Hi, my name is Amber! I’m a left-handed, curly-haired, twenty-something South Carolina girl that somehow found herself in Texas with a random idea to create something new. I’ve always been an artist and entrepreneur, but this would be my first time describing myself as such as an adult.
Allow me to explain...
In the 90s, I sold sugar at my elementary school. Yep, that’s right. SUGAR. I’d sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night and take cherry Kool-Aid, Country Time lemonade and sugar from my mom’s cabinet. I’d mix the concoction in a Zip-loc bag, give it a good shake, and hide it under my books in my Jansport backpack to take to school the next morning (Sorry Mom. Yes, it was me). I was a very shy child with few friends and playmates. More of a people-watcher, I’d call it. Not much has changed. Contrary to what my friends think of me today, this is the introvert I’ve always been. Anyway, when I arrived to school the next day, I’d use my pre-braces rabbit teeth to tear a hole in one of the corners of the bag and pour the sugar into my classmates’ hands on the playground. By the time recess had ended, these finger-licking classmates and I soon became fast “friends.” And when approached for some “Kool-Aid” by older kids I didn’t like, I’d sell them a palm of sugar for 50 cents. Looking back, a dollar per mound would’ve been far more profitable and attractive to customers.
Unlike my adulthood, I hated Saturdays as a child. My mom would wake us up at 3 or 4 in the morning to go to the flea market in Ladson, South Carolina to sell items better known to the rest of the world as “junk.” We’d stay up late the night before sorting through the items and packing them in the trunk and backseat of my mom’s Subaru Impreza, leaving just enough room for the youngest daughter (me) to reach the seatbelt squeezed in-between a packrat’s dream. I’d be so tired, but we didn’t have a choice. My sister, Ray and I had to go. The extra money for a single parent’s household made sense to me as a child, but the part about a market of fleas, well that I never understood. We’d drive an hour to get there, pay $10 dollars to rent an old wooden table for set-up and sit in the dark until the sun decided to stop hitting snooze. I’d watch people – young and old, black and white, rich folk and hungry-looking – walk through the dusty dirt paths of the flea market bartering junk for 6 to 10 hours. “What a waste,” I thought. I could’ve been playing Super Nintendo. But when my mom and aunt would wander off to the bathroom (i.e. go buy more junk to take back home spent from our profits), Ray and I were left in charge of the table. Now, it was partly my job to barter and collect the earnings! And then my thought changed. This stuff isn’t junk. Someone is giving you a few bucks because they used their imagination to see treasure in the trash you handed them. Imagination is something I clearly understood. This new thought was exciting for a girl like me. It made me believe that I could do the same.
Ray and I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house next door. When studying, playing and coloring, we used to say how one day we’d write a series of children’s books. My sister would write the stories and I’d illustrate the pictures (maybe we still will, huh Ray?). I’ve always loved looking at pictures, painting, drawing and writing. I’d write 100 pages of stories from my own imagination before picking up a book to read someone else’s. Us Lefties, we’re a creative bunch. Always overthinking. Always imagining. Always curious. And ALWAYS putting it down on paper. In middle school, I would draw for my classmates – Mickey Mouse, Tweety Bird, Bugs Bunny, you name it. If I received a request to draw something I hadn’t tried before, I’d look it up on our new Gateway computer (probably purchased with flea market sales) and stare at it long enough until I figured out how to draw and etch it into my memory. Then one day I went from drawing on paper to painting on clothing, selling Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian illustrated on a pair of Girbaud jeans for $40! It was all fun for me! The money was just gravy. Artist, meet Entrepreneur.
Now fast-forward fifteen years. Yes, 15 YEARS (wow, now I feel old)! In 2008, I graduated from the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. After dumping my Print Journalism major and dream of writing articles for Essence Magazine in NYC, I followed my love of brands, logos and slogans to major in Advertising with a minor in Business. After working in multimedia sales as an account executive for several years, I added a Master of Business Administration from the University of Georgia to the bookshelf in 2014 next to my Bachelor of Arts and moved from Atlanta to San Antonio the following year. When I arrived, nervous but giddy about starting my new “big girl job” in Marketing, I began renting an apartment again. Missing homeownership and annoyed with the thought of borrowing space I couldn’t completely alter because it didn’t belong to me, I started my new home search a week before my 29th birthday.
And then I met her, the little bungalow.
When I first laid eyes on this property, I fell in love: 1940s charm, in-town location and freshly flipped with a renovated interior. When inside, it felt like the house was alive, and whatever it was saying, it brought me peace and put a calm, relaxed smile on my face. But before my realtor and I could leave the initial viewing and put in a modest offer, an unfriendly woman waiting outside informed us that her husband had just gotten it under contract. I was so upset. I'd seen dozens of houses I barely liked, why would the universe snatch away the ONE house I loved so quickly? But let me tell you, delayed is not denied. Before losing this house once and almost giving up on it three times, before settling for and wasting money on a different house, before the messy inspection, appraisal, rescheduled closings and all the tearful worry and angst of purchasing your first or fiftieth property was endured, it was already mine. Simply because God said so.
After several weeks of stress, anxiety, prayer and God’s precious miracles, I closed on my house and moved in on the same day. I had been dreaming of ideas for decorating, storing items in online shopping carts and collecting furniture and decor for the house to mix in with my belongings for months. After moving in, it took me exactly 8 days to finish. Yes, every room was completely decorated in a little over a week. My family and friends complimented my work as they always do, but many encouraged me to do more with it. You see, this is a talent I’ve always had and something I’ve always enjoyed doing, so it definitely crossed my mind before. When an old friend paid someone to decorate her entire new house years prior, I quietly thought to myself, “I could’ve saved you hundreds.” Being obsessed with HGTV, I wondered if that could ever be me staging a house for thousands on Flip or Flop. And finally, I’d thought of starting a blog for years, most recently about brunch (#mybrunchisbetter) and travel (#wanderlust), as seeing more of the world became my new passion in 2014 going forward. Somehow all of these Tweety Bird drawings, flea market bartering skills and love for making a house a home led me to this moment. It gave me the desire to create something incorporating my creative talent, business savvy and love for Christ. It made me take the leap of faith and think up a hashtag where my loved ones could follow the home improvement, interior design and DIY progress made on my new house. And that’s how Blessed Little Bungalow was born.
I’m a bit longwinded (I know, blogging should help me with that), but it was important to me to share this with you as the first post on my blog. Despite my childhood resume’, I’m an industry amateur journaling and journeying to become an expert. As I study this new craft, I want to take an untraditional approach to interior design. One that’s authentic and refreshing. One that’s not afraid of making mistakes or trying new things. One that feels more like a conversation than a consultation. One that’s not stuffy, intimidating or out of reach. And most importantly, one that’s affordable for this curly-haired, twenty-something and other folks out there in the real world like you. I’m not quite sure if this blog will blossom into a booming business, but what I am certain of is that I’ve been searching myself for a long time trying to get a grip on what I’m passionate about, connects me with people and excites me everyday. This project is my first attempt of publicly forming those thoughts into something tangible that will help people fall in love with their home the way I fell in love with BLB. She gives me goosebumps, butterflies and hallelujahs. She’s 1,600 sq. ft. of courage, imagination, resilience and faith. She’s filled with laughter, tears, late night phone calls and creative juices. She’s a reflection of me and that’s exactly what I want to create for others. She inspires me in a way that I want to inspire you.
I wholeheartedly believe that you should love where you live.
Follow BLB and me. We’d love to help you do just that.