Monday, November 17, 2014

Deep (ish) thoughts.

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?


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 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.
SO WHAT, YOU JUST SLAP SOME PAINT ON OLD STUFF? (my favorite), they say.

(photo source:


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.
It's a helpless feeling, reading a bad review. It was scathing. 
Here's the rub: it was not about the shop. Which is good. 
It was a personal attack directed at, written for and 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:


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.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Resolution Solution.

Resolutions stress me out.

It is a new year and as is customary, I have been mentally resolutioning. Problem solving.
Making promises to myself that in the past I have stopped keeping after approximately 16 minutes.

So this year, I am not going to click subscribe to all that mess.
I have plenty to improve upon and I will make small manageable changes in order to see some of those little things through.

It feels pretty phenomenal to just not feel monumentally pressured by what we SHOULD be...and embrace what we ARE.

You are pretty freaking amazing. If you choose to improve upon your awesomeness, go and get you some of whatever it is you need.

But you are rad just the way you are.

Enjoy your life and know that you freaking rule.

Happy New Year to THAT!

A week late, because that's how I roll.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Losing Consciousness, Gaining Perspective. A personal post.

It's more than possible, more's probable.
At some point, as any kind of business owner or overachiever-y, go-getter-y sort of person...
at some point you will have a wake up call.
It will come at the most ridiculous time, you will hate the crap out of it. And if you are very, very, lucky it may not kill you.

I realized just this very minute that aside from a blog post I wrote for a paint company, I have been silent here on the blog. This is not an indicator of how many words, stories, and anecdotes that are running on a loop in my brain as that loop is constant.

But since June, the last time I posted here, this little shop of mine has been motoring full speed ahead. I won't bore you with the daily details or constant stress of what it means to run this business the way it is run. 
If you are running a physical shop currently, you already know.
Everyone is counting on you.
Your amazing customers, your fantastic designers, employees, family.
Every email must be answered NOW.
Every custom job must be completed YESTERDAY.
The store must be full, so you must find, and buy, and fix, and create.
You must sell enough to live.
Your shop is your sole financial support.
Events must be planned and executed.
Money must be spent that you don't have to spend because you don't believe in credit cards.
You have to make miracles happen and you have to do it with a smile.

And there are unending rewards to this 24 hour a day work. 
Laughs, friendship, being able to pay basic bills, giving back, living a passion. Even winning an award.

Then suddenly, without warning and like Ralphie as an adult narrates in A Christmas Story:
Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at it's zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.

Oh it was not unthinkable really. Or even a disaster.
It was this:
Monday we were on television, winning Best of Western Washington...over the moon.
Friday I was in the emergency room...FML.
I had been having dizzy spells, falling over, dim vision, confusion...and I thought my bum neck was giving me fits, so I went to see a trusted family friend that happens to be a Chiro. He says to call my doctor. My doctor tells me to not bother coming in but to call an ambulance immediately and go straight to the ER.
Now. I know my bad neck is causing my issues. But there is a little bit of worry in my head now. And even more so, I am irritated at the hiccup in my super overly filled day.
 SO instead of calling the ambulance, I called my husband to pick me up where I was...a decidedly cheaper and less ridiculous option. 
Moments later I found myself with an IV in one arm while making lists for the next day's holiday open house on my cell phone with my other hand, going over staffing and organizing the logistics with my mom and my husband who were in the room with me.
What? There's sh*t to do! (This is me not "getting" it)

The tests start and they wheel me in to have my MRI. In the claustrophobic nightmare that is the MRI machine, during the clanking, bonking, and visions of how I was going to do six hours of missed work in the morning...I nodded off. 
First time I rested in over a year.
Then I woke up, was sat up slowly by the large MRI tester dude, and promptly passed right out. Cold.
Then the CT scan. Super short, easy peasy test.
A nurse on either side of me, they sat me up.
The room spun and I passed out. Again.
And then...panic. I cried my eyes out. Not because I was embarrassed, well maybe a little. 
I was not in control.
And that was not ok.
I started to think very bad thoughts.

Regardless, I was sprung from the hospital a few hours later with some pills, some referrals, thankful of course...yet no less worried about the event in the morning and the hours I missed by being a jagaloon stuck in the ER.

 The event was awesome, thanks to the help of my buddy Denniel, who also stopped everything to work while we were all having our little surprise hospital interlude. I owe her a lot. I owe a lot of people a lot. Thank you to Denniel, my Mama, the husband, and everyone that answered my frantic call for help to keep the shop open while we were gone.

