If you've ever thought about quitting your "day job" and doing something creative and crafty, then this episode is for you. I chatted with Wendy Conklin, owner of Chair Whimsy, who took an upholstery class in 2012 that changed her life: she quit her job and started doing custom upholstered chairs for clients in vibrant, happy colors! She shares so many tips for success when making that transition, including the importance of getting a coach, consistency, and investing in yourself and your education. She also shares great tips on what to do and what not to do when refurbishing a chair! !!
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Serena: [00:00:00] So I am so excited to talk to you because you, I think have a success story that a lot of people, I think that read Thrift Diving that read or listened to my YouTube channel, listened to the podcast.
And today we're talking about chairs and how there are different tools that people need to get started. What are some secrets that interior designers don't want you to know, but as I was just telling you just a few moments ago, I'm really interested in your story and how you got started, because there's a lot of people who are doing what we're doing now.
Like we're making things old things pretty, and they want to do this. They want to leave behind the day job and get into this and make money and you're doing it. And you had just mentioned, you're like, okay, well, you know, there's a lot of bumps and bruises behind the scenes, but can we, can we at least start there?
Like, what is your story? How did you get into, and your site is called Chair Whimsy, right? ChairWhimsy.com is where we can find you. So how did you get in a Chair whimsy?
Wendy: [00:00:59] Well, so I've always loved chairs. I've, um, you know, kind of had a thing for them, but never wanted to tell anyone. Cause I thought that was a weird thing to like, because I never heard anybody else say it.
Um, I would love to just pick up chairs that, you know, garage sales and yard sales and junk stores and antique shops and whatever, anything I could find cheap, and I would try to redo them. Um, the first piece I did was about 22 years ago. This is back when my oldest was a one-year old and she had a, we had a love seat to go in her room and I wanted to be fun and whimsical.
And, uh, mind you, we were grad students at the time. So we were very poor, you know, just trying to make ends meet. So I couldn't afford an upholster to do it. So I bought a book and, um, decided I would try to do it myself and I did it myself. And it was okay. Looking just don't look underneath or behind, you know,
Serena: [00:01:53] Exactly. That's always the case.
Wendy: [00:01:55] Exactly. Yeah. So, uh, but it was done, and I always have loved having something unique that's not like what everyone else has. Um, I always cared about our space and looking, uh, feeling homey and inviting and colorful and. So I just kind of dabbled in upholstery a little bit, just trying to limp along and figure out how to do it.
And back in 2012, I learned that there was a course and I live just north of Austin, Texas. And so there was a course in South Austin that taught upholstery for beginners. And so I was like, oh my gosh. So I asked for this for my birthday present. Um, I wanted to take it. It was like 450 bucks. Um, and so every Saturday I would track down there for five weeks.
It was a 32 hour course and learned how to do upholstery. And so my day job, I was an educational consultant. I would travel, and train teachers. I wrote a lot of books for teachers and students. So they would buy the books and then contact the company. And the company would have me go train them and, and, uh, work with the teachers and stuff in their schools.
And so that was really my career, and I was good at it. Um, I didn't, uh, have any idea that I would ever want to leave the company that I worked for. They were really good to me and I, you know, I was very happy. I was achieving and that's like a big part of my personality is I'm definitely an achiever type personality.
And so there was always a challenge. I always had a new problem to solve, and so I really was engaged with that, but I took the upholstery courses, and I took one and I thought, okay, I have to take another because I can't remember what we learned. It was all in person. And you know, that back that I took notes.
And I tried to take some pictures with my phone, but you know what cameras were like back in 2012, but you know, not like today. And so I thought, okay, I need to take another class. So I took a night class the next session and did it again. Right before the end of that class, I thought, okay, I need to see if I can sell some of these things on Etsy and just see if I can make some money.
So I figured out how to open an Etsy shop. I listed five chairs for sale, and within two weeks I sold my first chair. Now, mind you, it was super cheap. Cause I didn't even know what to price it at. I had no idea and I'm like, I'm just a beginner. I don't know. But it went, it was going to New York City, and I thought, oh crap.
Now I have to understand how to ship a chair because I didn't know. So anyway, my husband and I figured it out, like we totally over-packed the chair to get it there, but it got there safely, and I know better how to do it now, but you know, I, I thought, oh, this is kind of fun. So to me it was just a hobby.
Just a side hustle. Let's see if I can do something with this. As more orders started kind of coming in and it was very slow at the beginning, but as more orders started coming in, people would start asking me, oh, I love this chair, but can you do it in purple instead of pink? Can you do this in green instead of blue?
Because I need something to go with my home. And that's when I realized, oh, people want custom orders. They want to, and then that was a problem for me to solve because then I would have to hunt down fabrics and give them all these ideas. And so that is where I really began to understand this is how you make money, is by doing custom orders.
So that was my first clue. And so that business, I mean, it started to grow. I started to get more orders, but I didn't understand my pricing, you know, and, and how to actually make money. I was selling myself too short, like most artisans do. Like we just don't understand that the value of what we do is really higher than what we are charging.
And so it was a lot of hard lessons that I had to learn. Because you know, you get around to January 1st and you start looking at how much you made for the year and what you got to pay in taxes.
Serena: [00:05:47] And you're like $4, $4 an hour.
Wendy: [00:05:50] I know, like very disappointing. It was heartbreaking, honestly. And I was so frustrated because I wanted to make it work, but I couldn't quit my day job.
I had two girls in middle school and in high school getting ready for college, you know, and I even thought at one point, you know, maybe I want to switch careers, but who does just chairs, like that can't happen. Like maybe I just need to be an interior designer. So I looked into going to UT [University of Texas], which is close by and doing their grad program.
And they would level up the classes for me for interior design and I began asking them, so do any of the students here work, you know, to while they're going to school? And they said, no, none of them do. And I was like, okay, well that, I just, I can't do it. I can't do that to my family. When your income is important, you feel that responsibility.
And even though I thought I wanted to do that well, so, put that thought out of my head. And, and then I began thinking, well, I just wonder if maybe I could make it work with just chairs, you know, can I really begin to make more money? And by that point I was starting to not enjoy my day job. And I was really looking at, yeah, we need, I've got to do something it's.
So I had a mentor at the time and when we would meet, like once every couple months, and I would just have my whole list of problems and, you know, and ideas and things that I needed to go through with her, um, for our, our meeting. And, and I remember sitting down this one time saying, I got to figure out a way to get out of this job.
You know what I mean? Like that was becoming a reoccurring statement every time, because I was so busy, it was like I was working two full-time jobs. So evenings, weekends, no time off and, that's hard, but you know, you got to work hard if you want to make a vision come to life. And so, and I'm a hard worker I'm known for that, but it was too much for me, honestly.
So when I said that at our, one of our meetings, she said, okay, I have a proposal, you know? And, and so she was the one who pushed me off the ledge to take a six month leave of absence from my job. I was a freelancer at that point in my consulting job. But it was still pretty normal, regular income.
Like I was being called on to do a lot of workshops. I was making good money. And so it was, it was scary, very scary. But I decided, okay, I'm going to tell them, I need to take six months leave of absence. I didn't say why, because it's no one's business, you know, but I just to try something and if I could make it go in six months, then I wouldn't go back.
And, so two days into my six-month leave of absence, I knew I would never go back. I was like, there is no way I'm ever going to go back. It's like, you know, the worst thing for an entrepreneur is thinking that you have to go back and beg for your job back again. Like that's the biggest fear, I think that entrepreneurs face is having to go back to your other job that left.
Serena: [00:08:47] I agree, because it's like admitting failure. I think when you give up the belief that that is an option, then you put yourself into this new thing wholeheartedly. Right. It sounds like that two days, you just you've made that decision, that I'm not going to go back. And I think from there you could just keep going.
Wendy: [00:09:05] It was interesting. Yeah. Because, when you have to do a job in like, as a presenter and a training, in front of people, a public speaker, you know, you've got to give it all you got. Your head has to be in the game.
You got to believe in it. And that's, that's how I work. Like, whatever job I'm going to do, I'm going to give it everything I got, even if I don't like it or dissatisfied or whatever, I'm doing my very best and I'm not going to not give it my all, because that's just how I'm wired. So, but I knew two days in the burden had like lifted from me.
I could feel it. I'm not a woo person at all, but I could, I felt I did. I mean, I almost did. I could, you can almost say I was at that point. Um, you know, because I just, I, I realized that the heaviness that was on me of having to bottle up the feelings that I was feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, I finally let it go.
And, on the day 2, I was just like, I am so much happier. I am so much lighter. Gosh, I can go out to my workshop and work on chairs all day long and not feel tugged back and forth, into another job that demands a lot from me mentally. And so it was such a relief, and I was so joyful that I knew I couldn't go back.
