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Or the alternate title……..
A Dingbat Starts Her Own Company With Spit & Duct Tape
Nearly four years I began to lay the ground work for what would become my own company.
I just didn’t know it at the time.
I had waited and oh so patiently watched a second hand dining room table and chairs at my neighborhood Salvation Army Family Store for several weeks until the price had dropped to a point where I could actually justify buying them. I say justify because I had a perfectly good oak table and six chairs in my house as it was. But, like lots of other girls I had fallen hopelessly in love with the legs on the table at the thrift store. A few days after my neighbors hauled my new, old dining table and chairs to my house in their big truck I walked through the door of my local Annie Sloan stockist and walked out with a $36 quart of Old White paint. My next investment would be a $10 Purdy 1 1/2 inch paint brush the I still use today.
With those two items and the second hand table and chairs…….a little blond monster was created.
But I still did not realize it.
I didn’t realize the importance of that table and chairs or the two small investments.
After several months of prodding me a friend of mine who also pained furniture managed to talk me in to working together, painting and selling furniture & antiques. Back then you could actually park two cars and a riding mower in our garage. At that point I don’t think I had a scrap of furniture to paint , but Fate would intervene. The decision to team up with my friend coincided with a HUGE annual church rummage sale near my house. I remember coming home with six pieces of furniture for which I paid $30. I did buy a few more Annie Sloan colors of paint ( so that everything I painted wasn’t Old White) in the smaller, less expensive sample size and discovered Amy Howard. Two months later we had our first sale out on my patio and I sold almost everything I had. For way more than $30.
Why all of the frugality??
Because from the very beginning I REFUSED to just throw money at this newfound interest. What fun would that be anyway? That would have also been taking the easy route. Plus….. I am a Hardhead.
For that first two years my max buy in on a piece of furniture was 20 bucks. I am truly crapping y’all negative. It can be done but it is work. My big source for furniture was the FREE section on Craigslist. But you have to check that section like the antidote is in it! In other words……..all the damn time. How did I do those first two years?? To be honest without being tacky, I managed to pay off my last Jeep.
Two years later I moved my solo act in to an actual brick & mortar structure where I still am today. Moving in to Sweeten Creek Antiques on that monsoon of a day is without a doubt the best business decision I have ever made. At this same point my pieces of furniture began to fetch a better price, which was great because I had to pay rent for my shop space ($125 per month). At first I made my own price tag out of brown card stock and jute string. I saved my money for a few months and then commissioned an Etsy shop owner to design custom ones for me for about $30 for 100.Let me just say right here and now that I highly recommend Etsy for small business owners. I have found some really cool and affordable designs for my little company.
This was also the point at which I began to purchase new hardware for my pieces instead of using and /or painting the original hardware that came on the piece. I am here to tell you, drawer pulls can break you! But I stuck to my guns and my business model.
I still have the same business model:
If I can not triple my investment on a piece of furniture, I walk away.
(usually it’s more than triple. I am a cheapskate)
If it is not my own personal style, I walk.
If I can not see it in my own home, I walk.
If I can’t do the piece justice, I walk.
If it really stinks, I walk.
Easy stuff? Hardly.
You have to really looooovvvveee taking a piece of junk and making it something beautiful. To me it is the absolute best therapy in the world.
And I have tried a few.
About a year ago I had saved enough money to do three more things:
I purchased my own dot.com, I hired a company to build my custom website and finally got my very own computer, a MacBook Pro. I saved every dime I wade (minus my supply costs) for about 9 months to be able to pay cash for all of this. I went in to this as a Hardhead with no debt and I still refuse to have any.
One I the very best buisness tools that I have was actually a gift from Big Daddy. Four years ago he gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I have used the living daylights out of it, both personally and for my company.
I love this thing!
I tought myself to use it by watching Youtube videos. Big Daddy truly has an answer for everything. It is a very basic sewing machine and super easy to use. The link below is actually the latest model. My machine is four years old now. And I am positive that he never dreamed that he was giving me a major investment in my company. If I were to break down the major staples in Southern curated’s inventory furniture makes up probably 65%. Thanks to this little sewing machine textiles (mainly pillows) is a good 25- 30%. The rest of my inventory is rounded out in art/ smalls/china & old silver. It makes a big impact (from a shopper’s perspective anyway) when you are not a One Trick Pony. Plus I can only paint when I have something to paint. Sewing gives me a break and fills the void when I am in a dry spell finding good furniture. I walk a fine line in terms of variety of thing that I offer in my shop. I do not fell like I have to offer everything. Everything would be too much. I really just want to offer thing that I feel are lovely, things that I have in my own personal space.
And the is plenty.
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This post also contains photos of what my shop looked like last weekend. I spent 2 1/2 hours working down there and I thought I might share it wit y’all.
While we are talking I do have a few dreams for this new year and they are only a BIG DEAL to me. Big Daddy would smile at that. He is as ALL IN as a man can get with me and my crazy dreams. I want my little side hustle of a furniture & pillow company to grow…. a bit. I would really like it if I could fill, support and thrive in a larger space. Same roof over my head, just a bigger shop.
I said it.
I guess we will see 🙂