BILLINGS — You probably wouldn’t describe Jenny Dow as over-the-top, but her signs sure are.
"They would have set styles that are a lot lower to the ground, and when I started seeing these, that they could be this tall, I thought, ’That’s so cool,'" Dow said of her new business.
Dow’s inspiration came from a friend in Spokane, whose first mission after getting back home from working in Canada was to get a puppy.
“(The puppy) was like this big, and the sign was like 20 feet long and said, 'Welcome Home Bucky,'" Dow said. "It was cute and it stuck with me that it’s been so hard to celebrate, and we have so many of these moments that seem not over-the-top, but it doesn’t take much to make them really special.”
Dow looked into several franchise opportunities, but nothing was quite right, so she decided she would start from scratch. Now, Lawn Signs MT has over 1,000 pieces in its arsenal.
"(Her friend) said she really likes camping and sports, so we picked the things that she enjoys," Dow said while showing off a birthday sign Saturday.
Dow does it all. She had four installs Saturday morning starting at 6:15 a.m. - she tries to do all of them in secret - after prepping all of the pieces the previous night. The signs stay up for 24 hours before she comes back to disassemble.
“I’m hoping to hire a college kid to help me this summer," she admitted with a laugh.
Because in just one month, the business has taken off. Dow isn’t a big self social media promoter, but the signs do all the work.
“Right when I got the signs, there is a Facebook group - All Help - that’s for foster-adoptive families," she said. "I posted, ‘Does anyone have a Foster kid whose birthday is today?’ I was able to go out and do a sign completely free that was super cool, but from that, people were like, ‘I want to book something.’ So that was a huge kickstart.”
The business is tailor-made for Facebook and Instagram. It’s how Debbie Bailey came up with this idea to welcome her husband home from his 7th deployment.
“Having had him been deployed before and coming home, I know that it’s better to do something more subtly that I don’t have tons of people in his face so it makes that transition just a little smoother," Bailey said. "Yet it’s still something special enough that he knows I cared.”
And even though she'd seen plenty of pictures, Bailey couldn't believe just how impressive the sign was in person.
“It’s taller, it’s bigger, it’s more colorful," she said. "It’s awesome.”
There’s definitely been some trial and error involved.
"Have you ever gotten a paper cut on cardboard?" Dow asked. "Plastic is a lot worse."
But for Dow, Lawn Signs MT has been her perfect outlet.
“I’m typically the more awkward person that will tell people how wonderful they are, and this is kind of the way I can do that for strangers," she said. "You always need a 'Why' that’s bigger than what you’re doing, and so this kind of works out well to be who I am.”