So that, that really lit the fire. I mean, like already have a fire lit under me, but even higher than that, it was like, I have to, I don't care what it's going to be take. I'm going to make this work and I don't care what I have to do. And I just threw everything into it. And so, yeah, at the end of toward the end of the six months, I did give the final call, to my employer and to say that I I'm retiring, you know?
And I think it was very shocking for some people, but those who knew me knew, you know, cause they knew I was doing chairs and stuff and I think that they realize, yeah, she's really happy doing this. And, and it was such a good parting of ways. Couldn't ask for anything better gracious, very gracious President and CEO just wished me the very best. So, you know, the, the hard work was still in front of me though. And, you know, uh, really striving to figure out a way to make my business more profitable. A lot of it was raising my prices and learning about the perceived value that people have on products that, you know, as artisans, we tend to price it really low because we don't think that it's worth.
But it is that perception of value. When something's a high price, people perceive it to be very valuable. And, you know, so I always say, when you're having trouble selling something, you need to raise the price, um, because it will sell. And when you raise the price and it's very interesting how that works, but it is about perceived value from the people when something's really cheap, they start thinking, well, what's wrong with that?
You know, and I think we should put things on sale. I think you raised the price to get more sales and it tends to work. But it takes a lot of guts. It takes a lot of faith in what you're doing and belief, but you know, when you had too many January 1sts of feeling disappointed, you got to get angry with yourself about it, and you got to change something, you know, to start making more money.
You can't be working for five bucks an hour on your work. And so it's figuring that out. And then I joined a coaching program back in 2018 that changed my business. It changed my life, and it was, I have ideas and I'm willing to work really hard, but sometimes you need a little direction, you know, sometimes you need someone to give you an idea to jump on and tell you, I believe you can do this. Do it.
And then you figure it out how to do, and so that's really when my income changed was being part of a coaching program. And so I will always personally be part of a coaching program. I think group programs are the best, honestly, because you get ideas from all the other, from everybody from different industries.
And, and it's just wonderful because you can jump on their ideas, tweak it a little, and then it works for you. And so, you know, that was the first year that I made over six figures in just doing chairs. And it’s happened every year since, so, it's been just a great journey of doing this. And, and then I created my upholstery course because of that coaching program.
I was totally, she was like, why don't you teach? And, and I thought, you know, who would want to learn from me? You know, can't you just go to YouTube and find the videos, you know, why would they pay? And she was like, yeah, but they want to learn from you because they like you, they trust you. They like your style; you attract that certain kind of person.
And I was like, well, okay. But I had it. I was like, okay, I'll figure out how to do this. And I couldn't find any upholstery courses online, the way I wanted to structure mine. So I just figured it out. I was like, okay, I got a videographer over here. And I was like, okay, let's go out my shop. And let's film today.
You bring it back next week edited. And let's see if we have something. So we did that. And she brought it back. Okay. I think we have something, so, okay. Let's continue filming. And so every week for about six weeks, we filmed and, she brings it back edited and, and by the end of it, I had a course ready that I launched with the help of my copywriter and my website designer.
And they've really guided me. They knew how to launch products. And so that, that really took off and did really, really well. We were all surprised and shocked. I mean, all of us., Um, and
Serena: [00:14:38] I've got so many questions, Wendy. So I'm trying to like, remember them. I feel like I should write them down as you're talking because you keep bringing questions up that I want to like, so forgive me if I forget anything, but I just want to tell you that I'm going to have a lot of questions for you. Okay. Now go ahead. So you have a team of people that are helping you put these courses together.
Wendy: [00:14:57] Yeah. And I mean, like I have real opinions on spending money and not spending money, like what you should spend money on in your business and what you shouldn't. When you are like, if you're launching a product or if, if you have, a course or something like that, you know, if you have something visual, you need to invest in a really good website designer and someone who can brand you and quit doing the cheap stuff.
Those are the places to spend money. Places to not spend money on, like on business cards. You don't need no one uses business cards anymore. You know, no one does like, flyers, or pamphlets, unless you're, I guess, at an in-person event that you want to give them something in hand, but maybe give them something a little memorable, you know, other than just a business card that will get lost and thrown away, you know, or whatever, at the end of the night, give them something branded. Pay for a copywriter because they understand how to convert.
It's this conversion copy that they really understand that I'm a good writer and I've written my whole life and I can write decently, but I can't write for myself in that way because I'm always like, Ooh, am I being too pushy? I don't want to be slimy. You know? And when these copywriters--
Serena: [00:16:10] And we're sometimes afraid to, I don't know about you, but I think in my business, you know, as, as a DIY or, you know, I've got knowledge as well, and I've wanted to do courses, but it's been really hard for me to sell because I feel like my audience is my friends. I don't like to sell to my friends. It just feels like you're being disingenuous. Yeah.
So, but let me, let me take it back a little further, because I'm thinking of the people who are listening to this, who are just amazed by your story, and you are the epitome of what they want to do. In fact, just the other day, I got an email from a woman who literally was in the same situation, or is in the same situation as you were, you know, 2012 or whatever.
And she said, you know, I've been in my job for a number of years. I'm very good at my job. I've excelled. I'm the epitome of success, she said, but I'm bored. I want to do; I want to do make-overs. I want to do these things and make money at it. And, and so I'm trying to think of the people who are listening, who are in that situation, where they're in their day job, or maybe they do DIY, like you, you know, they they've done that first project and they don't want people to look too closely, but they know as they continue, they're going to get better, and they want to sell.
You had mentioned about having a coach. And I think you had gotten a coach pretty early. So that's one question. How did you get that coach? When did you get that coach? And the second question is, you know, when people are just starting off, a lot of times, money is a big factor.
They don't, I know you mentioned about where to spend your money and where not to spend it, but when you're, depending on that income, you know, that that six months leave may not be possible for a lot of people. In my situation, I actually got fired from my job. And I'll tell you a little bit of my story.
I won't go into it because everybody who's listening knows my story, but I was fired from my job. I was also not feeling, uh, very enthusiastic about staying there. And I had started making plans that I was going to leave my job later in the year when my youngest, well, my middle son would be in, in school, you know, kindergarten, and I'd only have one in daycare. Well I lost my job.
And that really forced me until you had said, your coach really forced you to kind of make that decision. And there's people who are right now listening to this that don't have that person or that situation that's forcing them. So how do they jump forward and be able to afford a coach, but then also be able to say, well, I'm going to take six months leave in order to make that happen. Like, what advice would you give for someone in that situation?
Wendy: [00:18:33] Okay. So first of all, no one can afford a coach. I mean, my gosh, I know I'm just going to tell you, I was so scared, to join this program. And now looking back compared to the coaching program on paying for now and what that price was like, that's a piece of cake, you know, but when I joined up, so I had been following this, person for a while and, um, I, her name is Tobi Fairley.
She was an interior designer. I had taken her online, interior design courses a few years before, and I knew that what she shared was always, she always over-delivered in everything she did. And so I trusted her. I knew that her program had to be good because of the past experience I had had with our program.
And so I knew first off that I was going to get valued. And so her program was, um, I think it was $2,799 for the year, if you pay in full and like you get to two months free kind of thing, or it's $279 a month kind of thing. And so I was like, oh my God, I just can't afford this. Like, I don't have the extra, but I decided, okay, I'm going to go ahead and pay in full, put it on my credit card.
And I mean, within two months I paid it off. So it was a big leap of faith. It was something like, I don't have the money for this. I do not. But, oh my word has that paid off more than anything I've ever done. So I would say you always do your research when you're looking for a group coaching program.
And yes, I was the odd ball cause most of the people in her program were interior designers, but there were a few of us creatives that did weird different. I was the weird person. So I did the weird business, but like do your research to find a person that, fits your values. Really over-delivers on everything. Has a really great, coach. Group of people, um, that, and then when you purchase it, you show up. You show up for the calls, you go through the materials, like more than once. I mean, like you get your money out of it. Like everything is on the line, you've paid the money to do this. You get the money out, don't sit on the sidelines.
Like, it's the call to action when you commit to something like that. Um, because those people propel you forward, they will push you forward if you're there to be pushed. And that, and I was, and so I am an action taker and I, and I like, you know, money. I don't like to waste money at all because, you know, we all work so hard for money.
And, so for me, when I invested, my belief is you always need to go a little higher than what you believe you can afford. And that definitely was higher than what I thought I could afford. And it's paid off so many more times.
Then I joined another one that was for a year. And then I joined another one that was for nine months long, and it was about publicity and promotions and, publicity promotions.
And there's another P word. I can't think of it, but I should, I shouldn't, I should know. Um, but anyway, it was, uh, with Selena Soo. And so she had a program for Impact Excel called Impact Accelerators. Her program was Impact Accelerators, and it was $9,000.
At the time it's probably hired now, uh, but we were in her beta group. And so there were about 15 of us in that group. It's a very small group of people. And I learned so much from her and the other two coaches in her program. That's really top notch. 9,000 boy. That was all, you know, I was like, gosh, can I, do it?
