We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Leslie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebecca, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
After finishing my undergraduate studies at CU in architecture and then later at NYU in Production Design, and working years in retail I knew two things… I wanted to own my own small business and stay creative. This led to my first business at 26, a second hand furniture store that I called Good Use that was more of a furniture boutique, selling refinished, repurposed pieces of old furniture and making them unique and new again. The beauty of this was I started in Boulder, CO in a community that embraced recycling and repurposing. As the years went by and my business grew in success, I was often asked by my customers if I could refinish their kitchen cabinets. Why not I thought? They’re basically permanent pieces of furniture. And that’s when I really got thinking… Boulder County and its surrounding areas is an expensive place to live. The cost of an average home makes it difficult for most people to afford expensive remodels and updates. But what about refinishing what you already have? Most older homes have solid oak cabinetry, it’s just the finish that dates the space. By working with what you already have you can not only save a ton of money, but avoid the hassle of a lengthy construction job and get a kitchen unique to you. Enter REB, Refinishing Everything Beautiful! (A play on my nickname.)
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am so fortunate that I had the courage and support to start my own business at the age of 26. I have been working my entire adult life for myself and it has been a gift. But starting out was hard and I faced numerous challenges along the way. My biggest one was finding the funding to start. At that age, fresh out of grad school with no assets, I had difficulty finding a bank that would give me a small business loan. I had to ask numerous friends and family instead, and convince them to believe in my business plan as much as I did. And the only way to do that is to truly be one hundred percent in and know with every ounce of yourself that your idea is your passion. Once I had the funding then it all started to fall into place. It was scary as I signed onto each commitment that followed. Signing leases, hiring employees, learning the best place to market myself was all new. But I also had in my back pocket years of working retail and years of knowing that the product I’d be selling was unique and I was the person behind it. No one else. So I had to continually work at keeping up my confidence in myself and at times that wavered, but I made sure to befriend fellow small business owners and artists who like me, needed inspiration and reminding every so often to keep the “fire lit” sort of speak. Surrounding yourself with like minded people is a great way to continue to be inspired and grow.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The beauty of Boulder County is that is full of unique, locally owned businesses. Places where when you stop in you are likely to meet the owner. When I have friends visit, I always start by picking a local place to eat in my home town of Louisville. Chances are you’ll be served a pizza by Brendan the owner of Lucky Pie or have a local microbrew poured by Josh the owner at Waterloo. We’ll follow it up with something sweet and unique like a shave ice from Neige, the owner of Punch Buggy Shave Ice. Walking around the historic, downtown area you can find my fellow neighbors iceskating at the rink in the winter or jamming to local bands in the summer at The Friday Street Fairs. Shopping you’ll meet people like Wendy, the owner of Old Friends and find an awesome Colorado treasure to bring home. I love my community and its support of local businesses!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My grandmother, lovingly called Monga who raised me to see other peoples trash as treasure, was truly my biggest inspiration and helped make me the woman I am today. She instilled in me a love of flea markets, garage sales and garbage day. I learned to see an objects potential, even when covered in dust sitting on a curb and bring it back to a new life. I loved the smell of her garage full of saw dust, paint and age. My workshop today brings back all those memories.
Megan Sweeney, Big Heart Film