Tuesday, May 12, 2015

All sorts of words about how taking chances in life is not crazy. Or, 3 years as a small business owner. Or, when pigs fly.

We navigated carefully through the typical airport departure terminal jam and parked at the curb. They were behind us in a rented van, tense, tired, and hoping for a spot near the sky hop. The rented van carried precious cargo in the form of the four cats and three dogs that had made their travel plans ever so slightly more difficult to maneuver. Fortunately, Lulu (their 250 pound pet pig) took an earlier flight, while Casparella the big giant bird was scheduled to fly with a friend later on.

Umpteen months of planning. Complete home renovation and sale. Cargo containers packed and ready to be shipped. On an actual ship. Property purchased but a home yet to be built. As we hurriedly unloaded the dogs and cats in crates, I wondered if they felt as though the impossible was being realized...even  in their sleepless, stressy haze. Even as Leia, the recently certified Canine Good Citizen/Service Dog whined and pulled slightly on her leash, ready to go.

Upon arrival in Kona, they would then have to do it all over again on their hop over to Hilo...and arrive to the converted storage container they would live in while they built the home of their dreams.
Is that nuts???
How crazy do you have to be to uproot your particularly complicated life and set it down on an island in the middle of the Pacific?
But what if it was your lifelong dream?
Would it be nuts? Or would it be pretty much the coolest, bravest thing ever?

As I pulled away from the departure terminal this morning and drove the rented van, now empty, back toward the home they all lived in for thirty years, I thought about that question and smiled a really big smile for our dear family friends. They were brave enough to realize their dream and crazy enough to make it happen...no matter what complications or roadblocks. No matter what they fear, what lies ahead, they are going to live the life they dreamed of.

Three years ago today, we were opening the door to our little shop for the very first time. And I smiled really big again, because there is something truly amazing about uprooting your life. And taking chances. And making your way. Being crazy enough to be brave. In these three years I have learned more than I could ever impart, and oh man there is still a world of learning in front of me.

What I can tell you is this:
You will meet the coolest people, and they will teach you the definitions of goodness, grace, gratitude, and commitment. You will meet totally uncool people, and they will teach you the definition of other things entirely, but they will teach you lessons you needed to learn. Your roadblocks will pop up often, and you will get creative enough to forge a new road. You will try new things, and learn your strengths, and most definitely your weaknesses. You will learn how fear and love are the truest motivations for hustle. You will shift your priorities, you will change your mind. You will learn that you are mostly made of marshmallows and that you have to get tough, but just a little. You will learn how hard it is. Hopefully you will inspire others, even though admitting your own confusion is sometimes all you have to offer. Your wistful wanderlustiness will turn into executable plans of action. You may find yourself being comfortable in your own skin even as your life is anything but comfortable. And soon enough you will find yourself, surely, taking more chances and being like WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF.

It doesn't have to be when pigs literally fly. On a plane. To Hawaii.
It can be a little chance. Or a big one.
But take it.
Be crazy, be brave, whatever that looks like to you. You are never too old, you are never too young.
It is never the right time. I mean to tell you it is literally never the right time. But it is never, ever too late.


photo credit: WhiteCellarDoor via Etsy


So cheers to you for for these three years, cheers to many more, and cheers to our friends Jess and Jean, their menagerie, and their safe arrival in Hilo. 

Mandi





























Monday, April 20, 2015

Something NEW is Coming!

Do you want to know what will be joining American Paint Company in our paint and DIY lineup?


If you have ever attended one of our Drab to Fab furniture painting workshops over the last few years, chances are we have talked about this:


and how it is my tried and true go-to for the times wax is not appropriate for the job.
If you have had us paint cabinets for you, this is what was used to seal the paint. Dining tables, same thing.

We also use this by the bucket load:
Particularly in Java. Because it is dark and rich, and java by definition means coffee. So naturally, we are big fans. 

So it makes sense that you will finally be able to get all of these things in one spot. After the workshop, or any time.

Then there is this, which we will be carrying many (but not all) of the colors in quart size:
Now how is this paint different from the American Paint Company product I use and LOVE?