And then I just committed, yes, I'm going to do this and I'm going to get everything out of this that I can you know? And then, this past year, past October, I joined another group when that ended, I joined another group coaching program called Digital Insiders with Julie Stoian. And, so that one is a lot more money.
It is $24,000 a year, $2,000 a month that they, that it costs. So they, they do a monthly thing. And you know, that makes you just choke up in your neck, neck when you think about, oh my gosh. But because my income has grown so much--
Serena: [00:22:36] You can afford to do it and it's worth it.
Wendy: [00:22:38] Yes. And because of that program, already, it's paid off. Back in January, I had my first six-figure launch in five days with my upholstery course. And it's because of ideas that I got from my coaching group and my coach. And so I'm just telling you, when you have the faith in the vision to make that little jump, do your research, find the right person, make the jump and do the commitment of higher than what you think you can afford and then show up and do the work. When you do those things, and you pay attention to your audience and how you can serve them, because it's really about serving your audience. I think we get this false sense that, we shouldn't charge people for, you know, what we can show them and everything, but, you know, it's my job. And if people want to buy stuff, I mean, we enjoy spending money, right?
Like that's true. Really what, okay. So it is exactly the same. People want to buy things and they want to support people that they love and that they believe in. If they know it's our business, if they know we're entrepreneurs and we're working very hard to serve them with something that they need to learn.
And I think during the whole 2020 of the coronavirus and things like that, so many people were stuck at home. And so like my course, because we have a private Facebook group with my upholstery course, these women were able to form a community of friendships. They had something to do, something to learn that challenge them.
So it was-- the notes I would get from people telling me how meaningful it was for them to, to have something meaningful to do, during the year, uh, it was mind blowing. It was humbling. I'm so grateful that I did this course. And my other courses have gone on to help other people with like finding fabrics and things like that.
I even have a business course for people who want to flip and sell chairs. And so that came out, came about because of 2020. My approach is, you know, I felt guilty for wanting to leave my day job, because like you said, you're good at it. It pays good. And other people would probably kill for that job and that overwhelming guilt that you feel of, why am I complaining about this.
Serena: [00:25:06] Right, exactly. I'm the epitome of success. I've got benefits. I've got all of the, you know, I've got vacation time where I can just binge out. You're not happy. You're not happy.
Wendy: [00:25:18] You're not being challenged. You're bored. And it's you need; I think everybody needs to be challenged. It makes things interesting. Um, it makes you work hard and it, it brings so much fulfillment when you can at least try something, even if it doesn't work. And I've had plenty of things do not work. Um, you know, the, the point is I don't want to regret one day waking up and being like, well, why didn't I try that?
You know, I didn't try it. And I didn't know if it was going to work or not. And my attitude is, just try. And, and that really was my attitude when I was creating the upholstery course, because I, I thought I was going to go back to my coach and said, and say, see, I did this, you told me to, and it didn't work. You know, like I wanted someone to blame.
Serena: [00:26:09] You were prepared to just blame her.
Wendy: [00:26:11] Oh my gosh, yeah. And I mean, it just totally didn't work out like that, you know? And, um, so I, I think it's, I think it's, you know, you do have to show up, you do have to work hard, and I do think it takes a little bit of luck too. I think luck plays into it, but I think you can create your own luck by showing up on social media daily, by listening to your audience, figuring out ways you can serve them both free and paid. You know, because you've got to make a living, you got to provide for your family. And that's, you know, with my, both of my girls are in-- one's in grad school now and once in college and so, you know, I'm helping them. And, and when you can make more money, you can help more people.
I'm helping my family and my goal. I'm helping other people, you know, by being able to do things for them that before I couldn't do, because I didn't have the money to do it. And so it's so fulfilling when you can give back.
And, you know, I, I love it when I've heard, Sarah Blakely of Spanx say this, you know, it's fun to make money. It's fun to spend money and it's fun to give money away. And I think that's such a great attitude to have about money. Like we, you know, we really get stuck around this whole idea that money is bad and wanting to make money as bad.
Serena: [00:27:28] Or money's the root of all evil.
Wendy: [00:27:30] I mean, like, think of all the people you can help. My goal someday, what I want to be able to do is I want to be able to buy some little homes, uh, nearby, um, that I can, you know, kind of renovate, uh, fix them up super cute. And then have, you know, cause there's so many, uh, families that struggle, uh, homeless families with kids who they've just had a stroke of bad luck. Especially with last year, so many people lost their jobs.
They became sick, people died. Um, like if I could give them a home to live in to help them get on their feet, to give them something beautiful to surround themselves in so that-- you know, there is something about your surroundings that gives you hope that gives you comfort and courage, to be able to tackle whatever comes in front of you.
And I would love that's really my dream. That's what I want to be able to do, with my money. So, um, I, I had these dreams of being able to achieve it, and I hope that I'm going to be able to, because that's just another way you can help people, you know? And like, if I just had stayed small and had decided. no, money's bad, I shouldn't want money.
I shouldn't-- I had decided that I, I wouldn't be where I am today. Like I wouldn't be able to help the people in my courses and I wouldn't be able to help other people who don't have any money, you know, be able to live a better life. So that's, that's really my dream of what I want to do. Yeah.
Yeah, well, some something interesting that you had said a while ago, when you were talking about filming your courses, you were talking about, the team of people that you need them.
Serena: [00:29:11] So interested in this, because my best friend has been telling me for years. My story is similar to yours in that I started 2012, did it while I was working full time. Hated my job. Well, I didn’t hate it, but I didn't like that it took me away from doing what I was doing. So when I lost my job in 2015, I gave myself that a little bit of time.
Said to my husband give me three months, let me just see if I can pull in some money and be able to do this successfully. And I've never gone back. So things have been really well, but my best friend tells me she's like, Serena, you need a team. You can only grow but so big if you don't have a team. And I don't know why, but I've, I've continued to, I don't want to say buck against it, but I'm not the most organized person.
So sometimes having a team means that it's going to take some organizational skills that I don't think that I really have in order to pull everything together. But what I'm thinking about, the people, again, those people who are in those jobs who are listening to this or watching this, and they want to do what you're doing, but they're also hesitant to, or again, don't have the money, but hesitant to bring in other people.
Right. Because we tend to treat this hobbyist still a hobby, even though we want to make money, money at it. And I still look like, even though I'm making money at what I'm doing, I still treat it as something that me just as one person. Well, I do have a virtual assistant in the Philippines, and she does some Pinterest things for me.
Oh. And I hired my mom to check my email. So she does some email things. She's retired and she needs the extra money. So the money that I quote unquote, pay her, she feels like she's got to work for me. You know, she enjoys it. It keeps her busy too. But I don't have a team. I don't have a copy editor. I don't have someone that comes and films.
How do people get over that barrier of going from, this is just something that I'm doing in my garage, working on these chairs to now I've got a team of people that I'm paying that are holding me to a schedule. How did you make that move, that transition? Cause obviously it helped you to grow.
And I know that it helps, but getting past that, that hurdle, financial and also mental hurdle.
Wendy: [00:31:14] Yeah. So right now I'll tell you right now, the two people that you have helping you, that is perfect. you're doing the right thing. That's what I'm going to tell you right now. When we think about hiring people, now, this is my view on it, and this is what I've learned based on myself.
I used to feel like I had to hire a full-time person, but yet, what is she going to do exactly? And that stressed me out because then I'm like, then I got to figure out what they're going to do on top of what I got to do, and I don't have time for that., you know, kind of thing. Um, but so I believe in hiring contractors, uh, for that very recent virtual assistants, I've got two.
I started with one, who was an intern at UT in their design, uh, fashion department. And so she had stayed with me a couple of years and does little odd ball things. If I need something designed at Canva, if I need a little freebie put together, she can do that kind of stuff. So I had used her for a while and I just pay her hourly, you know, an hourly rate.
Like $15 an hour, 15 to 20 an hour is very acceptable for a virtual assistant. And then last August, um, it was just overwhelming, but, you know, just keeping up with, Facebook, I was spending hours at night inviting people to like my page, which is a big way to get people to grow. And also on Instagram.
And so I hired a virtual assistant who lives in Utah, who, helps out with things on Facebook and she started answering my info emails. So we set up an [email protected], where people-- it's attached to my website and people can email questions in and people email all kinds of things. And she's just great.
And so when she has a question about something, she sends me a quick text. Do you have an answer for this? Or how should I answer? She'll look at things on my Facebook ads. If I have an ad out there running just for engagement or something, very low, low cost. Um, she'll, she'll look at those. When people have a question about something they'll post in the comments, she'll look at them and respond and ask me, she'll text me, hey, how would you answer this?
And I just send her a quick text. It's just simple like that. And then I don't have to worry about it. And she is so nice with customer service, and you know how it is when you're really busy and you don't, your answers are very quick, you know, not trying to be rude, but you're just very quick because you just want to, you know, she's so wonderful the way.
