I bet you’d never guess that before I opened my business 7 years ago I was waiting tables.

If you’re curious about my journey and how I went from waiting tables to an established small business owner then keep reading because I am gonna take you way back to where it all began.

oh crap, that crazy dream I had actually worked.

It’s been over 7 years since I got the keys to my first-ever brick and mortar shop. 7 years! The journey has been truely one of the most transformative things I have ever done in my life. It’s pretty freakin awesome to look at something that I created and be like oh crap, that crazy dream I had actually worked. Jaw drop moment.

Boho Bungalow 2012
Boho Bungalow way back in the beginning when we sold vintage furniture and went by the name, Vintage By Design

Jeff and I were living in Costa Rica when we correctly prophesied that if we didn’t get back to California and buy a house quickly we would be priced out of the market.

So I guess the story really begins in 2010. My husband Jeff and I were living in Costa Rica when we correctly prophesied that if we didn’t get back to California and buy a house quickly we would be priced out of the market. So we packed up our dog and all of our most precious belongings and headed back to California. I had been living out of the state and country since I had moved to Hawaii 14 years earlier when I was 17 years old. Though California has always felt like home, it had been a minute since I was an official resident.

Before Boho Bungalow
Our first year in business when we sold vintage furniture

I did what I had to do until I could do what I wanted to do.

We purchased a 1990’s ranch house on 7 acres of land in the nowhere town of Cazadero in Sonoma County. It was all very lovely, save for the fact that we were kinda in the middle of nowhere, and there was very few employment opportunities. I really wanted a job in architectural 3D drafting. I applied to every architectural company in the area but the timing was terrible, and me resumé wasn’t that exciting. So I followed Oprah’s words of wisdom and I did what I had to do until I could do what I wanted to do. I got a job waiting tables at a restaurant, it payed the bills. After almost 2 years of that, I was starting to feel desperate to make a change.

Before Boho Bungalow
More before photos from our vintage furniture days

I had become pretty skilled at buying furniture on the cheap and fixing it up.

I ended up giving notice with absolutely no plan and no safety net. I kinda had a vague idea about wanting to flip furniture. We had just moved into a big house and with virtually no budget for furnishings, I had become pretty skilled at buying furniture on the cheap and fixing it up. I really enjoyed it and I wanted to see if I could turn my furniture side hustle into my full-time income source. I didn’t have a super clear vision of what that would look like, but I was determined to make a go of it.

Looking back there was probably a little bit of kismet or fate at play because I didn’t go around looking for store fronts. I was just driving through Occidental one day when I saw a for-rent sign. I signed a lease and bam, I had a storefront. Now the story is far from over because the store that I opened 7 years ago is dramatically different than the Boho Bungalow you know today.

Before Boho Bungalow
Back when we were Vintage By Design and had like 5 things in the store, lol

Everything about the shop has changed, even our name.

Everything about the shop has changed, even our name. We opened as, Vintage By Design, because I sold vintage furniture, so yeah that made sense. Now people naturally assume that since I completely changed my name and my inventory that selling vintage furniture was probably a bust, and they wouldn’t be completely wrong, but I have to say depending on the yard stick you’re using, in some ways it was wildly successful. Not to get too far into the ends and outs of retail, but essentially one of the ways to measure the health of a retail business is by how many times a year they turn their inventory. The standard turn rates is about 4 turns per year. The more turns the more successful the store is. Currently we do between 4 to 5 turns per year, which is healthy. But you guys my vintage furniture store did 10 to 12 turns a year which is bonkers. But you know why it wasn’t a sustainable business even at that turn rate, it’s because I was super limited in the amount of inventory that I was able to source. I was combing through craigslist adds, showing up at every flea markets and estate sales and I could never amass enough inventory to reach my goals. Another kicker was just how labor intensive moving that amount furniture is. It was just me and my little black pick-up. I would travel all over the Bay Area wheeling and dealing for vintage coffee tables and teak rockers, it wasn’t the worst and it felt truly amazing that I was able to carve out a demand for this business I created, but after a few years the hours upon hours of driving and the volume of stuff that I was moving just got to be too much. So I made some major changes to the inventory I offered and that’s essentially how we became the Boho Bungalow. It’s not the store I set out to create, but I believe it was always meant to be this way, and I couldn’t be more in love with the end result.

