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 truly 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.
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.
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.
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 storefronts. 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.
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.
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.