Where it all began

Marian ParsonsMiscellaneus, my business story, Running a Business18 Comments

So, who is Miss Mustard Seed?  I was one of those girls who would arrange and rearrange the furniture in my doll house. I liked vacuum marks in the carpet and a smooth bedspread with fluffed pillows when I was only in 6th grade. As an adult I discovered Country Living, Country Home, and Better Homes & Gardens. I would wait eagerly each month for my new issues and joined numerous book clubs to build my decorating library. I came to learn that I loved toile, ironstone, white slipcovers, french country style, and antiques.

One month I received my Better Homes & Gardens magazine and there it was…this beautiful home with hand painted Swedish motifs on the walls in every room. I love the painted welcome in the entrance, the fresh white, creamy yellow, and soft blue.

I replicated this painted wreath & swag in the family room of my current home. (See the second picture at https://missmustardseed.com/2009/09/my-family-room-before-after/)

I did this hand painted design in the kitchen of my last home. Currently I have a blue & white version in my dining room.

Oh! Those gorgeous red cabinets and the hand painting around the pass through…although my style has changed a bit, I still love these pictures.

I was drawn to the sophisticated European style and thought, “I want to do this in my house!” At the time, I lived in a rental and couldn’t paint the walls. So, I painted furniture. I taught myself how to paint through books, articles, HGTV shows, and trial & error. I painted a lot of ugly things along the way and I am still learning, even as a professional decorative artist.

My point in sharing this is to inspire. I am not a trained artist…OK, I did go to a fine arts college, but I was a musical theatre major and the only painting I did was in my set design class. I am just the kind of person who says, “I love that toile pillow, but it’s $50! Maybe I can make it myself for $10.” Or I see a beautiful piece of hand painted furniture that’s $3000, good night! So, the only way I will have a piece like that is to learn to paint and do it myself.

How did this become a business?
If someone had told me that I would be a professional artist and a business owner a few years ago, I would’ve laughed.  I am not a business minded person.  And, as I stated earlier, am not a trained artist.  No one would buy what I painted and I would mess up my taxes and finances, anyway.  I would fail.  Necessity (and my mom) pushed me to start this business, not any grand vision or confidence in my own abilities. 

My husband is a youth pastor and the ministry is not a field you go in to if you want to make a ton of money.  I left my job at a recruiting manager to work with my husband and later became a stay-at-home mom to our two precious boys.  We could manage on one income and, although things we tight, we could support our family.  Then…the school loan came due.  We had to start making payments and had no way to make them.  We also had a string of mishaps that left me feeling down and in tears most days. 

One day, in my sad state, my mom told me to stop crying and start using my talents to make money.  “But what about insurance…what about supplies…what about costs…what about taxes…where will I get clients…what if I fall off a ladder into a paint can?”  My mom said she and my dad would be my investors and I should “just do it.”  Mustard Seed Creations was officially filed as a business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the next week.  My parents bought me a laptop, painting equipment and supplies, a copier/fax/printer/scanner, a cricut, projector, Quickbooks Pro, marketing materials, a web address, training with an accountant, furniture to get me started…everything.  My husband was 100% supportive and offered additional help with the kids and even put together my first advertising flier. 

My mom drove me store to store in downtown Gettysburg to market my hand painted ornaments to sell.  That day, I met the owner of the shop that sells all of my furniture, accessories, and antiques.  I spent over an hour in that store, pricing my ornaments to sell and my mom waited in the car with my boys (a 5 month old and a 2 year old at the time.)

This business has not only become a financial help to our family, but it has given me a creative outlet that I couldn’t have imagined.  I love decorating and DIY and now it’s my business.  I “have” to go to yard sales and thrift stores and auctions.  I often tell my husband as I’m going out the door at 7:00 am on a Saturday that, “It’s my job.”  Just one of the perks!  It’s been terrifying and rewarding all at the same time.   

So anyone can own a creation…

One of my commitments with Mustard Seed Creations is to have murals and hand painted furniture be affordable. In fact, a lot of my furniture in our shop sells for less than a junky piece that needs major repair at the Furniture Barn down the road. And that’s intentional. Yes, this is a business, but I love doing it and want it to be accessible to the average family.

Where it all began

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18 Comments on “Where it all began”

  1. What an excellent post!!! Have you ever been to Sweden? My dad was 100% Swedish…so I grew up around a lot of pretty things decorated with tole painting. When I was 20, I was blessed to be able to spend a few days with my dad's business partner's family in Halmstad, Sweden. It was there that we visited an exquisite little chapel with floor to ceiling tole painting. Ahh..it was stunning!

    : )

    Julie M.

  2. I remember that story in BH&G.; Thanks for stopping by my blog today and making a comment. I love the work you do and COMPLETELY envious of your basement. Too bad I'm not closer we could collaborate – or I could break in and take your treasures. 🙂 Best of luck with your new Etsy store.

  3. Hello Miss Mustard Seed,

    It's so nice to meet you! Thank you very much for your kind visit to my blog. I really appreciate it. You're always welcome!

    Your blog is wonderful! The hand painted cabinets are so elegant and beautiful. They are some of my all time favorite decorating magazines. I'm sure I was cleaning my room and enjoying it by 6th grade as well. I know what you mean. ~Smiles.

    ~Blessings my friend, ~Melissa 🙂

  4. I love this story! Thank you. I love your work and creations! And I LOVE your mom and dad!!!

    My husband's dad was Swedish. We have a most beautiful hand made cabinet in our home. It makes me smile!

    BTW, I still have that same copy of BH&G; too! That issue made me so happy. All those colors and all those verses on the wall! Really out of the box for this upstate New York girl! But I'm beginning to crawl out of the box now any way!! Can't wait to read what you and Donna have planned! Thank you, thank you!!


  5. Thank you for you inspiring post. I only hope I can be half a successful as you have been. You story is very similar to ours and it's nice to hear you have had such success! Many Blessings and thanks for all you do!

  6. I love your work .My story is very similar .I am thinking to put my furniture to antique store and see If people will buy. the rent is $350 10×10 Please give me some idea how I can start.

    You can see my furniture on Facebook ” lavanttehome” or lavanttehome.etsy.com

    Thank you!


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