It is similar and different all at the same time, in my experience at least.

Similarities:

Little to no prepping/priming/sanding needed. Paint over existing surfaces all easy-peasy like.
Easy to use.
Water based for easy cleaning of your brushes and (if you're like me) your hands, arms, and hair.
Very little odor.
Good product yield per quart. Which means, basically, you can paint a lot of stuff with one quart.
APC Wax or GF High Performance topcoat works beautifully on both

Differences:

APC covers and dries faster, with less coats due to being made with clay.
BUT
GF is a smoother finish, so less finish sanding required due to being made with latex.
APC layers color, adds dimension, and wet distresses like a boss for more rustic and weathered looks.
BUT
GF can be distressed and works beautifully for crisp and clean, modern finishes as well as rustic looks too.
And the coup de grace... you don't HAVE to wax or topcoat your General Finishes projects.
But you still should. In most cases.
But we can talk about that another time. Perhaps at a workshop? (wink)

So basically, in a nutshell of confusing words, they are both really great.
I have used GF for years in tandem with APC, and the more options available you can add to your palette equals more awesome stuff you are able to accomplish at home all DIY-y.

Our local friends at Modern Cottage Company in Tacoma, and Classic Farmhouse in Auburn are General Finishes retailers as well, and we look forward to working with them to bring you all the GF goodies you can handle. 

We should see product in the next week or so and will keep you updated. We are so excited and can't wait to let you know when the goods go in the paint case!














Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Iron Story

We here in the Pacific Northwest have enjoyed some eerily (what does it MEAN?) and unseasonably warm and wonderful weather the last few weeks. So, the boots have been kicked temporarily into the closet and the long neglected winter feet have been un-socked. Flip-flops on and toes freshly (though hastily) painted, I took a second to relish the magnificence of sandal weather in March and caught a glimpse of an old faded scar on the top of my foot. We get used to the stuff we have had for a long time, the scars and the accompanying stories fade, and we forget. Our eyes scan over them, unseeing.
For some reason, probably the winter whiteness of my foot, that old scar stood out. And I remembered how I got it. I don't know if my mom (you may know her as Mama P, and I hope you know her, because she is the best) even knows this story. It's time she did.
---
We had moved to Washington State from Northern California a few months earlier, having narrowly missed the big San Francisco earthquake by a few weeks. It was 1989.  My mom, little brother, and I moved in with my mom's mom while my dad's work called for him to travel back and forth to California. We were in limbo, waiting to move to a house, and in an unfamiliar and chaotic place. I had a little 5 year old brother and I was an eighth grader going through those eighth grade things in an all new junior high, feeling disconnected and depressed. We were not close with my mom's side of the family and I longed for my old life, my old house, my old town, and the neighborhood full of friends we had left behind. 
With every crazy thing I thought I was going through, I can't even imagine what my mom was dealing with. All of us pulling at her, needing her for something, wanting her all to ourselves...she was our only piece of home.
On a weekend in December, she asked me (ME!) to go Christmas shopping with her. To the BIG mall. And to DINNER. The next Friday. Just the two of us! That week went by so very slowly. I never could have told you then, could never have named the feeling...but I craved time with my mom. 
The Friday finally arrived and I, an eighth grade fashion plate, set to iron my outfit for the big day. We were leaving right after school and I could not wait. The old iron sizzled, and I pulled my most awesome rayon blouse onto the ironing board. As I did, the iron fell. Right on top of my bare foot.
I pulled it off. Key word: pulled. Everything was already bubbly and burned on the top of that foot, and the only thing I could think of was to put some damn socks on and not tell a soul, otherwise there would be no mall, no dinner, no Mom all to myself that night.
I went to school, and then we went to the mall, and had dinner. My foot hurt so bad, but I did not care. I carefully tried to walk without limping because I got to sit across a table from my mom, my home. Just us. That night when I somehow pulled the sock off my burned foot, I totally cried alone, only sad that the night had ended. 
Eventually, we moved into a home. And I grew up and away from my mom the way teenagers do. When I think back on the way I was to her then...she could (and should) have set me aflame and left me for the wolves. No one would have ever blamed her, but she did not.
And now...I don't think about how lucky I am to see my sweet mom almost every day. Sometimes, I am sure that she would like to push me into traffic because, well, sometimes I can really be a challenge to work with. No one would ever blame her, but she does not. It feels, somehow, like the old scar on my foot, that the love, acceptance, and every thing my mom does is being scanned over. Taken for granted, because I can't remember a time it was not there. Since it has been there forever.
We have spent so much time working, working, working...that I know I have taken her for granted. Seeing that scar was a wake-up call of sorts. Because only just recently have we even been able to spend a few precious hours outside of the shop the way we used to. Time for that to change.
I just want you to know, Mom, that I remember, and I know it, and if we both live to be 200 years old that I could never repay you in gratitude for who you are to me. But I will try. There's nothing I would not do for you. I see you. And I love you. You are my home and I still crave time with you. And I am so lucky to call you MY MOM. The luckiest. Thank you for teaching me how to spray water on wrinkly clothes and put them in the dryer. Because IRONS? I mean, who IRONS? 





