Sharon Gakin of Olalla isn’t afraid to take on new tasks and skills. She’s been doing it her whole life.
From shucking oysters and picking blackberries for canneries when her husband, Bob Gakin, was in the military to floral arrangements and garden structures in her retirement, Gakin’s resume reflects an entrepreneurial outlook on life.
“Well, you learn by necessity,” Gakin said. “Just keep at it and don’t be afraid to get dirty.”
And never be afraid to keep on learning, which brought her to the Floral Design Institute in Seattle after her children were grown and off in the world.
She and her husband grew flowers at home, but she didn’t see floral design as a career initially.
“I started getting really good feedback on what I did when I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Gakin said, noting that they’ve always been gardening. “So it was just a natural outgrowth of what we’ve been doing for years.”
Before long, she was operating a home business, Cottage Garden Florals, offering locally grown bouquets to those just driving by and a few smaller events.
“I’m retired,” she said. “I want to have a chance to go to my grandkids’ soccer games and just have time for my family.”
So she’s only done a few funerals and weddings, but doesn’t take them on regularly.
Not one to sit still, she embarked on her next project, small garden structures called “gnome homes.”
After building a backyard garden pond, Gakin wanted to cover the garish water pump, and constructed a small cement home decorated with rainbow rock and topped with a living roof. With a carved and designed door, it looks like the perfect abode for the gnome statues that are scattered around the pond.
She’s taking orders for the homes locally, but she hopes to eventually find a light-weight concrete to ship the homes in pieces to out of town orders.
It’s all in the name of making a little extra cash and keeping busy.
“We’re on a fixed income,” Gakin said. “So we’re always hustling.”