Is it engaging in talks and comments back to the person in the email. And that's, I really needed someone to take that off my plate. Cause I don't have time to answer, but if there's something that really needs to come to me, she forwards it. And then, then I know the important thing that I got to take care of and that's simple to do.
And then back in March, I hired another virtual assistant who lives in Ireland, and she is managing my private Facebook group. And so she admits all the people into the group, and puts their email, who give us when they give us their email in the questions that we ask them to join us. She puts them all in a segment.
And, uh, well, well, does the welcoming post every week with all those people tagged in it? I mean, she's just smart. When I launch my YouTube channel, which hopefully before the end of the year, she's going to manage my YouTube channel for me, as far as getting everything up, all my edited of my videos.
So I asked her, cause I didn't even know. But when I decided I wanted to do a YouTube channel, I said, do you edit videos? Do you know how to do this? I'm thinking about doing, she's like, oh yeah, I've been trained to edit YouTube videos. I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm so excited. Cause then I thought I was going to have to go find another virtual assistant.
When I need my web designer to put up a new page or to tweak something, I pay her to do those things. I have a copywriter. So when I have, some copy either for a new sales page for my website or, um, emails that need to be sent out, like in a sales sequence or welcome sequence or something like that.
So people could know me. Um, I have some video, we're shooting a lot of videos, this coming weekend for my brand, uh, for a variety of things for my website and ads and other content. And, um, I, my copywriter who's worked with me from the beginning, honestly, she understands my brand better than I do. She has such interesting insights on how people view my brand, because she looks at their comments like she’s very good with this.
And so when you can find a good copywriter, like you just hire them for piecemeal when you need something done. so she wrote all the bullet points of, for my videos, because I mean, I guess if I had a couple of days to really sit down and focus my brain on, okay, what needs to be said, I could do it, but I knew that she would have a way of saying it better than what I could even say.
Cause I'm so in my head about my own thing, but she's seeing it the way other people are seeing it and she knows what will help translate the message and the feeling about my business and who I am to other people. So like I just hire contractors when I need them. And so that's, my advice is when you need somebody hire them for that project, --
Serena: [00:36:18] And to also start early too, don't, you know, don't let yourself go for years and years and years, because then it's just a hobby and it's just something that you're doing and you're spending, yeah, I'm talking from experience, you're spending hours trying to figure out how do I start a blog? How do I start--
You know, and there's sites. I mean, it's hit and miss, but I have used when at some point I was selling t-shirts long time ago. You can still buy them on my website. I love them. But I hired someone on Fiverr and. You know, had someone for like $15 to create this cool t-shirt and you know, every now and then I'll, I'll wear it, or I'll post about it.
And, you know, sales will come here and there, but you're right. Um, I think that takes the stress off of you in terms of, okay, now I've got to find somebody to, to fill a certain number of hours. Here's another question that I have for you, and this is where I've struggled. And I think other people would probably struggle too, is knowing when to work in your business or versus working on your business.
I mean, even if you're hiring a team, there's still administrative things that you've got to do. Like you've got to, you know, tell that copywriter where to find the information. Like there's a certain amount of time you're going to spend doing that, but then you also have to still upholster, reupholster the chairs, like there's still work that has to be done.
How do you balance between doing all those administrative things and being able to actually do the projects that are making you money?
Wendy: [00:37:44] Yeah. So. The custom orders and things. I think you have to identify, what is your role? What is the most important thing for your business? Um, and this is something I've been thinking about in the past few months.
And like, so what I have decided I am the content creator for my business. My content involves, yes, my blogs, my weekly email that goes out to my audience, my daily posts on Facebook and Instagram. I'm, I'm a big fan of you writing your own posts instead of hiring people because it, it needs to be from your heart.
It needs to be your voice--
Serena: [00:38:27] And you are your brand.
Wendy: [00:38:28] Yeah. If you, even, if you think that you're not a good writer, um, it doesn't, it doesn't matter what you think. You are your voice and people know when it's not you, when it's a professional post, I can tell when people have done that. And so I'm a big fan.
So, um, Because of that, and part of my content, is my chairs too. And I take pictures of my chairs with them, with my iPhone. Um, so that's, that's, I mean, I take all my own pictures. And so, um, now I'm getting a branding shot dense. I'm hiring someone for that. So I, I think there are certain places that when you realize what is your role and my role as content, I'm at the place where I have to do most of the chair work.
Like I can hire someone to come paint the chairs or even strip the chairs if I need that done, because that's not necessarily that I do that. Right. But as far as the upholstery, my chairs, it's depended on fabric placement. Like that is everything to a chair. Like you could have beautiful fabric, but if you put it on in, there’s a better way of putting it on than others, you know?
And so it's all about --
Serena: [00:39:40] The pattern, you know, sometimes pattern can be upside down or it's not quite centered, you know, and maybe you want to do it upside down because it actually looks better. And if you hired someone to do the upholstery, they wouldn't see that. And how can I plan out in advance how I would lay that fabric out. Like no-- that is in the moment designing.
Wendy: [00:40:00] That's what people hire me for. That is what I'm good at. And so that part of my work has to be me. So I think you have to decide on paper, what has to be you? And then all the other things don't have to be you.
Serena: [00:40:16] Right.
Wendy: [00:40:17] Now, anyone who says, let me also say this just about creating courses, anyone who says, it's passive income. No, no, no. That is so B.S. It's not. I mean, it is hard work. I'm just, there's no way around it. You're going to work hard, but I'm choosing to do this. This is the work I want to do. Now, when I need a break, I take my breaks. I get away. Like we bought a camper last August that I redecorated the inside of it this past winter.
Um, and so it's just really fun with like camel wallpaper and just really fun colors. And it's just, it's just so fun to be in. So we take our camper, and we go out camping and, and, um, I have everything scheduled as far as my posts. Like I do believe in batching. So like there's techniques and things you can do to get your content out there where it doesn't have to be a daily drudge.
You set aside a Saturday, you make it fun, pour yourself some champagne or have a dessert while you're doing your batching. And it's all about the batching. Like you just focus, get it done for the week or two weeks or whatever you can do for that day. And you're done, but you've made it as enjoyable as you can instead of dreading the today of doing the batching.
So, you know, there's so many techniques you can do, but I think you have to decide what you need to, what is necessary as you, the brand, and then other things like Pinterest is, you know, it's all the key words. It's all the calls to action, but you can teach someone to do that. Like, yes, I'm better at it.
But I can still, and I'm, so I'm in the process of teaching one of my virtual assistants, how to, okay, here's the key words you want to put in a sentence or two that people are going to be searching for. Like it's common sense stuff. It's not mysterious. Like we sometimes think it's so hard. It's really not that hard.
Like sometimes we overthink it. Um, if someone's going to search for dining chair, colorful dining chair, boho dining chair, like all the things that describe my chairs, just figure out a way to put that in a simple sentence. And that's in a, do a call to action, click here to see more, whatever, very simple, but you can train people to do that.
And so by taking the little bit of time to show someone like, uh, a Loom video or something, hey, this is how I do this. So they can replay that and watch it over and over. Cause that's what I do with my virtual assistants when I want to teach them something or show them how to manage something in my, segments of my email to clean up stuff for me.
I just sent them a quick video and they take it, run with it and they let me know if they have any questions. So like, you kind of learn these little, how do we do it more efficiently, quicker or better? How do I get this off my plate as fast as possible? So I don't know if that really answers your question so much, but I, I, um, I mean, like you just can't do everything.
You just can't. And even though we feel like we're doing, doing everything a lot of the times, because we, we are entrepreneurs, so there's this fine line.
But I know, you know, we're also DIYers too. And I think that can be a handicap because you feel like, well, if I'm in DIYer I should do everything myself, and I think even in the home.
Serena: [00:43:34] Sometimes I have, I have that thought too. Well, I'm a DIYer. Why am I going to hire somebody to come and cut my grass, which I don't, my husband does it. But using that as an example, you know, I feel like since I am a DIYer, and I know that I can do it and save money or just because I know I can do it, I can--
But I think for people who are trying to move into this space to make money doing something creative, then I love your message that you have to, you know, get a team of people. But again, not someone you're hiring as a full-time employee, someone that when you need it. And don't be afraid to do that early.
So, you know, for example, the woman who emailed me who said, I really want to do this, that would be the advice. I'm going to make sure she sees this, that she hears this, start early. Don't wait years down the road and try to do everything yourself.
I know we've been talking about all the business stuff, and I'm fascinated by it and you, you really have inspired me because I know that the courses are something that, and in fact, I even started making the outline on a course that I wanted to do.
Like, I want to do some power tools courses, and I know that my audience, they're interested in tools. They want to learn. I've got the knowledge, but the challenge for me was taking time to actually sit down and do that because the content that I'm putting out, a lot of it, like how I make my money is through sponsored videos.
