What I learned from my year in business: Don’t give up, Ever!

I decided to start at the top and work my way up.

Sometimes things don’t work that way. Let me explain: I decided to make beautiful

furniture that I spent a lot of time on and wanted good money for.  I didn’t get the prices I wanted for my pieces. But try try try again. This is what I have learned from my year in being in business for myself. Don’t be afraid to take risks, learn from your mistakes and on’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up, ever!

I love my Etsy business at my online shop Caribbean Style Decor, my obsession with all things blue, white and shiny; that business is wonderful but erratic $200 one day no money the next day.  I am starting to save for a house I need a steadier source of revenue. I went back to the drawing board and looked the items that brought me the most money, my furniture. I stopped working on my furniture because I didn’t get the prices I wanted for the time and energy I put into refinishing and re-painting.  It is important to pay attention to what the market will bear. I looked over my techniques, I am a perfectionist, my techniques take a lot of time and are

exacting, one table took over 40 hours. I call that one “The Table”.

I sold my furniture in two places a local retailer and on Craig’s List.  I rethought everything and came up with a plan to make My Craig’s list prices profitable. I knew this retailer wasn’t the place to get the best prices for my pieces but they were easy to get into and to work with. I sold all the pieces I had consigned to them and working with that store helped me to figure out where my prices needed to be to sell.

I made up a new set of rules for myself. There were a lot of things I could do to save time and

still achieve the look I wanted. I would spend no more than 8 hours on any one piece. These adjustments would get my prices into the Craig’s list zone.

That’s fantastic news because I LOVE doing the furniture. I love taking furniture ugly ducklings and turning them into gorgeous one of kind pieces.

I have two chairs at home waiting to be worked on. Stay tuned. I’m back at it. …Melissa

The Bar Table Redo

So I am driving down the road on the way to a goodbye party and my cute little dress and sweater on the side of the road I spy a large

table. I drive by considering it looks heavy, I’m in my party best and there is a guy was in the front yard. Grabbing curbside goodies

The redone bar in its new home

The redone bar in its new home

anonymously when driving down the road is one thing, but when the dude is in his front yard is another thing. As I drove by I knew that table was too good to leave so I circled back, hopped out the car in my dressed up finest and asked the guy if I could take the table.

No problem there. He picked it up and put in my car for me. I had this awesome table and I was SURE I knew exactly what I wanted to

do with it. The plan was to paint it white and an do an amazing mosaic on the top. Well sometimes things change. The table hung around my house for months being the perfect height to put my things on when I was working on other pieces of furniture. I still knew what I was going to do, mosaic! I just didn’t get around to it.

Then my friend told me she needed a table for her entryway my rescued bar was the perfect size and shape. I hesitated for a moment the table was such a great fit for so many reasons. I was hard to give up. But an actual project is better than an unrealized thought in my head. So bit by bit I repainted it using my tried and true homemade chalk paint recipe:  tablespoon of unsanded grout dissolved in  a bit warm water mixed with latex paint, in this case black.

Bar Table Before

Bar Table Before

I had a little trouble with the stencil detail.  Of course I had the perfect idea or at least it was perfect in my head. I stenciled a detail from a large Damask Stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils.   Check out the full Damask Stencil in all its glory on another furniture project. I did  the design in a warm white on a dark brown background, sounded great. It wasn’t strong enough again the deep back of the table. I ended up painting it black and redoing the design in metallic copper/ gold. It’s hard to see but the table has some round metal, rusty details that I left unpainted. The color of this detail retailed back to the gold/ copper color. I think it turned out great, Wow, I forgot how rough it started out. What do you think? Till next time. -Melissa

The Bar Table  Redo

The Bar Table getting ready to loaded up for delivery

I Can’t Hear You

I can't hear youI’m that girl!  You know the girl who says she going to do something that doesn’t seem possible and then  the next thing you know she doing it. Before I decided to be that type of person I knew another girl like that and I found her incredibly annoying. I would think all the time how the heck did she do that. Then I decided to be like her.

Am I a suborn person? I would say not really but when I decide I am doing to do something  I don’t listen to anyone, unless they are telling me I can do it. But let’s go back a little bit. When  I was 16 I went to a Catholic High School in Brooklyn New York, sounds pretty safe, right? For a nerdy Caribbean girl it was no joke. With a funny accent and a tendency to make faux pas like asking

I don't look that stubborn do I?

I don’t look that stubborn do I?

for a rubber instead of an eraser, I became a target. Kids were threatening to beat me up for extreme nerdiness. I wasn’t used to dealing with that and I wasn’t going to deal with that. I found a college that I could attend early and get into at 16 years old. I had the grades, I was number 1 in my class. When I discussed it with my mother she said absolutely not. She probably said No God damned way, or over her dead body something final like that. When she made a decision that was it, she was hardcore strict, no talking back EVER. I don’t know what came over me I freaked out and started yelling and screaming, you didn’t yell and scream at my mother.

Next thing I knew I was on my way to that college, I have no idea how I accomplished that. I didn’t know how I did it I just knew I was going to do it.

The Finished Table

One of my pieces that saved me from my boring job

Fast forward to present day, well recent past. I had a very boring but well-paying job. I went home and would  furiously make Art and Furniture and then go back to my job were basically I tried to look like I was doing something all day. Believe me it was hard and stressful to occupy yourself mentally all day long when you aren’t doing much, not to mention trying to look busy. I know ya’ll are wondering what I was doing. Well, I was working in high end retail in store that would sometimes have 2 people a day coming in, really 2!

So after I sold some furniture and paintings in my own business I quit. I didn’t tell most people what I was doing I just did it and I was fine. Friends and random people would ask me wasn’t I scared, didn’t I lay in bed in terror over not being successful. No I was too busy thinking about being successful. I knew I had the grit in my body and in my soul to make this thing work, and I did. Yep I don’t tend to listen to anyone when I decide to do something unless they are helping me along my chosen path. When they explain to me I can’t do it all I hear I wah wah wah, like Charlie Brown. Does that make me stubborn? Maybe a little.