Hidden away in plain sight — except for the Great Dane resting near the front door — Rocking K is an upholstery treasure in Green Mountain Falls.
Ripped and torn leather delivered by hopeful owners to the mother-daughter team of Kat Bridenbaker and Deanna LeBeau become showpieces in the little building on Ute Pass Avenue.
“If you have leather seats in your car and don’t put leather treatment on them at least twice a year they shrivel up and die — because leather is living thing,” Bridenbaker said.
After 41 years of turning ugly to beautiful, Bridenbaker keeps at it despite a severe back injury in 2012, a result of a fall on ice. But she has staying power, especially since LeBeau joined her 20 years ago.
Back then, LeBeau’s 2-year-old son Jacob was part of the team, adding spice to the business, along with the Great Danes — different ones over the years. Today, Jacob is a helicopter medic in the U.S. Army.
The portfolio is stunning, Not only beat-up car seats leave the building in prime condition but the two apply their skills to chairs, couches, motorcycles, boats, RVs — you name it, they can cover it.
Sure, sometimes they have doubts — like how in the world were they going to recover a large curved leather seat for a restaurant booth? “Here’s one I didn’t think we could do,” said LeBeau, flipping through her phone. “We put the fabric on — there are a lot of tricks to it — and it came out looking extremely wrinkled.”
When the client didn’t take no for an answer, LeBeau got her groove back. “I had to clear my mind and finally figured out I had to really stretch that inside line, weight it down to get the wrinkles off,” she said. “You’d think I’d know that after 20 years.”
By 4 a.m. the piece was perfect. “They had to get it back that day to open the restaurant,” she said.
Over the years, the two have left their mark on the area — the horse-and-buggy in the center of downtown Woodland Park is an example of their work. “We put a marine vinyl on so it can sit outside,” she said.
The two get a kick out of sharing the memories of stress countered by pride. Take the chair with outside-the-box stuffing. “Pretty bizarre — they actually put cigarette filters in because they’re soft, I guess,” Bridenbaker said. And LeBeau added, “Do you believe that?”
They kept the filters but added more stuffing and recovered the chair.
Admittedly, there were the lean times. In the economic downturn in 2002, LeBeau took a part-time job in Woodland Park to keep things going at the shop. “I don’t know how we ended up pulling that one off,” she said.
But the recession that began in 2008 nearly did them in. “For four months we put everything on credit cards to live — it took a long time to get that paid off — that was the worst year ever,” Bridenbaker said. “Then all of a sudden in April it just blew up with work.”
Today, the two own the small building and for the heavy lifting, they rely on Adam Litwhiler who is on call to help.
The dogs are part of the ambiance at Rocking K — three Great Danes, so far, the current one is Sly. But Sly has canine company today, Taz, the blue heeler, and Doodlebop, the Chihuahua.
The business name comes from Bridenbaker’s initial theme of crafting wood rocking horses in her first shop in Woodland Park. She sold 166 of them before changing her business plan to upholstery.
All these years later, the two are well-known among the locals. “We’ve probably upholstered every house in Green Mountain Falls,” LeBeau said.
For information, call 684-2697.