BUSINESS // I OPENED MY FIRST STORE-FRONT!

Since my last post, a LOT has happened, so let me first catch you up in one long run-on sentence… in the last 5 months I opened an online decor store, I’ve taken some new design clients, I had a bit of a health scare which ultimately caused me to get a lumpectomy (I promise I’ll get around to sharing more about this another post, and why it was one of the best things that has happened to me), and finally, each one of those milestones and hurdles lead me to quitting my corporate job and opening my first brick and mortar store!

PHEW! It’s been a crazy season of life, but I’ve never been so sure about a path forward.

I’m sitting in my store writing this post and it just feels surreal. It was only 6 weeks ago that I was handed the keys, and now I’m sitting in a totally transformed space that is basically my soul projected in real life. (Sounds dramatic, but it’s exactly how I feel 😭🙏🏼)

So how did we get here!? Well, it was a lot of moving parts and pieces coming together all so perfectly that it’s felt like a sign through and through.

First, like many, I have been working from home since March of 2019. I was fortunate to have a job that didn’t require us to be in the office. While my hours were longer than ever since I was in advertising for a healthcare company, I started to get the hang of the new expectations and achieved a bit of work-life balance. Getting back those two hours in my commute each day, and saving money from expensive city parking, gas and coffee runs really impacted our life for the better.

The last 4 years since moving to our small town of Zelienople, (for those of you not familiar, Zelie is a small town 25 minutes north of Pittsburgh, PA) we’ve been dreaming of opening some sort of store-front, so I would check the commercial real-estate sites every month or so since moving here. The only hang up about being in a small town is that deals are more often made by knowing someone, than advertised online. So we never really saw a space that peaked our interest.

Fast forward to last fall, I achieved some work-life balance and still couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of doing something that was just all my own. If you’ve followed me since the beginning, you’ve been around for some other entrepreneurial ventures… jewelry, vinyl items & graphic baby clothes. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug and I’ve never been afraid to give something a go. All of those were more of an idea to capitalize on a trend, rather than a passion, so none of them felt quite right.

But one nagging feeling remained – wanting to living a life owned by me, doing something I truly feel passionate about.

So, the online home decor store was born. I’ve taken a few decorating clients over the last few years, and my instagram & blog was growing while I expanded into that space. It was something I was passionate about, I could run it from my home, and I could use my home as a stage for styling products. It truly just felt so right.

It took me quite a few months of searching for high quality vendors, setting up all of the right legal, and tax docs, building the website (coming from advertising, I’m extremely picky about presentation & design so this was a long process for me 😅), researching shipping, and lastly getting our home basement set up to become a stockroom for the store! I can get into all the details in a later post, but there were a few hiccups and hurdles with both the business and life that pushed my origonal launch out from November to the end of January.

When I did finally launch, the response was overwhelming. I had so much support from friends, family and you guys, my insta-girlfriends, who have followed me over the years. I was overjoyed and inspired like never before. Packing each and every order made my soul so happy.

Quite serendipitously, two weeks later I happen to be checking the real-estate sites, and to my surprise the most perfect store front had popped up just a day before! I was familiar with it, because I had shopped there and knew the store owner well from working with her on collabs in the past. She was moving down the street, leaving a beautiful 1650 sq. ft. main street location up for grabs. I couldn’t believe it. I had been looking for almost 4 years, and this was the first time I had ever seen something like this pop up in our town. You could understand how this had felt like a sign – a big, bold, flashing, neon sign!

I immediately showed it the hubs and he felt it too. After going through a health scare, it changed our perspective on life and what we should be spending our time on. Unrelated, we also started setting ourselves up for entrepreneurship at the beginning of 2019, financially, and just as importantly, mentally preparing as well. We had a feeling it was a matter of time before an opportunity hit, and we wanted to be ready when it did. So while we had been working towards it, there was no questioning the timing and how perfectly the stars aligned.

Because I had just launched my online store, a large portion of the pre-work was done, which allowed me to move fast & furiously. The storefront popped up on a Thursday, we had contacted the realtor on a Monday, and I was giving my employer notice two weeks later. 😳 Of course research, a seriously in-depth business plan, and hard conversations came in between… but truly, it was that quick. I had 4 weeks until lease take-over to design an entire store, find a contractor, a signage vendor, order flooring, build a retail counter, and oh… don’t forget squeezing in a casual lumpectomy somewhere in between! 😂 I was going to bed at midnight and waking up at 4. It was pure and utter chaos, but I was never so sure or energized about something in my life.

Now 6 weeks later I’m surrounded by a beautiful space with beautiful things I can’t wait to share with the world. It has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and I’m just getting started!

If you’ve made it this far in my post, that means you are likely interested in more details about owning a business, what you need to do to get started, and some highs and lows about the process. While I wanted to write this first post to catch you up on how we got here, I’d love to write another answering all of your questions! Drop a comment below with anything you are curious about, or send me a DM on insta! I have a good base to get started, but would love to answer a few more in a permanent home here on the blog!

P.S. If you haven’t checked out the store, we’re at 200 S. Main Street, Zelienople, PA & online at nuelookathome.com. You can now find a link to the store in the main navigation too!

No Comments

Leave a Reply