Thursday, March 18, 2010

The one with a little background

I was thinking today about how I got here.  I get asked about it all of the time and am always happy to share information, especially if it helps someone follow their dream.  I still sometimes can't believe I'm actually here, so I thought about it, and here goes:

The short version is, I always wanted to have a shop and be an interior designer, when all other jobs failed me, I dared myself and I did it.  Telling everyone you know you are going to do something is also highly recommended, after a while it's really embarrassing if you haven't done it yet ;)

When I was a young girl I loved designing my bedroom.  A great birthday present for me was new wallpaper or paint.  My friends and my sisters had posters of teen beat heart throbs on their walls, I did not.  When I got older and moved out on my own I decided I really didn't like any of the furniture and accessories that were available.  I spent a lot of time at the thrift stores, and if I did buy new I would modify it somehow (usually with a faux marble paint job ;)  I really got into faux painting, I painted major square footage at the nightclub I worked at, I taught classes at the community center in Saratoga, I went out for hire and did kitchens and bathrooms.  At one point I even painted my phone...

My first job was at Longs Drugs, in the cosmetics department.  I went on to a bit of schooling for that and did makeup for YSL and Ultima II, Christian Dior and yes, I sprayed perfume.  Poison, to be exact, quite possibly the worst job for a shy girl like me to have.  Whenever things stopped being fun I moved on to another career path.  I became a bookkeeper (on the job training), a great choice that still helps me to this day.  I worked in a nightclub where I was not shy, I played vip doorgirl, bartender, coat check girl, security (yes I did, I can bounce a drunk if I need to), and bar manager. While I did that I was also a live in nanny, for one of the greatest families I have ever known, and still consider family.

In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to own my own shop, I planned it often.  I was making a line of jewelry (which came about when I couldn't bear to have on the same necklace as anyone else), and taking business management classes. I went to work in Los Gatos, for a great designer who owned a Benjamin Moore paint store/interior design business.  I learned SO much there, and my knowledge of color, paint, customer service, and getting super technical in every aspect of design (that's how I roll) is something I use every day.  When it was time to leave, after managing for 5 years, I went to work for another amazing designer.  I could only hang in there for two months (great designers are not always known for their people skills), but I learned SO much and found a deep love of fine English antiques as well as linen, hemp, natural fabrics and especially vintage linens...that I will never ever lose.  I also went to work for the upholsterer I had used for the past 6 years, and learned again, SO much about everything technical, what can and can not be done. 

I was so ready to do things my way, and work for myself, but not ready to take the leap.  I went to work for one more shop, this time in Aptos, to gain more retail experience.  After 6 months there I knew I could and had to do it, and in April of 2005 I began the process.  Step 1, decide on a name, fictitious name permit, business license, mentor from the Small Business Development Center, LOAN(s), search for the perfect space, get inventory, close my eyes tight (although my mentor made sure they were wide open) take a deep breath and a giant leap.

Five years later, I feel the shop (and me), has FINALLY come into it's own.  It's ever evolving, so wonderful and also super scary at times.  I am doing more interior design work than ever, and the appreciation from my clients is SO rewarding.  I feel so lucky to be able to shop like I do, and buy some of the most fabulous things, although my goal is to be able to buy ALL of the fabulous things I see and bring them back here to you.  When you come in and just go nuts over my finds, and really GET me, it keeps me going, it really does.  So, future goals for me and the shop... continue to help make people happy in their homes, branch out into designing shops for others, clone myself so I can be out shopping and working with clients and reading in my hammock and also working in the shop ;)

Just do it,

Colleen

8 comments:

Nancy Aebersold said...

Colleen! That just warmed my heart. Thanks for sharing your journey in such an honest an inspiring way. It's fascinating to step back and see how all of our personality quirks, native gifts, passions, little steps, and big leaps add up to something...and in your case, something exceptionally beautiful!

trash talk said...

What a wonderful back story. You have been on a road well traveled and the souvenirs picked up along the way are serving you well.
Debbie
P.S. Maybe you could moonlight as a bouncer at the Junk Gypsy Prom!

Sarah Gaffney said...

Lovely and inspiring!

Vandetta said...

Well gosh darn it, that was VERY inspiring. I love a follow your heart way of living. Thank you for the insight :)

Colleen Hickey said...

Debbie you're so sweet and a riot! I wish I was going this spring :(
Nancy, Sarah, V, if I can help anyone make the leap and be happy (with careful planning) I'm happy :) Glad you liked it.

Colleen

Studio news said...

What a journey! So glad to have your store & talent so close!

Great post!!
Stacey

artsyfran said...

You rely are an inspiration! Your shop is stunning and you have such amazing design sense that I know things will continue to help you reach your dreams.

KT said...

Wow, what a journey it has been. I'm so glad you shared it. I'm so honored to be able to take part in your creative process via my sewing machine. You are amazing.

And I love the picture!

Katie