Hey! It’s me Faith, just working at my shop

7 years later, with 6 employees, 2 brick and mortars, over 7,000 Instagram followers and an online shop I feel like I am an established business owner

Now this is just some quick snippets that doesn’t begin to tell of all the failures, life lessons and learning that happened between here and there. But now, 7 years later, with 6 employees, 2 brick and mortars, over 7,000 Instagram followers and an online shop I feel like I am an established business owner and gosh darn it I am proud of that! I have so many plans to grow and so many goals that I am striving for, but I am terrible at taking a step back and saying look at this phenomenal progress, you did this!

Even more to the point is that there’s nothing that uniquely qualified me for this position. There are dozens of more reason why this shouldn’t have worked. And yet somehow, I was just scrappy enough to pull this one off.

What about you? Are you scared that you’re not qualified to be the person you dream of being? I wasn’t about to use that as an excuse for going after what I wanted and you shouldn’t either.

2 chairs get a Bohohemian Furniture makeover

Back when I first opened my shop in the later part of 2012 I was in a real junk-hungry state. Possible it stemmed from being overly optimistic, like that pathetic chic who still sees potential in her boyfriend even though he’s in jail, again. Or maybe it was an over-confidence in my own skills and commitment, thinking that I could take a cast-aside item and make it valuable again, much as an alchemist takes ordinary medal and transforms it to gold. Regardless of it’s root cause, the end result was a garage full of junk that would’ve been better off had it been left where it was found. If these chairs could talk they would tell you some stories, they spent 4 long and dusty years watching new projects come, old projects get finished and make that coveted transition from garage-junk to admired home decor.  Meanwhile I couldn’t quite wrap my little brain around just what I wanted for them. I could tell that they had real potential as I am nearly certain they’re original Milo Baughman and would just need to be re-covered to reveal the beauty lurking within. After much deliberation I settled on African Mudcloth which is a very bold and trendy look, but I am ecstatic with how they turned out and I gaze upon them with admiration everyday knowing just how far they’ve come in their journey.

Here’s the budget breakdown;
Chairs $25 each Vintage
Mudcloth Urban Outfitters 3 panels at $69 each
Upholstery cost $150 for each chair

Before photo of Milo Baughman mid-century teak chairs

Invaluable life lessons from 3 of the industries top designers

I’ve had a pretty amazing August, in which I flew across the country to meet some of the industries top designers. These design Mavens all have dynamic careers in which they employ a variety of their talents. I can’t wait to share with you what I learned, so read along as I unveil valuable insight garnered from these talented designers/authors/bloggers and TV personalities.

Justin Blakeney and Faith Parker at Las Vegas Market
Justin Blakeney and Faith Parker at Las Vegas Market

Justina Blakeney author of The New Bohemians, is one of my all-time design idols. She not only authors one of the best blogs out there, The Jungalow, she also has her own custom lines of wallpapers and rugs and she just launched an entire line of furniture and home decor items called Selamat. I could go on… but I wont because all the sudden I feel incredibly lazy and unaccomplished.  (insert weeping emoji here)

While attending the Las Vegas Market earlier this month I got a chance to see Justina Blakeney host a panel of design experts. Mainly they discussed design trends, but that wasn’t the big take away for me. I found the fact that of the six design panelists, only one of them went to design school. Which answers a very important question, just how do you become a  famous blogger or designer?  The general consensus from the experts panel was….Umm basically you just put yourself out there and give it everything you’ve got. There is no formal university degrees in blogging (is there? I am pretty certain there isn’t… but I could be wrong) there may be universities that offer degrees in interior design but some of the top designer and Instagram influencers didn’t get to where they are via those routes. They got there by hustling hard and getting better everyday (of course a large dose of natural talent never hurt either, just saying)

Photo Credit stylebyEmilyHenderson.com
Faith Parker with Emily Henderson

If you don’t know who Emily Henderson is, then you shouldn’t even be reading this blog right now. Obviously you have no interest in design or you would know this extremely popular author, designer, and HGTV Design Star winner and host of Secrets of a Stylist.

So if you know Emily, then you know she came prepared, she had notes, slides and volumes of content. Here’s what I gleamed from her presentation on blogging, at HGTV’s Bloggers Block Party.

My Girl EM HEN believes that getting started is the biggest step. She stressed the importance of putting yourself out there. In the beginning aspiring blogger like myself, should focus on producing content. It might not be gold, or even good, but it’s a starting point and it will give you something to build upon. The idea is that you will naturally improve as you continue on your path, which makes it crucial to be consistently publishing content.

