After spending a decade in different parts of the design industry, Lacy Quail was ready for a change. She decided to start over. Her background in design, retail, and managing a luxury furnishings showroom formed her excellent taste, but she perfected the art of thrifting on a budget to decorate her home.
Lacy fell in love with thrifting, DIY, and bringing new life to forgotten pieces. After connecting with the owner of a favorite shop, she took the plunge and opened her own business just two months later!
As Eye Candy REfind has continued to grow, Lacy has learned the power of surrounding yourself with the right team, pushing yourself through hard situations, and collaborating with like-minded entrepreneurs.
photo credit: Rachel Marthaler Photography
Tell us about Eye Candy Refind.
Eye Candy Refind is a home furnishings boutique featuring locally made furniture, art, and home décor. We refinish ugly furniture and make it fit with today’s decorating styles, build cool stuff and find fabulous vintage accessories.
The shop is located in beautiful historic downtown Hastings and is open seven days a week. Also, I have several interior design clients, and we do quite a bit of custom work!
What was your first job growing up, and what did you learn from it?
I was a service secretary at a local car dealership, my mom’s friend worked there, and they offered me an easy job of answering phones, typing up forms, making coffee and flirting with the mechanics.
I met wonderful people, learned quite a bit about professionalism, and a little bit about cars.
Tell us about your career path story – from the beginning to today.
My career “path’ has been more of a maze…
I started out where I thought I wanted to be; design assistant at a small firm and retail store in the Twin Cities. Huge wake-up call. I learned there was a lot more to being a designer than picking paint colors and sofa fabrics. Like… so much more.
After the company I was working for relocated, and Hayden (my now 13-year-old son) was born, I decided to start over.
I worked for Patina Stores for a bit. I’ve always loved retail, constant change, and working with people; it was fun. But I was missing the design world. So, retail met design when I landed my next job as a Showroom Manager at a high-end furniture and fabric design center at International Market Square in Minneapolis.
It was the mothership for luxury home furnishings. Heaven. I had the best of both worlds, working with designers, selecting products for their projects, but never having to deal with clients or selling to them, while also attending home and gift markets, purchasing product, and meeting potential vendors. It seemed like the dream job, and it was. But after eight years, I needed something more.
I left that to pursue a few other opportunities I thought would make me happy and ended up working for a home builder doing marketing and administration. Neither of which was truly satisfying.
I’d been through a breakup during this time and was slowly decorating my new home on a very tight budget. Knowing what I know about the luxury industry and design in general, it was fun for me to find cool old furniture and update it to work within my space and style.
I thrifted and shopped, a lot. Honestly, it was my escape from reality. I painted and decorated nonstop, until one day I had a thought, maybe I could use my design experience and DIY knowledge to build a business?! Whoa. Scary.
I contacted a shop I frequented, met with the owner, and just two months later (January 2, 2015) was open for business in my own 850 square foot shop. I found local artists to fill the space with upcycled, vintage and one of a kind finds.
Soon, the shop grew, and I knew I’d need more space. So, while looking at a warehouse for storage, classes, and a studio, I stumbled upon the current space I occupy in Hastings. A gorgeous brick wall, original hardwood floored 2,500 square foot space, WITH a workspace. Had to have.
I ran two locations for about a year and a half; a terrible idea. But, learned so much. Now, 2018, I’m planning a move just across the street from my current location, 8,000 square feet and opening an occasional shop in my current location. It’s nuts. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was meant to do this.
photo credit: Rachel Marthaler Photography
Do you do all of the finding and re-purposing yourself, or do you have help?
Almost 25 local artists contribute to the shop, which sounds like a lot, but some are small items (like jewelry and candles). Some build or paint, others find the interesting pieces. We get new items daily!
What’s your favorite piece of furniture you’ve ever re-purposed?
I love restoring church pews. The older, the better, I feel like they hold a lot of goodness.
What is a typical day like for you?
Typical; ha! Most days start with a check-in at the shop. I have the best shop girls, who run things and take care of customers 80% of the week. Then I’m onto appointments, deliveries, and picking up furniture to repurpose. Every day is different. But generally, my weekends are free for my family. I’m incredibly lucky.
Tell us about a hard time in your life, career or personal. What did you learn from it or how did it make you stronger?
In November of 2016, I had a falling out with my best friend, who was working for me five days a week. We had a “partnership” relationship, but she was not a business partner legally or financially.
After a few very tense conversations about partnering up legally and financially, and responsibility roles, she decided she was out. She literally left me hanging.
So, there I was with no help just before the holiday season, and my home life was also in shambles. I was in a relationship that was incredibly dysfunctional, and I was having a hard time getting out. Things were unraveling…
A great friend and artist at the shop told me, sometimes we are put in uncomfortable situations to push us. I was being pushed hard. Since home wasn’t very much fun, I worked A LOT.
I put out a call to my vendors asking for help, and they came to the rescue! They covered hours five days a week, and I filled in on weekends. By January, I had a come to realize that her leaving was a blessing. I knew what I wanted the shop to be and was able to focus my energy on getting there.
In 2017, I ended up more than doubling sales from 2016. I have realized that having the right people on your team is the key to success.
Drama, stress, and tension have no place in my world now. I have surrounded myself with like-minded people who support what I have built. And by the way, I finally got out of that awful relationship in March. And in July, I found my perfect guy and married him in November!
What advice or tips would you give to a new business owner?
Find someone who is doing what you want to be doing successfully. Ask questions; make friends; learn from them. Some of my closest friends are other shop owners; we work together to help our businesses.
Our worlds are small and making friends is crucial, especially as a newcomer. Respect what others have worked for, but create your own identity. Don’t copy, be yourself. Do you, but be inspired by others.
What do you believe is your single strongest skill that’s helped you succeed?
I have the drive to complete anything I set my mind to. I’m a procrastinator and much better under pressure, though, so sometimes it’s last minute. Sometimes it’s at 3 am, but I’ll get it done. Whether it’s a project, event, or a shop flip. I won’t let you down.
photo credit: Rachel Marthaler Photography
What’s next for your business?
In March, we’re moving across the street to an 8,000 sq foot space! And opening an occasional shop in our current location with the same kind of style, just different artists and a bit edgier, open only one weekend a month!
Tell us about your life outside of your business? What do you like to do?
Weather permitting, I love being outside. Laying, walking, laughing, hiking, swimming; if there’s sun, I’m there. Otherwise, I relax. Laying low is rare. So, when I can, I chill. And I’m a foodie; fab dinners are my fav!
How do you balance your career and family/ personal life?
Self-care is a must for boss girls. We can’t be 100%, 100% of the time. Breaks are necessary. Good help is the only way to make that happen! Your people are your key to balance. Find good people
Quick fun facts….
What’s your favorite charity? Animal Ark
What age do you want to retire at? Never. I always want to be busy and have my hands in something. Maybe from a beach six months a year though…
One travel location on your bucket list? Bali
Are you an introvert or extrovert? Extrovert
What book would you suggest to our readers? I know it’s super corny, but Eat Pray Love
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