Eight Hundred Furniture is Now 100% Online
Things have changed here at Eight Hundred Furniture, and I’d like to take some time to update all of you on what’s been happening these past few months!
Working for Miss Mustard Seed’s® Milk Paint
One of the changes that I’m the MOST excited about is my new role at Miss Mustard Seed’s® Milk Paint! For the past few years, I have been managing their Instagram account. It started around 20 or 30,000 followers. By the time I moved on to my new current role, it had reached well into the 60,000 range!
After Marian Parsons (aka Miss Mustard Seed) sold her company to the current owners, Brenda and James Hess, I transitioned into the role of Blogger and Email Marketing Manager. As a team, we decided to resurrect the neglected Miss Mustard Seed’s® Milk Paint Blog. Since January 2021, I’ve been tweaking old posts, creating new ones, adjusting SEO settings and more.
In addition to creating blog content, I’m doing product photography, making tutorial videos and managing their growing weekly email newsletter. I also manage their main email inbox and provide support with retailer management.
I have loved this company since I first became a retailer in 2016/2017. Even though I was a bit sad to see Marian go, I’m so thrilled to be a part of the new and very exciting future of the company under new ownership! There are SO MANY fun changes planned and I can’t wait to see them roll out to all of you!
QVC’s Private Home & Garden Brand, “Marigold”
As some of you may already know, I am a Brand Ambassador for one of QVC’s Private Home & Garden Brands, “Marigold”.
This line first launched during garden season 2020 and has doubled its size in 2021. From January through July, I go on air to show all of the whimsical and colorful products in the collection.
Prior to the pandemic, guest hosts would travel to QVC’s Studio in West Chester, PA whenever they had an airing. We would get our makeup done and physically be on set with the permanent show hosts. Our products were stored on site and all we had to do was grab them from the back and set them up using props and tables that were already in the warehouse.
After COVID, all broadcasts were completely changed. First, we practiced social distancing on air. Then, guests weren’t allowed in the studio at all. We would phone in from home and describe the products with the hosts in a friendly conversational way. As time went by, QVC implemented its current Skype format. Now, guests Skype in from home.
To meet the requirements of this new format, guests like me were required to meet minimum upload and download internet speeds, be hardwired into a router to avoid dropped Skype calls and have excellent, professional-grade lighting. We upgraded our internet and bought a 100 foot ethernet cable along with an adapter because Apple isn’t compatible with anything. I bought a set of Airpods so my sound is quality and I can have my hands free to gesture and demonstrate. This also meant that hair and makeup needed to be done by the guest at home, which was a learning curve for this foundation and mascara only girl!
The biggest and most stressful part of this new setup is that guests need to have every single product on hand to show via Skype. That means every color, every size and every option. The Marigold collection jumped from 20 some products to almost 40 products this year. There are anywhere from 2 to 6 options per product, so we’re talking over 100 individual pieces that got shipped (and are still being shipped) to our home. Marc and I had to scramble to find storage for everything in our new townhome. Our first floor is currently serving as the Marigold Warehouse, which needs to be re-organized every few shipments.
For each airing, I am required to design a set, style the products and provide multiple options for use. We have to set up our lighting, adjust camera angles and test to make sure the sound is quality. It was a bit of a natural extension of setting up a retail space, to be honest.
Marc and I gave up our dining room/sunroom and are currently using it as our QVC broadcasting area. Our dining room table has been pushed into our kitchen and we eat at the island on barstools. It’s not so bad because it’s just the 2 of us, and we’re not having family over anyway due to COVID.
All in all, the 2021 Garden Season has been one of intense pivoting and adjusting. Since this is only my 2nd season on-air with the brand, I’m still learning the in’s and out’s of live television. It’s a last-minute, turn-on-a-dime, nothing-is-permanent kind of world that requires a super flexible schedule and a high tolerance for change. The learning curve is steep, but I’ve always been a good student!
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to having my house back after Garden Season is over!
As you can imagine, all of the new roles listed above require a lot of time and flexibility. I found myself working from home more and being less able to commit to workshops, demonstrations, custom painting work and painting furniture to sell.
At some points, I could barely fit in time to fluff my retail booth space and schedule cashiering/work days on the floor.
Over time, it became more and more obvious that I had too many plates spinning in the air and some were going to drop soon if I didn’t make some adjustments. Together, Marc and I had a long talk about how things were going. In the end, we decided to pack up our tent stakes and move everything online.
We spent all weekend packing my displays up, moving them home and reorganizing everything in the Marigold-Miss Mustard Seed’s® Milk Paint-General Finishes Warehouse (aka our first floor). I updated my inventory in my online shop and will be reordering out of stock products soon.
Now, everything is based 100% from home. Paint, props, products and packing materials are right at hand, making it easy for me to pivot between my roles as on air guest, blogger, painter etc.
It seems that the general trend of the past year or so has been one of extreme flexibility. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.” Boy is this true now more than ever! All businesses have needed to adjust and pivot throughout the pandemic. Many of them have changed the way they do business. I’m not the only one that has moved to a completely virtual format, and I certainly won’t be the last.
Even before COVID, my business was shifting away from retail painted furniture and home decor sales.
I whittled down custom work until it was non-existent. I’m okay with that because I never quite cared for it anyway. The overload of inventory, the physicality of painting furniture and the ups and downs of retail gradually took their toll on my body and emotions. I was tiring of the hustle and wanted more stability and predictability not only in my schedule but in our finances. I never knew if one of my pieces would sell quickly or slowly. Some months were great while others were lean. The constant up and down wasn’t a characteristic I was enjoying.
In the end, you need to be able to adjust and pivot as a business owner. Taking a long hard look at how you spend your time and money is the sign of a healthy enterprise. If you always stay the same, there’s no growth. What worked in the past may not work in the future. That’s certainly been true for Eight Hundred Furniture.
What Has Not Changed
I’m still selling these fabulous and quality line of paint products online. I’m still painting furniture and sharing makeovers on social media and here in blog posts, but they’ll be for our home as opposed to selling for retail.
I do have a handful of retail pieces left if you’re looking for furniture. They can be shipped US-wide. As a matter of fact, this pretty piece just made its way to Illinois this week!
My commitment to provide quality blog content, helpful tips, instructional tutorials and videos hasn’t changed.
It’s still my pleasure to have the opportunity to EDUCATE you in the use of Milk Paints and Wood Stains, EQUIP you with quality products to get the job done, and ENCOURAGE you every step of the way.