We had the good fortune of connecting with Danette O’Neil and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danette, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had been painting & re-purposing furniture as a hobby for almost 30 years, and in 2015 I stumbled on a mobile app that you could post furniture on and local people would submit offers. I began posting my furniture on that mobile app, and my pieces would sell really fast. After about 4 months of consistent sales I decided to try to see if I could make my love for painting furniture into a business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always had a love for painting & re-purposing furniture. I have always been an avid garage saler, and have spent every weekend of my entire adult life garage saling. I would buy furniture to either paint or turn it into something else for myself, family & friends for many years. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I was able to turn my passion into a business. I has stumbled on a mobile app that you could sell basically anything on including furniture. I would post some of my garage sale finds on there to make a small profit on my good deals. One day I had saw a post of a piece that I had flipped to someone and they had painted it and made 100% margin on it. I thought to myself I can paint furniture so after that when I would go garage saling I would find pieces that I could bring home and paint and post them for sale. I had always loved painting canvases with flowers, and I thought to myself what if I paint some flowers on a dresser and see if that would sell…. So I did. The first piece I sold refinished sold in 5 minutes after posting it. I thought WOW~ let me try that again. So I did another dresser and it also sold within minutes of posting it. After 4 months of consistent sales I decided to try to refinish furniture as my main source of income. I began the process of trying to figure out how to do that. At that time Facebook didn’t have groups like they do now. Refinishing furniture was just in the beginning of being as popular as it is today. I learned very quickly that in order to turn my furniture art into a business I would need to sell more pieces so I thought it would save me time to stop hand painting flowers and start decoupaging scrapbook paper. I would buy mass produced designs at Hobby Lobby and apply it to my furniture, and after a short while I started seeing other people buying the same paper and also decoupaging their furniture. So I began adding my graphic design skills into my work, and started designing & printing my own custom designs to decoupage & stencil onto my furniture. Within the first year I was in business I started getting requests to do customer owned pieces, and that ended up being 50% of my business. I had a wonderful repeat client that asked me if I could paint her kitchen cabinets, and I had painted my own & some friends in the past so I said yes! I painted her kitchen, and absolutely loved it so I spent the next 4 months basically painting kitchens for the cost of materials so I could learn that process on professional level. My business quickly started to reshape and grow as I started taking on new types of projects. I wouldn’t have the business I have now if it weren’t for some of my very early on clients that requested services from me based on the quality of my furniture painting skills. I started off only painting garage sale finds to flip for a profit to doing custom designs on client owned Antique & Vintage furniture, refinishing cabinets, selling my furniture in a booth at The Brass Armadillo, and selling quality paint & paint brushes. I am now in the process of starting to add Workshops & Classes to my business so that I can help new & upcoming Furniture artists so they don’t have to suffer through as many trial & errors as I had to. I didn’t have anyone to hold my hand and teach me and I would love to offer mentor-ship to as many people as possible.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a long time tuber.. I absolutely love the Salt River and going tubing. I try to go at least 2 times every summer, and I have done that since I was 17 years old. So if I have a friend in town I am definitely taking them to the river, to Fort McDowell to play some Bingo, and out to Cave Creek to eat at The Horny Toad.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shout out to my family for always supporting and encouraging me to keep pushing forward even when I wanted to give up. I could not have ever got The Birdcage Furniture off the ground without the help of my ex-boyfriend.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.