A Real Life Renovation
As I sit down to write this, I am full of emotion. Fear, nerves, anxiousness, excitement...it's all swirling around like a snow storm deep inside of me. Why? Because, once again, I am coming to you with news of a new adventure. My nerves stem from fear. Fear that I will be perceived as flaky, and that you will lose all interest in me, and in TFD Style. However, I truly hope that you don't, because these past few years have been a learning experience for me. A journey that has shown me where I need to be, and what I need to be doing. Cue anxiousness and excitement!
I have been lucky enough to have a husband who has supported me being a stay-at-home mom to our two beautiful daughters for the past nine years. During that time, I have simultaneously been experimenting with different avenues for turning my passion for creativity into a business. What is great about this, is that there has been no pressure to force any one of them to work. I like to think of it as taste testing microbrews. The server brings out a nice wooden platter full of different drinks...all in the microbrew family, but vastly different in composition and taste. You take a sip of each, finding that you like some more than others and with those, you drink a little more to decide if it's ultimately the beer of choice. If you've been on this long journey with me, then you know that I've sampled many beers. Here is a quick recap of my journey, along with what I've learned from each experience (if you're savvy on the history, feel free to jump to the good stuff, The Future of TFD Style) :
Vintage Home Decor
This was the beginning of my love affair with thrift stores! One day, I walked into a cute, local shop with my newborn strapped tightly to my chest, took one pass through, and had an aha moment, "I can do this!". And so it began. I scoured garage sales, second-hand stores, and craigslist, in search of dumpster-bound cast offs that I could score for a great deal. I loved the thrill of the hunt. In fact, I still do! I would then refinish or repurpose the items to give them new life, and cart them off to Vintage/Antique Shows where I would set up shop in a 10x10' square amidst many other talented vendors. I really did love this; however, I quickly found that so many other vendors were actually a two person show. And that, my friends, explains why I got very sick every show I did. I worked my tail off! Not only was I a full time mama to two littles, with a husband who is gone a lot for work- I was pouring everything I had into these shows...with little to no help. I was burning the candle at both ends, trying to give 100% to both motherhood and growing my little business. I finally accepted the fact that I couldn't be the involved mother that I wanted to be and show up to these shows with kick ass displays. Something had to give. About that time, we moved and I lost my storage space. I took it all as a sign. It was time to scale back and do something that was more family friendly. Something that didn't require I be gone all weekend during what should have been "family time". So, just before my last show, I whipped up some fabric sleeves, slid them onto some flasks, and took them with me to test on the shoppers. I wanted to see people's reactions...find out if anyone would be interested.
The reaction to the fabric laden flasks was phenomenal! Women loved them! The entire set sold immediately to a bride-to-be. She was so excited to gift her bridesmaids with them. I asked her if she would mind leaving them in my booth for the rest of the day so that I could gather more information. She agreed, and by the end of the day, I knew I was on to something. I began designing more, perfecting the assembly process, and selling them on etsy; until one day, I had a conversation with my husband that would light a fire under me. He basically told me to, "Crap, or get off the pot!". He was right! So many people kept telling me that my Cowgirl Canteens should be in stores. Up until that day, I hadn't had the courage to pursue it. Fear was winning, and that conversation with the hubs was just the push I needed to pick up the phone. I was going to be heading out of town to visit family in Bend, Oregon (which, for those of you who haven't been there, is a great market for buyers and sellers alike), so I called a few stores in a popular shopping district, told them I had a product that I thought was a good fit for their store, and asked them if they would be willing to meet with me. They said yes, I showed up with samples in hand, and magic happened. The first store placed an order for triple the minimum order, and wanted to keep my samples! The second store was only doors down from the first, and they too placed an order! I was on cloud nine. At the very same time, I received an email from a businessman in L.A. who wanted to discuss the possibility of including my flasks in his up and coming specialty flask website. He too, placed an order. Things were moving right along, and my handmade creations were being sold in numerous stores across multiple states, and in two other countries!
