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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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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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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Mid March Blahs

We are still in deep up north! Seems like every Monday drops another 6 inches of snow here. First day of spring and I think it was something like -10 degrees this morning. Minnesota winters are LOOONG.

Looking forward to spring for many reasons, but regarding the business: I will be reducing my full time nursing job to 20 hours per week and I can’t wait to add some curb appeal to the store. People probably can’t even see the store from the highway with the huge snow piles everywhere!

I was open last weekend again and am impressed with the sales. If I was open everyday and made those sales, maybe the hubby would finally be convinced. He is a safe person. My nursing job is a safe job. What I am doing at Tattered is risk. He is having a hard time with me cutting my hours down to part time. I still get health insurance, which nowadays is probably the most important consideration. I am not getting my ideal days off, but I think it will work out for the best in the end.

The big task this week has been fumbling my way through Quickbooks. We did our taxes for last year and Yay! Tattered is at least a tax write off. Hopefully all of the investment we put in 2012 will turn to profit for 2013. Quickbooks was a little tricky and I spent 3 nights playing. It finally fell into place last night. I have all the accounts set up and entered in bills and sales receipts. So far, no loss yet!! I do know that being open one time a month is not enough to make it big. Pretty much covering the expenses and a little extra. Nothing going back in the personal checkbook yet. I think that is normal, try telling Nate the Great that.

I decided to take advantage of a gun show in my small town Saturday and be open an extra Saturday. If I tagged along with my husband to a boring gun show, I would definitely tell him to drop me off at a cool place called “Tattered.”

I am so excited to create and make things people like. I have butterflies in my tummy. Like I said in Facebook today, I feel like a tulip buried under the snow in March, waiting to blossom!

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Starting a business is not an easy thing

Warning: this may be a negative, complaining type post. If you do not want to bring your mood down, you may want to skip this.

When I get to complaining about how hard my life is right now, I get absolutely no sympathy. My husband tells me, “no one told you it would be easy.” It honestly is starting to wear me down. Today has been a frustrating day. Monday is just one thing. We have a snowstorm going on, so travel was white knuckle on my 20 mile commute home. Then at work, a 4 pm meeting. Honestly, there should never be a meeting at 4pm on a Monday.

I got home from work tonight and had enough energy to start cleaning house. Then I get overwhelmed and mad. My two teen boys are not great at helping with chores and it is our fault of course. I yelled so hard at one tonight, it felt like I pulled a muscle in my back. The other had so many dirty dishes in his room, it could probably fill the dishwasher. Honestly, I am mad when I am typing this, I feel like crying now. Don’t they realize I can’t do it all? Why should  I demand they help me? Then again, when I complain I need help and can’t do it all, my husband says, “no one told you it would be easy.” SHUT UP!! It doesn’t help to say that and it certainly doesn’t clean the house.

I get in this pity party and then the demons start dancing– “what are you doing? You can’t do it, you made a mistake, what if this is a mistake?” I am sorry, I am just mad tonight. I am not getting enough time to work at the store. I am open one weekend a month. I am still working 40 hours a week at the clinic and trying to keep this big house clean. I am in negotiations at work to reduce my hours. I admit, that is likely the reason I am in such a foul mood…back to that 4pm meeting. My plans to cut down and be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday are all up in the air and decisions are not being made. I won’t get into details… just to say I may not get what I was promised and I am highly disappointed.

What else don’t I have time to do? I haven’t touched the financials since I first bought Quickbooks. Nathan is asking me questions about some of the junk furniture I bought without looking closely and I can’t even make a decision about that.

I need a positive perspective. I have a lot of doubts right now of the reality of being able to carry on at this pace. I feel like I get no credit for how hard I have been working. Then I get certain family members that talk about other family members (think in-laws) about how hard so and so works, blah, blah, blah… what about me!?!?!  Oh I feel my back going out on me again cuz I am gonna SCREAM.

Help. If anyone out there has any tips on how not to lose it, please share, because I’m gonna lose it soon. Most of the time, writing is a therapeutic outlet. Not this time. This was a very negative post. It was also a very realistic post. It isn’t easy. My husband saying it whenever I complain irritates me to no end now. I need someone to encourage me now so I keep going. It makes me sad that the people around me can’t see that.

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