I am telling you all of this because gaining perspective could have come at a much higher price, and I am sort of just now "getting" it.
Self care is last on my list, and I am sure I am not the only one of us who can say that.
Your brain never stops but your body makes the determination that stopping is all that can be done.
I have control issues.
Sound familiar?

Creating boundaries between work and self is hard when your work is your whole self. 
My drive comes from wanting to create something that makes people happy, and more so to support my family. More than ANYTHING I want to be able to take care of our folks when they get old. Help the designers and contributors to the shop support their families. That's why I can't stop. That's why I have to control and be IN IT every single second of the day. 
Because it's too important. Too important to lose. But that means I gotta get right.
I want to enjoy every blessed minute of it. But I need to choose those minutes more wisely.
So, I am making myself accountable by writing down some things I know I must work on and will share them with you. Maybe there are things here you may find helpful, or ridiculous.
Either way.

1. Don't stop working hard. But do it during set work hours, whatever you decide those hours are.
2. DO NOT WORK during one full day a week.
3. Create rules for health, and keep them. Mental health included.
4. Exercise. (PS: I NEED A PERSONAL TRAINER. That will work for, um, painted furniture? )
5. Ask others to be respectful of your choices and your time.
6. SAY NO. Sometimes. And kindly.
7. Communicate your needs and trust those who are there to work to do the work.
8. Fulfill your dreams and goals in a way that won't kill you.
9. Create genius things even if you are the only one that loves them for no other reason than the joy you get from seeing them come to life.
10. Never stop thanking God and those you love.
11. Love the living crap out of everyone of all kinds of kinds.
12. Once in a while just blow your own dang mind.
12. And just calm the F down, already.

Thank you for being awesome and reading this. Thank you to the moon for your friendship and support of not only the shop, but all of us in it. Without you, there is absolutely no us. Thank you.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Looking to Consign in a Shop? Read This.

So you have been painting for a while and have decided to take the plunge into consignment.  
This is happening out there quite a bit apparently, as the number one question that I get asked on a daily basis is some form of this:
"How do I consign in your shop?".

There is nothing wrong with asking this, of course, but as we all's not always what you say but how you say it.   
I can't speak for other owners, but here are some tips from the other side of our counter.

The thing to have foremost in your mind is that you are attempting to sell yourself and your product.  Act like it by treating the conversation as such and following some of these guidelines:

1.  Introduce yourself.  Whether via email or in person, introduce yourself!  Who are you?  
2.  What do you do?  Again, whether by email or in person, show your product.  Have your portfolio ready.  Send it if you are emailing your request to consign.
3.  Show interest in the shop you are asking to sell your product out of.  Know something about the place.  Come in a time or two.
4.  Be polite.  ...Duh.
5.  Check your timing.  Ask if this is a good time to discuss your line.  For example, a busy special event is not the best time to approach a harried owner about what she can do for you.  Introduce yourself and express your interest in coming back at a more opportune time.  This goes a LONG way.  Trust me.

Now these five things seem extremely basic but literally these things have happened only a handful of times.  In all of the times I have been asked.  Not surprisingly, those few people are now designers here.  

Every shop is different.  We, for example, don't do typical consignment.  I personally have three main furniture designers aside from myself that contribute to the shop and a rotation of local artists that contribute their wall pieces, jewelry, soap, and other items.  Our lineup of contributing designers are part of the family, and I like to keep it small.  Our shop is small, and we want to invest in a few people that we know well.  It's about the stuff, of course, but even more so about the relationships we have with our family of contributors.  You can have the prettiest stuff in all the land, but if you don't show, don't follow up, and show no interest or support in the business we are thanks!  That may sound harsh, but this is not a one way street.  It's a partnership, and will be no matter where you go.

When you start hitting the shops looking for a place to call home, make sure you are prepared and do your homework.  This is a business, ya'll, and there are a lot of people doing it.  Make sure you talk to others that consign, get a feel for the general environment.  Set your sights on where you want to be and set yourself apart from the crowd by following the five tips.  Build your brand on a foundation of not just great work, but your business prowess and willingness to be a valued member of a shop's family.  

Now, get on out there and wow 'em!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bullies: Turds in the Punch Bowl

Disclaimer:  I use the word TURD in this post.  If the title has already upset you, please do not read on.

