December 18, 2019

Hobby Robbie of Bowling Green, Kentucky

I found Hobby Robbie on Instagram, and I absolutely love his products, especially the Bowling Green ones! Anyway, I started following along and reached out to see if we could do an interview. I met Robbie at his home, where he works. He has all of his equipment set up in his garage. Robbie is a work from home dad, so I also got to meet one of his precious daughters. She was absolutely adorable. It was such a joy to be able to meet this family and to see how Robbie’s products are made. I encourage you to read this interview and check out this wonderful family. Their story is so heartwarming, and their products are fantastic. My Hobby Robbie Kentucky ornament is one of my favorite ornaments on the tree!

Business name: Hobby Robbie, LLC

Owners: Robbie Martin

Where are you located & do you travel: Bowling Green, KY and yes, I travel!

Chelsea (C): “Tell me about what you do.”

Robbie (R): “I consider myself a true Kentucky Craftsman and use my talents to create unique handcrafted items right here in the Bluegrass! My pieces are often made from original barn wood, reclaimed metal, steel, or salvaged items. The beauty and character of each piece is unmatched and has a story to tell.”

C: “Who do you impact or provide value to?”

R: “Growing up a on a farm, I learned how to be resourceful. I think that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration. My products range from one-of-a-kind custom orders and large exterior business signs, to unique giftable items such as bottle openers and ornaments. I’m really proud to have recently become an official licensed vendor for my alma mater, Western Kentucky University. This unique product line features exclusively designed smart phone stands, hitch covers, wind bells, door wreath hangers, bottle openers, and ornaments. I try to create products that really resonate with the local community and often feature Big Red, the white squirrel, BGKY, and the state of Kentucky!”

C: “How did you get started in this business?”

R: “I became a “work at home” dad in 2012 after my daughter suffered from a near fatal illness. At that time, my wife and I made the decision that I would stay at home and be her primary caregiver. Since then, she has made a full recovery, and we have added two more to our crew! Being at home with my daughters, I wear a lot of different hats. I guess it has really put me in a position to discover and expand my creativity. My wife jokingly referred to me as “Hobby Robbie” and would share some of the things I made on social media. The name sort of stuck, and local shops started to take an interest in what I was doing. So, in 2018, I decided to make it official, and my garage tinkering became Hobby Robbie, LLC.”

C: “Why do you do what you do?”

R: “I’ve always been a tinkerer and enjoy creating things with my hands. It’s given me the opportunity to utilize my creativity while also being able to raise my kids at home.”

C: “What do you love about your job?”

R: “I get to work with my hands, use my skills to bring my ideas or customers’ visions to life, and make other people smile.”

C: “What does success look like for you?”

R: “In some ways, I feel like I’m in it. I’m able to provide an income for my family, while enjoying what I love to do, and being able to raise my children and watch them grow up. I wouldn’t mind to have a shop one day though!”

C: “What goes on behind the scenes?”

R: “I don’t know that I really have a process. My mind just picks up on different inspiration. It’s like it stores it in a bank, and then I might take two or three ideas and collaborate into one thing. My hours are pretty sporadic. In many ways my business is still in its infancy, but I’m learning there’s definitely a lot more to running a business than what meets the eye. I typically start my day pretty early before anyone else is awake. This is my cherished quiet time where I sip coffee, brainstorm ideas, or design on my computer. But after that, it’s getting kids off to school and entertaining a three year old.

Being a “work at home dad” means I’m often wearing many hats. I might have a phone call with a client about making a sign for their storefront while rolling out playdoh or playing blocks. There is a lot of thought and time that goes into the design and pricing for wholesale, direct sales, and custom orders. My wife is the queen of paperwork and helps with invoicing, and business, tax, and royalty filings. As far as marketing, I try to make frequent posts to Instagram and Facebook in between cutting metal and making dinner- HA! I’m currently working on building a website and enjoy partnering with other local or small business owners. I’ve been fortunate to have had some of my products featured in local magazines and really rely a lot on word of mouth and happy customers.”

C: “Tell me about your ideal client or job?”

R: “Well that’s a hard question when it comes to my job because there are many paths I could take for commercial, wholesale, and retail. I enjoy different aspects in the creation process for each. My ideal client is one who has a general idea of what they want but gives me enough leeway to exercise my creativity. I like to have a little freedom of design, especially for a big job or larger artwork piece. I will often make material, component, or color suggestions for the space where it is to be displayed.”

C: “What do you want people to know about you or your business?”

R: “I’m the real deal. There’s no smoke and mirrors or shortcuts to what I do. I take pride in every piece I create, no matter how big or small the ticket is.”

C: “What is something people may not know about you or your business? I actually found my niche in CAD drawing by designing embroidery files for my wife. (And yes, I can sew too!)”

C: “Tell me about yourself, your family, etc.”

 R: “I’m originally from Russellville, KY and moved to Bowling Green to attend WKU. Before becoming a “work at home dad” I worked in technical sales for high performance fuel systems. My wife and I have been married for almost 12 years, and we have three daughters- ages 8, 5, and 3 and two dogs. We enjoy camping, hiking, and the outdoors.”

C: “Tell me about your favorite moment or story related to your business.”

R: “For the past couple of Christmas seasons, I’ve been able to collaborate with a ministry my wife and I started around six years ago that we call “Ella’s Extended Stay Kits” named after our daughter. We started an “Angel for an Angel” campaign where I make and sell angel ornaments and the money from those sales is used to purchase items for individual family care kits. These kits are then delivered to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville. We’ve been able to build more than 200 kits with angel sales. So, that’s something I’m proud to be a part of.”

C: “What has been the best advice given to you in life or business? Or what is your best advice?”

R: “‘Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.’-Ralph Waldo Emerson.”

C: “How can people reach you/get your product or service?”

R: “You can find me on Facebook and Instagram, Email:, Phone: 270-791-4012, Website- COMING SOON!”

C: “What can people do to help your business?”

R: “LIKE and FOLLOW me on social media, have a “Hobby Robbie Christmas” and purchase a unique hand-crafted ornament or nativity scene, tell your friends!”

C: “What do you love about this community?”

R: “I love how there’s so much support and encouragement for small businesses and local makers!”

C: “Do you have anything exciting coming up or any specials going on currently? I am planning to launch my website in 2020 that will have a gallery of my work, e-commerce, and secure login for wholesale vendor ordering. I’m currently running a special on my nativity set scenes. They are metal with a reclaimed barn-wood base and include a battery powered tealight. Each piece is $24 or you can buy the set of three for $65 (includes wise men, shepherd, and manger scene)!”

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