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Military spouse's business continues to grow

Salted Vinegar Studios specializes in handmade gifts

Current T-shirt line from Salted Vinegar Studios. Photo credit: Salted Vinegar Studios

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Pam McFarland is the owner of Salted Vinegar Studios. She is also a military spouse and has served 26 years in that role. McFarland manages to juggle deployments, three children, a successful business and an active volunteer schedule. Somehow, she manages to make it all look so effortless.

McFarland first started working from home with a blog called The Patriotic Pam.

"I shared things like craft projects, recipes and more," she said. "From there I began exploring drawing, painting and more. I took a few art classes in Connecticut and began painting my favorite things -- beaches and sunsets. I then learned to build my own handmade frames for my paintings.  And once I started woodworking, it just took off.  Wood signs, small furniture builds and items for hail and farewell military gifts are what I expanded to next."

Realizing her business had great potential, this past year she went through a rebranding process, which was the birth of Salted Vinegar Studios.

"I found handmade gifts (were) a space where everyone is always looking for something new or different to purchase," she said. "My current line has hand-drawn artwork on long-sleeve comfort T-shirts, monogrammed and personalized gifts, one-of-a-kind items and more."

There was interest in her handmade signs, and many asked how to make them.

"I actually owe Kimberlee Cavin, owner of Shea Alexander Salon and a military spouse, for the Board and Brush party idea," McFarland said. "She encouraged me and assisted in gathering friends for the first party. From there, it has expanded to many different Family Readiness Groups and just groups of neighbors gathering to create their own signs."

At a Board and Brush party, participants get to create a professional quality, ready-to-hang wood sign for their home. Parties can be hosted at your location or at McFarland's.

One of the biggest challenges facing military spouses who own their own businesses is moving. For McFarland, this translates into how to keep her business growing while not having any stability.

"Probably the biggest challenge as a military spouse business owner for me is expansion," she said. "My long-term goal has always been to grow my business, but expansion as a military spouse is difficult because I have to be ready to move at any time.  Keeping a growing business (with the ability) to move and rebuild my following with each move is definitely the biggest challenge."

With 26 years of experience as a military spouse, McFarland has many younger spouses looking up to her as a mentor, and they often seek advice about running their own business.

"Do it!" she advises. "I encourage anyone who wants to start their own business to just do it. It is the most rewarding yet challenging thing you will ever do. And although I still know that I don't have it all perfect or even figured out, just the daily challenge of figuring it out is exciting and fun. Plus, for me it has given me the flexibility to be an involved military spouse. I still volunteer with our FRG, spouse groups, Santa's Castle and more. Owning my own business and setting my own schedule allows me the freedom to be able to continue doing these things I love."

For more information about McFarland and her business, visit

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