This week’s Ms New Brunswick is Angie Reid from St. Stephen, NB. Angie started her own business refinishing furniture when her youngest son started school, after several years as a stay at home Mom. It should be no surprise that her story resonated with me, as I am navigating being a stay at home Mom myself, while trying to carve out time to work and write. Angie's story spoke to me also because when she started her business, she was entirely self-taught. I think that there is something special about the idea that it's never too late to start something new. Angie still finds time to teach women in her area self-confidence and life skills and applies those methods to her own life. She serves as an example to women both in the classroom and outside of it, by practicing what she preaches.
Tell me about your business.
I own Angie Reid’s Furniture Refinishing and Caning, which is sort of self-explanatory. I love to fix up, refinish, stain and paint furniture, including weaving and caning rebuilds and repair – which not many people can do. I also do rush weaving where you weave with rope instead of rattan. I work primarily on projects people bring to me, especially sentimental pieces that they’ve inherited and kept for years in the hopes they could get it fixed. I love to be a part of bringing life back to a piece of furniture that is meaningful to someone!
How did you get started?
When my younger son went to school I refinished the stairs in our home and I really enjoyed it. I was supply teaching at the time, but needed something to do on the days I wasn’t teaching. After working on the staircase of our home, and redoing several pieces of furniture in our own house, I realized how much I enjoyed the process. I decided to start a business refinishing pieces part-time in addition to teaching. A friend of mine brought me a chair, and the caning had been ruined. I did the research on caning and taught myself through a variety of YouTube videos to weave and I was able to repair the chair back to new! Within two years I had taken myself off the supply teaching list altogether, and I was working full-time refinishing and repairing pieces for people. I started the business because I love working with furniture, but also because I had the confidence to try something on my own and support from the people in my life. I have the privilege of working with women in the community through an adult education program and they inspired me to give it a shot. I just felt like, how could I teach self-confidence skills and overcoming fear and self-doubt if I wasn’t able to do it myself?
Do you still teach that program?
Yes, I do still take 10 weeks a year to teach an adult education program called the Power Up Program started by the Women’s Empowerment Network. We work with women on social assistance to help them gain social skills, confidence and build a network of support. The goal is to try and improve their quality of life through skills coaching and personal development. We take the women out to do volunteer work to show them the value of giving back and expanding your personal self, and also your social circle. They work toward a public presentation, participate in workshops on stress management, healthy communication, conflict resolution, and maintaining healthy relationships. I take a break those 10 weeks every year and teach the course fulltime. I just can’t give it up, I love it so much!
Has the community been supportive?
Yes, definitely. Of course I had support from friends and family, but a big thing that helped me get started was a free business bootcamp program I took through the St. Stephen Chamber of Commerce. We had wonderful mentors and guest speakers, and I took a lot away from that program. I don’t have any formal business training, and we learned everything from accounting to marketing. There was information for drafting a business plan and tax information. They encouraged me to market in different ways and suggested I mail out flyers, which was a huge success. Similarly, any store I have approached has been open to working with me and carrying my promotional materials, and some have let me set up display pieces of furniture right in their offices.
Similarly, word of mouth has been important for my business and my clients have been really supportive of me. In such a small area having a good reputation is hugely important so customer satisfaction is critical to me. I go out of my way to make sure everyone is happy when I’m finished their pieces, and in return, they tell their friends and family about me.
How can we support you better?
Spread the word! I would like to start offering my services to customers in the Fredericton and Saint John areas, so any networking I can do to get my name out there would be a huge help.
What is the biggest difficulty in your business?
I am not good at self-promotion, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. Working with the Power Up Program has taught me that women are their own biggest critics, and so I am learning to ignore that voice in my head and do things even though they’re uncomfortable.
How do you balance work and personal life?
I still find that difficult. Like a lot of Moms, I took a big chunk of time off work when my kids were young. I got in the habit of taking care of everything for everyone and maintaining our home, and while it doesn’t sound very glamorous it is a lot of work and it still has to get done even though my time is more limited than it used to be. Taking care of the house and family is still important work, so those responsibilities are being distributed a bit more than before and that’s an adjustment for everyone, but especially me. It’s a juggling act, but the benefit of working for yourself (and working out of the home) is that I have flexibility to be with my family when I need to be or want to be. I’m especially lucky because nearly all my customers are in no hurry at all. I get so many pieces of furniture and people will say “I’ve had this in my barn for 20 years”, so if I have to take a day off for a family reason, that’s usually just fine.
What piece of advice would you offer other women starting their own business?
I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help, try to network and make contacts, and take advantage of the programs in your area designed to help businesses. Also, trust yourself and have faith that you have good ideas. I know how common it is for women to lack confidence even in their own ideas, and I don’t want that to be something that gets in the way of trying something new.
The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.
If you or someone you know would be right for the Ms New Brunswick series please fill out the Nomination Form!