A school lesson turns into a life’s work

By Hollie Deese
Photography by Pam Mognahan

It had been 13 years since Jenna had last seen Johnathan Rummel at Lee University, where they both attended, but when he sat down next to her at a dear friend’s funeral in 2005, life was about to totally change for the single mom. Seven months later, the two were married and she had sold her small home décor store in Georgia to move to Middle Tennessee.

Totally in love with her life change, she never gave up the idea she would have another store someday. But immersed in raising and homeschooling her two children, Xander and Gracie, that took precedence over pretty much anything else.

When her son was a teenager, he fell in love with the rustic design of a Washington, D.C., hotel room. When he returned from his trip, he designed and built a rustic, reclaimed wood headboard with dimming light sconces and USB ports for his own room. Proud mom Jenna posted a pic on Facebook, and the responses urging her to sell it were encouraging.

Jenna decided to rent a booth at Amberleaf, a now-closed vendor space on the Square in Gallatin, as a way for Xander to sell the headboard as part of a homeschool lesson in business. They named the business Chic Artique.

“We wanted to teach Xander an entrepreneurial lesson that you can set your own hours,” she says. “We wanted to teach him that he can make something and sell it. And the first weekend we opened, we sold a headboard. Which is a nice little paycheck for a 15-year-old.”

It didn’t take long for that booth to get busier as Jenna dusted off her shop skills and eye for design and décor. She expanded Chic Artique into 350 square feet in the front of a salon in Goodlettsville before eventually closing both spaces when they moved into their current building in 2016.

“I remember standing outside our building, and there were three suites for rent,” she says. “We were just dreaming of renting one.”

Chic Artique has expanded four times within that building, adding outdoor and gifts, bedding and rugs — all in the glamourous rustic style she has become known for.

“I love a gorgeous barnwood table with a crystal chandelier hanging over it, or really pretty bedding with a rustic wood headboard behind it,” Jenna says. “That just does it for me.”

Now the Brummels own that building and the one behind it, which they have just opened to showcase one of the biggest reasons designers come to her — her architectural salvage pieces. A go-to for anything Braxton Dixon that comes available, she also makes annual trips to Pennsylvania to load up a trailer with historic home details.

“It is super fun to have one week and all these places you want go — trying to squeeze it all in and get the best you can in the time you have,” she says. “And then there is the game of packing it all back in the truck and trailer.”

The business isn’t the only thing that has grown. Xander, who was 3 years old at Jenna’s feet while she opened her first shop in Georgia and then inspired her business in Tennessee, this spring graduated from Western Kentucky University with the skills and knowledge to work anywhere, on his own time.

“We had a good time, but it was a hard time,” Jenna says of being a young mom opening her own business. “But I love encouraging people when I share my story of how I started small. I like encouraging people to that messy action, which is taking action before you really have a plan. Just start. Ninety-nine percent of my success is messy action.”

The two also host people from all over the country on their Robertson County property in two different “glamping” tents. Each has heated floors, wood-burning stoves and all the amenities needed to take the hard work out of camping. It’s another way they share their hospitality while working together to build something bigger.

And Johnathan has been a support and surprise creative the entire time, transitioning from chief of staff to the Tennessee secretary of state for 12 years to salvage picker, campfire starter, support staff and biggest fan to Jenna and her dream.

“It’s a challenge because we never stop talking about work, but we have the same goals and we have a lot of fun with it,” she says. “I mean, I can come up with the most harebrained idea, and he’s like, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ And he helps me figure out how to get there.”