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She Discovered Herself By Restoring Vintage Furniture

Our Retailer of the Month for February has inspired me so much with her story. I couldn't help but share it with you! Learn all about Sue Conroy & Gracefully Restored Home in this month's profile.

Life can take us through many twists and turns. It can even lead us down a blind alley or a seeming dead-end.

But it’s never too late to go a different direction. It’s never too late to pursue a new path. It’s never too late to find a way to take something old or unused and give it new life.

Sue Conroy discovered that truth in her own life, and it has shaped the direction of her entire business.

Image courtesy of Gracefully Restored

Finding Success By Pursuing Her Passion

As the daughter and granddaughter of inventor/entrepreneurs, Sue was raised believing in her own abilities & potential. Her grandfather invented the machine used in manufaturing stretch nylon. Her father developed all kinds of innovative products for dentistry.

Sue reminisces, “My favorite was a battery operated electric toothbrush with toothpaste inside the handle—an all in one product for travel.”

Given her family history, an entrepreneurial life might have seemed inevitable. But in her early career, Sue followed a more traditional path. Starting out as a tax auditor in a large accounting firm, she soon moved on to work at Harvard University.

After years in higher education, Sue discovered “an obsession for working with paper.” In 2004, she launched the Buttercup Paper Collection, a beautiful line of hand-made greeting cards.

Sue tells the story of those early days: “I will never forget walking into a small gift shop in Cambridge, my portfolio in hand and asking the owner to consider taking a chance selling my collection.”

The business was quickly growing. In addition to the many local shops carrying Buttercup, the national retail chain Paper Source began featuring her work too. But life took another unexpected turn.

An Ending…and a Beginning

“Production could not keep up with demand and I was pregnant with my first child,” Sue explains. “I considered scale production through a manufacturing partner, but I wanted to maintain that personal touch Buttercup had become known for. So I made the difficult decision to stop altogether and be a full time mom.”

The page had turned on one chapter of her life, but Sue found a new outlet for her creativity—painting & transforming vintage furniture into works of art. She started selling out of her home, with customers and interior designers visiting regularly.

Image courtesy of Gracefully Restored

And then, another fortuitous turn: Sue’s husband Pete was looking for a career change. Sue shares, “We thought about it together and realized this was a unique opportunity in time for us to grow the business together.”

So in November 2016, Sue & Pete opened a retail storefront, Gracefully Restored Home, featuring beautifully restored vintage furniture, farmhouse rustic home decor & shabby chic lighting. Handcrafted HoneyBee is proud to have our SmartGirl™ Skin Care Kits on the shelves of Sue’s store.

Image courtesy of Gracefully Restored

Reflections on the Journey

This former accountant could not be happier as an entrepreneur. “My favorite part is taking a chance on something and seeing it validated by a happy customer,” Sue confesses. “Nothing beats creating something and seeing people rave about it.”

This husband & wife team works together to tackle the challenges that come with any endeavor. Pete manages the business side of the operation, enabling Sue to stay focused on creative development and growing new opportunities. As Sue talks about her passion, she says, “When I am creating, painting & making new items time stands still, and I am at my best.”

Sue’s advice for a girl who is pursuing her own Big Dream? “It’s really ok to fail. With failure often comes feedback and advice. Develop something better, get stronger and make progress.”

But she doesn’t stop there. “Take the first step. It is the hardest step but the most important,” Sue recommends. “Don’t be afraid to make a change. You know when things aren’t right and you should be doing something else. Trust your gut and in the long run it will pay off, not necessarily with more money but greater happiness. And then if you love what you do you work harder and the money will probably come too.”

Sue has gained a very philosophical perspective through the act of restoring something old & worn and transforming it into something beautiful.

“I am a wife, mother and artist who has been restored by God’s grace,” she says when explaining the inspiration for her business’ name. “The journey has not been straight or simple and it is always under development and up for review. But it is amazingly rewarding and I am doing what I love…and that is priceless.”

You can find Gracefully Restored Home at 755 Washington Street in Holliston, Massachusetts. It's a beautiful New England location for this amazing store!

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