Today marks the two year anniversary of the first big milestone for Homestead Seattle and the best day of our lives, our wedding at our home! Thanks go out to our delightful and talented wedding photographer Kristen Parker for the beautiful story she created of our day and our space.
We consider our wedding to be the launching point for our brand and the birth of a partnership in business and in life that gets better everyday. Go to Kristen's website, be in awe of her talent and then give this woman your business - it changed our lives forever.
We're finally getting back into the blogging swing of things and we have some exciting news to share! A few months ago we (and our house) were chosen to be featured on the HGTV online series Home Diaries. Each mini-episode in this charming series features "the compelling stories behind unique homes located across the U.S., told from the perspectives of (really cool) homeowners." Thanks to the production team at Red Arrow Industries for posting about it and making us the first in the series.
Until we can get the video on our site directly you can view it here or by clicking on the image below. Keep an eye out for a sneak peak at our ever-changing showroom. You can make an appointment (by email or phone) to visit us and see all of the great stuff we have listed on our site along with some pieces that you can only find in the shop.
Hope you enjoy it!
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of writing a blog post that was chosen to be featured on Assemble Shop & Studio's blog. It was a response to a post of theirs about "failing up". You should read it, it's a good one.
Assemble is a small business based in Seattle and run by the charming duo, Andie Powers and Emily Grosse. They have an online shop that sells housewares, books, stationary, art, crafting kits and all sorts of great gifts and accessories. They also have online tutorials that go hand in hand with their crafting kits and keep an eye out for their next pop-up shop or craft + chat! I feel lucky to have been chosen and that the post got such a positive response.
As many of you know Ryan and I had quite the year. I suppose I should have done a better job writing about it but it seems like such a buzz kill. The whole not wanting to be a downer aspect is most likely why it took me so long to re-post this super personal story about the whole thing. For a look at the full post with images check it out on their blog.
Here goes nothing.
Photo by Kristen Marie Photography
"Andie's post about "failing up"
really struck a cord with me. Being a small business owner comes with
perks and drawbacks. One of those drawbacks is isolation. When you work
with a big team you have an opportunity to bounce ideas off of each
other, give encouragement and also commiserate when things aren't their
best. Aside from Ryan I don't get a chance to hear from other small
business owners about the challenges that we all face trying to make our
way alongside big corporations and established businesses. It's easy to
get stuck on all the things that we could be doing better. It's easy
see every little setback as a failure. Andie's post helped remind me
that I'm not in this alone and how important it is to use what may seem
like failures to learn and improve.
My last corporate job was as a Store Manager of an Urban Outfitters. I ran a 7mil a year store and had 50+ employees. At 24 I had achieved something in my life that I was very proud of. When I left Urban I knew I was on to bigger and better things but I was having a hard time giving up "my store." Every time I walked into the store I felt respected. I felt empowered. This tangible, enormous, beautiful, well oiled machine was run by me. I felt proud explaining where I worked and what I did. I felt accomplished in my life. My friends and parents were skeptical about me leaving a great job that I was very good at.
After Urban I started running an unnamed vintage furniture business out of my house while I went back to school. I wanted to sell furniture so that I could buy more furniture (and not be a hoarder). I ended up loving the job but I needed an extra set of hands to grow the business, so I asked my husband for help. With Ryan's photography and muscles we were able to buy more furniture, move furniture around easily and take more professional looking pictures. I was selling exclusively on Craigslist and my price point was super low, but I still made almost as much money as I was making at Urban. I could see the potential in my business but I needed to make it more real. I felt embarrassed telling people my job was selling used furniture on Craigslist. It's definitely not the same feeling as telling someone you run a well known, successful store. My new goal was to pick a brand name and create a website. That was in July of 2011.
After the launch of the website something great happened. I was extremely lucky that photos of our home, from our wedding, were featured all over the internet with a link to our photographer who linked to my website. Because of those amazing wedding photos our home was featured on Apartment Therapy (a life goal of mine) which also linked to my website and gave a lot of credibility to the business. It was the first time that I felt really proud of the new career path I was on.
Business was going great, but I needed Ryan full time. He was exhausted
from essentially working two jobs and I couldn't continue to grow
without him. In November of 2011, after some very forceful persuasion
from me (and a severe lack of support from our friends and families)
Ryan finally decided to quit his job. Just as I had felt sad and like a
bit of a failure leaving my fancy corporate job, Ryan was in the same
funk. However, in general we were feeling pretty confident and still
getting featured frequently which was encouraging. We were starting to
build the business that I dreamed of. We were really proud. Then we had
I don't want to go into lengthy details, but we had an electrical fire (on Dec 28, 2011) in the middle of the night that destroyed the second story of our home. Luckily we and our pets were safe along with our inventory, but we couldn't live at our house and we had to find a place to run our business. Less than two months after Ryan gave up his steady income. A few months after we had finally finished making our fixer-up of a home beautiful enough to be featured on Apartment Therapy. Never have I felt so down and so hopeless. This was a perfect time to just quit, get regular jobs and try to bounce back from this tragedy. I was a depressed shell of a person. My house was gone, but I refused to give up on our business.
For the first month we showed furniture out of our friend's 800 sq ft house while living there with four adults, three large dogs and two cats. In February we moved into a rental that we picked to best house our business. We had relied heavily on our customers' excitement to see our home, so not being there was an adjustment. We had to explain why we weren't there over and over again. I couldn't tell the story at all. I had to stop dealing with customers, it was too much for me. Ryan was happy to start working directly with customers. He is a rock. He also moved all of our product from our house to the rental. I physically couldn't go to the house, I was in tears the entire time, even driving by was too hard for me.
Everything seemed terrible but we kept going. Ryan worked on his furniture refinishing skills and I worked more with fabrics and our upholsterer. Ryan learned more about photography and photo editing. I learned more about writing copy and what product to buy. We had to go though the first year of our business (and marriage) living in a rental while overseeing a massive ($130K) renovation of our home that we didn't even want to renovate or have the life experience to deal with! We also lost both of our dogs to cancer - trying to motivate yourself to work thought that is impossible.
We didn't have our fancy corporate job titles, we didn't have our beautiful home and we didn't even have our dogs. It was hard not to feel like we failed, but we had this business and we had each other. When we felt stifled by selling solely on Craigslist we made an Etsy shop and then learned everything we could about shipping furniture. When we felt like our name wasn't really us we re-branded, had a couple of slow months because of it, but came out happier and more proud of what we had created. We learned more about furniture designers and the value of what we were selling, then got better product. We spent weeks looking though online shops that inspired us and then upgraded our logos, improved photography even more and launched a new website. We took what seemed like the ultimate fail and used it to motivate us to improve.
We are back in our house and the contractors were gone as of last week. We still have a lot of work to do to get the house staged and really feel proud of it again but we can finally focus on getting settled. We are happy, our business is doing better than ever and we have a new dog. Life goes on.
Even though things are going so well I still beat myself up over not being good enough. I cringe looking at the vendors on competitors' sites and seeing the exact things we sell priced 2-10 times higher than we can price them. My initial reaction is, "what am I doing wrong!?" Instead of getting down on myself for all the things I'm not doing I ask, "how do we get from where we are to there?" and focus instead on how far we've come. Maybe one day that will be a good fit for us, but right now I am thankful for where we are with our business and all of the progress we've made despite the odds being majorly stacked against us. We could have given up so many times, but thankfully we didn't let ourselves fail, we grew."