When life gives you lemons, make lemonade … or build a lemonade stand.
That philosophy inspired Mike Scaglione, 42, to put his hands to good use during the pandemic—for he once worked in the medical device industry and became stuck at home with endless time to kill during the pandemic.
So the dad from Georgia decided to build a tree fort for his kids.
Without any carpenter training, besides a few YouTube videos, he went to Lowe’s one day and came back with a truck full of lumber.
He’d always wanted to build a tree fort for the kids but never had time to do so.
“Seeing his kids lose everything they loved, from school to sports to time with friends, he wanted to create a place that would bring a smile to their faces,” his wife, Kristin, 41, told The Epoch Times.
Working on the fly, without blueprints, he built by the seat of his pants and was shocked to realize how much he loved spending hours outside working on it.
Building a bit at a time, the tree fort was completed in six weeks. “And the kids loved it!” Kristin said.
Meanwhile, she documented the building journey and posted pictures on social media. Based on some of the comments, she fed the idea to Mike to consider building forts for more families.
“No one would buy these!” he replied, laughing.
But she posted a picture of their fort on a local mom’s Facebook page. And that one post alone soon drew 60 requests.
And thus, the family business Firefly Forts was born.
Mike agreed to give it a try, and called up his carpenter buddy, who’s vastly more skilled than he is, and they struck out on a fort-building venture.
Since they started building in the fall of 2020, they completed about 50 forts in their area, and are now booking early into the spring of 2022.
“Our first six months of builds were almost solely families from the very first Facebook posts,” Kristin said. “Word of our forts quickly began to spread in our town and then around the Atlanta area and even nationwide.”
She describes building a fort as being different from a deck, as a fort forges an emotional connection with families, whose kids, when the fort is completed, often feel it’s the “best day of their lives.”
What started out as a backyard pastime to kill time during a life lull became a fulfilling family business; the Scagliones are even planning to make Firefly a franchise so they can expand to families nationwide.