Shop Tour: Furbish in Raleigh

I thought today you may like to hear a little tale of a blogger with a vision. This is an inspirational journey that a small business owner embarked on based solely on her passion for decorating and determination to help others create beautiful spaces, the same spaces that she creates and is inspired by when she reads her favorite magazines and peruses the blogs of her fellow writers. Meet Jamie Meares, a blogger, decorator and new shop owner of Furbish in Raleigh, North Carolina. And when I say new, I mean it -- she opened on November 21st!


I heard about Jamie's work through Michelle Smith who took the time to write to me recently singing the praises of Furbish and this creative shop owner. Jamie authors the blog, I Suwannee, where she has been writing since January 2007. Through I Suwannee, she started working on e-decorating projects for her readers who were looking for help purchasing and arranging things in their homes. Jamie then did what few have the courage to, she left her full-time "stable" day job to take the ride of a lifetime - and threw herself straight into decorating full-time. Now think for a moment, you are Jamie, could you imagine yourself taking such a risk? It takes a lot to jump into a new career but when one feels the heart strings pulling, and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by clients asking you to jump ship to work with them instead, well I assume the answer is obvious. This is what I find so encouraging, though it is risky and not for everyone, but if an opportunity presents itself in a field of work that you've dreamed of entering, then why not?


And her success story continues - she decided Raleigh needed a little more of her design sensibility in their city since her clients requested furniture and accessories that were not of the mainstream variety, rather those that came from the larger, more affluent design hubs like New York and Atlanta. And this is where we will begin my interview with Jamie, she'll be telling you more about her shop and decorating practice...

Holly: So Jamie, tell everyone what your store is called and what ultimately made you open it?

Jamie: My shop is called Furbish and I decided to open it to fill a niche in Raleigh for the younger set who wants one-of-a-kind painted furniture that's a little more sexy and edgy that what was currently being offered here (think cottage, shabby chic, distressed white beach house pieces -- that's about all there was).

Holly: Many shop owners I've met can trace their shop ownership dreams all the way back to their front year lemonade stands... have you always wanted to have a store too?

Jamie: Yes! I'd always had a dream to open a little store, so the time was right - I found the perfect building with a great, sunny, window-lined upstairs for retail, and a huge basement for a workshop/storage for my furniture.


Holly: When someone visits Furbish, what can they expect to find?

Jamie: I've filled the store with my favorite vintage pieces of furniture, new accessories and lighting, artwork from a local painter, my collection of 'treasures' accumulated from years of thrifting, ebaying, etc. For example, lots of vintage decanters, kilim rugs, floral dishes, retro glassware, pillows made from vintage fabric. Rowdy, my schnauzer, works with me and he has a select offering of locally made dog collars he oversees.

Holly: And you are a decorator, can you explain how this works?

Jamie: I also offering decorating services out of the store, and that's done really well.  I have my desk right out in the middle of the retail space, with big inspiration boards hanging behind it - and I think it makes approaching an interior decorator, something a lot of my customers would never consider, to be a much more attainable, approachable thing... They'll sit down at my desk and we'll talk through an issue they're having and bam! they're working with a decorator.


Holly: That is a very clever marketing strategy! I like it! What do you charge for your services?

Jamie: My rates are very affordable - $75 per hour, and I'll come over and do in-home consultations for just 1 hour. I've had lots of boyfriends and husbands buying gift certificates for this service for Christmas. Sometimes ladies just like to have a second pair of eyes to help size a room up, offer suggestions, move stuff around - and it's pretty amazing what we can accomplish in as little as one hour together in their home.


Holly: I also heard about your plans to teach classes in-store, can you tell us more about this?

Jamie: Yes, that's right -- I also plan to teach a class once a month in the store. We started last week with Tablescapes a la David Hicks style, and that was lots of fun. It got ladies in the store shopping, and I got a few new decorating clients.


Holly: Congratulations on transforming a dream into your reality -- your story is an inspiration to many and I wish you a happy and successful 2010, and thank you so much for visiting all of us today on decor8. :)

(images: jamie meares)