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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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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Time to get creative!

Repurposed stereo made into a store unit with style

Stand/side bar

Finished a piece that has been hanging around the back room for months. This old Hi-Fi stereo unit was repurposed into a muti-purpose storage unit. The colors turned out well together. Annie Sloan Cocoa with Country Grey. I was disappointed when I opened the grey as it is more of a dark cream color. Unsure if it is a labeling error, or if that is truly the color. It works beautifully with cocoa whatever is it!

We removed the “guts” of the radio and the top lid opens to a nice storage area inside. The problem with these stereos is there is usually some ugly carpet type material in the front for speakers. At Tattered, we have had a lot of success with the galvanized metal look. This piece had the silver panels inserted, but didn’t look right with the brown tones of the cabinet, so I painted the panels bronze. The upside to these pieces are they are usually beautifully detailed and intricate, as well as very affordable and abundant to find at thrift stores. I really like this piece. I know the ones that are good are the pieces I am tempted to keep!

Custom painted night stand

Custom painted night stand

Here is another example of Cocoa with the Country Grey. A customer asked if we had any night stands. This is a really cute little 4 drawer dresser that I picked when it was a lilac shade… not a favorite color for a little boy and his legos. The top was stripped and stained, as well as the original knobs.

It has been fun doing the multi color look, I think I am going to have a blast with color combos.

More recent projects I have had time to finish!

Ripped vinyl seat with past it's prime paint job

Ripped vinyl seat with past it’s prime paint job
Sturdy fabric seat with coordinating color for rest

Sturdy fabric seat with coordinating color for rest of stool

I love metal stools! The industrial look is so hot now. With the updated contemporary colors it is industrial chic at it’s BEST!

Paint completely chipped off seat

Paint completely chipped off seatI got lucky at a recent pick and got 3 metal stools, can’t get enough of them! This one is so sturdy and has the awesome industrial look with the big adjustable seat.

Upcycled shop stoolThe Annie Sloan paint will be tested with this stool! It is done in Aubussen Blue. Pretty enough to pull out of the shop and put around the bar!

Barcelona orange side table I have been having fun experimenting with new colors, here is Barcelona orange with dark wax.

Barcelona Orange with Old White

Barcelona Orange with Old White

Undercoat is the orange with Old White.

I wanted to give you all an update of what I have been up to. Feels so good to get pieces done and to fill up the store again. Of course there is not enough time to get everything done I want to accomplish.

There is hope after all! Five weeks from now, I will reduce my hours at the clinic to part time! That means I can be open at Tattered more and spend more time on the projects and keeping the business running and profitable.

There has been such a hugely positive response to the store. People really seem to like the stuff we have and the building is a draw. It is unique and just a funky place to visit.

Here in Minnesota, winter doesn’t know its spring. There is ANOTHER Sunday/Monday winter storm expecting 6-12 inches of the white stuff with winds of 25-30 mph. I have been patiently waiting to move junk outside on the porch. I know curb appeal is what draws my eye to swing in to shop at a store like mine.

I can’t believe it! I almost forgot to share our biggest pick yet !!!

Biggest pick yet!!

Biggest pick yet!!

This was a great lead! I was contacted to see if we wanted the wood off this old shed. The fellow wanted it moved to use the land for tillable acres. Unfortnuately, there was another shed that was destroyed. This one is great! It is such a sturdy shed, we decided not only we wanted the wood, we wanted the whole building! It took Nate most of last weekend to jack it up and load on the trailer. It was only a few miles from home, so it sits in our small country yard. It really is quite quaint.

There was a lot of garbage in the shed, but did find some old goodies too. It took me 3 hours to clean the shed and sort out what was salvageable. The only critter I came across was one deceased mouse. I was creeped out anyway, cuz there obviously had been a lot of critters living in there, or at least was their outhouse. I said I only saw the one mouse. My poor hubby on the other hand….. As he jacking up the shed, he kicked loose some tin around the bottom. What do you suppose may be under an old shed in April? Well, a homeless skunk would be! He got the last laugh as he sprayed Nate’s boot and ran off. I worked in and out of that shed for 3 hours, lucky for me it was still nap time for PePe La Pew. 

Oh the adventures awaiting me!!!

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Balance

To be hard on myself, I could say I am bad at the art of blogging. I made one post in January and one in February. The most successful bloggers have daily posts. I started out with more posts when I still just had a dream in my head. The dream in now a reality and there is a lot of stuff to do. So, I won’t be too hard on myself. I actually make myself feel better by thinking the daily bloggers are just stay at home mom’s who type away when their kids are off to school. Sorry to all those who I may have insulted, remember I think that just to make myself feel better.

