Creating this Mid Century Style Shop online store was months in the making. It started from a few simple crazy ideas. It has been an incredible life experience that keeps giving. I learned so much in so many different new fields, I thought of sharing stories, insights, hacks, tricks, and fun stuff with everyone. But first things first: Here's a first blog post on how it all started... the long version.
In the beginning, there was a condo
In 2013, one of my best friends was splitting up with his spouse. They had bought a condo in Palm Springs, California, right after the 2009 real estate bubble burst for a piece of cake. It had been abandoned and repossessed by the bank. A bargain foreclosure. A few years later after some renovations, the relationship was over and the ex wanted to put it up for sale. My friend was really sad to let it go. But he didn't have the means to buy his ex's share. So he called to offer me a real-estate investment, half and half.
The good news was that I had gone through a painful breakup myself a couple years before. After selling my house, I decided to rent an apartment for a while and think things over. So the money was available. The bad news was that I had never heard of Palm Springs before (I know, it's crazy!). So I didn't know what to say... I had to go and see for myself.
In April 2013, I visited Palm Springs for the first time. I instantly fell in love with this wonderful little city. In case you didn't know, like me, it's the ground zero for everything mid century modern: architecture, design, style, shopping, clothing, vibe, you name it. Besides the fact that it's a worldwide known gay-friendly destination with its numerous festivals, it has so much to offer to everyone. Great food, lots of activities, incredible hiking trails, 100s of golf courses (I don't play), one of the world's best tennis championships, some of the biggest music festivals like Coachella, breathtaking views of the majestic mountains (no beach here!) and the extraordinary dry climate of the desert with sunshine almost year-round. Plus, an adorable open-air airport!
Back to my friend. He started seeing someone else. After a year or so, it didn't work out either. Since I'm a freelancer who works from home, I was then visiting Palm Springs very often for about 2 to 4 weeks at a time. My friend didn't feel like traveling or visiting alone. In the end, we decided that I would buy the whole place for myself. Now, being the sole owner, I started thinking about remodelling and doing it my way. Why not go with a mid century modern look since it's the essence of the city? Right?
It didn't take long to get the feel of the mid century style. It's everywhere in Palm Srings. But if you're not careful or let your emotions take over, it can become a wallet drainer! Authentic mid century modern furniture and home decor accessories don't come cheap. Plus, I quickly realized that colours are often faded or weird and some designs are really old fashioned. I know it's what this style is all about but I wanted something modern, vibrant, colourful and not too vintage. This became really hard to find. One day, my spouse told me those magic words: "Why don't you do it yourself?". Bingo!
I had some bigger things done by a handyman in the spring of 2016. Take down floor-to-ceiling wall mirrors, plastering, installing shutters (original wood quality ones that I bought for a bargain from a neighbour who strangely didn't like them!), a new ceiling lamp, etc. Next, we painted everything white! The idea was to have a few items here and there with a big colour splash.
Instead of buying expensive 3D wall panels or tiles for the dinning room wall, a bright orange paint job did the trick. I installed 36 white square IKEA mirrors in a symmetrical pattern and voilà! What a statement, for less than $125! That set the tone for the rest (Update: see how-to blog post here).
After scouring the web for bargain furniture and lamps, I modified a simple IKEA console with mid century wood legs from Home Depot that were coloured with brown shoe polish. A nifty little trick from a neighbour! Not able to find a reasonably priced huge wall artwork, I created my own digital version of a famous photograph revisited in the colourful style of a local artist that I love but can't afford. I had it printed online and made the frame myself. On the opposite wall, I Googled caricatures of famous people related to Palm Springs (and the mid century era like the "Rat Pack"), added their real signatures, framed them and boom! It's only when I got to the end of this fun diy remodelling that the idea for the store became a reality. (more on these diy projects in future posts)
Mid 2017, a friend of my spouse was starting her own online store for a very specific niche. She wanted help. I'm a long time graphic design professional but no expert in e-commerce. I still wanted to help her out as much as I could so I went online, found out a few ways to do it without losing your shirt and I sent her a bunch of advice, ideas and references. She decided to go custom and the cost when through the roof. A lesson I kept in the back of my head for later without even knowing it.
Back to the condo. The redesign was almost done. The only problem was that bright, colourful AND mid century modern home decor didn't really exist. Lots of great products out there but not what I was aiming for. Searching the web, I stumbled on so many stores, I finally learned about this new way of doing business: dropshipping. It's a way to work with a supplier that takes care of production, packaging and shipping. Wow! All you have to focus on is design and marketing. That was for me, wasn't it? That's when the idea hit me. After learning about all these tools for online stores and this zero-inventory system, I could design all these products myself and sell them online!
September 2017, I chose a name, bought the domain, started creating design ideas, building the store with Shopify, learning everything about online marketing. Hard choices had to be made for a first version (you just can't have it all at launch) and the store went live in November 2017. The first samples I ordered were those wonderful cushions you can see in the picture. You can get them in the store!
I'm already planning different exclusive collections, some with my own characters, product ideas, expanding the selection with new suppliers, learning about shipping options, etc. For now, I'm working on fine-tuning this beast, hoping for success.
I hope you've enjoyed this first blog post!