How a single mom turned her shabby-chic hobby into a flourishing home decor business

Abu Mubarik September 05, 2022
Candice Luter. Photo: KCRG

Meet Candice Luter, she is the founder of Candice Luter Designs. Since 2014, Luter has been designing home decor pieces, which she commenced as an in-home, shabby-chic hobby. 

She used “remnant scraps of wood and fabric to create furniture, art and decor, which she primarily sold locally at farmers markets,” according to The Gazette. Luter was running her decor business alongside her full-time job. Her decor business involved answering emails and calls from the bathroom and in the car. However, when the pandemic hit, she was laid off and decided to concentrate on her craft.

Luter said she discovered her passion for business when she came across an ad for a local farmers’ market. “I had never upcycled anything — where you take old furniture and decor and make it better — but I had seen it on Pinterest. I bought power tools and asked for help using them. I started upcycling anything I could. A month later, I thought I could really do something with this,” the Cedar Rapids woman told The Washington Post.

Her business took off when she put her works on Etsy and since then, she has been getting mounting requests and offers. “It’s been a crazy whirlwind,” Luter told The Gazette. “It went from being this hobby to something real. It’s been an interesting – and frustrating – journey to find my lane.”

Recently, she was even featured as an ‘Etsy Maker to Support in Honor of Black History Month.” What is more, she started receiving inquiries from art curators for hotels, Netflix producers, and magazines such as Midwest Living.

Prior to finding success, Luter said she lost money and wasted so much energy trying to keep up. She also got jealous of people who had created a niche for themselves. However, she found her spot when she began making art for herself and her own home.

And that was when she began selling her work on Etsy and entered an Etsy design contest, in which she was a finalist.

Initially, she struggled to balance her side hustle with her full-time job at the interior design business Storey Kenworthy. Being a single mother with a teenage daughter, meeting the sudden demand for her services was also another challenge she had to deal with.

“There’s the reality behind the scenes,” Luter said. “I have anxiety every day and feel like I can’t do this. Some days I work at my full-time job all day and then I’m in my warehouse (in Hiawatha) until midnight.”

Sharing her biggest challenge with the Washington Post, Luter noted that in the beginning, she had no business sense and how much her time was worth.

“But I didn’t set out to be a business manager and lead all these people. I realized that I needed to be in design — that’s my best fit. So I’ve added people with different skill sets to help me with marketing and shipping. I also contacted women I knew with corporate jobs and outsourced HR and accounting to them,” she said.

Luter said she wants to see her business grow across different niches in decor. According to her, she is working with a strategist to figure out where she wants to be in five years. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 6, 2022


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