Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in home decor but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kellee Kroll, Owner of Charm & Grit, LLC., located in Appleton, WI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The majority of my business is redesigning other people's older furniture or vintage pieces I find. I also host vintage-inspired small gatherings as special events to create some magic for others, upcycle home decor, and I'm starting an online furniture painting course soon so anyone can know they can paint, too.

My clients value quality-made furniture but want to bring it up to date to their style today. They love to keep a well-loved piece but fall in love with it all over again, keep it out of the garbage dumps and avoid buying big-box, uninspiring furniture that's not unique.

Tell us about yourself

I was like any other painted furniture enthusiast, drooling over the pics on Instagram and oohing and awing over before & after photos. I've always loved creating and making things (I used to make furniture for my Barbies instead of dressing them), so this seemed a perfect match. I finally grabbed a $3.50 cabinet 9 years ago at the thrift store with ugly gold curtains and an 80's stain job. When I painted it a lovely mint green, improved the knobs, and removed the curtains, I actually sold it within 24 hours on craigslist (at the time). I was hooked!

I still get so excited when I see something and have a vision of what it could look like instead. That's where my tagline comes from. It's all about imagining it... differently. It's so satisfying to give new purpose to something forgotten and especially wonderful to bring that joy to someone else. At the same time, painting fills my cup so that I can recharge and be the best version of myself.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I'm anticipating my biggest accomplishment to be the online furniture painting course I'm working on - it's a ton of work! But I feel like a big sign of success to me is the fact that I have had a custom commission list with at least 5 people waiting to be next for the past 4-5 years. My clients' faith in me and willingness to wait for my schedule are really meaningful. I actually have more than a handful of clients who own anywhere from 5-11 pieces of mine. That's a big deal to me!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Obviously, as a busy mom & wife with an established career plus this business of my own, finding enough time and balancing things is a real challenge. But with true transparency, the toughest thing might be impressing upon the family that I have a real business. I've had a well-intended family member say they wished I could be an entrepreneur. Hello! I am. My piece of advice for anyone doing something on their own is that it doesn't matter how much you make, it doesn't matter if you do it part-time or earn a paycheck doing something else, you are a total BOSS already!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. If you're doing a service for others like I am, find out if you're passionate enough about it to do it long-term. Any hobby can become just another job unless you find your passion. Plus, it's okay to change things along the way.
  2. Even if you're just starting out, do your homework on pricing in your area, then charge 10-20% more! If you don't price your work like the quality it deserves, it will be assumed to be less quality than it actually is. Charge your worth!
  3. My third piece of advice might be the most important. Pay attention to details that make your clients feel extra special and appreciated. In a small business, client satisfaction and referrals are critical. Services and products can be bought in so many places, but clients will return when they LOVE to work with YOU!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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