Graphic Artist Marilyn Hartman and her husband, Max Hartman, a U.S. Army 82nd Airborne veteran, make wooden U.S. flags that have quickly become popular among veterans and first responders.
The Deltona couple's business, Creations with Hart, started because Ms. Hartman would make multiple pieces of handmade wooden furniture for the house out of pure enjoyment.
“Every time my husband came home, I made something new for the house,” she explained.
Then one day, her husband suggested they try to make some flags.
The first one they made was Max’s flag for his 82nd Airborne Division. They posted it on Facebook and that is when things started taking off.
Every flag made is a family effort with Marilyn managing the design part of the process while Max and their two sons Gabriel, 11, and D’Elio, 13, handle the wood cutting, staining and painting.
“When soldiers came to pick up their flags, they sit and talk with Max for hours,” Ms. Hartman said. “It was like therapy for them, in a sense.”
She explained how much their sons learned just by listening to the veterans’ discussion with their father.
“They were kind of in shock, in a sense, because hearing some of the guys that got shrapnel in their bodies or IEDs blown up in front of them,” she said. “They didn’t realize what these guys went through until they actually heard it for themselves.”
Ms. Harman described how happy people get when they see them working as a family team.
“When people come and see them (Gabriel and D’Elio) working, the older generation in particular, is happy because they believe this is how young boys need to grow up – learning and doing.
Because of the family’s efficiency, the turnaround is quick.
“When somebody places an order, depending on what they want, we just have to stain it make it,” Ms. Hartman said. “From the staining process to making it, it could take 2 to 3 days.”
They also make corn hole sets, domino tables and secret compartment gun boxes.
The majority of their marketing efforts have been through social media and word of mouth.
Although their website, creationswithhart.com, should be up within the next week, Marilyn and Max leverage social media for most marketing efforts and sales.
They each belong to social media groups supportive of their creation, including Women Entrepreneurs and 82nd Airborne.
Also, many of Marilyn’s immediate family are first responders and veterans, including a sister who is a Lakeland police officer, a sister who is a vet, her brother is a lieutenant with DeLand Police, and her nephew is a firefighter.
Creations with Hart regularly donates flags to non-profit organizations that support first responders and veterans, including Stars & Pars, The VFW and Wounded Officers Initiative.
“Anything to raise money with either first responders or veterans, we’re up for it,” she enthusiastically said.
The responses from flag recipients have been more than the family could have hoped for, particularly from one emotional vet who said it brought back so many memories for him.
“When my beautiful wife and boys showed me that had my rank and unit -- the 101st Airborne Air Assault -- I was literally in awe. So many good memories popped up from the past that I was in shock. The love and attention to detail blew me away,” said veteran Kevin Steinmann
His wife, Leslie Steinmann, explained how therapeutic the flags are for veterans.
“They represent a comradery that is lost after one leaves the service,” she said.
Johnny Damon, a retired Major League Baseball player and supporter of the U.S. military, just ordered a flag.
It's safe to say the word is traveling to the right people and fast.