She continued to say how important it is to find your authentic voice. “Universal and unique” were words she used to urge us blossoming bloggers to find a balance between appealing to everybody and not appealing to anybody. She stressed not to be “too weird, but rather compelling”.

She continued to advise us to own what we know, and be transparent about what we don’t know. Basically she was saying don’t be a phony, everybody hates a phony. There’s nothing wrong with taking on tasks that are out of your comfort zone, but be careful not to over sell yourself, know what your limitations are and be as forthcoming about your experience as you are about your inexperience.

Retro Living room designed by Meg Caswell Photo from HGTV.com
Meg Caswell with Faith Parker

Meg Caswell

If you follow my Instagram account than you already know just how desperately I wanted to win the NyNow design challenge which would include breakfast with the Meg Caswell. Thanks to everyone who voted,  I was selected as one of the 25 finalist.

So what does Meg have to teach us?

Her story is inspiring because she has truly combined hard work and intention to get where she is today. She believes in the law of attraction and actually credits the secret for helping her to achieve her career as a HGTV design star and television host.

Looking back on my decision to don bright yellow clogs, I am feeling that perhaps they were prophetic and symbolic of the Yellow Brick Road. As Dorothy and her friends find the attributes they were lacking, my bright yellow clogs lead me to find just the advise I was seeking. To summarize, Justina and her design panel showed me that, what’s more important than a fancy-pants design degree, is talent, drive and an initiative, Em Hen was the kick in the buns to get started with a healthy reminder to always be authentic, while Meg taught me to work really hard, but also not to forget to trust the Universe, and remember to ask it for what you want.

 

To paint or not To paint

I purchased this gorgeous dining set on craigslist for a song and while functionally it was a fit for my space, stylistically it wasn’t working.  The idea of painted furniture amongst the design community seems to be a polarizing topic.  After fighting the urge to paint the credenza for years, I finally surrendered to my desires and out came the paint brush. I suppose I broke a few unspoken rules regarding the custodial responsibilities of antique ownership but I couldn’t be happier with the results. Secretly it delights the rebel within.

Details: I made my own chalk paint by mixing plaster of paris, water and Benjamin Moore’s paint color Geranium. I then used Olde Masters crystal clear paste wax to seal and protect the finish.

Journey to Otavalo

So you know how the law of logic  say you can have something fast and cheap while sacrificing quality, or amazing quality and great speed, but you’re going to have to pay big bucks, or high quality, at a great price, but it will take an eternity. Well that may be sound logic everywhere else in the world, but it doesn’t apply to buses in Latin America, anyone who has been bounced around on a bumpy road on a hot stinking bus with a rooster in their lap can attest to the fact that you get CHEAP and nothing else.  

My last adventure on a Latin American bus was my trip from Quito to Otavalo. I was on a mission to bring back some beautiful hand crafted artisanal goods. I opted to take the bus because a taxi would have cut deeply into my profit margins. One of the scenes that was most memorable was when police boarded the bus. Dressed in costumes and holding a ventriloquist dummy, what amazed me most was how polite and friendly they were. Check out the video below, and notice the rooster  that crows at the 10 second mark.

When I finally arrived in Otavalo it was everything my little heart had hoped it would be. There was row after row of stalls overflowing with alpaca scarfs, beautiful handwoven alpaca blankets, hand crafted dream catchers, purses wallets, you name it. Basically a shop owners dream come true. I walked around taking it all in, making mental notes, asking questions and talking with the artisans. Before getting down to the negotiations I made sure to sit down to lunch and reflect on the items that I wanted to take home. Sadly I was limited by what I could physically carry back on the bus. 

Magical Tidying Tips

Probably because I bought the book, my social media news feed has been blowing up with posts about the “Life Changing Magic of of Tidying up” , have you noticed how often you’re marketed products that you have already purchased? It’s like “hey dumb-ass I already bought that, so you can save your money and try to sell me something new”, am I right?

Anyways, after reading on Apartment Therapy how life changing and miraculous  these tidying tips were, I downloaded a copy of the book and got to work. Because, let’s be honest, I am in a hopeless pursuit to be, thinner, richer,  and tidier.

The premises of the book is that you basically throw away everything that doesn’t “spark joy”. So basically after completing the first step of her 5 step series I am probably going to be walking around in the same two outfits that I have left. I feel like “spark joy” is a pretty high standard to live up to. How many socks do you own that actually spark joy? I am far from a hoarder and make frequent donation runs to the thrift store, but with this new criterion for evaluating whether  an item stays in my life or leaves it forever, I was rampant with the disposal process.

