Anni Rhodes from Mclaren Unvaled calls herself a ‘boomerpreneur’. She had to reinvent herself at 51 when her corporate career came to an end, after the end of a big contract with government that didn’t continue. She was newly separated, renting in McLaren Vale, jobless and scared stiff. So she started a business! She was already doing up old tables and working with different woods, so decided that a shop front would be a good way to sell them.
Located in the beautiful McLaren Vale, South of Adelaide, the shop offers as unique range of gifts, homewares and furniture – some antiques, some new and some upcycled by Anni. She also carries a lot of local art and gift products and loves supporting local artists. She tries to stock as much South Australian product as possible. Along this line of shopping local, Anni was determined to stock an Australian chalk paint product. She went in search of 100% Australian and found Mezzie+Frank. Anni loves their paints and says that the creators are a super smart and creative pair of women who are constantly inspiring their stockists.
When she started the business, Anni did not really spend a lot of time considering the pros and cons. She just decided to go there and do it. “While it was born of fear, I have since realized just how much goes into small business and how versatile we need to be to achieve. I set my goals as surviving the most prevalent statistics 1. Close within 12 months. 2. Closed within 5 years ….. I am now over half way there” she says.
As with many small business owners however, Anni has always had a fascination with running her own business. “My mother restored furniture after doing courses in upholstery and French polishing. She was still alive when I started and always got a kick out me selling a piece I had created with chalk paint etc. She and I used to go to auctions together. Towards the end of her life, I would drop in to her place with the car packed full of furniture and she would pick through each piece with delight” remembers Anni.
Initially, she felt that opening a shop wasn’t a “respectable role”…..and one not understood by people she knew. She said in her circles it was seen as “not sort of, reputable – no title, no big salary” and accepting that she is actually doing what she wants and creating something successful, has been a big step for her. “I still have some acquaintances (no longer friends) who are disrespectful and clearly just don’t get it” she says.
Anni’s tips on being more sustainable at home
- Everything can have multiple lives/ roles/ incarnations.
- No piece of furniture should ever ever go to the dump.
- I line drawers with old magazines, maps, newspapers, even photos.
- Old screws and hinges can be reused on furniture to make an upcycled piece more authentic.
- Food can be readily grown and while we generally grow way too much, the Grow Free movement means there is an easy place to share the excess.
- Reuse recycle….. reimagine everything.
- Don’t even open an Ikea catalogue.
- Instead go to garage sales. Keep your eyes focused as you drive around – many treasures are left on the side of the road.
- Look at shape – if you love the shape of something then it is redeemable. Old furniture has beautiful bones. Old pots have character. Old rugs speak of all those who have trod upon them. Old buildings whisper to you through the walls.
- Seek out products to bring things back to life – such as Mezzie+Frank chalk effects paints, waxes Modge – adhesive/ sealant, Frank’s Fondant – for 3D plaster style hard drying fondant. Finishing waxes in silver, gold, copper, white/antiquing, brown/antiquing wax. And Hard setting Carnauba Wax. These products can be used on wooden furniture, cast iron, concrete – pots, floors, walls.
- Cut up all old towels, t shirts, nighties etc for rags – we need thousands of them in the chalk painting studio and even more when doing mosaics.
- Keep all broken crockery and use it for mosaics.
When people see the work Anni is doing, they love it and and become fascinated by the process. Many people think they cannot do the same, and find it hard to believe that they absolutely CAN and will take home a finished piece at the end of a 4 hour workshop.
One of her favourite pieces is a sideboard that had some beautiful detail on it. “I used Midnight Oil – a sort of navy blue, then touched up the detail with the pearlescent paint in the colour Great Ocean Road – a sort of dark grey sparkly paint. It sold quickly!” she says.
You can find Mclaren Unvaled on the Sustainable Home Hub here and follow through to all of the links