Todd Holton first entered the world of wooden flags as a customer.
He purchased a design from a craftsman in Kalispell and began searching online for similar offerings. He thought to himself, “I can do that.”
Using the trove of tools that he picked up after moving from Washington to Montana in November 2014, the Ohio native and veteran began crafting his own flags from pine.
While his first few designs were intended for personal use, his friends and family began to take interest in his new pastime. Soon enough, they were offering to pay for his projects.
“It kind of exploded from there,” his wife, Lynn Holton, said.
Together, the couple began devising a plan to market their products and quickly established Holton’s Rustic Flags, a family business operating out of their Bigfork home.
“Everybody helps,” Todd said.
As Lynn has taken charge of hand drawing and carving the flags’ designs, the couple’s three daughters, Mackenzie, Jocelyn and Lilah, have participated in almost every step of the crafting process, including cutting and burning the wood — under their parents’ supervision — and painting.
While the majority of the designs depict the traditional stars and stripes, customers can order personalized designs. Some of their more unique creations have included officer names and badge numbers, as well as a thin blue line design.
They have produced a Canadian flag replica for a friend retiring from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as two flags in honor of Project K-9 Hero, a nonprofit supporting dogs who have retired from law enforcement and military work. One design features the organization’s paw print logo, while the other depicts the profile of Kay, a German Shepherd supported by the program.
The family is also currently working on a concealment box for Todd’s cousin.
Todd said the time-consuming business serves as “kind of a second job” to his role as a supervisor special agent for the Department of Homeland Security.
As such, the family typically constructs flags on a per-order basis. He noted, however, that they are considering advertising their products at an upcoming market if they can find the time to craft the necessary surplus.
Since starting the business earlier this year, the couple said they have sold about 20 flags to customers across the nation. Todd added that he hopes the business will grow so that he can rely upon it to support his family once he retires in about three years.
Even as the Holtons experiment with different possibilities for the future of their business, Todd seemed sure of one thing about their creations.
“I’m going to stick to flags,” he said.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.