It’s been 10 years now that Jane Akers of Eastpointe has decorated for the holidays at Sindbad’s Restaurant and Marina (100 St. Clair) along the river on Detroit’s east side, where she’s worked since 1998.
Denise Blancke, a manager at Sindbad’s, said, “We like her decorating here because it’s not overdone. It’s very tasteful and the customers love it. They’re complimenting our Christmas and any holiday decorations all the time, even the Fourth of July, Halloween, Mother’s Day, (etc.). People just really like it.”
Two years ago, Akers discovered another way to use her decorating talents. After being inspired by the holiday wreaths her sister-in-law was making, she decided to try her creative hand at doing the same. She honed her skills, and is now making not only the kind you see embellishing doors during the holiday season, but those that celebrate team spirit and special occasions.
“I just kind of picked it up. My sister-in-law was doing wreaths, and I told her I found a new way of making them, but it was actually the right way,” said Akers, who has since taught herself to create outside the box with surprising themes. “I’m doing my own thing,” she said. “My biggest seller is the sports wreaths. I do the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. I started with hockey.”
Akers, 66, chose the winning theme thanks to special orders from sports fans. “I order everything online — the mini footballs, license plates, and pennants that say the team’s name. It’s (all) incorporated into the wreath.”
Although she’s hit a home run with her sports-related wreaths, her favorite ones to make are designed with a patriotic theme. “I’m all about the red, white and blue. I have a few people who order it, and my nephew is in the military, so I kind of do like the welcome (home) wreaths. I have one sitting outside in red, white and blue in my yard under the tree. And, one customer just wants red, white and blue, no matter the theme — even if it’s (for) Easter.”
Among her more unusual requests was one with a bride and groom theme, crafted in black and white with magnolias. She said, “They sent me an invitation, and I put it in the wreath.” She’s also done a lot of Mickey Mouse wreaths, and one with musical instruments for a local academy.
Akers admits she gets much of her inspiration from what she finds on the internet. “I look on Facebook and Youtube and see what they’re doing, and kind of make it my own. It’s something I really enjoy. I’m semi-retired, and I get in that craft room and sometimes spend up to 12 hours. I’ve done macrame and ceramics, (but) the wreathing is my favorite craft. Whenever I get an idea, I just get into my zone and I just start it.”
She sells her wreaths mostly by word-of-mouth, but welcomes custom orders, which can take at least a week to complete because she likes to work on three at a time. She’s also willing to deliver in the Detroit area.
When it comes to purchasing supplies, Akers prides herself on being penny-wise. She’ll sometimes add a string of 35 miniature lights to a wreath, but said, “I only buy stuff I can get on sale, because if I can’t make it affordable, I’m not going to make it. I also get a lot of stuff at the dollar store. I pay myself $10 a wreath. I know it’s not much, but I enjoy what I do.”
Most of Akers’ wreaths are priced from $35-$50 each, with some custom orders slightly higher, and she does a number of craft shows throughout the year. “I always do the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market “Spring Fling Craft Show,” she said.
Just think — one of her sports-themed wreaths might make the perfect Christmas present for the tailgaters on your list!
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/ DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Jane Akers at email@example.com, or Wreaths by Jane on Facebook.