Country Chic Paint & Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Now at Tattered

Year 2 has been slow so far. January through March, the store was only open one week a month. In Minnesota, it was one of the coldest in memory of a lot of folks. Blame it on the weather or the economy, sales were slow. Came April, I decided to open for the season every week, hours being Wednesday-Saturday. I even put permanent hours on the doors! Sales probably were at a break even point, so my mood dropped a little. The devil was dancing on my shoulder and making me question what the heck was I doing?! Why did I give up my RN job?? We got to go on vacation to HAWAII when I worked as an RN.

Something needed to change. When 0-6 people come into a store in a day, that’s not what you call making money. I looked at the market and the closest place to purchase the paint I use, was 2 1/2 hours away. I filed taxes and looked at expenses, I spent over $2000 myself on Annie Sloan paint. I came across a new paint with very pretty labels, that my eye was drawn to immediately, Country Chic Paint.

Country Chic Paint

Country Chic Paint

I applied months ago to be a retailer for Annie Sloan products because that is what I was used to and liked it. Having not heard a response yet, I checked into this paint. I emailed an inquiry about 6:30 am and by 10 am the same day, received a personal email back inviting me to set up a telephone interview. By 1 pm that same day, I was chatting with Kris from Country Chic Paint for over an hour I think. I was impressed by their response and personal attention. They are a brand new company with a lot of heart. Something told me I better not drag my feet on this. I felt like they were going to BOOM! Talked to the hubs about it, he, as always, is the more sensible one and asked how I dared be a retailer when I had never tried the paint. I just felt like I couldn’t miss this opportunity by waiting for paint samples to come in the mail!! So I went for it. The next day I called Kris back and signed up to be a retailer!

The paint arrived and I set up my display and I have been selling a can or 2 almost everyday. I put my 3rd order in today for it. I have my first Country Chic paint workshop tomorrow night. If you are used to Annie Sloan, this paint is a thinner paint. It is a chalk and mineral based paint and is VOC free. The colors are rich and vibrant. Now that I am only using this paint, I much prefer it. I had to paint custom pieces to match previous AS old white, so painted with AS, and it felt extremely thick. I guess its whatever you get used to. (But CCP is a little less costly)

I have branched out and added two home decor paints to the shop, Country Chic Paint & Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. This decision was a natural one, except for the investment it required. Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint fell into the mix about the same as Country Chic, very easy company to work with. The two paints compliment each other nicely. Often customers buy some of each paint. I have held two milk paint workshops and sales after these workshops are outstanding!! I think I’m on my 3rd or 4th reorder for MMSMP too!

CCP and MMSMP display
CCP and MMSMP display

I have added my website to purchase these products online and of course in the store. The paint has been selling wonderfully in the store, the website, not really gotten any sales yet… I developed the website myself, with the help of the help desk at 3D cart, they are wonderful by the way! So now, I am learning how to drive traffic to my website. I have head hunters, ahem… marketing people calling me several times a week trying to sell me their, I don’t know.. marketing skills? to improve SEO rankings and all that. It’s expensive to hire these firms though. I have been studying ways to improve it on my own. If anyone has tips, please share!!

I also carry some women’s accessories like scarves and cute head bands. I still have vendors I sell for. I learned to say no to some that don’t fit the atmosphere of the store. I have my son work some and another young lady that likes to work Saturday’s, which is nice, who wants to work every Saturday?!

Personally, the past month, one son was confirmed, then 2 weeks later the other son graduated from high school. So the yard is beautiful and the house was clean. WAS…

What’s next? Never settling. Always trying something different. When someone walks in my store, then walks right out, I wonder why, maybe they thought this is really a tattoo shop (which I have heard from 2 or 3 people now). I continue to be busy with custom painted furniture, painted signs and pillow making and of course tweaking the website.

I hope to inspire you and those that come to my store. Even though I had a low point this winter, I didn’t give up, I just looked at how I could improve the store. There is a sign I read somewhere that said “What am I doing?? Oh yeah, living my dream” I can’t forget that. This is what I wanted and what I gave up a solid paycheck with benefits for. Do I really want to go back to work for anyone else but myself? I have to remind myself of that. This is my dream and I am living it!

