Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Interview with Kristin and Nan at TheVelvetBranch

The Velvet Branch is a unique name…And a mother daughter team is unique as well!! 
Please tell us how they both came to be.

The Name...

Kristin: We thought a long time. We wanted a name that would represent both of our home décor tastes, something that was original and something that didn’t limit us into doing only vintage or only hand painted items. My taste is bold, graphic, and glam, while my mom’s is more organic, natural, and simple. What’s more glam than velvet and more organic than a branch? 

How it Came to Be...

Nan: It’s rather a long story; I’ll try to give you the short version. I lost my job when the economy tanked and then I had a battle with breast cancer. These circumstances made me realize that I didn’t want a big, stressful, corporate job. So, urged by a dear friend with her insistence that I was crafty and talented as well as inspired by the success of our Etsy friend Todd Manring, we decided to turn a hobby into a business.

Where do you find your fabulous pieces to refinish?

Everywhere we can! A lot of our time is spent scouring Craigslist and scoping out yardsales and thrift stores. The side of the road is an unbelievably good resource as well. A lot of times people will just throw something out versus giving it away or refinishing it. This is a real shame; we hate to see that kind of potential and history tossed to the landfill. Friends and family also assist us finding pieces that need a little love and attention.

Do you decide together what the design will be for a piece of furniture?  Do you work from ‘inspiration pieces’ in magazines and the like?
We do always ask the other person for their input and opinion on pieces that we’re painting. If one of us is immediately inspired, the other one knows to step back and let it happen. We are constantly inspired by other people’s work, but what inspires us the most is the furniture piece itself. The shape or function will usually be the catalyst for the ultimate outcome. 

We love a piece with functionality AND beauty so that is always a goal for furniture that we choose.

Have you ever completely disagreed on the direction a piece of furniture should go? 
Who ‘won’?
Yes! _ We try to compromise and make sure that we are both represented in everything we do. For instance, one of us will “win” on the color choice, but the other will “win” on including some detail, like a pattern or trim. Often, one of us just has a clearer vision for an item than the other. 
If all else fails, Mom wins.

When did your love of vintage, and your redesigning of it start?

For as long as I can remember, we’ve shopped at thrift stores and reinvented things to suit our own tastes. What other people called junk never deterred us from seeing true potential However, we didn’t think of starting our own business doing this until a very close friend suggested it. She has been encouraging us and giving us advice all along the way.

Apart from the Etsy shop, what other things do you enjoy doing together?

Both of us have unique taste in movies (foreign films, documentaries, the occasional chick flick), so that’s something that we really love to do together. We also spend a lot of time talking, supporting each other through life’s ups and downs, shopping, and eating good food. Dad is a great cook and spoils us regularly with phenomenally good eats.

Where do you do the work?
We work out of the house. Most things are done in the basement, but if it’s a nice day, we try to do as much work outside as possible. Keeping track of our Etsy shop, bookkeeping, and assorted other duties are performed on our laptop on the kitchen counter. Our finished products are stored mostly in the spare bedroom but they have slowly spread throughout the house. My dad always encourages us by saying when we finish painting something that, “We’ll have to keep that one.” It is an ongoing joke but makes us feel good, too.

Tell us some about shipping your product, have any tips for the larger items?
Shipping is the hardest part of our business. We work really hard to get the best shipping prices for our customers and to ensure that our items arrive safely. FedEx is the best way to send smaller to medium sized items but for large things like dressers, we use a furniture delivery company. They pick it up from us, blanket wrap it, and deliver to the door step of our customers.
We have spent hours packaging an item. Since we live in The Furniture Capitol of The World, we are often able to reuse boxes and packaging materials from the furniture showrooms. We like to use foam wrap or flat Styrofoam sheets around furniture as well as added corrugated or styro corners. Also, we double box all fragile and hand painted items for extra protection. The office of a local dairy gives us their shredded office papers for packaging smaller things. We hot glue larger boxes to add stability and strength.

Animal Vegetable Mineral.
Nan: lamb (so cute and wooly!)/ cauliflower/ emerald (my birthstone and my favorite color)

Kristin: I’m a sucker for big, fat, wrinkly, bulldogs/ broccoli or spinach (toss up)/ diamond (my birthstone and who doesn’t love diamonds!)

Most fun you have had on a refinish.
Nan: We did a silver dresser several months ago. I had such a clear vision of what I wanted it to look like and it came out great! I actually made the flower stamps out of potatoes. That was so much fun and I loved the finish I got with the metallic and opalescent glaze and the texture with the striation. And I was so pleased to have the original mid-century hardware.

Kristin: We just finished a custom cabinet that was this antique, rustic wood piece. I painted it flat black and then painted an Asian geometric design on it in glossy black. It looks awesome with the subtle pattern that catches the light and vintage copper hardware. Now it’s a contemporary storage cabinet with Asian flare!

Mother’s Day is coming up, what’s one of your Best mother daughter memories?

Kristin: When I was a kid, I took dance classes and I loved getting ready for the recitals. My mom would put on my makeup, do my hair, and get me into the sparkly costumes. It was such a bonding experience.

: Kristin was living in Raleigh, NC and I went to help her pack in preparation for moving back here to start our business. It was just the two of us working together and having a good time. It really felt like the beginning of something life changing. AND, we did go out to eat and to Starbucks for coffee and a scone. Yum.

Anything else you would like to leave us with, any advice?

We know it is cliché, but do what makes you happy! The freedom that owning your own business gives you is incredible and when you’re doing something you love, it’s hard to have too terrible of a day. As far as being creative with paint, just remember, it’s only paint. Be fearless! If you paint something and don’t like it, you can always repaint it. That’s what we always say. 

And we should know; we have painted and repainted many times.


  1. I have seen their pieces "live and in person". Gorgeous! There is no photograph that can do them justice! Add in their personality and WOW!

  2. Whimzy Thyme said:
    Great interview! I love getting to know my Team mates. Your furniture pieces are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great interview! It's fun getting to know the people behind the shops! Your pieces are wonderful, and I really loved learning about the shipping side of the business. I wish I were brave enough to jump into selling furniture.....good for you for doing it.
    Wishing you continued success!

  4. Wow! How inspiring! Wonderful job to both the interviewer and the interviewees!

  5. Fabulous and Inspiring! You go girls!

  6. Nice Interview! It's so much fun to find out about all these talented sellers! Nan and Kristin have such a darling shop - thanks for the intro!

  7. Great Interview! I completely agree that the bonding experience during a dance recital is amazing. My mom would do my hair and makeup, even if it was super early in the morning before parades, it was a fun memory of us.


  8. Loved the interview! Nice to get to "see & hear" behind the scene's. I'm going to check out their shop right now.

  9. What a great interview. I really love that white table. It would look great in my house. :)

  10. Thought I would stop in and check it out. Very cool ideas and very nice work!

  11. Love your work. We've been watching your etsy page for a while. Keep up the great work.

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