SIDNEY — Though the business bears her name, Barb Burton credits her family and friends with helping to grow Memorial Silks by Barb and building a community she cherishes.
Memorial Silks by Barb specializes in handmade silk floral arrangements, including headstone saddles and side vases, to honor loved ones who have passed. Burton accepts custom orders and also sells her creations on Saturday mornings at the Sidney Farmers Market.
“It just isn’t work. It’s what I love to do,” Burton said. “I’m living my dream. This is great.”
Burton retired in February after working for 32 years as a florist at Sidney Flower Shop. She thought she was done with the floral industry but immediately had family, friends and former customers encouraging her to start her own business.
Owning a business had always been a dream, Burton said, and the encouragement coupled with a calling from God convinced her to apply for a vendor’s license in March.
“I just have this hand on my back pushing me,” the Sidney resident said. “I feel His presence. He directs me.”
Memorial Silks by Barb opened for business in May at the Sidney Farmers Market with lots of people eager to help.
Burton’s sister Connie Rosenbeck, sister-in-law Diana Baker, friend Debbie Wolfinger, daughter Shelly Weaver and daughter Alyssa Shuber help run the business with her daughters commuting to the farmers’ market from northern Kentucky and Liberty Township, respectively, each week.
Additionally, Weaver runs the Memorial Silks by Barb page on Facebook, and Burton’s nephew Mark Baker also pitched in, getting the business a pink tent to operate out of and making displays to showcase the products.
“People don’t even ask if I need help. They just show up,” Burton said. “I know I couldn’t do this without the help of them.”
All the help from family and friends allows Burton to focus on her artistry. She has at least 30 headstone saddles and 24 side vases at the farmers’ market each week and continually adds new colors and new styles to her selection of products.
“It’s whatever people ask me for,” Burton said. “I like people to have variety. Everything is custom. Every week is a different look.”
Burton generally can fulfill custom orders within a week and deliver them to customers or cemeteries.
“I’m getting a lot of custom orders, and that doesn’t bother me at all,” she said. “Whatever they want, I’ll get my hands on what they need.”
Burton spends approximately four hours each morning making new creations. The business keeps her busy, but she enjoys the flexibility that working for herself offers. A couple Saturdays in July she decided to skip the farmers’ market so she could babysit her grandchildren.
“Everybody wants me to open a flower shop, but I really enjoy my time when I can go see my grandkids when I want,” Burton said.
Though she does enjoy working with real flowers, Memorial Silks by Barb specializes in silk products. Working with non-perishable materials reduces the costs and hassle associated with real flowers while allowing Burton to offer products that stand out and won’t fade.
“It’s important to me to honor someone who has lost somebody, and I’ll only use the good silk,” she said.
The relationships Burton built over the past three decades have been invaluable in her new business venture. She already had an established customer base when she opened Memorial Silks by Barb and had vendors willing to deliver the supplies she needs.
“A lot of them don’t even look at you if you haven’t been in business for at least three years,” Burton said of the vendors.
Burton and her coworkers also are enjoying the camaraderie they experience each Saturday morning at the farmers’ market at Sidney Court Square.
“A lot of people I think would really enjoy downtown Sidney on Saturdays,” she said. “It’s just like one big family. It’s just fun.”
They make sure to bring suckers for children and treats for dogs who stop by their booth as part of their efforts to give back to the community.
“We bring extra chairs just because everyone wants to sit down and talk to us,” Burton said. “They’re happy. They’re laughing. It’s great.”
Memorial Silks by Barb will continue offering its products at the Sidney Farmers Market through October and also will be set up at the Shelby County Bicentennial MarketPlace on Sept. 28 at the fairgrounds.
“We’re probably going to go through withdrawal when October comes because we’re having so much fun,” Burton said.
For more information about Memorial Silks by Barb, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/memorialsilksbybarb/ or stop by the Sidney Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the Sidney Court Square.
Reach this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.