I used to have this very professional, stuffy-shirt type About message over here. Something about (literally) what I could offer as a company, all the stuff I do as a Faux Finisher, and of course that infamous tag line "a decorative treatment installation firm that provides high quality faux finishes using paint, glaze or plaster techniques"
But lately I've been thinking more and more that its far more important to tell you my story, not all that uber professional stuff because, well, that uber professional and stiff person, see that just isn't me.
Let's start at the start.
As a kid my absolute favorite activity was coloring. Lord knows I probably have ADD, or whatever my generation's equivalent of the disease was, and the act of sitting down to pick the perfect color to stay inside those lines was calming and organized. My brain really fell into line and I could do it for hours. During the times when I wasn't coloring I would either be outside playing (because we did that kind of stuff back then!) or reading a book.
So it was no surprise to me that I found myself in school for a degree in Interior Design about 12 years after high school graduation. HGTV was like crack in my house, TLC's "Trading Spaces" was a show I stayed home to watch. My husband and I suddenly found ourselves renovating an 1850's farmhouse and all of those skills I was learning started to come into play. But the further I went in school the more I started thinking that the creative part showed up less and less.
We put that farmhouse on the market and promptly sat on it, while both living in it and living in New York, for five years. We tried everything from staging to great paint colors, from dropping the price to seeing what we could throw in for free. Nothing was working, we barely had any lookers and the economy plummeted. We went up there on the weekends to spiff it up and make sure it was ready for open houses. We called it our Vacation Home in the Ghetto. We eventually walked away but I'll get to that in a few...
We had moved to Long Island a few years before the bitter end of the house and during my stint as an ID student. The move was so Matt could garner a step up position with a pretty well respected mortgage company at the time. I secured an extremely high paying job as an Executive Assistant and between the two of us we were making well into the six figures. Just enough to carry two house payments and still afford gas to get back and forth every Friday/Sunday.
But my job was mind numbing. I went to work to sit and do my schoolwork all day. If I made one travel arrangement, a couple file folder labels and answered 10 calls a week it was a busy one. Can someone say snore? I wrote in my journal a lot and threw myself into school. But then something in me clicked.
The money was great but I came home everyday more tired than when I woke up in the morning. There was nothing going to kick start my brain and, as we now know from the early childhood coloring passion, having my brain active was pretty important to me if I wasn't doing creative based task work. I took a sick day and just so happened to be on craigslist at the right place/right time because there was a Faux Finisher looking for an assistant.
The money was about 1/3 what I'd been making as an EA. My husband told me if I didn't take it that he'd go quit my job for me. Never before in my life had I quit without a notice but I wrapped up the last file folder label, ordered enough supplies to get the office through a few weeks, wrote a checklist of all the stuff I was supposed to do in a given day, left it on my desk and walked out with my co-worker on a Friday night at 5:00. I told her I was planning to send our boss an email when I got home that I would not be returning on Monday. I don't think she was entirely surprised but I saw a look pass across her face that read 'how can you give up this kind of salary to be a painter???'
On Monday morning I started my first finishing job and something inside me, though nervous I'd mess it up because I'd never done that kind of finish before, calmed down for the first time since I was about 9 years old.
I dove in. I learned everything from the amazing group of girls I worked with. I loved working for her, I loved Finishing. And then the bottom fell out of the mortgage industry. In what felt like the snap of a finger Matt's company closed, about 200 other companies closed. We couldn't pay all those bills on just my painting salary. We wouldn't have been able to carry it all even if I'd stayed at Comaville. We couldn't stay on LINY with the other 6000+ people out looking to fill the 10 jobs available. We moved back to Boston and I left the gals behind.
We let the house go, we gave up trying to stay afloat when we had to take a 75% pay cut just to have somewhere to live. It was a very trying time and we ate a lot of chicken soup, enchiladas and anything else I could make in bulk. I had been off the merry-go-round too long and couldn't find anything that paid. I decided to use the skills I had garnered in LINY and start my own finishing business.
Chucka Stone Designs was born as soon as we arrived in Boston. I began doing finish installs for family, friends and garnered some clients outside my circle in the process as well. By this time I had left ID school as the more involved I became the more I realized I loved the hands on, not the lead up to it work that a Designer does. We moved around a lot, Matt got and lost/left a few different jobs and then he settled into a pretty cool company and position a couple years ago.
He found that he was still just as good at it as he used to be and knew it was a good move for many reasons. I kept pushing the Finishing business but decided to go back to school for English (a long story for another day but, despite the coloring saga, writing is really where my soul lies).
Things happened. Life changed. We started to get ahead again, we realized there was no way we could ever afford to buy in Boston though and then Mother Nature dumped about 140,000 inches of snow on us in January-February of 2011. Matt worked out a deal to work as a telecommuter. With not too many clients to leave behind and an itch for adventure we knew it was the right time to leave. Phoenix here we come!
When we moved to Arizona this past summer I suddenly had a revelation. My Etsy shop had been open for four years but I never did much with it. In Arizona licensing is complicated and expensive to be an in-home contractor. It occurred to me that while I was in school I was asked to write upwards of four articles/essays a week. I could work on my blog, spread the love to other blogs and essentially write for a living.
But I could take all that stuff I'd learned over the years in various corporate jobs, in running my own fairly successful business, in creative realms like faux or pattern design, and I could apply it all to being a full time writer with a part time retail shop on the side.
Etsy has been a super cool venue and the more I learn about how to use it the more engaged I become with the whole process. I'm learning how to write good blog content, how to advertise, how to be an advertiser, even more techniques for being successful in my business and creative endeavors, and also I love (read: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!) working from home every day.
And that's where I'm at right now.
As life evolves, so will I. So will Matt. So will the way we apply ourselves to the things we do and the things we love. I am really excited to have you along with me for the journey.