So a brand will come to me and say, hey, we've got this paint sprayer. And I'm like, well, great. I've got this fence, let's collaborate. And so I'm making my money that way and then ad revenue on YouTube. But sometimes it's hard to take that step away and say, okay, brands for the next two months, I'm just going to be creating content for, you know, these, these courses.
But I think that's what I need to do in order to make it happen because otherwise it doesn't happen.,
Wendy: [00:45:19] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And let me just also say, to find a videographer, I mean, like if you don't know somebody, craigslist has, so I went to services, I think, on Craigslist and searched out, you know, um, videography, and then I checked it and most of those people have a website, like companies will advertise on Craigslist and their professional companies, or it could be a single one guy show, but he's looking for work.
And so if you could ask for, can I see a few of you videos you've produced, um, talk to them on the phone, tell them what your vision is. Could they do something like this? You know, can they add music? Can they edit? Can they, all the stuff, you know, ask them the questions. Set aside the weekends or whatever you need to do to get it done, because, uh, it, it will definitely pay off.
And it is about just setting aside the time to do it, because once you're done, you're done. And you back that every week, it's just for a short time that you may have a lot on your plate.
Serena: [00:46:22] And also too, you know, and going back to what you had said, you were going to go back to your coach and say, see, I told you. In my mind, I was thinking, okay, well, if I put together a course and it fails, it doesn't really fail because it's still content that you could use to collect email addresses when people say, you know, my biggest challenge is that I don't know how to use power tools.
Well, guess what? Here's a free course on how to use this tool. And if you're interested, here's more. So, you know, I think when people are starting out, instead of always thinking of the worst, think of how it can be a positive and don't let that deter you because for a while it did deter me. But then I started thinking of all the positive things that I could do with this content that, you know, you can break it up in little pieces, share it on Instagram. Facebook.
It's just a matter of time, but really like what you did, you just said, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to commit the time and money and I'm just going to do it. And I think for anybody who's starting out, as long as you say, this is what I want to do, I'm going to commit the time, the money, may not have a lot of money.
Usually, you know, you say you take pictures with your cell phone, your personal phone, to take pictures of your DIY projects and post them on Etsy, you know.
Wendy: [00:47:31] You just need, you need, you got to get it started. Yeah, and you need some really good presets. Um, and, and things that, you know, you got to edit your photos.
So your photos are very important. You do not need to hire a professional photographer. Our phones that we have such a great, camera in them. Oh yes, they do. Really. And most people don't realize most of the pictures on my website are from my phone and because we redesigned my website last year and it was right after coronavirus hit, I couldn't get a brand photographer to come over to save my life.
I was begging them. Like we could socially distance outside, whatever.
Serena: [00:48:14] I'll wear a space suit. I mean, can you just come?
Wendy: [00:48:18] I know. And, and they, they wouldn't, which I understand, but I was desperate. And so I was like, okay, well, all I have are my iPhone pictures. And my design, my website designer did amazing stuff with my iPhone pictures.
So, you know, your pictures are very important, and it is something you can learn to do if you're not good at it, you just got to learn angles. You got to try a lot of things. You got to get down on the ground. Oh yes. Sideways and take pictures. I mean, it's crazy what I have to do, but I make it work with my phone.
I've even published some pictures in a national magazine from my iPhone picture. So I mean that editor didn't balk at my pictures, I thought, okay, I'm going to quit questioning myself on this and I'm just going to go with it. Cause I'm getting better and better. And I am, I'm always improving with my pictures.
I'm learning things. I watch how other people take photos, what they look like, what angles are doing, what are the things in the room? How are they looking? Like I really analyze how does that, how can I mimic that look? Um, so anyway, that's all to say, take really good pictures because that is your product. That is your, what you're showing into the world.
It's your resume, it's your resume to anybody that wants to work with you. They look at your pictures, they look at your video-- and that's why, you know, that's why for me, YouTube was so important to me. I mean, I know everyone's on Tik TOK now, and it's got its place, but honestly, I wanted to put as good of a quality of video together as that, that I could, that would live on YouTube forever.
Serena: [00:49:47] Tik Tok, yeah, it'll be there, but eventually people are going to scroll down, you know-- no one's entering search words, keywords. You know, painting your fence for the most part, but they are on, on YouTube and, you know, putting, putting effort into good quality sound. You know, when I first started out, I didn't have a great camera.
And I think I was just using the regular, just whatever sound was in the camera. And it was not good. If you go to my YouTube channel and look at my very first video was like, oh, it was, I, I took the day off. I call it in quote, unquote, sick. And I painted my fireplace and I said, this is going to be my first video.
And I look back and it's not good quality. You can't hear very well, but I spent $30, for just a wired mic. I think it was like a 30 foot wired lapel mic, 30 bucks. Now the quality wasn't the best, but it was better and then later--
Wendy: [00:50:39] And people don't care as long as they can hear you, as long as they can hear you, and as long as you're serving them with something they can learn. All of this it has to be perfect stuff, doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all. I mean, like they need to be able to see and hear what you're saying and if you help them, that's all they care about. You know? So like we need to get over the perfect stuff because, you know, and I think as far as like Tik TOK and other things like that, um, I've got a gal in my business course who is doing these Tik TOK videos.
And I mean, she's, she's a grandma. And she's killing it on Tik TOK. She's getting over a million views on her videos and they're really short, and I would love to do some Tik TOK videos, but right now I don't have the bandwidth to expand. Like I'm, I'm doing everything I can to just, just stay up with being consistent.
And so I think like if you can add things in, great. But one thing at a time. Get good at one thing, get consistent at it. And when you can fit another little avenue and figure out how to repurpose something you've already done it in another way. Um, but like, it doesn't all have to be done today.
Serena: [00:51:50] No, but I think consistency is the, is the key. And I know for myself, I have been very inconsistent with my YouTube videos. I tend to be more active during the summer because that's when I'm, I'm, I'm just, I'm doing more stuff. And then other parts of the year, I'm, just maybe during the holidays, I don't do a lot of holiday stuff, so I get a little bit lazier.
But what I found is that if you can consistently put out content, even if it's just one video a month or do one project a month. Yeah. You're going to be amazed at how well you start to like grow, you know, if you're consistent and say, okay, every project I'm going to put five pictures on you know, Pinterest or whatever, you know, consistency is key. And I think like with this podcast, I just started it at the beginning of the year and every week I've consistently put out a, you know, it's, it's like Friday, Friday, afternoon, I've got to publish, and it doesn't matter what project is going on during the week.
I have to publish something on Friday. So, you know, if I can do that consistently, then over time it will grow. Right. Um, but it also, I think when you're consistent, it also makes you a little bit more confident because you feel like, you know what, I got this, I'm figuring out how to do this consistently.
And you're right. Once you kind of figure that out, then you can add something else in or, hire a virtual assistant.
Wendy: [00:53:09] Repurpose any video, you have, and exactly that's what you want to do, but like, you got to realize you'll pay them probably an hour a week, like maybe 15, 20 bucks a week to repurpose a little video and stick it on Tik TOK for you.
Oh my God. Isn't it worth that? And then you've really added a whole ‘nother audience. That's probably what I should do right. Is do that, you know? Cause I've been like, how can I get, how can they get more bandwidth to do this? Cause I know it's, there could be some value, right? Because I think there is something about older people doing things on Tik TOK that --
Serena: [00:53:42] People get a kick out of it too.
Wendy: [00:53:44] They love it. You know? So I know my kids are like, please mom. Nope, Nope.
Serena: [00:53:48] They call us boomers. Like, I'm like, I'm not a boomer! I'm only 43!
Wendy: [00:53:52] I'm not going to do a silly dance on there. Don't worry about that. You know what I mean? But it would be about my chairs, you know, or me doing something with them or, you know, whatever. So, um, yeah, I think, I think you're so right.
It's, it's very much about consistency and then figuring out, getting people to help you. I mean, like if you think I paid my virtual assistant maybe for one or two hours a week to handle all my emails. I mean, oh my gosh, what a relief it is to pay her maybe 40 bucks, if even that I don't even think it's that much to manage all those emails, I would get so overwhelmed and frustrated.
And I probably wouldn't respond to that because, or not respond at all because I just don't have time to do it. And she is taking care of it, you know? So that's--
Serena: [00:54:35] Well, let's talk about, so I know that we've been talking for an hour, and I think what I might do is, um, if, if you have maybe like 20 more minutes or so I think what I might do is just kind of split this into two episodes since it's kind of long, but I really want to talk about your beautiful chairs.
Like these chairs are just gorgeous and that's what drew me, you know, when your, um, PR person had reached out and said, Hey, we've got Wendy, you know, would you like to talk to her? And I was like, yes, I do. Because these chairs are gorgeous. And, and, you know, I really want to talk about, you know, what are some of those like upholstery tools that you think are the must have that people have to have, especially if they're starting out, but there might be some things that even people who've got a little experience might need that don't realize it's going to make the job much easier.