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Blogging for over one year!

It’s been over a year since I started writing down my hopes and dreams to start my own business. I think I have succeeded pretty well. My doors are still open at Tattered and I just attended the 2nd annual Vintage Carnival and sold probably 4-5 times as much as last year!

To update everyone, I started out working full time as a nurse and attended the carnival last year. I then got lucky and found a rental property with a great location in my hometown. We remodeled it and had our grand opening January 26, 2013. I started out being open once a month while continuing to work full time. The store also has a few vendors that bring items when they can. Most of the gals are also busy working Mom’s that love to craft and create on the side. The majority of the sellables are made by me. So I have to find it, clean it, and recreate it. I continued to do this until May when I was allowed to reduce my hours to part time. Last summer really picked up in business and I seemed busier and more stressed than ever. In August, I made the decision to resign from nursing.

My end goal was to be open all the time, not just once a month. In September, I changed my hours to being open every Tuesday thru Saturday. Great! Consistency… That lasted one month. Business slowed down, but I still had enough customers that I couldn’t get projects done in the back room. I had paid $400 in radio, advertising my new extended hours, then changed my mind and went back to being open only that one week a month. What a waste of money. Oh well. Rolling with the punches, why keep doing something that isn’t working? I had a heart to heart with my sister and she suggested going back to open monthly. Her point of view is that people get excited to see the new stuff that has been worked on all month.

I really can’t believe I was able to produce so much earlier this year working. I am having trouble keeping inventory up now. The custom work is still a staple and takes up about 30% of my time usually. Now I hope to settle into a routine and keep going. A lot of people ask me if I miss nursing and so far I don’t. Sometimes I feel like it is completely all on my shoulders and am alone. At least working for a company, there is co-workers for support. I don’t have employees. I don’t mind working independently though. My mother in law usually stops in daily and we have coffee together. My boys will swing in the shop on their lunch breaks and after school. My sister usually comes and helps me once a month with painting or moving the store around. So family is there. Nate is working away from home 3 hours away, only home on weekends. I would love his help just making frames, benches and fixing the junky furniture I bring home.

I am getting pretty handy with the drill and miter saw. I use to rely on Nate to get boards ready for me, by ripping down 2 x 4’s, now I buy the right size I need and just use miter saw to get the exact size I need. I spend quite a bit of time at home too working on the craftier type items like burlap wreathes and pillows.

I wanted to recap the year and let you all know that I still am living my dream and have no plans of quitting. A lot of you out there have contacted me and have similar dreams. If you go for it and fail, what will happen? At least you know you tried. If you love what you do, the money will follow. I think our finances are better now than when I was working. I think before, I would spend money just to spend it. Go out for lunch and stop at Walmart. Now I spend it on my store, but that’s an investment!

I will just add a few projects I have completed, cuz pictures are fun to look at!image001IMG_1468 IMG_1471 IMG_1477 IMG_1480 IMG_1483 IMG_1485 IMG_1493

Back tracking

Oops, I forgot to publish my last post 5 weeks ago. Anybody else have things like that happen? Oh well, I just published it tonight anyway. And hopefully, I will publish this one too. If I don’t forget.

Today, 5 weeks after I wrote that last post, (which was just published tonight), I made another decision about the biz. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but I am going back to being an “occasional store.” Why…, I am living out my dream? Open every single week, every Tuesday through Saturday. I am not working anywhere besides for myself. My only co-workers are Sophie and Ole, the husband and wife team of Shih-tzus that just lay around, not helping me paint, very lazy. Well I am not sure what is happening, but business has slooowed down. Maybe it’s that summer is over and the rush of summer was a bunch of teachers that loved my stuff. Not sure, I am guessing, this is just my first year of being a business owner. I have spoken to family and another owner of a similar store and our theory lays with the type of business I’m in. Kind of a phenomenon. Back to when Tattered was first open, it was only monthly. Then it went to every other weekend. Then in September, I can’t believe only September, every Tuesday through Saturday. We believe that our shoppers look forward to that one weekend out of the month to see what is new and fresh. Now that Tattered is open all the time, it’s kind of the same old same old. It isn’t just that. My store is wiped out.

