Sunday, February 16, 2014

Travel Elixer For Burnout! Recap of Building a Business!

Building a business from scratch is kind of like pregnancy -- except the condition lasts a lot longer! TLC Vintage Collection is the second business I have built from ground up, so I knew what I was getting into! Like a planned pregnancy, it all begins with an idea -- Wouldn't it be great to have a child --- OR, in this case, have a quaint little paint and vintage shop? And in both situations, conception is a great deal of the excitement and fun! LOL

I didn't have nine months to come up with a name though. I had about a minute and a half when I successfully phone interviewed with Lisa Rickert, CEO of Annie Sloan Unfolded, in August 2011 and she approved me to become the first Iowa stockist for Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan. "What business name should I put on the contract," she asked. Out popped a very "Janet is a Virgo" buttoned-up name: TLC Vintage Collection LLC. And so a business was conceived without a lot of thought to the name. I so wish it was something catchier, like: Vintage Flair, Capital City Emporium or Vanity Flair! Fortunately, my talented son Chris Saldanha is a graphic designer and came up with a logo I like very much! He knows me well.

That was a Wednesday, and Chalk Paint® would arrive for sale in Iowa two days later! What's a gal to do? Well, I contacted a lawyer to form an LLC, started this blog, build a sales on-line website at, reserved a locked case at The Brass Armadillo, and I am not sure when I first set up the TLC Facebook is all a blur that first 48 hours --including emptying out part of the garage to have a spot for the paint! Fortunately, the weather was not hot and the paint could be in the garage for a month or so.

Within a month -- which had included arrival of the paint, 10 day trip east to do my training in High Point, NC -- and a whirlwind of sales from my home, the antique mall and on-line -- I needed to expand and opened a booth at the mall. Here was our feeble first attempt!

Two months later we expanded at the mall again, got rid of the case, and put the paint out where people could take it from the shelf to checkout themselves. All this done without a bank loan, but not taking any money home either. Everything we made went into more inventory. And the hunt began for the next step -- retail space. I compare this point to the time in pregnancy when you don't want to admit that your jeans just won't work anymore and you have to opt for maternity clothes. Growth is inevitable and requires change.

Sherwood Forest Shopping Center on Hickman Road in Windsor Heights, bordering Urbandale. Why? Loved the half tudor look, loved direct path from either I235 or I80W-I35S, and easy enough from the northern side of the city freeway. Price was right, lots of parking for customers and delivery semis, location great just 5 minutes from home, open floor plan!

Things were a bit slim when we opened. And our paint display was a bit -- well, basic! But it was April and we were going to Junk Jubilee for the first time, had been to our first Annie Sloan convention and were about to launch our first teaching workshop in our new space! Operating on slim margins -- and quite frankly still are!

So that was the first eight months of TLC Vintage Collection and Chalk Paint® at its new Central Iowa Headquarters! And now it is almost two years later! Our work has become a bit more sophisticated and our workshops more frequent and varied in topic. Taking furniture from this look....

To this look....

Improving our display from this look.....

to this look.....

So I am a little on the edge of burnout, so I am hitting the road with my gal pal Lynn. Travel has always been my elixir  when I feel fried! I have wanderlust which led me to a life in Europe in my 20s and early 30s. It has taken me to wonderful places on this continent, in the Pacific and throughout Europe. But now there is nothing like a Junk Jaunt with a friend -- with just a little bit of Thelma and Louise in us to make it daring but not dangerous -- to refresh the mind and the soul. So spend some time here on our blog this week as we head out on a plane in predicted winter mix tomorrow for Texas in search of rusty gold and vintage finds!

No comments:

Post a Comment