Wendy: [00:55:20] Yeah. Yeah. Um, okay. So here's the things I think you got to have, when you begin. Um, you need a staple lifter. Um, these are sold online. The company is called Osborne that makes them so staple lifters important. You need a mallet, a rubber mallet to be able to help you pound out with the staple lifters.
So those two things really go together. Um, you need a pair of needle, nose pliers, which most people have in their tool box. So needle nose pliers just help you to be able to easily get out any staples that are sticking up. You need a staple gun and a compressor. Now I know a lot of people like to use the handheld staplers that are manual, or even an electric one.
They don't work as good and it's never worth it. The pneumatic stapler is most wonderful tool, and you'll pay anywhere from probably $70. You can pay over a hundred. I think the one I have is like 90. You don't have to get the highest, one, just get something middle of the road that works really well, but in the compressor and you can do the tiny little compressors if you want.
They're just going to go off more, because they just have to recharge, but who cares? You know? I mean like--
Serena: [00:56:29] Sometimes they can scare you. You'll be in your like upholstery mode and suddenly it cuts on and you're like, whoa, wait a minute. Okay.
Wendy: [00:56:35] I know. So just a little tip. When you can afford it, get a quiet compressor.
Now they're not quiet. They're not quiet.,
Serena: [00:56:45] But they're quieter.
Wendy: [00:56:46] Well, yeah. And so it's totally worth extra money that you will spend on a quiet compressor. So if you have the money, do that, you know what I mean? You can get a small one of those, uh, but it's much lower volume than the little pancake ones, but if you can't, just get the pancake once I think you'd get those for like 60 bucks.
But if you look on Craigslist or Marketplace, people are selling compressors all the time, so you can just get a used one and it'll be fine. And then you need a really good pair of scissors. Really sharp. There's a brand of scissors that I like. It's called Kai K A I. And there's all different ones with different, you know, blades and shorter and longer ones.
Just get a pair of those. You won't regret it. They are super sharp. Just be careful, your fingertips, as you're cutting. Cause you will slice; you will slice your fingers. I've done that before. I do have a freebie on my website with my favorite upholstery tools, if anyone wants that. So I have them all listed there and, and the brands and stuff, if they're interested.
Serena: [00:57:44] So we'll put a link down below where people can go and get that list. Yeah, no, I completely agree with you about the compressor. I had a compressor. Oh, I'll tell you. I took an upholstery class. This was maybe it was two years ago. There was a local fabric store that had a class and I said, oh, I've got this huge wingback chair.
I'm going to take this chair. Got it from the thrift store for $60. Wendy, this thing sat in my garage for three days. Yeah. And anybody who's followed Thrift Diving, they know the story of the chair. It was in my garage for three years. I finally just decided to sign up for this upholstery class and take it to the upholstery class.
So, because it was only six sessions, I can't remember how many hours, but he said, I think you should just, you know, leave everything intact and just cover it with a new fabric. I'm like, no, we can't do that. We've got to take everything away. This is like, it smells it's dirty. We got to do everything. Oh my gosh, Wendy, I ended up having to take three iterations of this class to get it done.
Wendy: [00:58:41] To finish, yeah.
Serena: [00:58:43] And it was so funny. Remember you were saying that you had taken pictures of, but you had to take the other course because you had forgotten everything you learned. This man was so nice, and he allowed me to record everything, and you know, and I put it on my channel, and it was like a 10 video series. It's actually been doing kind of well, but it took me, it took me a long time to do this chair.
I mean, I learned so many things with this chair. But yeah, so, I mean, I'll leave a link down below if anybody wants to look at those series too. But the compressor that I had when I went in there, it was so loud that, and it was a small room. Everybody could hear it. And there was a woman there who had the, and I don't remember the brand.
I had it sitting down here, but it was a quiet compressor. I believe it was about a hundred dollars and, oh, it's just, it's wonderful. It's, it's not very heavy. I'll leave a link down below. But I would definitely concur with you get the quiet. It's just less frightening.
Wendy: [00:59:39] Definitely. Yeah. And, and, you know, honestly, I mean, when I took my courses, someone brought in a sofa and they had never upholstered before, so that's like the biggest, um, so I, I think my personal feeling on learning upholstery and, you know, I'm biased of course, because, but I, but also being a teacher, having been a teacher in the past, I think you need to work on something that is doable and that you can finish quicker, um, that you can look back and say, look at what I did.
And so my firm belief is that you start on simpler chairs, like dining chairs that are even upholstered in the back. You know, that, or you can work on a balloon back chair that only has a seat, um, learn the webbing techniques, learned the cotton and learn how to put on the foam and the Dacron.
Like the whole, the real upholstery, not just wrapping fabric around a seat. Do the real thing learn, and then you can advance to things that require sewing and cutting, uh, special cuts to be able to get around curves. And you start with something like that it's very defeating. It's very hard. It doesn't have to be hard.
You know, it doesn't have, like, there are things that you can finish in a weekend that would make you feel like, oh my gosh, look at what I just did. I can tackle the rest of the 10 chairs in my dining space, whatever, you know, so--
Serena: [01:01:03] The small wins, you need, you need the small wins. Yeah. I mean, because I get emails from people who say, oh, you know, I saw your wingback chair videos, and I want to do my wingback chair and I've never done it, you know, where do I start?
And I'm like, oh, get another chair. But there was a woman who actually had watched those series and she, she was able to pick apart enough information to do her chair and it looked fantastic. Again, she's like, don't look too close in certain thoughts. Um, but yeah, I think you're right. Start small and then expand out.
And it's really funny because I did a couple of chairs, dining room chairs. I want to say probably in the last six months, gorgeous velvet like a, just a beautiful purple velvet. And because of the things that I learned in that class, I was able to bring it to those chairs and knowing how to get around the corners and, you know, stapling right in the middle and then just pulling out to the sides to get a nice clean-- because normally I wouldn't have done it that way. I would have started at the side, and I would have just worked my way over, but because of what I learned in that class-- I highly recommend people, you know, taking the classes.
Wendy: [01:02:08] Take a class! Oh my God. It makes it so much easier. The mystery is taken out of it. I mean, seriously, it is. I used to think it was a very hard thing to learn before I took my course. And then I realized, oh, it's just step, step, step. You know, you just go in order. Um, yeah, it's so much easier. Like when I took my courses like, oh my gosh, this is so much easier than how I was doing it from a book. You know, it's so hard.
Serena: [01:02:35] But it gives you, it gives you a greater respect for the prices that a professional upholsters charges, because, you know, if you take a sofa to an upholsterer and they're like, oh, it's going to be this much. And you're like, what?
You might as well buy. Yeah, exactly. Just go buy a new sofa or, you know, figure out how to do it on your own. Um, but it, it's a skill. It's a skill. And once, you know, step one, step two. And what, what goes on first? One of the things that I really learned is paying attention to how you take that chair apart. Yeah. Because it gives you the clue as to what needs to go back on first, second and third.
Wendy: [01:03:09] It's just a puzzle.
Serena: [01:03:11] It's a puzzle. Yes!
Wendy: [01:03:12] Take apart. And you put back together. So yes. Take pictures of the order in which you're doing things. That way, you remember how it was on there before, you know? Yes. Yeah.
Serena: [01:03:23] So one of the things that you had mentioned is that you like talking about five things that everyone gets wrong about refinishing chairs, refurbishing chairs. I want to know what are those five things that you think everyone gets wrong? Okay. Well, I know I've done them.
Wendy: [01:03:37] Well, the, the, the number one is we just kind of talked about it. It's, it's too hard to do. Like upholstery is just a skill. It is something that you just need to know the steps of how to do it.
And especially on old chairs, um, you know, you just need to know the steps, so it is not too hard to do, but don't start with the sofa. That's my biggest advice right there. That's, that's one of the things, but the other things I would say is that wood glue fixes everything. Like with old chairs, we often have a wobbly piece on top or an arm that's loose or a leg, even a front leg that could be loose.
What I have found is that I don't like wood glue. I don't even use it anymore. I use JB Weld. It is the best adhesive, It's a package of two little tubes. Um, one is, uh, well, one is black, and one is white, and you mix them together and you apply it.
Serena: [01:04:31] So it's like an epoxy?
Wendy: [01:04:34] And you apply it to the joints. Like you open up the joint, you put it in there and you put it back in, then you clamp it, you tie it down, whatever, use belt, straps, whatever you need to do to keep it in place for 24 hours. That is the best stuff you can fix anything with JB, almost anything with JB Weld. I think 99% of things that can be fixed with JB Weld. It makes it better than new. And it works so much better than wood glue does. So I highly recommend that and I'm not even, I'm not a sponsor or anything. I'm just a big fan of that product. Like, I don't know what I would do if I didn't have that. You can get it at Lowe's, home Depot, Amazon.
Serena: [01:05:11] So when you compared to what glue, what is it that what glue does that you don't, that you feel that it's inferior to using the JB Weld.
