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Whimisical idea for a business
Statesboro friends use art to create custom signs
Yard whimzees for web
Donna Purvis, left, and Liz Marsh put finishing touches on a colorful sign for Walker Pharmacy. - photo by JENNY LYNN ANDERSON/Special
    What do you get when you mix an interior designer, an artist, paint, wood and some creative juice?  Yard Whimzees. The new Statesboro business was started by Liz Marsh and Donna Purvis.
    The two women began working together formally six months ago, but their friendship began a few years back when they were thrown together as volunteer mothers at Bulloch Academy, creating glazed pottery platters for a fundraising auction. 
    “We worked real well together with the pottery projects and that led us and two other women to home improvement projects,” Purvis said. She holds an interior design degree from Brenau College in Gainesville, Ga. 
    “Whether it was ripping out carpet in our houses, repainting a bedroom or putting new wood molding in a kitchen, we set out to get some major projects done in our own homes with the belief that many hands make light work,” Purvis said.
    While traveling to Augusta one day, Purvis saw a plastic stork sign announcing a birth of a baby. The 48-year old designer scrutinized it and thought to herself that the sign would be better if redesigned and retooled. The idea of creating wooden signs that could be placed in people’s yards was born and she called Liz, her soon-to-be partner, and told her that they had to do this business.  
    Since January, the quirky and often smile-inspiring signs have been popping up all over Statesboro.
    The creation of the signs takes several days and begins with sketches and drawings done by Marsh. With a fine arts degree from Georgia Southern, Marsh has put her artistic mark on Statesboro for years with her colorful and whimsical murals in homes and businesses.
    Marsh dreams up the image and then the two women use an overhead projector to draw the finished piece to size. Skilled in woodworking, Purvis uses a skill saw to cut the plywood. As the project takes shape, their backgrounds compliment each other as the artistic pieces become three-dimensional pieces. 
“Donna has a good sense of color with her design background,” Marsh said.
Purvis said, “Liz adds the fine details to our creations that make them unique.”
    In addition to their repertoire of birthday, anniversary, over-the-hill, tombstone and congratulation graduate signs, they have flocks of flamingos, buzzards and crows that can be added to any sign. Depending on the occasion, Marsh and Purvis can tailor make the sign to fit any event; and the wooden placards are designed with versatility in mind.
“With the use of Velcro and removable sign boards, we can customize the sign to communicate the announcement,” Marsh said. 
For instance, a baby buggy sign can announce a baby’s birth, a baby shower or be positioned at the proud grandparents’ home. People order yard whimzees for offices, too. 
“We customize a card that is tied with ribbon on the doorknob so the person will know who sent the yard whimzee greeting,” Marsh said.
    After the women created a first birthday sign for Ashley Todd’s daughter Amelia, Todd was so pleased with their work that she asked them to create a sign that looked like a gift package for the outside of her business, Abbigail’s on Main. 
“These signs have great curb appeal and they make your business get noticed,” Todd said.  “It sparks the curiosity of people who have not been in my store and entices them to come in and shop.”
    “When going into this, we envisioned this business to be one of sign rentals only, but a niche has been carved in the retail sector as well,” Purvis said.  “After we created the Abbigail’s on Main sign, the orders have continued to stream in from other retail establishments.”
    For these small business owners and mothers of five children combined, the key to success is the flexibility afforded to them as partners. 
“On certain days when I’m busy with my three children, Liz can take the helm,” Purvis said. “On other days Liz might be busy with obligations to her children and I’ll complete the tasks at hand.” 

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