This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Laura Geerkens – Periwinkle Cottage
Describe your business.
Periwinkle Cottage is a home décor business based on using what you already own… or find. It was inspired by my mom’s house in PEI. It’s more than a decorating style, it’s a feeling created by assembling old furnishings in a fresh way. The PEI house exudes this sensibility. Everything at Periwinkle Cottage, including the 200-year-old house, was upcycled.
What does working from home/your workplace look like for you right now?
The very cool thing about Periwinkle Cottage is that we are able to designate just one basement room and the backyard as work spaces for rehabbing old furniture. Although we do have some pieces for sale, mostly we pick up pieces from our clients, reinvent them, then return them right away. It reduces clutter in our home and makes the customer happy with a quick return.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
Our business was born with the pandemic. I started painting on canvas as a means of staying sane during the social isolation and found I had a real talent for combining colours and textures. Since I’ve always seen my mom paint furniture in fresh and sometimes unexpected colours, I just naturally started applying my new talent to the things around me.
I started with wooden chairs and then had the idea to do other people’s wooden chairs. It kind of took off from there and since my boyfriend, David, is great at refinishing wood we incorporated that option into recreating the look of the furnishings: chairs, benches, tables… anything someone has that needs a helping hand to look better.
How have you been supported by the community?
I have a sales and marketing background but since I’ve never run a business before, I looked to friends and acquaintances in the community who could best advise me. I was stunned by how helpful everyone was and since we’re all trying to succeed during struggling times, we sort of bonded and rely on each other for new ideas and strategies.
What is something good that has come from this difficult situation?
Oh, there’s so much good here. First, I had the time to explore a new talent and then rethink it into a valuable skill set, which is its own reward. Best of all, the business is sustainable and perfectly suited to the times we’re in. People don’t need to buy new stuff, nor can they afford to right now, so polishing up a piece they’ve always had just feels good and provides immediate gratification, which is badly needed during these challenging times.
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
Just do it!! If you have a feeling in your gut that something just might work, it probably will. The key, of course, is to make sure you love what you do and have a talent for it. Beyond that, don’t let anyone tell you it won’t work… because it will. Determination and filling a need… that’s what it takes.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I think it’s important to recognize that sometimes the lightest, brightest ideas come out of dark places. This has been a life lesson for me and I wake up excited by it every day.
Stay tuned as we share more local folks who are Makin’ It Work, and check out our weekly interviews (of the same name) on Instagram Live every Friday.