Somehow it’s been almost 3 months since the opening of Papel & co.’s Store Front and this post is over due since I had promised you I would share how I put it together, what I bought, how much I ended up spending etc. But, before I do that I would love to tell you the story of why I wanted to create a Store Front.
Ever since I left my full time job, 8 years ago, I’ve had multiple ideas of things I could do and things I want to create. I have been able to bring to reality some of those, including Papel & co. But, there is one dream that has never changed in the midst of all the new ideas, concepts and let’s be honest… distractions. And, that is having a space where I can invite people to enjoy a variety of activities that fill our soul through movement, creativity and connection. My vision is big and beautiful but something that even today, after building a business and knowing that anything is possible, feels a little far.
So, back in July I shared this dream with a friend that has known me since I was 6 years old. I told her my vision and I also told her I had looked for places in Miami but I told her the search had been an immediate dream killer since everything is so incredibly expensive. And she said, “why not start in the studio where you are?” And, I was like well, it’s not an ideal location, I wish I had more nature, more light, and well the list went on… then she said something that I couldn’t stop repeating in my head, “you have a gift to make anything beautiful, that is what you do, you can turn something simple and make the best of it.”
So, after a few weeks repeating this in my head, I said, you know what? why not?
The lease where we currently have our studio is up in March and we sense that the owner wants to sell the building. On top of that, the studio is located in a street that is very quiet and we are in Florida, where not a lot of people walk, so in short, there is not a lot of traffic in our area so investing a ton of money on that space was not something I wanted to do. The good news is that the area is growing and a couple restaurants are being built right next to us as well as a brewery. So, I thought I can keep it affordable and buy furniture and displays that I can eventually move with me if needed.
If you remember, we moved to this space in March 2020, yes, the week we went to quarantine. So, I never ended up making any improvements to the studio, life was too much back then and I coudln’t handle anything else.
The first thing I knew was going to change this space was color.
I wanted a neutral with a pink under tone that had an imperfect texture. I ended up using this paint mixed with an off white. The pink paint was one of the highest expenses, $120. Looking back I could have bought a more inexpensive paint since I ended up mixing it with off white.
In between choosing colors and painting, I found on Facebook Market (or Offer Up I can’t remember) a book case that I liked to display some of the product since it had glass doors and the store front space is pretty small. I’ve always loved store fronts that feel welcoming and that feel more relatable to day-to-day living and in my opinion a book case always provides that sense of “grandmother living room”. I bought it for $30 (+ $50 of a U-haul rental because it was huge).
After that main piece was in I had a better idea of the pieces I could use to complement it, including some of the furniture I already had in the studio. My mother in-law found a table on Facebook Market place that I thought had good potential (I still want to paint it because I think it would look much better in a lighter color) and we paid $30 for that one.
We also got a few other things at a thrift store: a small table, one of my favorite purchases $10, 2 baskets $25.
In between finding furniture and finalizing details like inventory for the store front, point of sale etc I needed to tackle one of the most important things for me, lighting/windows. The previous tenant of that space used some type of chemical or strong paint to write on the windows when they were moving out and it ended up scratching the glass. We have tried everything nothing has worked. Our landlord is not interested in changing the windows and since we are not sure if the building is going to be sold I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars changing the front windows of the store.
So, I used that in my favor and added off-white curtains (my lazy butt hasn’t cut them yet) I knew this was going to brighten up the space and add another layer of coziness. Also the white reflection on the glass will hide some of those scratches and I’m happy to report that it worked! You can barely see the scratches now. I used a wooden dowel, these leather curtain rod holders ($134) and these curtains. ($30)
The last 2 other things I bought were shelves, it was not easy to find used shelves so I ended up buying them brand new. I got 3 single wooden shelves from West Elm and they were on sale when I bought them! so I ended up paying $175 for all 3. Then I also got a Ladder style bookcase from Wayfair for $224. We had the rest of the furniture in the studio and it was a matter of re-arranging.
I couldn’t take a proper picture of one of the walls because the space is so small but you can see in the reflection of the mirror one of the book shelves we used for display. We’ve had those for a few years now and are from Ikea.
So, overall I spent about $1000 for displays, shelves, paint etc to put together the store front. I ended up hiring a local company to install blinds so the room didn’t get so hot, that was a bit more of the total amount I spent on the displays and furniture but it was worth it since the room is bright but cool now.
The Store Front doesn’t currently have set hours since the restaurants in our street haven’t opened yet and there is no consistent or constant traffic. We are currently selling most of the products on our online shop and once there is more traffic in our street we will be opening the Store Front with a consistent schedule.
I had given myself a dead-line and that’s why I ended up purchasing some items brand new instead of vintage/used. My hope with this post is that it inspires you to create something with what you have and what you can afford. I needed the extra push from my friend and hopefully this gives you that little push too. I’m learning what it takes to have a Store Front and hopefully one day I can apply all these lessons to that big vision I have!
© Nat Otalora 2022. All rights reserved.
The more I do and create the more I want to share with others.
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