Many of my clients often ask me this question, and it's actually a pretty interesting story. I thought I would start from the beginning and tell you how I fell into my fun and unique career.
It all started when I was in high school in Bethesda, MD and I was looking for an after school job. Being that I was a TERRIBLE waitress, I knew I need to find another way to make money. I was always good at arts & crafts and one of my mom's friends who was an interior designer suggested that I work for a frame shop. I interviewed for the job, thus starting my career in picture framing. Working at this frame shop taught me the basics of framing - sizing, matting, how to put a frame together, etc. I began working there at the age of 15 and continued through college when I would come home for breaks.
In college (once my money ran out and realizing how much I loved to party), I was once again on the job hunt. I didn't have to look too far because right down the street from my house was a university book store with a picture frame shop. Now that I had a couple years of framing experience under my belt, interviewing and getting this job was easy. This frame shop ran like a well oiled machine. The owner went to framing school (yes, there is such a thing). She was very particular about how we produced and manufactured our frames, so much so that when we would leave for the day she would go back over the frames we had completed. If anything was as much as a sixteenth of an inch off, she would make us redo it in the morning. It was frustrating and tedious, but in the grand scheme of things it taught me to truly value the work I was producing and to be precise in my measuring.
After college I came back home. Although I had bigger and better things planned for my career, working at a picture frame shop was where I felt most comfortable. I started working at a gallery and frame shop on K Street in downtown DC. To me this was the big leagues. The owner was selling very high end artwork as well as framing for some of the biggest companies in the city. I worked not only as a picture framer, but I also started working with clients one-on-one. I had the freedom to design frames and matting for clients, which was very exciting. Once they started coming in the gallery and asking to work with me directly, I knew I had a knack for this.
This job was going great and then opportunity knocked, I answered. I was finally given the chance to open my OWN frame shop! I decided to open a store front in my old stomping grounds of Bethesda, just a quick walk from my apartment. It wasn't much when I started, just a converted garage, but it was in a neighborhood that was going through some major transformations, so I knew it would be a good location. I opened in December of 2000 and literally sat there everyday for a couple of months before customers really started coming in. Once I had a steady flow of clients and work started picking up, bit by bit I began updating my shop to look more professional. I added a neon sign, expanded to another room of my building, added more frame sample walls, and design areas. Soon enough I was hosting art shows once a month with different local artists and establishing a name for myself.
Everything was going great until the bottom dropped out. After 15 years in that location I lost my lease. What was I going to do? Move to a new location? Give up and find a job that offered security and a real paycheck? To make matters even more complicated I was now a single mother and solely financially responsible for my two daughters. I'm going to be honest, I looked for a job with security and benefits but I had been a picture framer for 18 years and that was all I knew. So instead of caving I looked at my kids and realized that I wanted to do something that would make them (and myself) proud. It was important for me to show them my strength as a mom and as an independent woman. That was the moment that I decided to move my store to my basement and set up shop at home. This way I wasn't paying rent and I now had the flexibility to spend more time with my kids. I wasn't really sure how all of this was going to pan out but I did the best I could to make it work. I notified all my clients that I was now working mobily and was still the stellar framer that I had always had been. I didn't know then, that out of this terribly low point in my life, that this was going to be the best thing that ever happened to me and my business. I was now able to go to clients homes and actually see where their artwork was going to hang and design the frame to compliment both the artwork and the style of home it was going in.
After working out of my home studio for a while, I started noticing that my clients were not hanging the artwork that I had framed for them YEARS ago. This inspired me to start offering picture hanging services to my repertoire. I didn't realize how many people were so nervous to put a nail in their walls and how unsure as to where and how high their artwork should be hung. This is something I quickly excelled in. I love hanging artwork, it is so satisfying. I especially love how it makes my clients feel, so often I hear "my home finally feels like home'. It has brought my clients so much joy to see their artwork professionally hung on their walls.
Now I am curating artwork and designing full gallery walls for my clients. I have the talent of looking at a wall and envisioning a certain artwork piece or a certain style of gallery wall on a clients wall space. Some people are born with a calling in life and this was mine. Just like an interior designer can take a room and transform it into something amazing, I do the same thing for wall spaces.
Fast forward four years and my business is thriving. I never thought that my life would take this unexpected turn but I wouldn't want it any other way. So a BIG thank you to all of my loyal clients who stuck by me and continue to work with me. I love working on your wall space and designing magazine quality framing and gallery walls. Moral of the story is that sometimes, change can be good...very good.
"We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents"