One aspect that the pandemic had on family life is that it did not give us a choice whether we wanted to be around family or not. Many of us confined ourselves to our respective homes, properties, and close-knit gatherings for many months. It gave us a different perspective on what is important in this world. The pandemic and events of 2020 had an impact on the Nelson family that will go on to shape them for years to come.
Growing up in the bayou, as Ethan would share, you learn a lot of Do-It-Yourself skills. His mother, Marlene Seaman, would be the teacher who would instill a lot of what Ethan knows today about woodworking and handyman skills because of her resilience while raising him. When tasks with challenges with building or fixing things that you do not know, Ethan shares, “anyone can do it, you just have to be willing to mess it up, but once you get it right, you have it right forever.”
Ethan would meet Brittney Wainwright at Alma Bryant high in photography class, and they would begin dating in 2008 and would marry a couple of years later, on July 3, 2011. When asking Ethan when his anniversary was, he said jokingly that is why they picked that day, so it would be easy to remember.
Straight out of high-school, Ethan started his career in pipe inspection. He has worked for many great companies like Mistras, General Electric, Capital Ultrasonics, and a great local Grand Bay company American Inspection Services. During the 14-year career growth in the industry, Ethan and Brittney would be blessed with three boys and one girl: Eli, Cade, Ian, and Charleigh. Because of Ethan’s career taking him on the road, not long after having children, Ethan and Brittney would decide to take the family on the road as well. Ethan shared that in 2019 the family got to see fifteen states while traveling with his work.
During the course of travel, it would bring them to Corpus Christi, TX. An accident would happen at a campground there that would take their youngest child’s life, Charleigh, which was two years old at the time. Very different than many that have dealt with the tragedy of losing a loved one in February 2020, Ethan, Brittney, and the boys would have to deal with it in an unfortunate way with the passing of Charleigh. Brittney would share with a Facebook after the event, “We are in such disbelief but can feel God’s spirit around us. We are clinging to each other tonight and have faith that God is going to strengthen us, comfort us, and bring us through this.”
After much discussion, the decision would be made to bring the family home and look for work that would keep the family off the road. At the height of the pandemic in March, Ethan got a job with American Inspection Systems and would plan to start the following week after leaving his career on the road. That week the Chevron plant would lockdown and thus push American Inspection out of the plant and not allow Ethan to begin work. So Ethan finds himself without a job at the beginning of the pandemic; not knowing what had happened would shape their family for the rest of their lives.
When sharing about all the events throughout their family journey Ethan and Brittney both shared about their faith. Both born-again believers, their faith journey would begin with Brittney’s younger brother Logan. A teenager at the time, Logan Wainwright, would start attending a local youth service and not long after give his life to Christ. That sparked a chain reaction through their immediate family, where Ethan and Brittney would eventually give their lives to Christ. Ethan and Brittney shared that without the Lord, they would not have been able to get through the tragedy and time without a job. Even with their prayers for a miracle with their daughter Charleigh, Ethan shared, “It was hard being told No when we begged for our miracle, but you still have to have faith.”
Family is what matters most outside of our love for God. That commitment to the family would make Ethan and Brittney make the difficult but must-needed decision for their family to start their own company Rugged Unicorn Woodcrafts and become fully self-employed to continue homeschool their boys and be at home with one another. The Unicorn logo of the company signifies Charleigh’s love for Unicorns. It has become somewhat of a family mascot as it reminds them to cherish each moment that we have together and to make sure that we get enjoyment out of our lives.
Their business focuses on rustic décor and custom furniture and is some of the finest craftsmanship you will find. Ethan shares with his boys the importance of measuring twice, cutting once, and quality control aspects of making sure every piece is the best product. The company mainly focused on products like tables, benches, storage boxes, pantry cabinets but will custom design and build almost anything else that can be made out of wood.
Ethan shares that their mornings are filled with loading up the car and traveling to Lowe’s, in which he can teach his boys life skills and woodworking skills. At home, Brittney coordinates their schooling daily and helps with the communication from customers with the business. They are currently finishing their 2400 sq. ft. shop that they will run their business in from their home in Grand Bay. They do ask for continued prayers and support as they enter the journey of self-employment. You can find them on Facebook by searching for ‘Rugged Unicorn Woodcrafts,’ email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit their website www.ruggedunicorn.com, or give them a call at (251) 293-1076. Their goal is to create a beautiful piece of furniture that reflects the time and love that they have put into it.