The slogan for the iconic childhood toy Barbie states “You can be anything.”
When some neglected homes on St. Louis Avenue landed in the lap of Seymour native Brooke Fleetwood, she thought of the many possibilities these homes could bring.
All she needed was some paint and lots and lots of pink.
Fleetwood, who also is an aesthetician and the owner of BB Makeup Aesthetic & Cosmetics in Wisconsin, said the world of real estate found her, and through the grace of God, she decided to take a risk and run with it.
The first home she bought was in Hudson, Wisconsin, that she painted into a colorful pink utopia, known as the Pink Castle. She uses the home now as her primary residence but also shares her home for rentals for bachelorette parties, birthday parties and other events.
Since then, her pink empire has grown to five homes in Wisconsin, also known as Pink Castles, and one close to downtown Seymour and a pink beauty resort.
Now, Fleetwood said she is excited to add this colorful compound to her list.
“I’m still thinking of a name for the area, but for now, I just keep calling it my colorful compound,” Fleetwood said. “I’m not sure yet if the name will stick, but I’m sure a name will pop into my head eventually.”
Before beginning the colorful compound journey, Fleetwood wasn’t looking to buy any properties at the moment until someone showed her the houses on St. Louis Avenue and gave her an offer she couldn’t resist.
She said she fell in love with the possibilities and the potential of what these homes could be, and the rest is history.
“It was meant to be,” she said. “These were sad homes that haven’t been shown any love for a long time, and I wanted to turn them into a happy experience for myself and others. They just needed a little love.”
As the painting process began, a neighbor close by couldn’t help but notice and decided to join in on the fun by painting her own home yellow.
“She saw that we were painting these houses such fun colors, and she wanted to do the same,” Fleetwood said. “She said she always loved the color yellow but never painted her house until now, and I think it put a smile on her face once she saw her house painted the color she always loved.”
Fleetwood would say she has definitely made the color pink her trademark as it represents love and positivity to her.
“I am an out-of-the-box person, and I love the color. It makes me happy,” she said.
With pink obviously in mind for the color scheme of the homes, Fleetwood also wanted to experiment with other colors, which she said was challenging trying to figure out states away.
“I figured out the color scheme while I was in Wisconsin, and I tried not to clash any of the colors since there are multiple structures,” she said. “I wanted to make sure they complemented each other well, and my painters did an amazing job.”
With a long renovation process ahead of the inside of the homes, Fleetwood is still deciding the purpose of these homes.
“I know Seymour is in need of more rentals, so whether I do long-term rentals, short-term rentals for traveling nurses or if any businesses are interested in setting up shop in there, we will just see what happens,” she said. “I am up for anything.”
Besides Fleetwood, others in the community are interested to see what colorful possibilities will be developed over time.
“I’m happy to see that these properties have come under the care of an owner who is making improvements,” said Dan Robison, director of the Jackson County Chamber. “I believe a need exists for both short- and long-term rentals, and having commerce space adjacent to our downtown can provide some unique opportunities for business.”
Long-term and short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, are becoming increasingly popular in places filled with tourism. With Seymour’s rich music history and vast open space, rental space has grown in the past few years.
“Short-term rentals are on the rise, and I can see it being a good investment for the tourism of our downtown Seymour,” said Arann Banks, executive director of the Jackson County Visitor Center.
City officials also had positive remarks about the possible impact it could have on the community.
“I am all for investment into our community. Those houses were vacant before, and she turned them into something positive,” Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson said.
“I think the positives definitely outweigh the negatives,” Seymour Common Council President Dave Earley said.
Fleetwood said she receives negativity for the colors she decides to paint her homes, but she chooses to look toward the positivity.
“Not everybody likes color and that’s OK, but I want to do what makes me happy and what might put a smile on other’s faces,” she said. “At the end of the day, the ones spreading the negativity aren’t the ones paying my bills to renovate these homes or doing the work, so I just ignore it.”
As the homes were going through the colorful painting process, Fleetwood said she constantly received updates from people in the community with positive remarks.
“I would get pictures almost every day from people that drive by,” she said. “I got a lot of responses of people thanking me for investing in Seymour but asking me why I am doing this. I don’t know why I am doing this, but I have this feeling like this is what I am supposed to do. There is a reason for my madness, and I just let God decide what I need to do.”
Fleetwood said she hopes the colors will put a smile on anyone’s face that drives by or to whoever uses it.
With endless possibilities, these little pink houses have a newfound potential to be something great in the community.