Loren and Kathy Bennett make up a slice of the American dream as owners of their “mom and pop business,” Benn Framed. Located in Shelby at their home on Turner Ave., the Bennetts serve a market of customers who are looking for custom framing and artistic design when it comes to their family treasures.
Benn Framed was started in 2011 by Loren and Kathy when they purchased the business from Kathy’s mother in Nebraska. The couple transported a glass cutter, mat cutters, plenty of glass and a molding chopper from Nebraska in order to get their business off the ground in Shelby where they have lived since 1998. They set up shop by transforming their two car garage into part woodshop and part frame shop and have been making frames ever since.
Loren retired from the U.S. Border Patrol in 2011 and also began driving school buses for Shelby School District two and a half years ago. By day, Kathy works at the Toole County Extension office. When their nine to five jobs are finished each day, they escape to their garage and work together on their next framing project.
“It is definitely a team effort and something we both enjoy doing together,” shared Kathy.
Her expertise is design. She has a particular knack of using the frame and matte to draw the eye to the picture and highlight the piece as the focal point. Her experience with color, layout, and mat design allows her to take her customer’s photos, pictures or posters and turn them into beautiful works of art.
“I love taking a picture and working with it to make it the best it can be. It’s a challenge I enjoy,” said Kathy.
Loren works with cutting mats to Kathy’s design specifications and cutting glass for frames. He also creates frames from custom molding and adds color, stress marks, or varnish depending on the customer’s request.
With about 500 framing projects under their belts, they can easily make suggestions to the 90 percent of customers who come in and have no idea what would look best. “Most people are not sure what they want, so we really enjoy putting something together for them that they will be happy with,” offered Kathy.
Their projects have included graduation photos, weddings, special occasion photos, memorabilia, posters, puzzles, shadow boxes and even a century old rug. If you want it hanging on your wall, the Bennetts can get it there.
“We can do graduation pictures to match those you already have on your wall of other children. We can match home décor. We can really put together anything,” offered Kathy.
The Bennetts have built a clientele that continues to come back for more. Benn Framed has experienced steady growth on the Hi-Line and beyond thanks to the word of mouth of their customers. They have patrons in Kalispell, Havre, Valier, Cut Bank, Browning and Choteau. They also service out of state customers in Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
Benn Framed has produced diverse pieces, but one of Kathy’s most interesting was a recent painting she matted. How would you tie together a blue horse, with bright orange and yellow paint marks, an orange mane with blue background? No sweat for Kathy. She picked a neutral color matte for the base and layered all the bright colors underneath the neutral base.
The result is an invitation for the eye to follow the tier steps of the mats directly to the picture. Because all the colors are present in the mats, once the eye takes in the bright colors of the unique photo, it’s a delight instead of a shock.
From there Loren added a dark frame with stress marks to pull it all together. “I picked the color and frame that worked best with what Kathy put together,” said Loren.
Loren and Kathy have already begun working on Christmas orders and are able to deliver a finished product in approximately two weeks. “Even when we custom order molding, we can still finish framing in around two weeks,” said Loren.
If you have memorabilia you aren’t quite sure what to do with or you have some special pictures you want framed, contact Kathy and Loren at 424-5010.