But it's also Small Business Month and I decided to combine the two and do a little feature on my mom, who is not only an incredible source of encouragement and love in my life, but also a savvy and successful small business owner.
|my mom and I in Paris two years ago|
Interview with Debbie of Urban Grace Design
What's your small business?
We [my mom and her friend Lora] purchase homes that are neglected and need updating. It's like a makeover, we make it over, and then sell it to a family and turn it into a home.
How did you get started?
We started doing it as a volunteer organization remodeling for families in need and we enjoyed thinking creatively because there was no capitol-- no money-- so we had to think creatively. If you had all the money in the word there would be no creativity, no challenges.
Every great design comes out of a challenge. We had to think outside of the box. We try to do everything in the most cost-effective way. We constantly think "what's the best use for our money." We're not skimping, we just become creative.
I've always lived in brand-new housing, it's so cool to work with properties with character. It's so cool to bring in unusual qualities like antique lighting or other items.
That is hardest question ever, don't you think? Lora and I love to rescue furniture, lighting or a home and giving it new life, making it useful again. We love to use items lot of it made by hand, here in America. Everything now is made in China.
I also get excited when you see something that's being used out of context. A weather vane that was a windmill and now it's a piece of art! Anything re-purposed.
What's your favorite part about running a small business?
Getting to make the decisions. Not having a client tell you what they want. [She used to be an interior designer.] You can only decorate your house so many times but we get to do it over and over.
What's the hardest part about running a small business?
The hardest part is keeping track of paperwork which we're getting better at it. I have a spreadsheet now and we're entering every purchase. And in every job there's the unexpected where the basement has water in it and you have spend $4,000 to take care of the water. That's not fun-- I don't want to spend $4,000 on concrete and a sump pump and a liner.
The photos are above are from a house they recently redid and sold. The home was a foreclosure and when the previous owner left, he bashed the walls with a hammer, scratched the windows and took out cabinets out of frustration. It was a big job.
Over 80 percent of the furniture pictured is either from Goodwill or Craigslist.
Some design secrets from my mom:
- You can find really good things at thrift stores and Craigslist
- Anything can be spray painted
- Splurge on oil-based nice spray paint (it dries longer but is worth it)
- Hang photos at eye level-- people hang them too high
- Fabric from old curtains or shower curtains can be made into great pillows for cheap