Spotlight on DK Renewal
Today's spotlight is focusing on DK renewal, a partnership between two cousins, who have come together to create a business based on textiles and vintage items, from Seattle in the USA. For them it is a joy to source items from around the world, understanding the history of an item and creating beautiful spaces.
"Oh the hunt is my favorite. I love searching and learning about all the history in each different piece we find. The stories ingrained in each piece add to its unique beauty and create such a special feeling that you can't get any other way."
Like many of my recent purchases, I first discovered DK Renewal products on instagram, and duly waited my two and a bit weeks for item to arrive from the US, through customs. When I opened my package I was thrilled at the quality of the linens, colourful and with a sense of history, just how I like them. As an owner of two mud cloths, which you can see in my dining room, I can categorically say that their textiles are amazing and so I am very happy to share their journey on here
We're a cousin duo with a major love for design and vintage home furnishings. D+K Renewal stems from our love of mixing vintage with bohemian to create a new inspiring boho. We curate a selection of global goods, local vintage furniture and accessories, as well as a number of handmade pieces for the modern bohemian home. We have everything from pillows, rugs, and wall hangings to dining tables and floor lamps.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
D: My background is in interior design. All through design school, I always knew that I was preparing to have my own business of sorts. Textiles and home decor only make sense. Even as a child, I was surrounded with different textiles and textures as my mom would sew for her own clothing company. I almost feel like it was destiny!
K: I have always wanted to start my own design business in some capacity. I have been in the retail/design business for over 13 years and when the time came I knew it was the right thing. Dawnelle and I are cousins (our moms are sisters) and we one day we're like hey should we make pillows, sell vintage furniture and textiles?! Yes!! Ok let's do this! We lunched DKrenewal a month later.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
D: My basement actually! Kirsten and I spent the majority of our childhood not seeing each other and somehow we both ended up in the Seattle area following our husbands jobs. The more we hung out the more we realized that we both were wanting to do something creative and we thought our mix of experience and passions were perfect! One day, we thought... why the heck not?! What is holding us back?! Plus, how awesome is it to be able to work every day with not only your best friend but you're cousin??
K: We started in Dawnelle's basement in her home and we are still running it out of her basement, makes things easier with all the kids running around playing.
3. How did you fund your business?
D: To be completely honest... we started working on things right around tax time. Thank goodness for tax returns right?! We started very small. We both put in a small amount and bought as many goods as we could. We worked our tails off to do all the leg work and went from there. As we sold things, we bought more, and so on.
K: Dawnelle and I both put in $3,000 each to get our inventory started.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
D: Oh I think it is still the hardest part actually... finding balance with work and personal life. Some days I feel like I'm absolutely never going to catch up. My children are running amuck, my house is a nightmare, and I have a to-do list a million miles long for D+K. From a completely business point of view... I feel like the marketing was a complete shot in the dark. Trying to get your name out there in the mass of the internet is a rough game!
K: For me the hardest part was first getting the customer to find us. We wanted to hit Instagram hard and started creating content and taking pictures. It was a process to find what our customer was responding to and what she/he was engaging to.
5. What help was missing for you?
D: Gosh I don't even know. There were so many things we could have used help with figuring out... marketing, web building, keeping up with our inventory. But we have our husbands as an awesome source of support and seriously you would be amazed at what google will do for you! There have been many times I spend long hours researching things on the internet trying to make the best decisions for the business. I do wish though that someone had told us right from the beginning that there are some things worth paying someone else to do, even if it might seem completely out of the budget at the time, like an accountant.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that
D: Honestly, I don't know really if there was a single one thing that went wrong. I don't know either if that is because Kirsten and I both have the attitude that we are still learning and growing so yes things get hard and we make mistakes but we can't let ourselves get bogged down by them. We have to pick our heads up and press forward!
K: To be honest nothing has really ever gone "wrong". I think we have had many moments where we learned our lesson and cases where things did not go our way. Every decision we make is thought about in depth and we make them together.
7. What have you learnt?
D: You can't do everything! We certainly try and when you are first getting going you really do almost everything. The reality though is you can't do it all. You do as much as you can and learn to accept your limitations and be okay with it! If you know that you are working your tail off... that is certainly enough!!! You can't compare what you're good enough is to others.
K: I think the best thing I have learned is to always trust my instincts. I just get this feeling and it's like I know instantly what choice I want to make. In a partnership that can be hard because the other person many not have the same thought. Dawnelle and I do an great job in keeping each other in mind but also doing what we know is best for DK.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about
starting a business?
D: I think there are two things... one practical and one a little more conceptual. The first, get your accounting in order at the beginning. Taxes are rough... The second is to remember that if you chose something you are passionate about all the work, sleepless nights, and stress filled days won't be as bad. You'll feel like it is all worth it and makes the hard things so much better!
K: The best advice I have it to be ready to give it your all. Be open to feedback, take it and grow. You don't always know everything, gaining knowledge and creating supportive relationships are the best thing you can do for yourself and your business.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
D: I would have to say sourcing new textiles! Oh the hunt is my favorite. I love searching and learning about all the history in each different piece we find. The stories ingrained in each piece add to its unique beauty and create such a special feeling that you can't get any other way. I do love the styling at the same time though... I won't lie! Creating beautiful spaces that are inviting and inspiring. Can't get better than that!
K: I enjoy so many things about we do. If I have to choose my absolute favorite part would be styling. It's just incredible to be able to see all of our decisions and choices come together. It's like nothing else is going on in that moment and I get lost. It's an amazing feeling! ... Ok and maybe opening up new product boxes when they come in the mail! It's like Christmas every time!
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
D: Oh gosh... 10! It is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It stretches you and forces you out of your comfort zone more than anything I've ever done before. Not only that but learning to balance work and personal life is rough. It is hard to learn where the boundaries are and when you need to say, okay this is family time and business will have to wait or vice versa. It is also one of the most rewarding things I've ever done at the same time though.
K: It's 10 for sure because it takes every ounce of energy you've got. Being a momma of 2 and owning a small business is not easy. Knowing when to say no to the business and yes to our family, I am learning to draw the line. Both are so incredibly important to me. I of course wouldn't have it any other way.
I take my hat off to mums of small children running their own business. I have been one myself and I know that the juggling act required is immense. One of the themes that run through my spotlights is the need to give 100% energy to your business, but how can you when small children depend on you? The answer is you do your absolute best, usually while completely neglecting yourself, but getting the support of your family as much as possible, something these two have through their partnership too.
Once again, the need to get the right advice at the start comes through this spotlight, you need to understand your finances, and a bit of money spent on an accountant who works day in and day out with figures is probably going to save you a bigger headache downstream.
Finding your customers and targeting them is also a theme that the girls raise here. Targeting your customers through social media is a big movement these days and is especially good for a start up business that lacks the cash to spend on advertising.
Thank You Dawnelle and Kirsten, for sharing your journey
The Girl with The Green Sofa