There’s that old saying: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your favorite hobby into a career, you’re not alone — and it could be easier than you think! Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration to get us going. If you’re ready to take the next steps, but aren’t sure where to start, keep reading to learn how Wendy Conklin turned her love for design and refurbishing chairs into a lucrative business!
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“After taking an upholstery course in 2012, I was hooked. Chairs quickly became my favorite medium for creativity. I love how, though small, they can impact a space in a dramatic fashion. After friends began asking me to help jazz up their chairs, I decided to open an Etsy store (ChairWhimsy) to sell chairs I refurbished from flea markets and antique markets.
“I was having so much fun that I left my job as an educational consultant in 2018 to focus on the business full-time. I learned everything I could about marketing, branding, and social media, and I work with Facebook ads to extend my reach to new ‘Whimsies,’ as I call my followers. On average, I spend 30 to 40 hours a week refurbishing chairs, playing with fabrics for the design, and coming up with ideas for finishes.
“When the pandemic hit, I launched six online courses on upholstery, fabrics, and the chair business. With so many people stuck at home and in need of a creative outlet, the courses took off and brought in over $600,000 in the past year. That’s in addition to the $10,000 to $14,000 a month I make selling chairs! The money I make goes toward my kids’ college funds and retirement.
“The majority of my students are women over 50, and it’s a joy to empower them to find their creative voice and make something with their own hands. What started as a side hustle has grown beyond my wildest dreams, and I’m so very grateful!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.