Your hours of operation are 24/7. You may not interact with customers 24 hours, but your brain will be constantly thinking of things you can do to make your business successful, even if you do not want to. I do this all the time, so I practice meditating and getting sleep.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charie Williams.
Charie Williams is a furniture redesigner, speaker, philanthropist, military spouse, mother, and owner of Uncommon Redesigns, a furniture flipping business that also host creative workshops in Virginia Beach, VA. Originally from Houston, TX, Charie has traveled from LA to Egypt to find inspiration which has influenced her creative style and processes. She specializes in mixing modern with classic/antique styles and accents her work with her own free-spirited touch.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I have always loved all things creative. My mother is also a crafty and creative person, so I am highly inspired by her. As a little girl, I would draw all over my white walls in my bedroom. Of course, my mother was not impressed with that, but she has always supported my creativity and wild imagination! My redesigning started at an early age and was always based on the fact that I couldn’t afford the nice things that I wanted. I started my first business at 15 years old making bedazzled bandanas (think Jennifer Lopez in the early 2000’s lol). I charged 10 dollars and it only cost me 2 dollars to make. Not too bad for a 9th grader.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” This quote by Lao Tzu can be applied to every part of my life. I am a true believer that you can change any situation you are in with just a thought, good or bad. If it wasn’t for that mindset, I would have never been able to pivot in life.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
My favorite podcast to listen to is “How I Built This with Guy Raz. This podcast is so inspiring, because you get to hear how some of the most successful businesses got started. For me, the most impactful part of the stories, is they were regular people with an idea. They did not have investment money waiting for them. Just an idea and drive! I have that, so why couldn’t I attain the same level of success?
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I spent most of my career in the non-profit sector, specifically focusing on helping women enter the workforce and retaining their employment. Right before the pandemic started, I was an Office Manager/HR Assistant at a Tech company where I also contributed my graphic design skills for their marketing and apps. I was wearing way too many hats to not be working towards my own dreams and business.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
The pandemic was an eye opener for a lot of people. It showed me that life is too short to be as stressed as I was. I no longer wanted to work in a field that caused me to feel unhappy, so I decided to relaunch a business that sat dormant for two years. In August of 2020, I found an old commercial garage, renovated it, purchased supplies, and began hosting creative workshops and BOOM…I had fully booked workshops! People feel safe at my workshops because I have limited attendees, temperature checks at check-in, provided PPE (Mask, safety goggles, gloves, and aprons), and workstations are 6 feet apart. I quit my job in October of 2020 and hired my first employee in November, since business took off so fast. My creative workshops are currently fun resin art classes that will later include woodwork, reupholstery, furniture flipping, and more!
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
In July of 2020, I contracted COVID-19. It was a very scary time for my family and me. I had to quarantine for 14 days, I used that time to think about ways I could change my situation. I decided I would resurrect my old business Uncommon Redesigns. I would add creative workshops as a new line of service since I love art and hosting. The only problem was we were in the middle of a pandemic. I thought about how I had to wear a mask and respirator during my crafts due to the materials and chemicals that I used, and that was the moment I knew I could make this work! Even though people want to be safe, they were getting a bit burned out from all the virtual meetings and events and needed a safe space to have a real experience.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Things are going very well. It’s like déjà vu. I envisioned all of this while laying in bed sick with COVID-19. Not only are things going as planned, but I was able to create jobs and hire two part-time employees.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are a lot of people that have inspired me, but I can easily say my husband has been the most supportive. He was the first to invest money into my business and supported my decision to leave a job during a pandemic. He not only believes in me, but he cares about my well-being. In addition, he puts in a lot of work. He taught his self how to code, so he can update my website!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
It may not seem as interesting on the surface, but everything that I planned while on quarantine (and I mean EVERYTHING) has happened. From the look of the space, to the response of the people that are booking up my workshops. It’s mind blowing that you can really do this. It always starts with an idea, then you must believe you can do it, picture it happening in your head, and manifest it!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Your hours of operation are 24/7. You may not interact with customers 24 hours, but your brain will be constantly thinking of things you can do to make your business successful, even if you do not want to. I do this all the time, so I practice meditating and getting sleep.
- You will never “catch-up”. I used to tell my husband that I would get to a lower priority task after catching up with the current higher priority tasks. There will always be time sensitive high priority tasks to do. I had to get help, or I would burn out. I delegated some tasks to my teenage daughter and husband. I eventually had to hire help.
- Imposter syndrome is REAL. I’m a pretty tough cookie and I never thought I would experience imposter syndrome, but one conversation triggered it. This person was providing an overwhelming amount of feedback and it hit me for the following three days. I pretty much had to remind myself that my creativity and drive got me this far and that I was prepared to go further.
- You might lose some friends and that’s ok. I have lost friends from either being too busy or because they don’t understand my passion to run my organization. They either don’t believe in me or just can’t relate. The flip side is, your true friends will understand and will be there when you’re able to take that well deserved break.
- People like to know and see the leader. I battled with posting images of myself on my website and social media accounts. I wanted to keep the business separate from my personal life. I noticed that when I finally shared images of myself, I had more engagement. It’s not a must and doesn’t work for all organizations, but I noticed that it was a good move for mine.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Try something new. For instance, I took on gardening. I have never grown food in my life, but I became a quarantine gardener and pretty good at it. It was so therapeutic to water my garden and harvest fruits and veggies that I grew from seed. You also need to speak up about what you are feeling. There were times when I was overwhelmed with life. I would speak to my husband about it and we would make changes to our schedule and would shift tasks, so I could get a moment to relax and care for myself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would influence a movement to normalize people taking time off to do absolutely nothing. The pressure to provide nonstop is not healthy. You will be surprised how refreshed your thoughts are when you give your brain a break. Also, I feel the best ideas will come to you during that time, because you can block the outside noise.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Without a thought that would be Pharrell Williams. He is true to himself and has not let the industry conform him into something he is not and yet he was still able to build his music, businesses, and brand to a worldwide level. I also love how he deeply cares about mental health/self-care of all people. He is really serious about building up Virginia Beach, VA, which is his hometown, and is also the home to my business.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow Uncommon Redesigns:
On Facebook: Uncommon Redesigns
Subscribe on our site uncommonredesigns.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!