This all sounds great, right? Things are going well. I can sew when the kids are sleeping, flasks are small and easy to store, I'm getting to sew and be creative. Only it wasn't great. I was not passionate about flasks. I enjoyed designing them, and drinking out of them :-), and it felt good when orders were placed, but they weren't going to sell themselves, and I have never been good at or fond of selling. Not only that, I grew tired of making the same flask cover over and over again. That is not what I call being creative, that is what I call being a sweat shop, and I have absolutely zero desire to be a sweatshop. Rather than throw in the towel, I decided to expand. Don't laugh, I'll explain. I thought that by introducing more items I would mix up monotony of sewing flask after flask. I also thought that I could grow a larger audience by offering a larger variety of goods. I was even starting to buy from others to resell. I decided it was time to step things up a notch and have a more professional, all-in-one website. I spent many hours, and dollars building a new site to house my own online shop, and blog. Just as I was finishing up and listing the last few products, I decided to enroll in an online Business Course. The very first thing I learned/realized is that I wasn't passionate about what I was doing and that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to figure out what that was and switch gears...fast!
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with making things (rooms in particular), look pretty. As a young girl, I rearranged my room nearly every month...taking everything off the walls, moving furniture, painting, and giving it a whole new look. This love for decorating followed me into adulthood, where (as a stay-at-home mom on my husband's single income) I would pair that love with the challenge of creating a beautiful home on a tight budget. I'll never forget buying our first home together. It was only 6 months old, and was screaming to be decked out with Pottery Barn furniture. Only we had a (honeymoon) baby on the way, and if I was going to be staying home, I'd have to forgo the pretty, white, PB sofa set and get creative. I did, and it was great...not 100% my style, but I made it work with what we, and the house had to offer. So much so that when it was time to sell, I had realtors asking if I would stage for them, and buyers asking us to include our personal furniture and home decor in the sale of the house!
Fast forward to that business course I was telling you about. After working through some of the material, it became apparent that I needed to be doing what I love...decorating! So I started taking people up on their requests to help them beautify their homes, and businesses. Only it's not traditional decorating that I am drawn to. I am not, and never will be, the kind of person that can sit down with a client and suggest they buy window coverings that are going to cost them $3,000 per window. That, to me, is absurd! Which is probably why, even though I've always loved design, I didn't ever have the desire to study it in college. I just can't bring myself to pull out a fancy catalog, turn to a shiny page and select an overpriced piece of furniture that someone else has to pay for.
So what is my style? Know where to save and where to splurge (more to come on that later), shop the sales and discount stores, and DIY the heck out of a room! I like to take a more hands-on approach to decorating, but here's the deal...that is great for me when I'm decorating my own space-not so much for a client. Here's why: The DIY projects save me money, not time. I have the time for my own projects and it's free labor. When I DIY a project for a client, they are paying me for my time, plus materials. So yes, they are getting a one-of-a-kind piece, but the bargain really isn't there for them like it would be if they would do it for themselves. Which brings me to where I am today...
The Future of TFD Style
This is where this post gets good! I love to teach (that was the master plan, pre-motherhood), and I love to get my hands dirty with DIY projects and decorating. For the past nine years, I have been searching high and low, racking my brain trying to figure out which path to take my creativity down. The funny thing, is that the entire time, the answer has been right. smack. dab. in front of my face. It's what I've been doing day in and day out and loving. It's what my friends and family know me for and ask for help with all of the time. It's using my resourcefulness and creativity to turn a room (or patio, or party) into a beautiful, inviting space with my own two hands and using little money. Sure, I could continue doing this for other people. But the truth is, I'd rather teach them how to do it themselves.
I'd like to inspire YOU to get on the DIY train. I want to give YOU the confidence and skills needed to create something special for your own home. I want YOU to feel the sense of pride when someone walks into your home and compliments something that you've made. I want YOU to proudly say, "Thanks, I actually made it myself." So, stick around! I'll be posting regularly, twice a week (Monday & Friday).
My goal is to do more than show you the cool stuff I've made with vague instructions on how to do it. As this blog evolves, I want to become the go-to place for in-depth tutorials and am planning on doing this mainly via videos so that you can get the best possible idea of how things work. Because let's face it, while a picture is worth a thousand words...a video is worth a million!
Thanks for sticking around and humoring me on this crazy adventure of mine. I hope that you continue to do so...because this time, I know I am sticking with it! Whenever something awesome comes up that I think others will enjoy, my newsletter subscribers get the inside scoop.
With all my love,