Wendy: [01:05:19] Yeah. So like when you take these pieces apart on the old chairs, you'll see a lot of dried up glue in those spots and what I have found, and when I first was doing upholstery, I did use wood glue and I would find that it wouldn't hold the pieces very long.
Um, because old chairs have a shelf life. They do, you know, but like our goal is to extend it, to upcycle as much as possible. And because they're just really cool pieces of furniture, like people don't make anymore. But what I found is that the wood glue would come loose. Whereas when you use JB weld, it has steel in it. And so then the adhesive is really tight. Um, so that's, what I have found is that the wood glue just does not tend to last, even when you scrape all the glue off and what you should do and try to reapply. It may last for a little while, but then eventually it'll come loose again, over time, depending on the piece, but JB Weld you can't go wrong with, no matter what.
Serena: [01:06:16] I will order some.
Wendy: [01:06:17] I need to be a sponsor. I need to make money off of this!
Serena: [01:06:19] You know what, you really should. I mean, I'm telling you, they will pay you big money to use this product, which you already use and love.
Wendy: [01:06:27] Yeah. I'm a big fan.
Serena: [01:06:29] Have your, your VA reach out and send an email to JB Weld. Look them up on Instagram. So what are some of the other-- so those are a couple of things. What are the other things that people tend to get wrong with refurbishing chairs?
Wendy: [01:06:41] Some people, have a problem with painting old chairs and I'm of course this is your opinion, but you know, I mean, like I'm a fan of repainting chairs. I mean, like if sometimes the finishes just don't look good anymore.
They're the reddish mahogany. Well, no one has a lot of that anymore because it's such a dark. And then when you can take something like an old Victorian chair, especially the stranger looking Eastlake chairs that are squarer, but they have some ornate pieces, like painting a funky color of paint. Um, and I always say the fabric should drive the paint color.
So you, you decide on the fabric first, then you decide on your paint color. You won't go wrong that way. Like if we try to decide on a paint color and then try to find a fabric to go, it's very hard. You're very limiting. But like, if you, if you go with darker, more funky colors, like a, like a chalk paint, like from Annie Sloan or something, you know, the Aubusson Blue or Naval, um, or, you know, I mean, I'll even like Paloma, which is a pale lilac, you know, these funky colors make those Victorian chairs just come to life and have such personality.
Um, so that's another tip, uh, that I think is okay to paint old chairs. Do not worry that someone says, oh, you're, de-valuing, you know, a chair.
Serena: [01:08:02] "You ruined it!" That's the line I hear, "You ruined it!"
Wendy: [01:08:04] Bottom line is who's going to buy that ugly chair anyway? Nobody, you're not, there's no value there. Right. So you might as well upgrade it and give it a new life and a new look, which makes it look super cute.
Serena: [01:08:15] Exactly. I mean, and I think anybody that sells on Etsy or has a flea market or something, they'll tell you, you know, even though I think painted furniture, it's still popular. And I know the things that are like stripped and natural that are coming back, but that heavy dark furniture, it's just not popular.
Nobody's using it. Nobody wants to buy it. And if someone buys it, they're going to paint it.
Wendy: [01:08:37] And it has potential! There's such potential for all of it, you know, why not just give it another life? And, um, you know, and, and I am a firm believer anyone in my courses knows this. Cause they post in our Facebook group questions and stuff. Well, what should I do here?
And I'm like, and then people were giving all their opinions, which is fine cause they asked for them. But I'm like, do what makes you happy if you love this, go for it. Who cares if it's the right thing to do, if it's acceptable by society or whatever, like if it makes you happy, do it all for yourself, your space and who cares what other people think about the inside of your space? You're the one living in it, you know? So do what you love. I'm big believer there. Yeah.
Serena: [01:09:21] I agree. Is there anything else that they should, that they're, that they're doing wrong?
Wendy: [01:09:26] I think so. Well, I think one thing that people get wrong about refurbishing chairs is that it's too expensive to do. It's too expensive to get all the tools and things like that. Think about if you were to take it to an upholster. It would cost much more than the whole bulk of tools that I've already listed. It would cost more than that to have that chair redone, plus they probably wouldn't paint it for you. They may charge extra if there's repairs that need to be made.
And also think about like, what if you decided to flip and sell some chairs? I mean, you could more than pay for your tools and you'd only have to do a couple chairs, you know? I mean, like, even if you sold them super cheap, you could pay for, your tools that way. And maybe even upgrade to some of the higher tools that, that a lot of people really want, but just don't want to pay money for like a saw cutter for their foam and things like that.
You know, people, some people really love that and that's important to them or they want to buy an industrial sewing machine to sew double welt cord. So yeah. You can flip and sell a couple of chairs. So it's not too expensive to learn upholstery. I mean, you know, nowadays, I mean, like my courses were $450 a piece, but like my online course is much cheaper than that.
And you can rewatch the videos as much as you want. And there's some videos on YouTube that are free, that you can watch if you want to do that. There are other people who have memberships that you can pay, I don't know, under 30 bucks a month, just to have it access to all their videos of anything you'd want to do.
So, I mean, there's ways to do it that are cheap. Um, and just think of it, not just, you know, you're learning something like it does a lot for your confidence, so it's totally worth the price that you would pay for anything. And I think my last tip on what they get wrong about refurbishing chairs is okay, so there are some chairs that are not worth saving.
Um, If there is a leg that is fractured diagonally on a chair, like let's say a fluted French leg. Um, when it's, when it's fractured at a diagonal, that's a really hard thing to fix. I mean, you probably would need a professional woodworker to go in and put a steel rod inside of it. And then even then it might not save the chair.
So there are times when you need to look at the repairs when you're looking at old chairs to buy and understand that, okay, if it has something like a fractured leg, which is very important because we're sitting on the chairs, you know, that's when I would say ahhh, probably not, probably not for me. I don't want to mess with that.
Cause I would hate to sell a chair and then get an email later, hey, the leg broke out and we fell off the chair or whatever. And he's like, so you just want to be careful about that. But that would probably be the, the point where I would say don't, don't do it, you know, at that point.
Serena: [01:12:10] Yeah. I think at that point, maybe, you know, you turn it into like a planter or you do something where you put it in your yard or do something fun with it.
Wendy: [01:12:16] Yeah, I did that my yard. Yeah, because it was too wobbly, and I knew that there were issues, so you don't want anyone sitting on it. So I put it in my garden with potted plants on top of it and it's cute, you know?
Serena: [01:12:26] Oh, that's so cute. The last thing was that I was really interested in finding out is you had said there were three secrets that interior designers don't want you to know.
Wendy: [01:12:38] Yeah, so, well, I'm not sure that they really don't want us to know, but there are some tips that we could definitely draw from this, you know, so I would say one tip that I've really, come to understand this past year, you know, the whole farmhouse movement where we all, everybody went neutral with their homes, like, color is the new thing now.
Um, and I've always loved color. So I'm thrilled that everyone else is starting to put color in their homes because we're realizing how happy it makes us, I think one secret is those farmhouse homes that we've created, these rooms that we've designed to such a neutral space, are the perfect backdrop for color, to add in super colorful chairs and let those be the star in the room or amazing wild pillows, or some really fun drapes, like pick something to layer in on your farmhouse look, and that completely will totally change the whole space.
It gives you different vibes in the room, go with fabrics and things that you love for sure. Things that really light you up and make you happy. That's what I would say secret number one is.
Um, I think another one is, you know, you start with one piece in a room when you're designing a room, start with one piece and build off of that in steps.
Don't feel like you have to have the whole mood board designed before you go. Like, I go a piece at a time. So I may start, well, I start a room with chairs. Okay. Cause that's what I, that's how I do. Yeah. That's what I do. But everyone starts with something that some other people start with, the rug.
Other people start with the sofa. Some people start with drapes or paint color. I start with the chairs and then I let them be the star. And then I add in accessories, wall art, things like that, that can add the personality into a space and do it a little at a time. It does not need to be done in a day or a weekend because you need time to, to, to look and to think about what is it missing?
what other thing do I need? What other colors should I add? Does it need a rug? And then what colors should that be? Should it be a pattern? Should it be, you know, solid? And so it's a trial and error of putting some things in, take sitting back and looking, does this look right to my eye? Does it make me happy in my space?
And if it does then yes, go for it. Um, so that's my second little secret. And I think the third one is, you know, really in order to make your room a little more joyful for you, because we all need more joy in our lives. Right. And so I think it just really takes us a few accessories. I mean, it can take one chair in a room, make it pop and be fun, to do something super explos--.
It's like art is on the chair is what you want to think about instead of putting the art on the wall, doing on a chair or on a pillow, you know, or, on a piece of art, that's real important to you. Maybe you're, you know, someone in your family painted it. Like my daughter has painted, several paintings that hang in my home and she's not a professional artist at all, but I love her style.