Our town had a fall festival the weekend after Labor Day. It was shoulder to shoulder with customers in Tattered. I couldn’t ask for a better day. It takes a while to get restocked, especially when I haven’t been working on restocking the store! I have been only working on the custom work that is piling up on me. I counted out the pages and there was 10 custom orders and 19 pieces to complete. Ouch! With only me to do all this, I have to make excuses to the customers that walk in and there isn’t much to see in the store. That isn’t right. I keep thinking I’ll need to hire help, to do what though? Who around my small town knows how to paint furniture like me and it would be hard to make a profit with extra help. Then I thought, maybe I should try like other stores do and have vendors set up their booths. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak, I am fussy about what I sell in the store and I want to do my own displays. So I am my own worst enemy. I want help, but not really…

My good ol sis told me today, she thinks I should go back to being open just once a month. I called her and told her I was more overwhelmed now not working as a nurse then I was working full time and being open once monthly at the store.Then I called Robyn at Gerties, a brand new occasional shop in Grand Forks. Her partner Kelly contacted me as a mentor when they were getting started and today I called them to bounce off ideas to someone who understands the business I am in. It’s nice to have a partner like these girls do. Of course things aren’t as scary alone, you have an extra mind to talk things through, but again, half the profits go to the other person.

I am back tracking to how it was when I first started. It doesn’t mean failure to me. It may to other people. I am being flexible and trying a different tactic, which is smart. The town my business is in is small, a little over 300 people. Tattered has a large Facebook following too. I post a picture of a new piece of furniture and often, it sells the same day over the phone. I can’t really blame my small town on the slow business. A friend of mine opened a vintage store as well near the Minneapolis area. I see that she is closing her retail location and will continue her journey bringing her goods to other people’s stores. So look at it both ways. Here, there isn’t  a lot of population, where she is, there is a lot of people, but also a lot of competition. I don’t know the whole story why she is closing, but it happens. At least she tried! I have good people that have read this story from the beginning and I guess are inspired by my journey. They too are hopeful entrepreneurs and are interested in how I am doing. All I can tell them if they are passionate, go for it. It’s true, being a business  owner is not easy, you have a lot less free time, you are more tied down, probably poorer than when you started. We have a lake place that we were at twice this summer (I know poor me).

I am going to keep going. People ask me if I miss nursing and I tell them no I don’t. I have the taste of freedom on my tongue now. I spoke to Nate tonight. He is my hubby that is gone all the time. He is my hubby that is a bridge builder that is GONE ALL THE TIME. Except on Saturdays and Sundays. He likes the life we lived before Tattered. I had steady money direct deposited every other Thursday and health insurance. Now, I deposit checks whenever, mostly once a week and I have Paypal and some cash. Don’t tell Tucker, my oldest son about the cash though, he always takes my cash. We have health insurance too, that isn’t a big deal. Nate is always supportive. What else is he to do? I called him the other day when I couldn’t loosen the chuck on my new drill to change the bit. He states “I can’t really help you over the phone” He did though. I loosened it up and went about the task.

Maybe I should rename the title Rambling Fever. What do you think??

My goal is that the time I am not open, I will still work on all the custom work, have a chance to paint the big pieces that are great sellers, like dressers and get to the piddly fun things all over Pinterest. I need that balance in my store. Not everyone needs a dresser, but what else inspires them to make that purchase. I hate when customers walk in and walk right back out of the store. I know not everyone is going to buy something all the time. Just imagine it as a puzzle and your constantly arranging and changing direction. That makes it interesting. SO, very long story short. It’s ok that I am going backwards. I am not being stagnant and doing the same thing that isn’t really working the best. So if things are a huge struggle and you’re laying awake at night worrying, change something. For me, I try to give my worries to God. I am 41 years old and I think everything I have ever worried about in life has resolved over time and has usually worked out for the better. If you aren’t able to open up a store this year or if you don’t get that job that you dream of, just wait it out, what lays ahead is way better.

