Let me start off by saying I don’t really have anything practical to share in this post. No decorating ideas, or furniture painting tips, or antique finds.
In a way, this is an “old school” post–more like the posts I wrote back when I first started this blog, almost four years ago.
So this post is written more for my regular readers, as a way of checking in and inviting you back into my little world.
I know I haven’t been doing much of that lately–it’s been all-business for a while at LostandFoundDecor.com. There is definitely a place though for both types of posts, practical and not. Today I want to spend some time in the non-practical blog world.
Just A Pregnant Girl With An Opportunity
Five years ago I was six-months pregnant with my third son, when a small booth spot opened up at my favorite local antique mall.
Throwing caution to the wind, I jumped in and started Lost & Found–my small business focused on reselling vintage decorative finds.
I realize that may seem like a crazy thing to do, but I had been on the waiting list to have a spot at this mall for a loooong time, and it was a now-or-never type of thing.
My husband was on board, and I was excited about trying out another side gig (I had many different ones over the previous years).
About a year later, I decided to add the blog into the mix, and so LostandFoundDecor.com was born.
I had no idea blogging would turn into one of the most demanding parts of my business! I thought it would just be a fun way to share pictures and write about the cool things I was finding at flea markets and estate sales.
But then that darn entrepreneurial bug hit, and I learned that there was potential for the blog itself to earn some income.
I’ve since spent the past 4 years trying to learn what I can about the very complicated business of blogging and grow LostandFoundDecor into a “big” blog (whatever that means?), all the while still digging up furniture and treasures to makeover and sell.
In January of 2015, another growth opportunity for Lost & Found came along when I decided to become a merchant for Fusion Mineral Paint.
I was painting a lot of furniture at that point to sell in my booth space, so retailing a line of paint seemed like a natural fit.
And honestly, it’s been one of the best choices I’ve made so far in my business.
While becoming a Fusion merchant was a great fit for me, it was also the thing that took Lost & Found from hobby-status to business-status . . . and I’ve been reeling ever since!
It’s amazing how over these past two years I’ve morphed almost completely into “The Paint Lady,” and how 90% of what I now sell and do revolves around Fusion Mineral Paint.
I realize for those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you may miss some of the other content I used to share in old Lost & Found posts. I get that not everybody is as super-committed to painting furniture as I am 🙂
It’s been a difficult transition for me also, and that’s part of why I am writing this post today.
Realizing Something Needed to Change
Starting back at the beginning of last summer, I began to feel like no matter how hard I was working, I couldn’t keep up.
My wheels seemed to be spinning in the mud and I was feeling like a failure in several of areas of my life.
I knew I needed to make some adjustments to how I was running Lost & Found and to the way I was running my life, but I just wasn’t sure what those should be.
Adding to that work/life angst were some health problems that began in April and have lingered until now.
After celebrating my anniversary by spending a night out with my husband at an amateur oil painting class, I woke up unable to move in my bed.
My back, neck and shoulder muscles were seized and I was in severe pain. That happened almost every night for 2 weeks, as well as randomly throughout the day when I did certain tasks.
I ended up spending the entire summer and fall pursuing conservative treatment for whatever had thrown my back out of whack.
Several massage sessions, dozens of heat/ice pad rest days, and six months of chiropractic care left me feeling a little better, but still not normal.
My work and home life were suffering greatly.
I stopped exercising and playing outside with my kids, because any sort of activity would make me hurt. I also cut way back on the furniture I was redoing, which caused me to feel even more behind in my business.
By November I was falling apart–the toll of constant pain had really set in.
Along with the back issues, I also developed a strange and sudden skin rash that came up in various places.
I was in and out of the dermatologist office, trying this cream and that cream, with not much luck. This wasn’t a life threatening issue, but it was an annoying one.
And laid on top of the back problems, it just made me mad.
Lastly, I began to battle again with an old adversary of mine–anxiety.
I have dealt with anxiety since I was in high school, but haven’t had many acute issues with it since the early days of my marriage.
But once the fall hit, it was back in full force, and I found myself suffering from several major panic attacks that would leave me sidelined for days.
At one point in the midst of all of this, my dear friend said “Melanie, do you think you could be overextended? That maybe stress is causing all of this?”
Oh, how I knew she was right!!
But what I didn’t know was how to fix it–how do I become less stressed when I can’t manage my family life and my work life?
It was time to get serious about making some big changes. I had to determine what it really was I wanted to do with Lost & Found, and how that would fit into the life I wanted to live with my family.
I knew that would mean some things would have to go . . . but I was hopeful that it also would mean more meaningful, life-giving work could flourish in its place.
So what are the changes?
Well, first I am changing the structure of LostandFoundDecor.com to be more shop/business focused and less blog focused.
You may have seen some of the initial changes if you’ve visited my homepage lately. Those changes are one step in the new direction I am heading.
Don’t worry though!! All of my blog posts are still there, and more will come!
It’s just that they are being reorganized into more of a resource library than a blog-traffic site.
My goal has shifted from creating page views for income to creating tools and information to help my customers.
My favorite part of blogging is taking photos and writing posts. What I don’t love about blogging is the rat race of trying to “get into” the circles of influence by pitching brands and looking to be part of the big blog teams.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or wrong thing, but it’s not me. Networking utterly exhausts me.
And without a strong networking sense, I don’t think bloggers these days can succeed. The field is too crowded to just “be discovered;” you have to sell and work your way in.
