Ashley and Johnnie Hoskins Jr. weren't planning to start a business when they built their first custom chicken coop.
Playing off the fact that their friends were getting married in a barn, the couple built a small coop and gave it as a wedding gift.
"Johnnie told me he was going to make them a chicken coop, and really I thought he was joking," Ashley Hoskins said. "I realized he was serious, and I was like, 'OK, go for it.'"
In the months since, the Hoskins have built more coops at the urging of their friends and family, and they recently got their business license to make Custom Coops & Cages official.
The pair work together to build the coops and cages in the driveway of their small Chattanooga home. Johnnie Hoskins does all of the building, and his wife helps paint and keep the books in order.
Although he's always been handy and has made several items around the house, Johnnie Hoskins said he'd never made a chicken coop before the initial wedding present coop. He and his wife use the money from the business venture as supplemental income to their day jobs.
"This is just fun to me, to come home and in my spare time work on this," Johnnie Hoskins said, securing the door to his latest project, a 16-foot coop. "And when I deliver them, these people go crazy. They're just so excited to get a look."
So far he's built seven coops, which can take anywhere from one to three weeks, depending on the size and intricacies of the customer's requests. Most of the coops have been for people looking to upgrade or expand their current coop, but he said he's also made several starter coops for people without chickens.
For now, the couple markets their work through their website, www.customcoopsandcages.com, as well as Craigslist postings for Chattanooga and surrounding cities. Eventually, Johnnie Hoskins hopes to team up with local garden nursery stores to promote his product.
In the meantime, the couple sees their unexpected foray into the business world as an opportunity to work on something together and take it as far as they can.
"It's great because it's not like if we don't sell coops we can't live," Ashley Hoskins said. "It's fun, and because of that the stress of a business isn't really there."
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