Monday, January 26, 2015

Help Me With My Living Room: Part One.

Dudes.
We moved into this house two years ago, darn near. During the same time we moved the shop from Pacific to the current Sumner location. It has been a whirlwind of activity since then and I have done frighteningly little to make this place feel like a home. I have plenty of excuses to validate my behavior, of course (duh), but they all pale in comparison to the simple fact that I DO THIS FOR A LIVING AND IT IS INEXCUSABLE TO NOT LIVE WHAT YOU DO.
One of my main excuses is lack of time. I am busy doing stuff for other people's houses. Which I totally love. And also, a tight budget is all kinds of happening over here. By tight budget I really mean that there really is no kind of money for anything. Welcome to the realities of small business ownership. But making your house a home is not a luxury. Really. We all need the groovy feeling you get when you are cozy and proud in your home. When you make it a reflection of yourself and your family.
Is that something you can relate to? The busy-ness? The budget? Not making your house a home for whatever reason?
So, I figure, I will embarrass myself for your entertainment and hopefully for both of our benefits. Being cute on a budget is the whole cornerstone of Persnickety's, so what do you think? I think: let's do it.

Living/dining room wishlist:
1. Area rug, 8x10 qty 2. 1 for dining, 1 for living room.
2. Window treatments for bay window of design doom and sliding glass door of dog muck.
3. Furniture piece to replace scary makeshift halfass painted media storage unit. Must be awesome. Bookcase? Hutch?
4. Very narrow depth sofa table.
5. Slipcover for dog couch. Preferably one that does not suck and won't rip every other day.
6. Chairs for dining room table*.
7. *Refinish the dining room tabletop I ruined by painting on it without a dropcloth like a jackass.
8. Some sort of better photo display and/or photo wall. Walls! What am I going to put on the WALLS???
9. Chaise lounge to replace recliner (gasp). GASP. I have a recliner. I have a bad back. Shoot me.
10. Coffee table?  Ottoman? Something in the middle of the room?
11. Do all of this for less than 100.00. Ok, no. Not really. What...900.00? Idk.

List of Challenges:
1. Grey walls, white trim, dark wood floors...with a brown couch that can't be moved. Because see #2.
2. Tv mounted on wall above fireplace, and naturally everything has to be pointed toward the television. Including brown couch.
3. 3 dogs.
4. Rented home.
5. No money.
6. No entryway.
7. Weirdly shaped 80's house.

Let's see what we can do with this, shall we?

Follow along and I will show you the embarrassing before, the sure to be ridiculous during, and you can help me pick my items for what is hopefully going to be a truly awesome after.

Before pics will be coming soon. I may have to drink a lot of something prior to posting those. Because, I can feel your judgement already. It's ok. Don't blame ya but go easy on me!

Mandi




Monday, November 17, 2014

Deep (ish) thoughts.

sub·stance
def.
the most important or essential part of something; the real or essential meaning.
synonyms:meaningfulness,significance, importance, import,validity, foundation.