It's very whimsical. It fits what I love. It fits my brand too. And it makes me happy. And plus she's my daughter. So why not put it in here? I don't have to have expensive art in my house to make me happy or to get personality into a space. And that's really what I think we all want to think about is how do we give more of our spaces personality. It's simple with a chair, a piece of art, a really funky rug. Why not? If everything else is calm, go with a wild rug in this space, you know, um, it's or just some accessories for your coffee table can, provide that personality, but do something a little unexpected. If it, if it's your coffee table, add in a funky book, um, that no one would ever think you would have.
You know, on a weird topic, why not put something strange in there because that adds the personality to a space. Those are my three secrets. I'm not sure interior designers don't want us to know it, but those are my three secrets that I would actually do.
Serena: [01:16:37] And your fabrics are beautiful. And I will leave a link down below where people can go and look at your gallery. But and I noticed that most of the fabrics were by one designer. Were these fabrics designed exclusively for your chairs? Cause it's gorgeous. I'm like, I want that fabric!
Wendy: [01:16:51] Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Serena: [01:16:52] Like I can see that on some pillows in my house.
Wendy: [01:16:54] Yeah. I've collaborated with a couple of different artists, actually. I'm about to release a new collection with another artist. So this is for artists out there who paint. I mean, like you can have your stuff printed on fabric, you know, so that's what I've done with a couple people, but I do use a variety of other, like I use a lot of, uh, designer fabrics, like from Schumacher or Cravat, um, Thibaut, um, is another favorite.
Fabricut is another one. So there's all kinds of Ralph Lauren fabric. So there's all kinds of designer, fabrics that I use. Um, and then I use a lot of Mexican textiles, textiles from the Middle East, that I get, they're big blankets that I use for upholstery. You know, I get things from Peru that are more like rugs, but I use them.
So I I'm always on the lookout for something that's colorful, but unique and different. I'm always envisioning something on a chair because that's how I, I go clothing shopping and I'm like, Ooh, that'd be really cool. And a chair, I can't think like a normal person. That's just how I function, but, you know, I think I'm always thinking of how would this look.
Could the placement work on this chair? Just because something is a pretty fabric doesn't mean it's going to necessarily be great on a chair. Like you have to consider a scale of the patterns and things like that. So I love the bigger, the better as far as scale. Because I think it's just more dynamic when you have a tiny little print, it can work, but it depends on the chair.
And what kind of look you're going for, but yeah, I, I really love the fabrics. I have a course on sourcing swoon- worthy fabrics that, shows it's 37 bucks. It shows you how I. For fabric. So you don't have to be a part of the, to the trade to get a lot of these fabrics. I mean, some of them you do, but other things you can actually find in other places online as you hunt down.
So I kind of give all my best tips for hidden source fabrics that are really amazing and statement worthy in their homes.
Serena: [01:18:51] So is there, something that you've been wanting to learn? Like, is there something new that you've been wanting to add to your business or a skill that you personally are working on right now?
Wendy: [01:19:03] Oh boy. Um, I would really love to learn surface area design. Um, I think that that would be really fun. I have taken a painting course and I'm not really good because I'm a beginner. Um, I, uh, I don't expect to be great at it at all. Sometimes I do things that just stretch me and put me in a beginner's mode so I can remember how it feels to be new at something, to feel a little apprehensive about trying something new.
So I try to put myself in those situations because it stretches me. It makes me more creative. It puts me out of my comfort zone. So I think that's always a good thing to do, whether I can envision this being something for my business or not. But, surface area design, I think sounds really interesting.
If I could paint a few little designs or do some block printing is another thing that I'm just starting to take a course on how to do block printing and create fabrics. So that is something I would envision doing for my chairs and to have my own little line of fabrics, that's more block printing because block printing has become a very big thing right now. Um, so I, I would really love to do more of that.
Serena: [01:20:18] So where do you take a class? Is there a place that, you know, online where people --
Wendy: [01:20:22] I do online courses. Yeah, so I'm taking, I'm taking online courses, so I've done, uh, Carrie Schmitt has a painting course, on how to paint florals. And she's an artist that I've collaborated with.
I think another artist that I'm collaborating with Lori Siebert, I think she is in the process of putting together some courses as well to teach painting and collage. And the block printing course is, one I found, it's a UK company called create academy and it's Molly Mahon. And so she's actually designed some fabrics for Schumacher that are amazing. I use some of her fabrics, her block print fabrics in my camper when I did my camper revamper.
Serena: [01:21:00] Can we see your camper on Instagram?
Wendy: [01:21:02] Okay. Hey, so yes, but I also have a freebie on my website, on my freebie page, on my camper, uh, redesign and it shows all the products and where I got them all and everything.
So I have a whole freebie with a bunch of pictures on it. Um, on my website, if there, if anyone's interested in seeing it.
Serena: [01:21:17] We'll find the link and we'll leave the link down below. I want to see that.
Wendy: [01:21:21] It's just, that was a really a blast to do. Um, so anyway, but she does block printing and so she has a course that it's, so I'm taking that and it's really good so far, I'm kind of in the middle of it.
So, um, yeah, I'm always on the lookout to do fun things. You know, like anybody, it's hard to find the time to do extra things, but you know, you kind of need to
Serena: [01:21:41] You're investing in yourself. Investing in yourself and your knowledge and your trade.
Wendy: [01:21:44] And you're having some fun!
Serena: [01:21:47] You look like someone who likes to have fun and they like to have learn and just try new things. I love it. Well, you can tell from your chairs. I would be completely surprised if when I spoke to you, you're like, Hey, I'm Wendy. And I like to do chairs. Like, no, your, your chairs are so fun that it just matches your personality.
Wendy: [01:22:05] Yeah. They are fun. I mean, that's what keeps it interesting. And, um, you know, and I, I come from the perspective of I'm designing the things I love, and I hope other people will love them too, but I'm not, I'm not doing them for others. I'm doing them for me. And I think when you can do that, with a little bit of luck, there are other people who, tend to love the same kind of things that you do too.
Serena: [01:22:28] Yes. You find your tribe of people. One last question is, out of all the chairs that you have designed, that you have created, what was your favorite one? Like, do you have a favorite project, or it have, maybe there's a story behind it.
Wendy: [01:22:43] Yeah. So my favorite one or my it's ones, um, it's my Frida chairs.
Serena: [01:22:48] I saw those, I love them!
Wendy: [01:22:50] My daughter, so I have her, that's the art I have around my house. So my daughter created a Frida painting for me years ago and gave it to me, I think for Christmas or my birthday or something like that.
And then like for the next year or so every holiday, like she paints something else for me for mother's day, give me another painting. And so I framed them and put them in my house, and I started thinking, okay, would this be so weird to put these on a chairs? And so I said, okay, I have four, can you paint me two more?
So I paid them to paint me a couple more and we did a couple other, so I have six, actually I have seven because she just did a new one for me that I'm saving, it's going to be a part of a new collection. But, um, but she did that and I thought, okay, so I did a party at my house too. And so I do these release parties and I haven't had one in a couple of years because of the Coronavirus.
So I've done release parties where I open my house up. I invite the public to come in and we have cocktails and some snacks and things like that. People can come through and have a drink and, and, uh, cocktails and chairs and cake is usually what I call it. And so people come over, it's all the things I love.
And so they come over and see them. And I told someone that night that I released them like, okay, this is either absolutely ridiculous or it's genius what I just did. I don't know that it's either, it's probably somewhere in the middle, but, but they are really fun set of chairs. It's kind of like, I could see, uh, a women's conference room with these Frida's on the backsides of the chairs.
The front sides are just a solid velvet and has a gold frame. But to me it's like girl power, you know? Um, I just love it. I love that set. They they've just been so fun to create and plus just being able to honor my daughter's art who doesn't think she's an artist, but she is, I mean, everyone wants [inaudible], and she doesn't want to do it.
You know, I'm like, you're crazy. She's an engineering student. So, but she is really talented at it. And I think it's a good outlet for her. So who knows where her future is going to take her, but she's, she's good at many things.
Serena: [01:24:49] Nice. So where can people find you.
Wendy: [01:24:52] So you can find me on Instagram and, Facebook @chairwhimsy. My website is ChairWhimsy.com. I publish a blog every week, and I do a newsletter every Sunday with my new blog. Letting people know what's coming up, what's up to date, you know, any announcements, so they can find everything. You can find my courses on my website, under my tab that says courses if you're interested in learning anything new that has to do with fabrics or chairs.
And yeah, I show up every day on social media. I'm also on Pinterest at Chair Whimsy. So I would love for them to follow me. It'd be fun.
Serena: [01:25:25] All your links will be down below and in the show notes so that people can follow you because I think people are going to love you.
And I hope they enjoyed listening to these episodes. And I, I apologize for taking so much of your time, but it was so much fun talking to you that I was like, I can't let you go. There's more I need to know!
Wendy: [01:25:40] Oh, I'm glad.
Serena: [01:25:42] Thank you so much, Wendy. All right. Thank you.