You get the sense very quickly that the author has a major case of OCD. At one point in the book she references her nightly routine which entails completely emptying her hand bag, and then placing her hand bag into its very own appointed bag, if that’s not OCD folks, I mean come on, she’s got a purse for her purse!

Regardless of her mental state, the general take away from the book is this; don’t hold onto a bunch of crap that you don’t use, treat your belongings with respect, find a place for everything and put things back where they belong.

Now if she could just help me evict the homeless tweaker that apparentlylives in my car, that would be real progress.

Another Reason to Love Brass

Brass has been making a steady comeback in the home fashion industry over the past few years. It’s safe to say that it’s pretty mainstream at this point, and for good reason, place a brass swan on a bookshelf for instant glam, add new brass hardware to quickly update cabinetry, or install a new brass chandelier for a fresh new look.
But wait there’s more…. brass is the  also the new look in jewelry, a trend I couldn’t be more thrilled about. As someone living with an extreme sensitivity to metal I often forego wearing jewelry altogether rather than endure the painful swelling and rash that often follows wearing cheap metals that contain nickle. I recently discovered, after reading this blog post, that brass is a hypoallergenic material.  Prior to this discovery I thought that investing in expensive 14k or above was my only option when it came to jewelry. This recent discovery has changed my life! I can buy trendy jewelry that I love without spending a fortune. As a result the Boho Bungalow is all stocked up with some really cute  and fun brass pieces, check them out here

Two Years of Awesome!

Two years have rocketed by since Vintage By Design first opened. Like a proud mama, I glean so much joy reminiscing over photos from the past. I’ve put together a collection of some of my favorite moments. Enjoy

I love how this little vignette came together.
Rosewood and leather ’nuff said.
Classic mid-century Credenza. These never seem to stay in the shop for long.
These mid-century wood frames chairs were Bee-You-Te-Full.
Good Ol’ Moby-This pretty little Brass whale didn’t spend too much time at the shop before it was scooped up and taken to it’s new home.

Before and After

Few things excite me more than a really great furniture rehab. Similar to alchemy, the thought of taking an essentially worthless item and giving it value, life and beauty is such an a thrilling concept. So here are a few B&A’s that I have been working on. The side table below just needed a little Boho Chalk Paint and some love to make it amazing!

Before chalk paint
After chalk paint

With just a 1/2 yard of fabric, this mid-century-modern foot stool has been transformed into something I am eager  to rest my toes on.

Before footstool
Footstool covered with a new Guatemalan

This mid-century office chair was lacking in style. With just over a yard of fabric, some spray paint and a staple gun. Voila, fun and fabulous!

Before photo of mid century office chair
After photo of mid century office chair

I hope you find some inspiration in these transformations! Don’t forget to stop by and see me at Vintage By Design in Occidental.We love visitors! Thanks for reading,

Faith P

DIY Persain Princess summertime daybed

So you want to spend the summer like a Persian Princess sipping rose in the shade of an airy outdoor daybed? Cool, that sounds like a great plan. But before you bust out the ice bucket you may have to make this super easy DIY outdoor daybed, like I just did!

I actually wanted something like this amazing little cocoon (pictured below)….but at $8,000 it would cost more than my trusty pick-up, so I decided to make one.

First, I scavenged around the house and found everything I needed to put this little project together, and let me tell ya, I have been living the Persian Princess dream ever since.

I started with this simple iron day bed that I found in my guest room. If you aren’t lucky enough to have one already, I recommend looking for one on Craigslist, I see similar ones quite often selling for $50-$100.

Then, in the garage I found two 10′  lengths of 3/4″ plastic pvc pipes. Amongst my fabric collection I found 4 abandoned 72″ white Ikea curtain sheers.

I found a perfect spot on the deck and set up the day bed.

I removed the ugly brass decorative finales revealing these 1″ holes.

Then I shoved the PVC pipes directly into the holes.

For the curtain sheers I folded them in half and sewed a single line of stitch about 2 inches from the fold line which created a channel. I inserted the front piece of PVC through the original curtain channel, and the back piece of PVC through the new channel that I just created. I did this for all 4 curtain sheers.

Then I wedged the ends of the PVC into the holes on the opposite side of the iron day bed. Creating an arch.

Voila! A shady retreat for some hardcore lounging. Now that’s how you “bring the indoors out”.

Complete the look with this outdoor rug by Mad Mats, made from 100% recycled plastic, available in 3 sizes, now at Vintage By Design