The door opens with a wide swing as I'm greeted with the usual "Hi, friend, come in!" Tiny footsteps come faster and faster around the corner until I'm hit by my favorite little person hugs. Coffee is probably already in the works for me, and a spot on the couch cleared. "So, how are you?" she asks.
This is the usual welcome I receive at the Havner household.
There are some people in life who were made to share in our stories—people who don't simply listen to your words but involve themselves, too. Trista Havner is one of those people. Though she has always carried a love for words and stories, this has come to mean something entirely new for her in the last few years.
A native to Jackson, Havner is the creative energy behind Hub City Love, a small business specializing in hand-lettered wooden pieces and signs as well as printed shirts and bags.
The shop, shared with Lisa Garner’s Garner Blue Shop, holds all types of handmade treasures on its walls. Some are lettered with happy, simple lines like "Kind is the new cool" and "You do you." Others highlight song lyrics or zip codes, and, of course, there are a few good quotes from The Office sprinkled in.
Nearly all of the pieces Havner creates are made with reclaimed materials from old buildings and barns in the area. She loves that she gets to take things that are typically utilitarian items—like wood, glass, or tin—and make them beautiful. This also means that any piece you purchase from Hub City Love is truly one-of-a-kind.
"Often I'm taking something old and stripping away years of neglect to uncover a truly beautiful piece," she said. "I love that I only have a small bit of control over the process. I may have a certain look in mind, but oftentimes the piece itself has a say in what is possible."
The shop primarily shows original pieces by Havner, but she offers custom work as well. Creating unique pieces for customers from their ideas and stories is one of her favorite parts of this business.
"Most of the pieces I create are very personal to my customers, and they help to mark a milestone or remember a sweet or hard time in my customer's life," she explained. "I am honored to be able to be a small part in that."
This venture was birthed out of Havner's desire for a new creative outlet over three years ago. She had started teaching herself to hand-letter a few pieces for her own home and slowly discovered a desire to keep painting. She launched her passion into the small business Hub City Love in 2015.
Although her first and favorite job is being a wife and mom, Havner also works as a history and literature teacher at a local school. It's not always easy to juggle these things while running Hub City Love, but she says she can't be still anyway, so she likes that it keeps her on her toes.
One of Havner's goals was to establish some type of storefront by 2018. She wasn't sure how this would happen and didn't feel that she had found the right option. But being an avid supporter of local small business, she found herself at theCO’s “New Year, New Ideas” event when the idea for theLOCAL was pitched.
"I was hooked," she said. "I wasn't quite ready to fill an entire space, and somehow I convinced Lisa [of Garner Blue Shop], who is such an advocate for all things small and local, to consider sharing a space with me."
Havner says having a storefront has completely changed her business in the best ways. Before theLOCAL, Hub City Love was all online, and she very rarely got to meet her customers. She is so grateful now for a place to meet customers face-to-face and get to know them.
I asked Havner what her dream is for Hub City Love, and her eyes lit up.
"Wow. I would love to go big," she told me. "I love doing what I'm doing—painting and staining and sanding. Working with the mediums is my jam, and creating custom work is so rewarding."
Havner also says she would love to one day have a storefront with a workspace attached to be able to show her customers the process. She even wonders if she could ever have space for other makers to have an area outside of their home to create.
"I just want to cultivate a place to create," she concluded.
And that's exactly what she's good at. So spend a little time in the Hub City Love shop, sharing stories and probably some laughs. I can promise you'll feel welcome.
Writer and photographer Meg Rushing is passionate about stories and the people that live them. Originally a Jackson native, she moved to Nashville after graduating from Union University with a degree in public relations and photojournalism. She enjoys exploring, creating, coffee, and conversations.