We’re DIYers by nature, and we had been remodeling our house room by room for years. My husband got this idea that he could do our countertops, which were proving to be a pretty big expense, out of concrete. He watched every tutorial. He studied every method, every product, and he finally landed on the one that he wanted to use. And the end result was gorgeous. Just like everything else he does. He had done a beautiful job and all of a sudden he had people wanting him to do their countertops, and floors, and patios. And just like that he had a side hustle, and it was busy.
So he worked his day job, all day, every day, often weekends too. And then he went and did people’s countertops, finishing them off with a beautiful coat of shiny epoxy, every night. And this went on for years. The 70 and 80 hour work weeks between his day job and his side business doing the countertops and floors. And our business was called Counter Culture because, well, you can guess where the clever name came from. And in his free time, what there was of it, he trained others to do their own countertops and floors. And he marketed his products to them on a new website he set up called Counter Culture DIY. The only problem with that was there just weren’t enough people doing their own epoxy and concrete countertops to make a living selling products to them. And even after taking the huge leap to quit his day job, my husband was still running himself to death trying to keep up with doing all the countertop jobs himself. Something was going to have to change if our growing daughter and I were ever going to get any time with him.
I’m going to fast forward here to the day my husband decided to start marketing epoxy to artists. This is really where the course of the story starts to change for us. Barry began to listen to artists and what their issues were with their artwork and the materials they were using, and he started looking for ways to solve these issues. He started with one kind of epoxy and then added another, and another, and another, and so on. Barry collaborated with an immensely talented acrylic pouring artist, Rick Cheadle, who you may be familiar with, to produce and market his formula for acrylic pouring paints. Barry got our niece involved, Mindy, who quickly became his right hand and continues to be a driving force behind the success of our company.
Our artists community grew and our product line grew and our staff grew. And we were for the first time able to do for others like we’d always wanted. We’re able to give people who needed it what they needed, and to lift others up and to share our blessings, just like I swore I would if we ever got the chance.
And that really leads us to where we are today. We own one of the leading art epoxy brands in the US. We have a vibrant community of artists we work with, and we support them every day. We have a staff of outstanding people who work so hard alongside of us to make our company amazing. I mentioned our niece, Mindy, who’s such an integral part of our operation. She’s also a critical part of the generosity of our company. Doing for others is woven into the fabric of our brand. We aren’t CC DIY without our emphasis on helping others, and that’s well known and understood by everyone within our organization.
My husband Barry, and I have come so far from the broke aunt and uncle feeding their poor nephew beans and hot dogs every night. But I really wouldn’t change the hard times, even if I could. I’ve heard people say that throughout my life, and I always wondered why they would say that. I mean, who would voluntarily go through hard times, right? But looking back now, I know that seeing that side of things gave me a unique perspective on what it’s like to have someone show up and help when we really needed it. And it truly motivates us and our staff every day. That’s not a tagline. That’s just who we are. And if there’s one character trait that anyone would use to describe us as an organization, I truly hope that the word generosity is the one that comes to mind. Because for me, that’s the whole point.
And that’s the point of this podcast too. To share, inspire and encourage. I had a friend ask me a few days ago, “So why are you doing a podcast? Why a CC DIY Podcast?” and I said, “This is one outlet that we haven’t mined yet, for how we can connect to and encourage our artists. And I don’t tell you our story to brag on us, although I do love to brag on my husband, he’s THE best! But I tell you our story to help you see that even if you’re having a hard time, you will get through it just like we did. And it certainly didn’t happen for us overnight, but we made it through and you will too. And I hope on the other side of it, you’ll look back and say that you wouldn’t trade those hard times because they only serve to make the good times even sweeter. And I hope that they motivate you to do what you can, to inspire and help someone else. And then that, that circle continues with them.
We’ve got some great stories lined up for you this season, from artists and people just like you, who have gone through some of the same struggles you may be going through. Who have great advice, great stories to tell, and who are just all around inspirational people. So be sure you join me every Tuesday to hear a new story and check out our Facebook group, Counter Culture DIY Artist Support, to talk about all things CC DIY, including this podcast. If you have an idea for the podcast or a question or if you just want to contact me, you can do so by emailing me at [email protected]
A Culture of Inspiration 14:03
I hope you were inspired by today’s episode. When it comes to our podcast, we always want to deliver the very best to our artists community. So please leave us a review and let me know if this episode resonated with you. I’d also love for you to follow us on the socials. We’re on Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube and Facebook. All @CountercultureDIY. Or our website And if you’d like to talk about the podcast, watch live art tutorials and get in on lots of fun, join our Facebook community in the Counter Culture DIY Artists Support group. Don’t forget to follow us on your favorite podcasting platforms so you never miss an episode and I’ll see you next time. But till then, keep creating!