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Hello, sweet friends! Today I am so excited to tell you a little bit about a pair of sister #GirlBosses I have had the privilege of knowing and working with here in my home town. Two sisters, Terry and Diane, run a little vintage restore shop called My Sisters Cottage on Main Street in Stillwater, MN. I initially met them when they came to a social media workshop at NellieBellie and have continued to love shopping their store (several items in my little house come from them!), chatting with them, and finding every excuse I can to come into their little store.
These ladies are a personal inspiration to me for a number of reasons…
- They pursued their dreams later in life.
- They are restoring vintage furniture and items. #LifeGoals!
- They exude positivity and cheer.
I know that owning a small business isn’t all fun and games and there is no doubt in my mind that these ladies have had some rough days. But in all the time I have known them, they have remained positive, kind, inspiring, and dedicating to working hard. They prove that #GirlBosses aren’t made overnight but come from hard work and dedication.
I would love to introduce you to sisters Terry and Diane, owners of My Sister’s Cottage in Stillwater, MN…
- If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you what achievement would you be most proud of?
We would be celebrating our 3rd year of being in business! How great is that to have three successful years under our belts? A small business is a fun dream and the actuality of pulling it off and still having fun is amazing. As sisters, we’ve partnered so well together, each of us contributing her own strength. The quality of our pieces has really stepped up, we have plenty of returning customers, and we’ve established our cottage brand in the vintage world of the Twin Cities.
- Who is your role model, and why?
Our mother is our artistic inspiration. She taught Diane how to draw and become interested in art. She took both of us to estate sales and taught us about quality furniture and condition of a piece. She was not afraid to tackle big projects, swing a hammer, re-glue, and strip and stain her finds. Our joke was that Mom was “stripping in the garage”. Her eye for quality, design and value taught both of us so much.
- Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
For us, we’d have to say that our biggest accomplishment has to be the reinvention of ourselves in our late 50’s as small business owners, doing something we are passionate about. Diane took a big leap of faith and left a secure job and Terry came out of retirement to do this.
- What’s your superpower if you could choose any?
We both want to fly! Superman?
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made getting your business up and running?
AGE! In spirit, we are in our thirties – but wow, getting our shop prepared and open showed us the thirties were far behind us! Unrealistic expectations would be another mistake. We’re certain many small business owners experience those first few weeks of, “I built this but they ain’t coming” and, “What the hell did we do?” It is a lesson in patience! But, if your products are great, your customer service is exceptional, and your passion never extinguishes, then patience will pay off. And it has!
- If you could time travel back to day one of your startup and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired, what would you tell yourself?
That we wished we’d started earlier in our lives! Also, Being true to our passion for vintage furniture and vintage decor helps make any decision easier to make. It took a good part of our first year to realize we don’t need to muddle up our cottage aesthetic and brand.
- How many hours do you work a day on average?
This isn’t as easy a question as it seems. Store hours each week are 26 total, but we spend plenty of time during the other days picking, delivering, painting, re-arranging, etc. Honestly, the shop is in the front of our minds all the time. It’s hard not to think of it.
- Which Three Adjectives Describe Your Strengths?
(they each answered this for the other…sweet!)
Diane: Hilarious, Brave. Artistic.
Terry: Outgoing. Creative. Loyal
- Coffee or Tea?
COFFEE (with cream)
- When you have 15 minutes of downtime…how do you spend it?
Diane: couch time
Terry: guilty pleasure reality TV
- So, what’s your story?
Terry loves the thrill of the hunt and finds about 99% of the unique pieces of furniture and home decor in the store. Diane loves to let those pieces of furniture talk to her and paints the piece accordingly. She is happiest upstairs in the studio space of the shop, wearing an old shirt and painting away the afternoon. She paints 100% percent of the pieces in the store. Terry has full confidence in Diane’s ability to transform pieces and Diane has full confidence in Terry’s ability to find great pieces. We feel like the shop is a huge extension of each of our homes, and put our own special touches to the place. We don’t have additional furniture or small vendors, it’s all us. Sometimes it’s really difficult to say goodbye to a gorgeous piece of furniture or a unique decor item. And, truthfully, a few things make their way to our homes for a visit! We get to fulfill our love of creating unique homes by creating that same feeling in our shop. Now we have free rein to scoop up diamonds in the rough, bring them to the shop, make them pretty and let someone else enjoy them.
For those of you local to Minnesota, My Sister’s Cottage is on Main Street, Stillwater and is a fantastic place to find cute, reasonably priced vintage furniture and accessories. They also offer Country Chic chalk+mineral paints, and paint classes, MN-made candles and locally silk-screened pillows and tea towels. Don’t miss them when you head to Stillwater for your vintage and antique shopping!