I am having a deep thought. I think. Or a random rambling. Maybe.
Hear me out?

Substance.

That word has been rattling around in my head for a while. Does that ever happen to you?
A word just gets stuck in there and it means...something. But what? Sometimes you don't know until...well, until you do.

Substance is what I seek. Living a substantial life. Not monetary substance, or material substance. I am a substance seeking missile.
Always have been.

The cool thing about having substance is you don't have to be an angel to have substance, you don't have to go to church, you don't have to believe THIS or THAT.
You don't have to DO anything but live your life unapologetically and genuinely. Honestly and kindly. Even snarkily, hell, snarky can be substantial too. But judging others, creating negativity, and worrying more than you should, those are substance suckers.

I have spent the majority of my life worrying. Have you? Now, at nearly forty years old, the substance that was inside always shooting for something better, truer, more substantial...has happened.

I can't imagine for one second living without the shop and all of the amazing substantial people that have come along with it. And now that the lifelong dream of matching what was always inside to a tangible outside has come true...my biggest worry is that something bad will happen.

That's my truth.

Unfounded worry, but that waiting for the other shoe to drop is a hard habit to break.

Bad things happen to all of us, no matter what form they may take. Trips to the doctor, a phone call in the middle of the night, even a refrigerator that stops working when you have no money to fix it. (Did you know you can live sans refrigeration for six months? Real talk. It happened to me...when I had a "real job").

What I am learning, and really, what the shop was built on, is that a whole pile of bad stuff can turn into something good. The same wake up calls can turn your life into something better when you realize that: living through crappy stuff? And making life better after? That's what substance is. Embracing your struggles, being proud of what you have endured. And accomplished in spite of all. Where there once was bad stuff, there is now substance. Understanding. Because to really live, to really SEE others, you had to go through it.

I know, thanks for the late breaking news. None of this is mind blowing. You already know all of this. But I figured out my rattling around in my head word.

And maybe that worry changes nothing, but substance can change everything.

And that feels pretty dang good.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Confessions of a Shopkeeper: 20 Things You May Not Know About Owning a Shop.

If you are like a whole bunch of people I see on the regular, you want to open a shop. 

An antiques and decor store kinda like ours.


IT WILL BE SO FUN, they say.
YOU JUST FIND STUFF AND SELL IT, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL, they say.
SO WHAT, YOU JUST SLAP SOME PAINT ON OLD STUFF? (my favorite), they say.


(photo source: doge.io)

Ok.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am all about supporting and collaborating with pretty much everyone all the time. 
I believe you can TOTALLY DO ANYTHING! 
Get it! 
But go into it with your eyes wide open. 
Over the last few years of doing this whole thing, I have learned a lot. 
I have so. much. more. to. learn.
In the meantime, I made this list of things I have experienced that you may not know about owning a shop. 
Your experience may vary.
Or, if you are a shopkeeper too, feel free to add to it.
It's a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
Take it with a grain of salt and a bottle glass of wine.

20 Things You May Not Know About Owning A Shop 


1. You will never have money. At least, not for, well...I don't know when you get the money.
Look at it this way: if you sell 1000.00 worth of product, you will take home about 6.00 of that. (approximately)
Let's do the math:
You spent at least 500.00 for that stuff to start with. Probably more.
That leaves you with 500.00.
You will then need to take that 500.00 and spend it on stuff to make the next 1000.00.

2. See above. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

3. Your "free time" will be spent scouring Craigslist for the one remaining item that doesn't
A: cost more than the stuff that's in your shop.
B: involve a drive so lengthy that you need to schedule in a bathroom break, a traffic report, and at least one Slurpee.

4. Your "free time" will also be spent ordering, procuring, driving, accounting, making things pretty, painting, restocking, paying bills, posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogging, photographing, pretending you know how to build websites, answering emails, answering the phone, quoting custom work, doing the custom work, delivering, picking up, putting on painting classes, and moving heavy things from one spot to another to another.

