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Meet Jen and Justin Dunn of A Vintage Wren

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen and Justin Dunn.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jen and Justin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We grew up in a small southern NH town about a mile apart from one another. It was two different worlds, as I come from a family of 15 kids, growing up amongst my 7 brothers and 7 sisters, animals and the workings of a mini farm. I never knew the meaning of the words ‘quiet,’ ‘lonely’ or ‘calm’, my childhood home was full to bursting with love, life and the often unnoticed struggles of rural poverty. But a girl couldn’t ask for parents more beautiful, they gave us kids the world through freedom, faith, imagination and love unconditional. These are the sweetest of gifts.

Justin is eight years my senior, an only child raised by a single mother in the 70’s and 80’s. Together they learned to bravely and with determination conquer the road before them, to know the value of the work of their own hands, of careful and thorough planning. Together they refurbished a house into a home and from nothing they learned and became one of the top Akita dog kennels in the world. Justin left home in his late teens and became a soldier, came of age and thankfully returned back to our hometown.

The first time I remember noticing Justin was when I was about 8 years old or so and as only a young girl full of dreams can do I went and fell in love with him one day as he was walking passed my little white home. Of course, being eight years older than I, he could have cared less about a little blonde girl playing in a dirt driveway… A decade came and went, I graduated from high school and was working at our local diner. Justin came in for breakfast one morning, we started talking and an invitation to dinner followed. We went on our first date on Valentine’s Day of ’95, were married a year and a half later. And that is how we started a life together.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We bought a little place on a rocky hillside of New Hampshire, we grow our own vegetables and herbs, produce Maple Syrup. We harvest and preserve our crops, make our own bread and meals and took on the monumental and rewarding job of homeschooling our son.

It was a lovely life, filled with natural beauty and joy but Justin was working in the fast-paced, high demand field of managing high-end millwork companies, and that was the missing element in making life more complete. Justin longed to come back to the root of woodworking, the heart and soul of his creativity lies in his hands working with wood. He needed to come back to the quiet and traditional ways of old.

So we took a leap of faith and decided to build a work studio on the north side of our property, we kept it’s aesthetics in a traditional New England barn, with a beautiful red roof and weathered wood siding. We built it almost entirely by hand and now this Spring we are once again taking a leap of faith and adding a whole new section on to the back, giving us the opportunity to grow and expand A Vintage Wren.

Although at times we have had lingering doubts about leaving the relative security of a weekly salary, knowing that we are entirely dependent upon ourselves and the work of our hands now, we have found that the freedom and soul satisfaction far outweighs the doubts.

A Vintage Wren – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
A Vintage Wren is a custom furniture company, specializing in heirloom quality dining tables, with our emphasis on modern industrial, traditional farmhouse and Shaker style. We are a small family business with Justin, our son, Ian and myself working on every aspect of the pieces we create. We work one on one with each client, creating for them exactly what they need for their home. It is an equally personal experience for us as it is for them; we design, hand~craft, finish and personally deliver each piece. We know each client by name, with each piece we make hand signed by Justin and a label applied to the underside with their family name on it.

Although we love all aspects of our business there are sometimes when a piece is more touching to us as the artists… a few times young couples have come to us to commission their first dining table, as a wedding gift to one another, that is a beautiful honor. There have been times that a table has been commissioned when the client received an inheritance from a beloved family member, the table was made in honor and memory of those loved ones. It is times like this that we know the work of our hands is so much bigger than we could have hoped for.

But for all that the most rewarding moment was when our young son decided a few years ago that he, too, would learn the love, joy and satisfaction of woodworking. And he now designs, creates and sells his own pieces of furniture. He works almost entirely unplugged (without power tools) in the same manner as joiners from the mid to late 1800’s. And I know that a mother’s heart is blinded by love but I think he is becoming an artist who will one day equal his father.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success comes in so many ways and on many levels, we know we have succeeded at times such as these:
-When the only traffic jam we encounter is the flock of wild turkeys that frequent our backyard.
-When we can walk out the back door and take a couple hundred steps and we are at work.
-When we have been honored by a client to create a piece their family will sit around, the place they nourish their –bodies and their souls.
-When it is the work of our hands and creativity which supports and sustains us.
-When a client returns to us to create another piece for their home.
-When we can work together as a family.
-When we can lay down to sleep and know that it was work well done and all is well with our soul.
-When our son, Ian made his first piece of furniture, a little wood bench which sits in the corner of our dining room.
-When we can stop work and enjoy an afternoon cup of tea, sitting in the backyard, surrounded by warm sunshine, breezes and bird songs, just because we can.

That is success.

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4 Comments

  1. Courtney

    April 10, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Such an amazing family who creates beauty, and truly know the meaning of success.

    • Jen

      April 16, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you, Courtney, for your kind words.

  2. Ruthsomero

    April 11, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    love to you… Jen and Justin and Ian.! Great article!! Congratulations!!🎈

    • Jen

      April 16, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      Aww… Ruth, you are something wonderful. Thank you and our love to you

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