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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Still alive!

Hey everyone, I am still alive if anyone is wondering. Things are the same, which for a new store owner is a good thing. The store is open one week a month over the winter months and in April we will be going back to open every week, I think every Wed- Saturday. I am definitely getting the itch to get out and see people and go junking again!

I have been hitting thrift shops for furniture to repaint, after my last sale, I sold out of a lot of big pieces like a 8 foot farm table and a couple of hutches. I have started to expand into baby items and tagged it Oo-la baby. It is minky blankies and burp cloths and tag blankies, baby hats. One of my vendors has adorable onsies

assortment of handmade baby items

assortment of handmade baby items

Everyone has had an extremely cold and long winter. As many of you know, I live in NW Minnesota, about an hour from the Canadian border. It has been sooo cold here, -50 with wind chill. If it warms up, then the wind blows, so its cold anyway. What that means is extra heating bills and the cost of propane quadrupled. I turned the heat down to 50 in the store when I’m not open and started burning the wood stove at open to save money. Nate is a superintendent on a bridge building crew and they worked ALL WINTER LONG! Only coming home on weekends as he is down by Walker, MN which is 3 hours away. So I have been literally keeping the home fires burning. Which gave me excuse to pick up my crochet needle and sit under a blanket most of the time. I started with the dish cloths. I can’t keep them in the store, they sell out when I’m open. NOT, the big money maker, as it takes me an hour to crochet one. Then I wanted to try the baby beanies, those are fun and cute, here is one with the flower, not too bad for my first try…

My first attempt at crochet flower!

My first attempt at crochet flower!

I also ordered some new items to sell in conjunction with the old. I was torn with this decision, seems like so many stores like Tattered fall into this and it is all so cookie cutter. There are somethings I will never find on a pick, I know that. So I ordered wire baskets, cloches, things like that and I sold out on the cloches. I just got a shipment of the funnest headbands yesterday, They are made in USA and are absolutely the BEST quality. They also stay on my head! The elastic kinds slip off, these are tie on and one size fits all. I will be able to ship these smaller items too, so if anyone wants…. let me know!

DSC_0038 DSC_0001Other things that you maybe are interested in is I have been open now over the year mark and still loving it. No I don’t make as much money as in my previous career, yet…Hey I got our taxes done without too much drama, even got 1099’s out to who needed it. My tax man was very impressed with how organized I was, I would hate to see his other clients. No it took me about a week to get everything added up and I just used Excel. I bought Quickbooks and royally screwed it up in 2013 in the learning curve, so I started over in 2014 fresh and it seems ok. Honestly, now that the tax man was fine with the Excel, I may just use Quickbooks to keep track of consignment items, it works slick for that. Otherwise, it’s a little overkill.

I am trying to feed anyone tips who is maybe starting out, so it there are specific questions, just contact me.

I am waiting for a shipment of infinity scarves. I was inspired to start sewing them, I bought one from my cousin and just loved it, simple to sew. I went shopping for fabric, which was expensive and not a lot to choose from in store. I find it difficult to shop for certain fabrics online. By the time I shopped and paid for the fabric, then sewed it, which I’m short on time, there really wouldn’t be profit in it.

It’s been so nice to be around for my boys this year. Tucker graduates this spring and is ahem,,, difficult to get up in the am for school. Sawyer is a freshman and is busy with basketball. Actually the boys have a game tonight deciding if they get to play at the state tourney. I haven’t hardly missed a game this year. When I’m working in the store, they will come in with their buddies after school, usually to get money, but at least I get to see them more. With Nate gone all the time, it’s nice to be able to be closer. I still don’t regret my career change. I don’t miss it and of course I miss the people I worked with though. I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t of went for it. It is challenging and a lot of work. Thanks for all your support. have a great spring!

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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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Annie Sloan Chalk Paint vs. CeCe Caldwell

So today I started my new full time job. I am a retail store owner. I left nursing behind Friday. I cried like a baby when I left the clinic, but I got over it fairly fast. I am still overwhelmed,  I am tackling the custom paint jobs that have been looming. People are starting to pick up their pieces now and money is coming in. I have this big orange buffet-changing table and will be glad to have it find it’s new home. It was painted with latex paint and for a reason I have not figured out yet, feels tacky even after drying for several days. Then the hubby was helping me attach the back piece, he laid that on the top of the buffet and it pulled off the paint. Do you ever have pieces that are just a pain? I was only able to get one door off because the screws were so stuck and stripped. I am not happy with painting pieces when I have to try to paint around a hinge or a knob. There were a few knobs too we couldn’t remove either. Of course it was missing that ONE knob when I got the piece, like with every piece I get in.

I am critical of the work I do and would hate to send out a piece I am not happy with. I am addicted to using chalk paint, so when I have to use latex, it feels like I am painting watercolors. The buffet had 4 coats on and it still showed the wood grain. I finally added a little plaster of paris to my latex to make my own chalk paint. Instant gratification! I will add my usual wax on top and it should be done tomorrow!

There are new things that I am learning. With custom work, people choose their color, which most of the time I have shelves full of my go to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. There has been a few times that I have to go with latex, I plan to use my home made recipe for these too.

I started to wonder if I can make home made chalk paint, maybe I should try another brand. I received a personal like on Tattered Facebook page from CeCe Caldwell. I figured that was worth me trying out her paint. She has a wide variety of colors, more than ASCP. It is cheaper too. I ordered one can, something like Carolina Sun Yellow. I received it and was expecting a very soft butter yellow and opened it up and it was more like primary yellow. I had a little child’s rocking chair that was never painted. CeCe Caldwell is runnier and the grain of the wood really showed thru with one coat. It reminded me more of a color wash. The interesting thing about this paint is that once it started to dry a bit, that soft butter yellow started to show. I gave it 2 coats, then just used AS clear wax over because that’s all I had.

Bottom line is that these 2 paint companies seem like they are in a bitter battle on the internet. I think they are two different types of paint. ASCP is a full coverage paint, whereas CeCe Caldwell is more of a wash allowing the under color to show.

 

Update: 09/25/13: I forgot to post this over one month ago! lol. Here it is

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