By: Garrett Mitchell, Contributing Writer
Brandon Prince served his country, his community, and is now giving back to both with his self-owned wood carving business, Deep South Creations.
Prince, a 2003 graduate of Woodruff High School, served in the United States Marine Corp from 2003-2011 before embarking on a career in law enforcement with the Greenville Police Department.
Diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis from his time in the military, Prince stepped down from his career in law enforcement in 2013. Having trouble finding a job, it was Prince’s wife that suggested he use his creative abilities to start his own business.
“Honestly, I was at a point where I could not find a job and my wife told me that I should use my artistic abilities to create a business,” said Prince. “A disability from the military arose when I was in law enforcement that prevented me from performing my job to the fullest. I chose to resign from the force to prevent anyone from being hurt due to me. I’ve always been artistic and creative so starting my own business in woodworking seemed like the best idea at the time.”
From those unfortunate set of circumstances in Prince’s life, Deep South Creations was born.
Always talented, artistic, and creative, Prince began crafting wooden American flag designs. It is an item that, as his fledgling business grew, has become his best-seller though, he says, he can craft just about anything from a piece of wood.
“I offer just about anything made out of wood,” he said. “My main sellers are rustic American flags and wood cutouts. For the flags I take the wood, usually pine, and cut out the 13 stripes for the flag at the size required for the flag that I’m making, and I cut out the union for the flag. Then I sand them and burn them with my torch before staining them the required color for the customer. Then I carve the stars or the design into the Union. I have use of a CNC machine to carve them but I still prefer to carve the designs by hand with a Dremel. After that, I put the flag together and attach the supports on the back. I coat them with three coats of finish and attach the hanging hardware.”
Since its inception, Deep South Creations, which is based in Cross Anchor, has grown tremendously and the popularity of Prince’s designs have led not only to his business’ success, but also to many charitable opportunities that Prince holds close to his heart.
Prince uses his platform with Deep South Creations as a way to give back to numerous organizations that support military veterans and their families, and his brothers in arms are always close in thought.
“Deep South Creations is a veteran-owned business,” Prince added. “The most rewarding aspect has been the ability to give back. We donate products to be auctioned to lots of charities throughout the year, we give smaller flags to children at shows that we go to if they can recite the pledge for us, and we also offer a free flag to the immediate family member of a fallen hero (military, police, firefighter, EMS) when requested. We have a partnership with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation where we donate a percentage of our “Frog Series” flags that are inspired by Chris Kyle. We have donated lots of product to Mission 22, the Project Hope Foundation for autism awareness and research, and are currently working with other organizations as we speak.”
Prince stated that starting Deep South Creations and growing his business has been a cathartic endeavor for him, and something that has brought him and his family even closer together.
“I never expected it to grow as big as it has,” he said. “This business is something that pulled me from a dark place in life and helped bring my family closer together as they love helping and going to craft shows to set up.”
Prince added that he loves every piece of art that he creates and the freedom he has to leave his own impression on each item. It is a love for his country and its flag, says Prince that is the driving force behind his work.
“I absolutely love making every order to be honest,” said Prince. “To have a customer give you a general idea of what they want and give you full artistic liberty with it is amazing. I’ve been asked multiple times by people if my art is a political statement or they say that I’m desecrating our flag and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think our flag is honestly the most breathtaking sight. Creating a wooden flag with different designs is my way of showing another version of that beauty. I feel like a little piece of me leaves with each order that I fulfill.”
Prince has also used the tragedy of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to brighten the days of many local children who have had to say goodbye to their schools, classmates, and friends. What started as an idea to reach out to the young members of the Woodruff, Cross Anchor, and Enoree communities, said Prince, turned into a massive project with overwhelming community support.
“When I saw all of the COVID-19 stuff going down, I figured I could do something good for the community,” he said. “I put a post out about giving away 100 wooden bears that kids could paint. Within the hour I have over 170 requested and a donation to cover the next 50. We gave away as many as we could and then sold the rest for just what the materials cost. There was such a high demand that we started offering other animal cutouts. The last count was 377 animals in total that we cut out.”
Deep South Creations has already reached and helped countless numbers of veterans, veterans’ families, and those who support our country’s servicemen and women along with countless children. As successful as his business has grown to be, however, Prince still has big plans for the future of Deep South Creations.
“Long term, I would love to see it grow to a self-sustaining business that my children can take over one day if they choose,” Prince said. “Each of my three children has certain parts that they like helping me with in the process, and my wife usually handles the questions and orders for me.”
He added, “One vision that I do have for the future is to hold a flag building workshop for local first responders and military veterans that may be struggling with PTSD as woodworking is something that can help with that. We are in the initial planning stages of our first event which would bring local organizations together to help me pull it off. I would have the flag cut up and ready to assemble for each participant and walk them through the process while providing guidance. My initial plan is to hold one in Spartanburg and Greenville with it hopefully growing from there.”