I recently received this e-mail entitled “The turning of the tide?”…
I wanted to pick your wonderful, creative brain for a moment and not as a reply on your webpage. I began painting furniture not too long ago, my style is what I would call French farmhouse with an English twist. Recently I have noticed that things have slowed down a bit for painted furniture and wonder where you see the trend going? I believe even you have taken a small step back for reflection. I have a lot invested and have a booth I am about to open this month and would like to think I am on the right track to building a business I can continue when I retire in the next 4-5 years. I would appreciate any insight you may have.”
Dear Reader (to the who feels like it’s too late),
I get asked a variation of this question a lot. Is it too late for me to jump into this business? To start a blog? To sell painted furniture? To rent a booth in an antique store or even open my own shop? Is the market too saturated? Has that ship sailed and I missed it?
I think the answer isn’t a simple yes or no, but I’m going to make a blanket, hopeful statement and say, “No, it’s not too late.”
I will make some qualifying statements, though, and share my thoughts behind that statement.
I know people are asking this question, because the market feels oversaturated. Everywhere you turn there is a new blogger, new furniture painter, new small creative business popping up. And it’s really, really hard to not compare yourself to all of them and the ones that are already established.
Here are a few practical reasons why I don’t think it’s too late…
- I have seen people jump into this business, very recently, and have seen their success.
- People are always going to need to furnish their homes, so I can’t imagine furniture ever becoming obsolete.
- The popularity of Fixer Upper has given an even bigger boost to home decorating, farmhouse style, antiques, etc. It’s perhaps more “mainstream” now than ever.
- People are always going to look to other people for inspiration, ideas, and entertainment. Blogs and social media will continue to change and evolve, but it’s just the how that will change, not the what. (Does that make sense? We’ll still share our stories and how-to’s, but it just might not be in the same format.)
Now for the qualifiers.
- It’s most likely going to be an uphill battle, but don’t let that discourage you. That’s true of almost all small business ventures or, heck, even trying new things. You have to want it, dig for it, reach for it, and work ridiculously hard for it.
- You have to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Your biggest asset is that you’re uniquely you, so embrace that. I can’t tell you how that’s going to look, but I would encourage you to intentionally seek out your creative sweet spot and set up camp there.
- You have to keep a few windows open in case a door closes. In other words, your business has to be diverse and flexible, so you can withstand changes in trends and the market. I have four distinct aspects to my business – my blog, retail (antiques, home decor & furniture), products (the paint line, glitter, brushes, books, etc), and freelance work (photography, writing, styling, and design). It may seem like I’m a crazy lady for doing that much, but it’s actually just good business. I know I can shift gears as this industry evolves. Diversity can be as simple as selling a variety of products in a booth or selling in a shop AND online or offering custom work in addition to pieces you paint and sell.
I wish I could assure each of you that you’ll jump in and be wildly successful, but I obviously can’t do that.
But, if you have a fire in your belly to write a blog, to sell painted furniture, to deal antiques, to turn your creative hobbies in to a business, then do it. Go for it with all you’ve got and see what happens.
Because I can tell you one thing for certain…
You’ll never know if you never try.
All the best to you dreamers and doers,
PS – The pictures in this post were taken in Signature Finishes in Grafton, Mass.
PPS – While we’re on the topic of just doing something, I’ve decided that I like wearing antique petticoats. I know it’s eccentric and they make my hips look even wider than they are, but I just love them and I’m going to wear them. And that’s that.