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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

The Art of Handcrafting Signs and Farmhouse Tables with Letter and Grain

Jan 27, 2016 01:00PM ● By Ronda Alvey

Reclaim to Fame

February 2016

By Fache Desroches

Photos: Tamara Orth

The popularity of reclaiming and repurposing materials has been trending strongly for several years now. And why not? After all, there’s a lot to like. The reuse of materials (especially wood) reduces waste, promotes conscious consumption, and is both creative and environmentally friendly. But what’s the next step? How far can something be upcycled? Can we repurpose the repurposed? For Ericka Trevino, the answer is yes. But then again, Trevino is one of those remarkable people whose optimism is rooted in a can-do kind of creativity that she shares with her husband. In fact, this couple is so gifted in the art of repurposing that they were able to parlay elements of their very own wedding into a business that has been growing ever since they said “I do.” 

This business is an event rental company specializing in minimalist, handmade, reclaimed wood furniture. Letter & Grain really began the moment that Trevino and her husband decided to build a collection of rustic farmhouse tables to seat guests at their wedding reception. But it occurred to the couple fairly quickly that although building their own tables was the perfect way to achieve the look they wanted at an effective cost, they would make for unusually bulky leftovers after the wedding. Happily, one of the couple’s potential venues was thinking along the same lines. Ivanhoe’s historic Seven Sycamores Ranch noted the Trevinos’ unusual plan, and struck a deal with the couple to not only rent out their leftover tables, but direct other clients to Letter & Grain for their event rental needs. “From the get-go, things kept expanding because people would see the tables and ask, ‘Ooh, what else do you have?’” says Trevino. “And so we started building cocktail pub tables, wooden bars and signs to match the tables and meet the demand.”

But the couple’s creativity with repurposed wood is not limited to furniture. By the time Letter & Grain was born, Trevino’s first endeavor – Junk in the Trunk 559 – had already been running successfully for four years. Junk in4
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the Trunk’s focus is primarily hand-painted wooden signs, although they deal in other aspects of reclaimed décor. “People always ask me why I chose that name, and it’s because I literally drive around to find wood to reclaim, and I jam-pack my car with things to repurpose,” chuckles Trevino. Despite the line’s unpretentious name, these elegant, minimalist signs are anything but junk. Trevino starts with a canvas of reclaimed wood, and paints a clean background topped with modern calligraphy spelling out a family name, welcome message, uplifting quote or whatever the client’s heart desires. The piece is then finished with a simple, handmade frame, ready to brighten anything from a weddingreception to a home entryway to a child’s room. “My husband builds all of our tables, and he is a big part of the signs as well,” says Trevino. “We always joke that I’m the brains behind this operation, but it’s really him who makes my vision come to life.”

Signs are often custom orders, but Trevino produces a running collection of crowd-pleasers whose appeal is so great that it is a challenge just to keep them on the shelves. Luckily for local shoppers, both Junk in the Trunk 559 and Letter & Grain occupy some shelves at The Gardens in Tulare and at downtown Visalia’s Embellish & Restore. In fact, what started out as a few signs in the window has evolved into Trevino’s entire curation of the Embellish & Restore storefront. “I was given the opportunity not only to have a space to display some of our tables so that clients can come and get a feel for the look of what they’ll be renting, but also to fill that space with a lot of other goodies,”  Trevino says. “It’s been a wonderful venture for me to find companies and vendors that speak to me.” 

Whether she is making it herself or sourcing a particular item, the product that is made with mindfulness is the one that holds the most value to Trevino. “We talk to every customer that purchases from us, and really get to know what it is they’re looking for. It’s important to me that people love what they’re getting,” she says. And from a couple’s wedding to the foyer of their first home, the wide-ranging talents of Letter & Grain and Junk in the Trunk have become a key part of the way local families celebrate, commemorate and bring a little handmade beauty into their lives. It’s a joyful part of the market to corner, and the Trevinos couldn’t be happier about it. “We’re just super thankful for our clients and our community,” says Trevino. “Whatever life situation brought them to us for a table or a sign, I’m just so honored that they trust us to be a part of it.” 

Letter & Grain •

(559) 786-7104 • Find them on Facebook and Instagram