Family and Business Do Mix
faux finishing…creative entrepreneur
In my first column as Mom entrepreneur, I will explain how I got into faux finishing…and how my business came about.
My dear mom just dug up some old pictures for me. This is me at age three. My grandparents (who I ADORED)…were painting some new steps. Gram left the garage to get something and when she came back, mom said I had taken over the painting. So, apparently, I loved it even then.
When I was growing up, I had a very conservative father who wanted all of the walls white. We could decorate our bedrooms to some degree, but he was not into posters, wall art, etc. We didn’t have a ton of creative freedom in our bedrooms. Dad used to say, “When you get your own house someday…blah, blah, blah.”
So…I bought my first house at the very young age of 21. I could barely afford the mortgage, and certainly couldn’t afford any pretty decor.
The first real painting project that I remember is doing was in my kitchen. I used “Fleckstone” spray paint to redo my horrible kitchen cabinets. The cabinets were salmon colored. Ugh!! I spray painted every one of them in my basement. Then sprayed the bathroom cabinets. Then spray painted the tile backsplash. 87 cans of spray paint later…I was hooked.
I was in college at night getting my Bachelor’s Degree in computers when my husband and I went to the Home Show in Kansas City. It was there that I stumbled upon Eric and Brenda Deeter, owners of Morningstar Faux Finishing. They had a faux school at the time. They were offering 2-day introductory classes. I called my sister-in-law and begged her to go with me.
My intent was to learn some things to do in my own home. However, that class was a defining moment in my life. As blogging friend Beth Moore says, “It was a moment when you are headed one direction and God clearly picks you up, pivots you, sets you back down…and off in a new direction you go.” I came home from that 2-day workshop so inspired, so motivated, and so naive. I told my husband I wanted to start my own faux finishing company. Bless his heart (I was a month away from graduating with a computer degree) yet he still said, “Go for it.” Thank you Lord for supportive spouses!!!
I completed my computer degree and, for a year, I worked evenings and weekends doing small faux jobs for people I knew. As God would have it, I lost my computer job a year later. The reality of no paycheck set in quickly. However, I was determined to give this ‘faux thing’ a shot. I called every interior designer listed in the yellow pages in my part of town. If they had a storefront, I showed up in store with my portfolio and business cards and asked them if I could show them my samples.
I turned down a really decent computer job at the Cerner Corp in Kansas City. I wondered what the heck I was doing. If my husband wondered too, thank God, he didn’t show it. Because, I had NO IDEA what I was doing.
The first designer to hire me commissioned me to do kitchen cabinets in a million dollar house. Talk about intimidated. The house had a ‘secret room’ for goodness sake. I’d never been in a house like that. I was way too cheap and way too inexperienced, but determined to pull it off. It was a success and that designer continued to hook me up with new clients.
A few months later I found out I was expecting my first child. Holy crap… now what? The good news is: most faux finishing products are water based. I fauxed until two weeks before I delivered my first son. Then I begged the sister in law, who went to school with me, to come to work for me. That was eight years ago and we have never looked back.
The moral of my story:
• Trust God’s direction for you life. It may save you a wasted degree.
• If you’re a designer…give a young entrepreneur a chance. They may surprise you.
• If you want to be a faux finisher…. take a leap of faith. Find a class.
• If you’re a spouse… encourage your spouse to follow their dreams.
• If you’re a parent/grandparent….give your kids a little creative leeway….
Here are some answers to a few questions I regularly receive on my blog:
Are you really artistic?
No….. I am a really good learner.
Are you totally right brain?
No. I think I am one-half creative minded and one-half business minded…so I can run a faux finishing company well. If I had to only paint or only run a business…. I would probably crash at either. I need both.
Do you have an art degree?
No. I actually have a degree in Computer Information Systems. I was 30 when I finally got my Bachelor Degree. I started my painting company the next month…go figure.
Do you think an art degree would help in your business?
Perhaps. I will never forget the day (I was probably 27 or so) when I sat in the counselor’s office at the college and had to officially declare a degree. I was so nervous because I could not decide between Interior Design and Computers. My gut and that still, small voice that only God has told me to go with Interior Design, but my checkbook was afraid I would make no money. So, I choose computers. And guess what…I hated working on computers.
Do you just love to paint?
Well, I do enjoy painting. But what I most enjoy is CHANGING things. I love the transformation…the making nothing into something. The turning blah to beautiful. The look on client’s faces as they see their new room. The teaching. That’s what I love.
Do I always want to faux?
The longer I own the business and the busier we get, the more I get tied down with details. Insurance, more insurance, estimates, faxes, taxes. Did I mention insurance and taxes??? It’s not what creative people REALLY enjoy. I’ve found that the Internet (Facebook and my blog in particular} really fill a hole for the creative need that I have. I enjoy writing much more than I knew I did. I always enjoy TALKING about painting much more than I knew I did. I’ve done several radio interviews for a design show and have found I love it.
My dream job?
Staying home to raise my kids, support my husband and keep my laundry caught up. Fauxing free for people I like. And fauxing in my own house all the time.
How did I get on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition?
It really was a God thing. I just happened to do the faux finishing for the builder who happened to be chosen for the Kansas City episode. It wasn’t that we were selected or better than anyone; it was just a sweet opportunity that I enjoyed so much. If you ever hear that the show is coming to a town near you, get in touch with people who know people. We’ve helped with three shows…they always need people who will work free.
How do you do your business with three kids???
Oh, this is where life gets interesting. Stay tuned for more details in future columns…
Come on 2010… I’m OVER 2009!!!!!
Read this column and then POST a comment – Jennifer will be reading these comments herself, so speak directly TO her and other readers and let her know what you got out of this article!