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Leaving nursing!

I think back to when I started this journey. In a corner of my mind I would think “what if?” What if the store was so successful, I could quit my job and do it full time? Nah,,, that would never happen. I have 3 days left at my nursing job, then I’m done… I will open the store every week and not be a nurse anymore. This has taken less than one year to happen.

So how did this happen? Baby steps, small increments. Putting my toes in the water a little at at time to test it. Well, I’m going into the deep end friends! In May, my employer allowed me to cut to part time. That was ideal. I worked Monday and Tuesday, then was off until the next week and worked Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The store open every other Wed- Friday.

This line of work never has enough time in the day. I continue to pick the vintage finds, clean them up, restore and repurpose. I have 10 “vendors” that have their goods in the store. I think the difference Tattered offers is most of the merchandise is things I have created. My vendors have soy candles, handcrafted jewelry, baby items. My sister is the only one who brings in things like I do. I like having creative and quality control.

The big turning point for deciding to close the chapter on nursing was something I NEVER expected or planned. People started to ask me to paint their furniture. Hmm.. ok, I could do that. All of a sudden, my legal pad had 13 custom projects with no time to complete. I never advertised custom work. This is potentially a huge boost to the business!! If the store is a little slow with customers, I have this “back up work.” Right now, I have a buffet waiting to be turned into a orange changing table to match a Dr. Seuss themed nursery, a fireplace mantel disassembled to be painted black and distressed, dressers for several customers and the most recent was an old bike that was salvaged from a ditch. That will be given a fresh color and will find a home in a beautiful flower bed. I think to myself, gosh, can’t they paint these themselves? I guess I find it easy and have to start thinking that I offer a service that other people either have no interest in doing, don’t have the time or just like the way I do it.

I am extremely happy with my future. My husband of course is nervous, but supportive. We had to look for different health insurance and were approved yesterday, so that is a huge relief. I tried not to worry about it. I have learned that God takes care of me and worrying is pointless. Everything always works out in the end, maybe not on my timeframe, but it does.

I have lots of tips and trips to share that I have learned along the way. Can’t wait to share more with you guys. There is such great support and so many of you that want to do similar work. If you have a passion, do it. I wanted to do this for 15 years. If I wouldn’t have been a nurse first, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it. Everyone says, you can always go back and be a nurse if this doesn’t work out. That is true, but I ignore that statement. I am not going to worry about if this doesn’t work out. I am an achiever. Set goals and obtain goals.

So, today I am painting the office “Robin’s Egg Blue” sounds beautiful right? If cotton candy was blue, thats the color it would be. Not a huge fan, but I bought it for an accent wall for the store and didn’t like it there and don’t like it in the office. It’s going up though, I’m already half done. I want to get a little organized, my downfall is paperwork. More on this topic later… see I even procrastinate discussing paper work!! Haha..

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Falling behind (on blog, that is)

It seems there are more weeks between posts every time I look than the time before. I guess that can be a good and a bad thing. Busy enough at the store that I can’t find time to write, but too busy to write and people lose interest because there is no new content. I am part time at the clinic now, so I shouldn’t complain.

My store is plump full of decor, I have 10 vendors that are successful selling their inventory. My store room also is full of goodies waiting to be painted. The outside is a pretty typical junk store, old bikes with wire baskets full of geraniums, an old wringer wash tub with a potted flower. I think our location is ideal for a small town, but people still have trouble finding it at first.

I watch Facebook like a hawk, still giddy that the “likes” are on the rise, almost 800 now. Twitter seems foreign to me, so I don’t do it, which is ok because I don’t think anyone else does that much around here either.

Being open every other week Thursday through Saturday is new to me. It hasn’t been super successful yet, so weighing in on that. If I’m off from clinic to spend time working on the projects at the store, I may as well be open! I have people stop in at all times anyway. If my big blue Ford is outside, come in!! I did buy a truck a few weeks ago, which makes sense for all the hauling I do. And its a pretty one!!

