She’s nationally known in the realm of antiques and primitives. She writes for one the field’s best known magazines. And now Lizzie Arakelian lives in Texas County and has opened a store in Eunice.

On the home page of her website, Arakelian – who prefers to simply go by her first name – refers to “folk art, primitives and make-dos.” She has lived a colorful life and carved out a successful career creating, constructing and collecting just about anything that fits those descriptions.

But to Lizzie, old-time methods of “making do” mean much more than a job, career or pastime, it’s her way of life.

“I absolutely love everything about it,” she said.

Lizzie’s prowess for outfitting her homes with handmade furniture and countless other “primitive” household goods, tools and decorations has been well documented.

“Every house I’ve ever lived in has been in a book or magazine,” she said. “Some were featured in national magazines and others in magazines geared more toward a specific genre.”

Lizzie used to sell her wares at lots of shows and events in multiple states, but now prefers to limit that end of her business to two major shows (one in Ohio and another in Illinois) and a few of the smaller, local variety. When she attends shows, she basically sets up an entire cabin and her display inevitably draws lots of attention.

“I usually completely sell out,” Lizzie said.

For six years, Lizzie has written for “A Simple Life Magazine,” a quarterly publication based in Texas. Her contribution – called “A Simple Woman’s Diary” – resembles a journal being kept by a woman in the mid-1800s. It’s done in first person form and includes accounts of the writer’s daily situations and circumstances.

“It’s been the No. 1 article in the magazine since it began,” Lizzie said. “What’s really fun, too, is I use real names of family members. All the people in there are from our family, or somebody I know. Once in a while, someone says ‘how come my name’s not in there?’ But some names are so modern, they don’t quite fit.”

What Lizzie calls her own “evolving story” began in southern California, where she ran an antiques store in the historic district of the city of Orange.

“I could never find enough furniture, so I started taking old doors and old windows and building furniture,” she said. “Stores started buying it and it kind of kept growing.”

A wealthy Beverly Hills woman took a liking to Lizzie and her work and helped her begin a furniture business.

“She said ‘you’re going to be somebody and I’m going to help,’” Lizzie said. “She asked ‘what would help?’ I was single at the time and had three kids, so I said ‘money wouldn’t hurt.’ I was really just joking.”

The woman gave Lizzie a check.

“I thought ‘oh great,’ and figured she was giving me $500 or $600,” Lizzie said. “She gave me $40,000. I started a furniture business.”

Without any other form of financing, Lizzie grew that business to the point where she had 42 employees and made furniture for numerous celebrities, including Priscilla Presley and Wayne Gretzky. The first piece she produced was a bed resembling a barn that sold to musician Babyface.

“Then he ordered all this other furniture to go with it, and added a room onto his house to put it all in,” Lizzie said.

She also recalls making a bed for Rod Stewart.

“He collected trains,” Lizzie said. “I did one for him that looked like a caboose.”

Lizzie’s success in the furniture business led to her products gaining high visibility.

“It was in McDonald’s and Quaker Oats commercials, and we’d see it on TV all the time,” she said. “It was in every magazine and home decorating book, and everywhere I went, it was there.”

Lizzie even ended up featured on the cover of Money Magazine. But that segment of her life path came to an end when a couple of employees embezzled money and she terminated the business.

“It was heart-breaking, but I had to shut it down,” Lizzie said. “But having that experience was amazing. I had survived for nine years without borrowing any money. I did it all on my own, and Money Magazine said it was unheard of for a woman to start a business with no financing and have that many employees.”

What followed was another chapter in Lizzie’s interesting and unusual saga. About 15 years ago, she spent time living in Arizona with a group that built and resided in a pioneer town.

“We lived like in the 1800s,” she said. “We had horses and mules and drove wagons, and every day we dressed the way people did back then. When we went to town, people would say, ‘hey, you’re those people who started that town out there.’”

When her father fell ill, Lizzie moved to Ohio, near Dayton. But the wheels were turning and she discovered her love of the “early settler” style of antiques and primitives.

Lizzie later moved to Colorado to be near her grandchildren. While there, she met Phil Godlewski, a chainsaw carving artist and musician, and a native of Texas County. One thing led to another, and the pair moved here about a year ago.

“When he asked me if I would consider moving to Missouri, I was like, ‘are you kidding me?’” Lizzie said. “I already had lots of customers here.”

Many items made by Lizzie are on display at her store in Eunice. She enjoys getting her hands dirty with woodworking and making useful things out of objects that have seen better days.

“I take a lot of broken things and make them into something else,” Lizzie said. “Like with mirrors; in the old days mirrors were so valuable that if you broke one they didn’t just throw it away, they took the pieces and made what are called fragment mirrors. I do stuff like that.”

Lizzie said she had started penning a book a while back – and plans to complete one someday – but feels her magazine work currently takes precedence.

“They were so similar, because the book was about a girl in a cabin and I felt like I couldn’t do both,” she said. “I get lots of people asking when I’m going to do a book, and I will – eventually.”

Meanwhile, Lizzie’s store – aptly called “Lizzie’s Primitives” – features a cabin-like look, with numerous sections loaded with authentic items of every imaginable type.

“It’s almost more like a museum than a store,” she said. “I like people to be able to see how they can use things in their own homes.”

Being a big fan herself of early pioneer items and décor, Lizzie said she loves to help people interested in the same thing achieve their goals.

“I don’t really sell stuff,” she said, “I sell a feeling. It’s not just how the people I deal with decorate, it’s how they live.”

Lizzie’s plans include hosting events that would include everything from displays by primitives vendors, to bluegrass bands and old-fashioned cookouts. Godlewski also does construction, and Lizzie said several small buildings might be added to the property to be used during events.

“We want to make this a place to go and have a great day,” she said.

Lizzie said her store doesn’t have set hours.

“It’s kind of by chance or appointment,” she said. “If I’m home, it’s open, but I have to be able to go to auctions.”

While her story is far from over, Lizzie already considers herself fortunate to have traveled the path she has.

“I’ve had the most incredible life,” she said. “And I feel truly blessed to do what I love. Most people never get that chance.”

I don’t really sell stuff, I sell a feeling. It’s not just how the people I deal with decorate, it’s how they live.”

To view a gallery of photos from Lizzie’s home and store, click this link:

http://houston.mycapture.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=50954855&event=1776947&CategoryID=57447

Links to learn more about Lizzie and view examples of her work:

Website: http://www.picturetrail.com/lizziescabin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizziescabin

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizziescabin/

To speak to Lizzie or make an appointment, call her at 417-260-7422.

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