I continue to work at the clinic full time. I have been open two weekends now at Tattered and the success is meeting, if not exceeding my expectations. The grand opening was fantastic, but the next open weekend was three weeks after that. I had over half a store to fill up again. Life and death goes on, basketball games come and go, a funeral for a first cousin the weekend before my opening and all the regular stuff; confirmation classes for the 14 year old, trying to keep tabs on my seventeen year old. Nate still working in the -20 below weather, he is completely exhausted from working outside, so wants the warm couch at night.

The second weekend I was open, I can say I did not feel at all ready for. The store was not nearly full of merchandise as I would have liked. There is only so much one person can do. I did have a good day of sales though without a lot of promotion. My sister and I struck gold picking one weekend, so a lot of the stuff that sold was good old antiques, that I didn’t have to refinish. It is nice to have a mix of classics with the fun retro.

I have a little time between sales, the next weekend open is March 16. So I thought I better get after the books. Last week I finally plunked down a little of the profits on accounting software. Why was that such a hard decision?? I researched and went back and forth for weeks. I went with QuickBooks. I messed around with it a little, screwed up, deleted a bunch of stuff I worked on one evening and haven’t opened it since. I think it will work fine, I just wonder if a box of receipts and sales tags would have done be just as well. It seems a little sophisticated for what my purpose is. I am sure it will be great, just another thing to do!

I am confident that the March 16 sale will have TONS of merchandise. I worked on old furniture all day today. Yesterday, we took a trip to Grand Forks and hit a few places. I found a shopping cart of goodies at the Goodwill, can’t wait to repurpose!

Gorgeous color

Gorgeous color

This actually is much prettier in person. It is done in a color called Florence and there is a chocolate glaze over.
 
Side table in Florence

Side table in Florence

 
 I am starting to have fun working on displays too. I need a lot of help here and have a lot to learn. There are some stores that I walk into and my mind is spinning and my heart is pounding, I get so excited at all the displays. I aspire to have Tattered by that type of destination.
 
Loving silver and glass look right now

Loving silver and glass look right now

elegant

Beachy- Cape Cod inspired

Beachy- Cape Cod inspired

The title of today’s post was balance. I don’t want this to feel like another thing I have to do. I have to find balance in life. The scales are one sided right now. I will be cutting to part time at the clinic so I can devote more time to my passion. Details are being worked out. My desire is to be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I would work 2 to 3 days at the clinic a week. I keep my toes in the stable ground of the clinic, while my other foot is pushing off the dock on the boat. So you can imagine how I feel, my legs are going farther apart, almost doing the splits, ready to fall in the water. I have to keep balancing for a while, so I don’t fall in.

 

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Saturday’s tasks

My plan for today was to attend the Harvest Festival at The White House Boutique, but due to the unseasonable winter storm, it has been postponed until next weekend. So Saturday is pretty open. I do see some dust that should be attended to. There’s laundry, you know, the usual tasks that never go away. I have some vintage furniture thats waiting for an inspiring makeover. I tend to be filling up the garage with my finds, to the frustration of my hubby. He is trying to clean the garage as I keep dragging in more junk.

I am almost finished with a beautiful side table that I picked up on the way to the lake last weekend. Nate said I paid too much for that piece of junk, although he didn’t use the term “junk.” He didn’t see the beauty I did through the highly varnished brown. I saw it though. The deeply spindled legs would be perfect for dark colors to settle into against a lighter color paint. I had a vision, he is a self-described, non-creative type. He has learned to trust my instinct and doesn’t say too much. When he doubts me, I can just give him that look.

shabby chic side table

The side table is near done. I ‘m just waiting for a new product that will be my first attempt at using wax finishes. I ordered Annie Sloan’s chalk paint and waxes. I can not WAIT to play and learn how to use it!! I read about it on a cool blog called Perfectly Imperfect and ordered it from there. I was at work a couple of days ago and got a call from an out of area number. I immediately thought, telemarketer. It was Perfectly Imperfect calling! They had a quick question for me before shipping my order!! Very impressed with the customer service!

Another little round side table that I have in mind for the wax finish is this one….

Table is patiently waiting for finish work

And this one….

Ready for redo!

The house is clean, Yay! for a day probably. 😦 All the projects above will have to wait until UPS makes the special delivery.

I will carry on with slooow progress of the vintage decor business. Last night at supper, Nate told me that my dream can only be a side line business right now. I would love to rent a store in Thief River Falls and jump in because I know I can do it. I have to continue to grow inventory and probably attend craft shows and build a web presence for right now. The store in town will be a long term goal I guess. Thats ok, I have a lot of ideas rolling around that will keep me busy!!

Nicole