You and I both know, it only takes one person to ruin it for everyone else.  I call this unwelcome person "The Turd in the Punch Bowl".  You may call them lots of things, and the word "bully" might be one of them.  

I will spare you the majority of the gory details behind why I'm choosing to share this post, but if you're a painter you might guess.  For those of you who don't know, a paint company is claiming trademark infringement on many small businesses and painters for using certain descriptive words.  Um.  What?  Can you imagine losing your livelihood over something like that?  Those two five-letter words rhyme with "talk" and "saint" and describe the texture or nature of a type of paint with certain additives.  For that, you must PAY.  Apparently.  (UPDATE:  this is not happening to us and God forbid it does, but it is something happening to many folks and we wish it wasn't.)

This is not something I will discuss further publicly.  I'm not saying the words.  I am not even typing the words.  I mean, my husband and I work here.  This is all we have.  There is no other job to help support us.  People are getting their Facebook pages taken away, their blogs, their Etsy stores...their businesses are being taken away from them.  This is actually happening to people.  For the use of those two five-letter words.

I have run into a small-time bully or two since starting this business and even they suck the life right out of you.  You are swimming in the calm cool blue waters of the awesomeness you created, your very soul poured into every minute your eyes are open each day,  and out of nowhere you get kamikaze jellyfish stung by a turdy bully.  It could be someone you trust, a total stranger, or even one of the big names of the decorative painting industry.  It happens in this and in any business. It happens all over the place all the time.  People have insecurities that lead them to a life of turd-dom.  They try to squash others with their clout, money...sure, they CAN do this thing in order to help themselves but SHOULD they?  When it destroys others?  

Let me share a personal story about being bullied.  Gather around.

Way, way, waaay back before Mean Girls was even a glimmer in a director's eye, I was tormented and bullied in high school.  From the middle of Junior year on.  I was not unattractive.  Didn't bother anyone too much.  I was a Diamond Girl for the Seattle Mariners for crying out loud.  That just made me more unlikable to these people.  Like these businesses, my sheer existence was enough to make the bullies mad.  The very idea of me was was apparently so horrible to others that my mom had to use her sister's last name on her checks (remember when people had checks?) for fear people would recognize our last name and find out where I lived.  By the end of my senior year, a school counselor walked me to my afternoon classes.  That's not horrible at ALL.  Thanks to the administration taking these ridiculous steps and my true friends I graduated high school...though I missed more school than I attended.  But I didn't ask for the way I was treated.  These innocent businesses aren't asking for it either.  Was I called names because I was darker skinned, was my hair pulled because I looked a certain way?  I don't know.  I do know that it scarred my whole life for many years and the way I viewed others for a long, long time.  Not to mention the way I viewed myself.  Still do sometimes.

Those early experiences and later experiences with negative turds in the workplace drove me to cultivate a positive business of my own.  I would guess many others have done the same thing for similar reasons.  When I opened the shop I thought, "I refuse to let anything that is not positive enter this space".  Easier said than done but we try.

My heart hurts that people may lose their livelihoods for using two five-letter words.  The decision to do this comes from the top, and puts the retailers of the product who are also small business owners in a weird space.  They do not get to decide these things and should not suffer the repercussions.  This decision comes from a place of ugliness.  Not business.  And it needs to halt.

If bullying of this or any kind is happening to you:  most importantly, you must know that you are worth far more than silence.  ALSO REMEMBER THIS:   before you ask these people if they ate bowls full of paint chips as children, or before you become the hysterical lunatic harpy no one wants to be around, use your adult words. And honestly, I am guilty of not always using my adult words.  Like, really guilty. Example: the excessive use of the word "turd".

There are so many wonderful people in this business and in this life and in this world.  I have reached out to so many...asked them questions, answered theirs.  Do the same.  Don't let one bully ruin you, tarnish your view, stunt your life.  Reach out to the others.  I did and I owe so many so very many thanks.  I am consistently surprised at the goodness and kindness of others, and just as surprised when people are not who they say they are. I could and should be more adept at reading people but I'm not. I believe people are good.  And I won't let my "I was a bullied kid" past change that.  Don't change your positive ways either...just don't say the word TURD, it's disgusting.  Or two five-letter words that rhyme with "talk" and "saint".

If you are being bullied, no matter your age or circumstances, please know this: It is not your fault. Reach out for help.  You'd be surprised who has been there and is willing to lend a hand. 

Keep being awesome and stay out of the punch bowl, k?