What exactly is your business?
I own a vintage resale business called Wizard of Oddz. I specialize in finding, repairing and refinishing all kinds of vintage household items, primarily from the 1950s-1970s. Some of my favorite finds include vintage Halloween and Christmas decorations, Pyrex, lamps and lighting, artwork, mirrors, glassware, barware, collectibles, sports and pop culture memorabilia, and children’s books and toys.
How did you come up with your business idea?
For most of my life, I spent weekends at the flea market alongside my dad, the proverbial treasure hunter, searching for hidden gems. I’ve always had a quirky sense of style and have been drawn to the often bold and bizarre design and story behind mid-century pieces. After I bought my first house, I spent a few years hunting down the perfect pieces to fill every wall, corner, nook and cranny. It was shortly after that that I decided to take my passion and turn it into a business. I knew the amount of time required to hunt through countless flea markets, estates, garages, barns, auctions and tree lawns to find pieces that were worth saving. Most people simply don’t have the time or eye for it. I think of what I do as more of a service than a product. I dig through all these places to find pieces that I believe can have a new life and that someone will enjoy. I then bring it all together and stage it in a way that they can see all the best pieces without having to spend the time of sorting through the “junk.”
How did you find out about Aviatra?
I found out about Aviatra when I met a few other female business owners through a variety of networking groups I got involved with. They all had great things to say about it and so I decided to give it a shot.
What is your inspiration?
Following my personal passion is what inspires me to keep going with my business, even on days when I’m exhausted, frustrated or just want to stay in bed. Knowing that I get to do something that I love makes it all worth it. Seeing the smile on someone’s face when they connect with a piece that I’ve found is so rewarding. Maybe it’s something that reminds them of their childhood or something that reminds them of a family member, friend, a place, or a memory. Whatever it is, watching them make that connection and knowing that that piece will become part of a new story for someone inspires me to keep going every day.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
When I first started my business, it was part time and I set my sights on making it full time as soon as possible. I was able to transition to full time within about a year and then spent two years after that working on it full time. After a while, I realized that while I loved what I was doing, there were other things I loved doing, too. I made the decision to take my business back to part time which at first, felt like a failure. However, one of my mentors from Aviatra helped me realize that this is my business and I can do what I want with it. If you love what you do and want to do it all day every day, that’s great. But if you love what you do and want to do it along with other things, that’s okay too. Coming to that understanding with myself was one of my biggest personal accomplishments with my business so far. Accepting that it can be whatever I want it to be and whatever I make of it has helped me feel free to enjoy it, feel less stressed, and reminds me not to take it for granted.
What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience with Aviatra?
I am a procrastinator by nature and unless given a deadline, will typically never get around to things. Aviatra provided a structured program that forced me to dedicate time toward putting together a solid business plan. That is something I most likely never would have done on my own. And, of course, I made many invaluable connections with other female business owners, many of whom are now friends.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
Running a small business requires a lot of skills – marketing, accounting, web design, social media management, product knowledge and industry knowledge, just to name a few. Since not every person can be good at every single thing that is required by a business owner, it was tough when I was first starting out. I hated keeping accounting records and had no idea how to put a website together. While I’ve been able to improve on the areas where I was less proficient with time and experience, I have also come to the point where I know when to bring in help. Many of the people I use to help with my business (accounting, marketing, etc.) are other women who I met through the Aviatra program.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
If I am in the same place with my business in five years as I am now, I would be happy with that. Part of owning a business is always striving to make it better, but the other part is to realize when you’ve made it exactly what you want and enjoying the ride once you get there.
Any advice for future Aviatras?
Take the time to invest in yourself and to learn. Aviatra is a great way to do that. At the end of the day, your business is all about you so if you invest in yourself, you are investing in your business. As you learn and grow, so will your business. Don’t be afraid of trial and error and take the time to enjoy the moments along the way. Your business can be whatever you want it to be and when you get it to that point, be sure to enjoy it.