5. If you are somehow doing all of those things and are not physically in your shop for all of the hours of the 7 days a week that you are open, you will hear (say it with me) "You're never here anymore!". Or if you have set up your operating hours so that you are closed in order to do those things, you will hear (sing it loud) "You're always closed!".

6. Unless you are some sort of robot/trust fund baby, you mind will never stop thinking about work/money. You will have to dig deep to find your awesome sometimes. While you are in there, will you look for the balance?

7. People will promise you the world and let you down. It happens, things happen. You will live, you will learn. And you will move on. The best of intentions can and will turn out to be just that, so refer to #8.

8. Get everything in writing! Get it signed. Make copies. Refer the people that signed said documents to the said documents frequently.

9. Instead of chewing your tongue bloody, learn to be a good, firm communicator. This is something I struggle with. Sometimes people will not like what you say or the way you say it, but you have to be honest.

10. Somehow, at some point, your very being will piss someone off and out of nowhere someone will be mean to you. You will turn yourself upside down worrying about it. It will happen even if you stand on your head, bend over backwards, are grateful and kind every day, go to church, volunteer your time, it doesn't matter. It just will happen. Yes, it totally sucks. Sorry dude. 

11. Every now and then your blessings will feel like burdens. You won't want to feel that way, but you will. The late nights will take their toll. Get some sleep. Get out of town. Listen to gangsta rap. Whatever. Get yourself right.

12. There will be some sort of lame political hierarchy in your field of work, your town, your street, your strip mall. Bleh. Who cares. Do you and do your best to lift up the businesses around you.

13. While you are building your business, you will be stressed out a LOT. When you are most stressed, you will lash out at those you love and appreciate the most. Over two years in, our business is still in the baby stages of being built. Ask Mr. P or Mama P, it is still DEFINITELY a thing that happens. *sorry, guys*

14. It is hard to live in the moment as a retailer. Thinking of Christmas in June is like 3 months later than other retailers do...ugh. I get NUTS when I hear Christmas music one minute before the day after Thanksgiving. Mr. P loves to randomly turn Pandora to Bing Crosby Christmas radio every now and then just to see my reaction.

15. Get used to this: being a hero or a zero. One day you will sell, like, everything and it will be awesome and you will be like WHOOO, and then you instantly will be like HOLY CRAP I SOMEHOW HAVE TO FIND STUFF AND PAINT IT ALL AND IT ALL HAS TO BE DONE AND LOADED IN THE SHOP IN SIX HOURS. So you will scramble and scrape and then the next day, not one person will walk in and you will be like OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO DIE. I am super not used to this, still, and probably never will be.

16. Sometimes you will feel like you're on an island made of work. You will have very little social life. Unfortunately, you will lose some friends because of it. Reach out to the others that do the same work as you for commiseration, sharing of small victories. Hold tight to your family and be crazy grateful for them and the folks that stick around while you're building your very, very, tiny empire.

17. Taxes? SUUUUUUUUUCK. The number one driving force behind this business has always been building something that will take care of our parents. In a close second? Being able to hire a bookkeeper and accountant. Preferably a non-judgy one.

18. You will be shocked by the kindness of people. Totally blessed in ways you never knew to be possible, by people that you could never even dream of: your customers. That's not even the right word for the awesome beings that are solely responsible for making your dreams come true. (PS, #shoplocal because we really REALLY love you and appreciate you!)

19. It will be hard not to compare yourself with those around you that are bigger, more stocked, more experienced. As a tiny shop sandwiched between two awesome, larger, more established shops, I have admittedly had beat-myself-up moments about not being where they are. But I have to remember they probably started where I am. I still get pangs of inadequacy, especially when I see their beautiful displays, but then I think about the fact that they have employees. FANCY! 

20. Even though you will never truly relax ever again may have a really hard time relaxing, you will feel more gratitude and love in your heart than you ever thought you could. You will feel like part of a community. You will feel proud of yourself, and if you're like me, that is a new kind of feeling. It's amazing and surprising, still. And that makes it all worth it. That feeling runs in the background always, kind of like your shopkeeper soundtrack. Which, if it were an actual soundtrack with actual songs, would probably be sung by Kenny Loggins. 

