Four months ago our shop began to carry CHALK PAINT® by Annie Sloan. I was hesitant to take on a new department at our consignment shop until I attended the training session in New Orleans and realized what an amazing product the Annie Sloan line is. In hindsight, I am happy we chose to enter the world of CHALK PAINT®.
Since we took on the new line, I have learned a few things. Below are four lessons I’ve learned as an Annie Sloan Stockist.
#1: It Doesn’t take Much Effort to do Something that Boosts Confidence in Ourselves
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen ladies come into the store feeling incapable of refurbishing a piece of furniture. Our paint guy, Jim Bryson, nurtures them through the hesitancy stage, pats them on the back and encourages them to just give it a shot.
A few days later we find a post on our facebook page of a beautifully chalk painted dresser or side table. The next time we see her in the store, she proudly pulls her phone out and shows us her before and after pictures and a photo of the next piece she is going to tackle with Annie Sloan CHALK PAINT®.
Sometimes there’s as much contrast in the before and after of that lady as there is in her furniture.
#2: Restoration is Restorative
This is not a lesson I’ve learned solely from Chalk Paint®. We see this in the consignment business every day. But, watching folks learn to smile again after they finish a small restoration project confirmed this lesson. Hearing them laugh together as they experiment in one of our three-hour workshops is a payoff for us too.
We all need some form of restoration. We are either broken, worn out or tired. We are all in need of some area of redemption in our lives. Redemption is used in the pawn shop world and means that I pay back a loan with interest and I get my item back from the pawn dealer. Well, redemption always costs something. It is important for me to understand what the cost is for me. Maybe it’s the sacrifice of a half day in the peacefulness of the forest or beach. Maybe it’s setting other things aside to spend the day with a friend that I have lost touch with. And maybe it’s putting forth some effort to take something else that’s old and tired and give it new life.
There’s something about giving myself away that allows me to get some piece of myself back. And as strange as it may seem, I’ve seen this process happen when someone invests the time and energy it takes into restoring a simple piece of furniture.
#3: Look Beyond What You See and See What Could Be
The before and after examples in our store can almost be unbelievable. Some of the least desirable furniture that we have on our sales floor turns out to be the most beautiful when it has a couple of coats of CHALK PAINT® and a little bit of attention from someone who sees beyond the now. None of us are really as we could be. Our scars and baggage may make us less than desirable at times. It still amazes me how little it takes to make me a little bit more as I should be. It’s often one small gesture from someone who sees beyond the now. That simple act or word often propels me toward a different future.
My favorite part of our before and after pieces is that you can still see both versions. It’s hard to remember sometimes how far we have grown when we can no longer see the before. There are many times when customers argue with us, insisting that those two tables are not the same. Well, they are… and they are not. We can only hope that someone will come into our lives this very year who will cover a few of our scars and make us beautiful again. Better yet, what if I committed myself this year to, not simply look past the flaws of a few pieces of furniture, but to do the same with the people in my life that are a little bit harder to love.
#4: The Small Details are Worth the Effort
Sometimes I wonder why Jim takes all those pieces apart on his paint projects. I mean, it seems like it would go so much faster if he just painted around the hardware or left the cabinet doors attached. Then he puts them back together and I no longer have to wonder why. When I look at a piece of furniture that Jim has painted, I am blown away. The blending of the wax around the edges, the little sparkle underneath the coat of paint he put on the hardware, and the brushstrokes that show on the surface of the piece are the details that give his pieces a different kind of beauty.
I am often too impatient to look at the little details. Sometimes I cut corners with my kids. Or maybe I don’t give my wife all of my attention. Sure, it would be OK to cut corners, but it may not allow me to live my life as a masterpiece. I often assume that cutting corners will buy me time or productivity, but what it costs me is that one small step toward beauty.
How I Hope to Apply the Four Lessons I’ve Learned as an Annie Sloan Stockist
1. Decide to actually do something that I have been hesitant to do.
2. Find something or someone who needs some restoration and make an investment.
3. Choose to look beyond what I see and see what could be in the things and people surrounding me.
4. Pay attention to the details and realize they are worth the effort.
Which of these four lessons resonates with you the most? What is one specific thing you are going to do to apply that lesson in your life?