A surprising sideline that popped up and is keeping me busy and the extra money is handy is the custom work I do. I have had several jobs of customers bringing in their own pieces and I paint them. It is a little more nerve wracking to work on THEIR piece, so far so good!

I’ve ordered my second batch of business cards and have went through several hundred price tags. Obviously things are selling and people are visiting. I think it’s going well. My hubby is interested in the financials. Cutting down hours as an RN is taking a considerable pay cut. I have to work many more hours at Tattered to make the same money as the clinic. I have somewhat a sense of calm now working either 2 or 3 days a week punching a time clock. I didn’t give up that skill and we still have health insurance. When I first started Tattered, I asked one of my mentors in a similar store about the money and she told me the money she makes goes right back into her store, they live off her husband’s income. Right now, I would say I definately put money back into the store with the rent and the junking trips, but, I always have cash to give to my boys that seem to always have their hands out for gas money, lunch or some sport thing. So, there is some money for the Nelson family. Just never seems to find it’s way into the checkbook! I know I have to be more of a negotiator when I go picking. I guess I don’t want to come off as a cheap skate and get a bad reputation. I am getting better at saying no. People approach me with things they want to sell. I first look at if I like it, if it will sell and if I can make a profit. I feel bad saying no, but it is a business. No one has ever gotten mad for me saying no either. So far.

Writing is like exercising. I kinda dread it, but once I’m done, I feel good and glad I did. Now… why can’t I get back on that treadmill!??

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Meanwhile, here at Tattered….

It’s been exactly one month since the last update post. Time has past enough to give another update.

Next Monday I will be part time at the clinic so I can devote more time to the store. I seems to me that it is not really happening! I have always worked for someone else and full time. I started working when I was 15. I took some time off after my second son was born. I tried to be a stay at home Mom, but it wasn’t for me. I really give credit to those Moms and Dads out there. If I would have had computers and blogs and Facebook back then, I maybe could have handled it. It won’t be that I will have all this extra time on my hands. just that I won’t have to go at maximum overdrive mode.

The weekends open have been successful.  The store seems to sell about have of the inventory by noon on Saturday. Ideally, we will have replacements to pull from back room instead of it being a first come first serve situation. There is always things to work on waiting in the back room. I have accommodated several customers that have asked about certain pieces they had in mind. Often I show pieces that are waiting to be fixed up and it seems to be just what they are looking for, so I get to sell it. I have also did custom work for a few where they have brought in their piece and painted to their request.

Pink and Blue Mason Jars with Chevron - Cover Photo

I am trying to build Tattered’s branding image now. I am excitedly waiting for another draft of a logo. So pumped to unveil it. I am fortunate to have a friend who is a graphic designer who also is a vendor for Tattered. I plan to order custom bags and am in need of more business cards. With the expanded store hours, I should publicize that in the papers. I find that advertising is so expensive, BUT, there are a lot of people who don’t Tweet or use Facebook. So the old fashioned route must be used.

A mentor of mine told me when I first started not to invest so heavily in the store. She said just to recycle grocery bags, use a calculator, never advertise. I have followed that advise. There are times when you have to find your own way too. I bought a cash register because I felt like I was running a rummage sale instead of a brick and mortar store. I put my beautiful merchandise in crinkled up Walmart bags. I just feel cheap and unprofessional. I guess it’s not the image I want to portray. Even though the name is Tattered, it doesn’t actually mean that is how everything has to be.

So I plan to upgrade the image, a more grown up Tattered. I think that is how businesses can be successful though. Never to get stale, keep moving and shifting as needed. I did already upgrade the Facebook page  with an awesome timeline from Leesa Dykstra Designs. She does beautiful work. So much talent. I am working on building the fan base for Facebook. I think for only being open for 5 months, over 600 likes is something to be proud of. So keep the love coming and visit me at Facebook too!

Thanks for your support, please share my pages with your friends. I am hoping to update this site more now that I will be part time at the clinic, YAY!!

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