You will hear it, however faintly, even on those zero days. 






Friday, May 16, 2014

When Reviews Attack: Beating Meanies

I have been weighing the idea of writing about this for some time, and while it is kind of scary to open the gates of what could be a flood tide of mean commentary, here goes.

In typical insomniac fashion, I was Googling along at about 3am when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a review that made my stomach turn and my sphincter clench. (Sorry, I said "sphincter".)
We have been lucky or fortunate or maybe worked hard, I guess, to be on the receiving end of positive reviews and while I know it's impossible to please everyone all the time, this is the first I have ever actually seen that was, uh, bad. Certainly, no one wants to get a bad review about the small business that they work tirelessly to keep afloat. And surely, as the review is not visible to the public at this point, I would be stupid to bring it up.
Right?
Wrong.
It's a helpless feeling, reading a bad review. It was scathing. 
Mean. 
Here's the rub: it was not about the shop. Which is good. 
It was a personal attack directed at, written for and about...me. AND THAT MEANS I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT. Well, write about it.
According to this anonymous individual that specifically set up an account in order to trash someone in her very first review, welcome to:

WHY I SUCK, A SUMMARY

Key points:
1. I suck because I am condescending. Pretty much the most condescending person she has ever encountered. Not only does she think so but everyone shopping in the store as well as the merchants on Main Street thinks so too. She checked.

2. I am a bitch. A "persnickety bitch" to be exact. I am not typing that word as "b*tch" for a specific reason, which you will later see.

3. Also, even though her daughter bought items at the shop on her visit there, she would not because I am awful.

That was the gist of the page long review. The gristly gist.

I thought about this for a long time. It's frustrating. You are powerless when you are attacked personally while under the umbrella of your business.  The struggle between what you, your very self, would say or do personally and what you can and should do as a business person is pretty difficult to deal with.

It's pretty safe to say, if personally attacked, I suffer no fools gladly. That can be read in a variety of ways and they are probably all some version of correct.  In business, when you are wrong in a situation, you must make it right. There was no situation to make right in this case. Just kind of a plain, straight, loathing of me as a person. In business, when you are hurt you cannot attack. Your brain works overtime to calm the hackles the heck down and you are left with nothing but your thoughts. 

Could she have seen my typical jokey manner as condescending? Sure. Is it possible that I was condescending? Sure. Anything is possible, and I am 100% human. Do my fellow Main Street merchants think so too? Sure.  I will make sure to continue to collect their mail and try to help lift them up via daily talks and texts and shared Facebook posts all the same. Nothing changes.

Could I be a bitch? Sure. Here is the thing about that. When you make a choice to call someone outside of their name, when a woman with a daughter calls a daughter that has a mother "bitch" as easy as typing some keys while under a cloak of anonymity, well to me that is about as callow a move as a woman can make. When I read that line, I thought of what my sweet and saint-like Mama P would have said. How heartbroken and angry she would be. And I also remembered that what Sally says about Susie (and how she chooses to say it) says more about Sally than it does about Susie. 

I am not even going there with the third part, because, well, that's ok. 

So, while I am not able to change this person's opinion of me I am able to tell you these steps to get over a personal attack review:

1. Punch many things. Nope, nope. Ok. Let's try again.
1b. Chew the gristle and digest it. Perception is reality so refer to 2.
2. Make it make you better, kinder.
3. Utilize it to learn from your shortcomings, and the person writing the review's shortcomings as well. 
3. Toughen up, buttercup. Don't sink.
4. Internally thank and think on the person that wrote it. You read that right. 
In the words of the great Beyonce:
I'm wishin' you the best
Pray that you are blessed
Bring much success, no stress, and lots of happiness
(I'm better than that)
5. Realize that opinions are just that, that your value does not need to be shouted from any rooftops to be real and that it does not diminish in the shadow of someone throwing shade.

The bad news is: you can't beat a meanie. And don't join 'em, because life is tooooooo short.
You just can't let 'em beat you. 

Now let's dance around to Beyonce and just get back to work.

XOXO