What do you get when you mix PCS orders to Albuquerque, a one-car garage and a husband-wife duo who loves to tinker?
A best-selling custom woodshop that churns out beautiful work to the military community!
Meet Zack and Christine Barkley:
Active-Duty Air Force family (and fun-loving parents to four: two human kids, two fur kids) currently stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Zack is an Avionics technician for the CV-22 Osprey, soon headed to MCAS New River in North Carolina to be an instructor. Christine’s various titles include; Barkley Garage’s head painter, customer service guru, military spouse and, most challenging of all, professional child wrangler.
A Baby and a Business were Born
Barkley Garage was unexpectedly born in 2014.
“Before we had kids, our garage was like our second living room,” said Christine. “We had a PlayStation out there, a car we were working on…. woodworking was never in the scope of things we thought we’d end up doing.”
After a few years of being married, the two got pregnant with their first child.
“I immediately wanted to make a crib and a changing table,” said Zack. “Why buy an expensive piece of furniture from the store when I could make it myself?”
What started as nursery furniture then blossomed into home projects then projects for friends and finally, Barkley Garage became official with their first ever order for a custom military challenge coin holder through a military spouse Facebook page. To date, they’ve now sold over 150 coin holders.
Even though the Barkley Garage is currently only a one-car garage (oh, the luxuries of on-base housing!), the business is booming. What started as being quietly advertised in local spouse social media pages and through word-of-mouth among co-workers, has turned into a dream come true for these military entrepreneurs.
From custom cornhole boards to military shadow boxes, and everything in-between, there’s nothing Zack and Christine can’t do. They’ve even done some impressive cabinetry work! Most of their customers bring ideas from Pinterest or Etsy, and Barkley Garage brings them to life.
Recently, the most popular items have been military shadow boxes, custom nursery signs, and unique wedding guestbooks.
During their time at Kirtland AFB, the two have become local celebrities. Zack has been stopped at the grocery store wearing a Barkley Garage hat and asked about ordering custom pieces.
“I can’t tell you how blessed we feel,” said Christine. “Something that started as a hobby has turned into a side gig that is paying for our daughter’s preschool, and that is mind blowing.”
When we asked what makes their woodworking business different from others, Christine smiled and said, “I put one thousand percent of myself into every project we do and so does Zack. I’ve given out my phone number, created how-to videos, and done everything I can to ensure our customers know customer service is our top priority.”
Family First Philosophy
Barkley Garage is a family business, but Zack and Christine always put their family before work. The two never work on projects while their children are awake unless they can include them too – how cool is that? They love being able to share woodworking skills with their kids when possible, but sometimes the nitty gritty work has to wait until after bedtime.
“Because the military moved us here to Kirtland, it’s forced us to grow as a couple. This is a huge base and it’s harder to make close, personal friends,” said Christine. “It’s given us the opportunity to draw closer together as a family while doing something we love and we could never thank this community enough for supporting us.”
Zack and Christine hope that Barkley Garage will continue to grow and thrive through their future military moves, and one day become a full secondary income after retirement. Christine dreams of having their custom wood pieces in a storefront – but she says that will have to wait until their military life slows down a bit.
The Barkleys’ advice for other military members, spouses, and veterans dreaming of starting a business?
JUST DO IT!
Zack said it best when he said, “Life is way too short to just sit around and be unhappy. If you can turn your hobby into something that makes money, why wouldn’t you do it?”