When Emma Miller, a local artist and frequent customer of Don and Audrey’s Frame Haven, visited the shop to get a piece framed, Audrey mentioned that she and her husband were hoping to retire and looking for someone to buy the business.
“(Audrey) asked If I would be interested, and I kind of brushed it off thinking, 'How on earth could I pull that off?' but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and later that day I called Kristen (Kellar) to pitch the idea of buying it together,” says Miller. “(Kellar) and I grew up together. We connected again as adults a few years ago and talked about our art businesses; little did we know we would be buying a business
together a couple years later.”
Kellar and Miller talked about the idea for several months, somewhat jokingly, and somewhat seriously and then, before they knew it, they purchased a frame shop.
“The way it all happened felt very haphazard, but now that we are doing it, we can’t imagine doing anything else,” Miller says. “Getting to keep this long-standing Springfield business going and getting to use our art skills in the process brings us so much joy.”
Miller and Kellar, both of whom grew up on and off in the Springfield area, purchased Frame Haven
in 2022 and have found happiness and challenge in keeping the business grounded with its roots while also expanding it to include more art and opportunities.
Kellar went to school at both Sinclair College
and Cedarville University
and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After graduating college, she worked a variety of jobs, while consistently working on art on the side. During that time, she created a Geo Ohio series, original acrylic paintings, completed commission
pieces, and worked with several clients to paint murals in both commercial and residential settings.
Miller grew up largely in West Africa, but has always considered Springfield her home.
“I came back to the United States when I was ready to attend college,” says Miller. “Although I chose a school in Kentucky, I was anxious to graduate and get back to Springfield so that I could be a part of the exciting revitalization that was happening.”
Miller moved back to the area and began teaching art at Emmanuel Christian Academy
while continuing to create art on the side
before purchasing Frame Haven.
While the initial idea of purchasing the shop was “crazy” to both women, the more they talked about it, the more they saw the connection between the artwork they were creating and the intricacies of the framing world.
“Framing is definitely an art in and of itself,” Kellar shares. “We know the value of quality framing and the way it adds a meaningful, finishing touch to our personal art pieces. So, the idea of working with people to make their own artwork and personal memories shine sounded really special.
"Art is usually one of the last things that gets hung in a space, so it’s really fun to consider all the existing decorative elements and come up with a framing style that compliments the room and pulls everything together”
The friends have found a rhythm of working together thanks to meeting weekly and making sure they are staying on top of all the little details at the shop.
“We’ll also spend time brainstorming ideas for things we’d like to do or bring to the shop,” Kellar says. “It’s also been fun learning how our different strengths balance out each other’s weaknesses. For example, Emma keeps projects moving along and is quick to problem solve issues that come up; I’m very detail oriented and will spend a little extra time on projects.
"As far as the work, we try to divide up responsibilities and time spent at the shop as close to 50/50 as we can. We have certain tasks that we’re solely responsible for; then time spent at the shop stays pretty even. It’s worked really well for us! Our husbands also contribute a lot to the shop. Thomas (Emma’s husband) builds and assembles all our frames and Jimmy (Kristen’s husband) has helped with behind-the-scenes work.”
It can be difficult to purchase a business that’s already been established and has a history of being a certain way to the community, especially when you start to create new within that business. But Miller and Kellar are excited to keep the foundation of Frame Haven as it's always been while also expanding its offerings to include more opportunities for art to be displayed.
“The past owners (Margo and Geza, followed by Audrey and Don) did an amazing job with building a strong community at Frame Haven and were consistent in providing quality, personable work,” Miller says. “We’re doing our best to keep that spirit alive. We want our customers to feel welcome, cared for, and that we’re consistently delivering quality, timely service.
"To make it our own, we’ve leaned into making the front of our shop decorative, as well as a place people can come and enjoy shopping for things other than custom framing. We’re also using this space to host creative workshops. Over the past couple of months, we’ve been able to focus on training a team to frame with the same high quality, friendly service to work with customers as well.”
Staying in Springfield and being a part of its growth and development was another draw to buying Frame Haven and giving it new light.
“It’s really cool watching Springfield develop and grow,” Kellar shares. “Over the past few years especially, the Downtown continues to bring new shops and experiences. And the community continually shows up to give their support.”
Frame Haven not only sells custom frames but also artwork. There are beautiful pieces to choose from, or patrons can commission custom artwork from the shop, as they have a handful of artists working with them to create a special art pieces.
Frame Haven has already hosted an acrylic painting workshop and a felting workshop, and Miller and Kellar plan to offer more in the coming months.
“We just want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the community for sticking with us and making it possible for this little shop to keep going after 41 years,” Miller says. “Our family and friends have been a huge support in the process, and we’re so grateful for it. We’re also really proud of our Frame Haven team, who bring a lot of joy to the shop and make our customers know they’re cared for.”