Instead, I have learned that I need to spend my personal energy less on blog network relationships and more on helping my customers.
I sell a lot of Fusion Mineral Paint on this site, and I want to provide the best customer service I can to the wonderful people who choose to shop with me.
With only so much time and energy in the day, I’ve decided to give to my customers what I have, and less to the blog world.
So whether you’re shopping for paint, downloading my ebook Furniture Flipper, or looking for other vintage decorating ideas and inspiration, I am going to do my best to serve and help you.
I’ve also been working to shift my antique mall booth space into a mostly paint space. Going over my entire sales record over the last 2 years, over 75% of what I sell in my antique booth space
Going over my entire sales record over the last 2 years, over 75% of what I sell in my antique booth space is paint, so it makes business sense to give that product more and more square footage,
Besides making business sense, it also makes sense for my time. Towards the end of last year, I never seemed to have the time I used to have to go dig through flea markets and estate sales, so my decor inventory became stagnant–which is a no-no in the antique booth world.
Towards the end of last year, I never seemed to have the time I used to have to go dig through flea markets and estate sales, so my decor inventory became stagnant–which is a no-no in the antique booth world.
You have to keep fresh inventory flowing through your space or you lose shoppers.
Again, I was feeling like a failure as a dealer and wondering why I couldn’t make that aspect of my business work anymore–and that’s when I had a lightbulb moment.
As I was doing my end of the year tax work, I calculated that from 2015 to 2016, I had a 580% growth in the amount of paint I sell online via this site.
That is insane from a business standpoint!
Along with that sales growth though comes growth in management and time spent processing and shipping orders. That’s where my time went!! It had been eaten up in little pockets by admin work and shipping details.
The reality is there are only so many hours in the day. Time is not an endless resource.
If you give one thing more time in your day, that by default means something else gets less. Selling paint online was getting my time, and so my booth inventory suffered.
So my plan is now this: use my booth space to be mainly a showcase for Fusion and for my painted furniture pieces, accented by a finely curated inventory of vintage finds.
I still plan on hunting the flea markets on occasion, and when I see something amazing, I will buy it and bring it into my space. But I’m not going to be hunting on the scale I was before, 2016, it’s just not possible.
Another change is that I am looking to hire help! Lost & Found isn’t just my little hobby anymore, it’s a business. And it does take a village! Or at least one other person 🙂
It’s hard handing over some of the reigns of what I do to someone else, but it’s a necessary step for me. My hope is that I can find someone to help with all of those management and admin tasks that have been eating my time, so that I can focus more on the creative parts of my business–painting furniture, taking photos, writing posts, etc.
My hope is that I can find someone to help with all of those management and admin tasks that have been eating my time, so that I can focus more on the creative parts of my business–painting furniture, taking photos, writing posts, etc.
Thankfully two of my three health issues have begun to resolve, but not without some significant effort to change some of my habits.
I do think the stress of the past year has had direct effect on my skin and anxiety issues, so I have been working on making some changes in how I manage and deal with my stress and emotional health. As well as trying to better my eating habits and make sure I’m treating my body well.
Unfortunately, the issue with my back and neck hasn’t resolved. In fact, I learned recently that it was worse than what I was anticipating.
In late November I decided to go see an orthopedic doctor after reaching a plateu in improvement with the chiropractor.
He sent me for an MRI, which showed I have a herniated disc in my neck which has happened to flatten out my spinal cord in a certain area–yikes!
He told me additional physical therapy could help ease some more of my pain, but nothing short of surgery could ease the pressure on my spinal cord and provide me with stability and long-term health.
So at some point in the near future, I will be having surgery to replace that disc with an implant. I don’t know exactly when, because I’m in the process of awaiting insurance approval (yuck).
But when it comes, it will mean 1-2 weeks of me not doing much of anything, and 3 months of little–if any–furniture work.
Initially, the recommendation of surgery sent me for a bit of a loop, but I’ve since wrapped my head around it and am grateful for a procedure that can help fix my pain and get me stable again.
When I get a date set, I will be sure to let you all know and would appreciate your prayers for a successful surgery.
These are the hardest changes to make. I can’t just change the things around me, I also have to change some of the things inside of me.
I have been crippled by comparison over the years. Always asking, “Why can’t my blog be as good as that one?” or “Why don’t I sell as many furniture pieces as that dealer?”
Lately, the questions have been more “Why can’t I have my own retail space like the other Fusion merchants?” and “Why don’t I get good workshop attendance like they do?”
You can’t successfully create when you are constantly battling against yourself.
I have to stop trying to make Lost & Found into what it looks like it should be in comparison to the success of others around me, and instead, let it become what fits with me and my gifts and talents.
I’m not a professional blogger, or a brick-and-mortar retail shop owner, or a full-time furniture flipper.
I am a strange mix of bits and pieces of all 3 of those things, which means my business is going to look different than anyone else’s.
I need to make my own goals and judge my success by my own standards, rather than the standards of someone else’s business.
So those are my plans.
To all of you who have been along on this ride with me from the beginning, I felt the need to share these things with you.
Please hear me say how appreciative I am of you and how humbled I am by your interest in my little part of the world.
To those of you who are joining in as Fusion customers and know little about my business past, I hope we can get to know each other better!
And I want you to know that I care about your projects as much as I care about my own. I hope together we can create some beautiful spaces.
Here’s to a fully-lived 2017!