We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonya Roberts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonya, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor that I find to have enabled the success of my personal brand is becoming a “specialist” in everything that I do. I research and find ways to learn and grow. For both my furniture upcycling hobby and my full time career, I am not afraid of trial and error. I take an agile approach to everything that I do and learn fast to get the best results. I also like to showcase my work even if I am not totally confident about it because feedback is key regardless if I agree with it or not. I love being open to other opinions because at the end of the day, the work that I do will end up somewhere between my own vision and what my audience likes to see. More specifically around my upcycling furniture gig, you will see that I love to expose natural wood grains in my pieces. So with the paint colors I choose along with glimpses of nature, this tends to be my style.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As many people can relate, the pandemic has shifted the way we spend our time. Especially since most of it has been spent at home. I have a love for home projects and decorating, so I kept myself pretty busy with that as much as I could. However, as the cold weather moved in and as I ran out of projects to do (and Netflix shows to watch), I started spending more time on Instagram where I was getting future home decorating ideas, etc. And I started following some influencers that included DIY furniture upcycling and painting. One evening my husband and I were sitting on the couch (looking for yet another show to watch) and I was struggling with some personal circumstances and venting to him about it. He looked at me and said, “Honey, you need a hobby”…in a humorous way. But in all seriousness, I agreed. I totally needed something to redirect my energy in a positive way, as 2020 was a year of major multiple personal challenges.
Within a week I picked up my first piece of furniture from the local thrift store and immediately had a vision for it. I did some research on painting furniture, purchased sandpaper, paint brushes and some chalk paint and completed the project in my garage within a few hours. I noticed I had felt better mentally and emotionally. It was then that I was hooked. I started picking up more furniture off of Marketplace, from neighbors, and the curb…yes the curb. I realized I could not store the finished furniture in my garage forever, so I started selling it for a low price online locally. That was another level of accomplishment that I felt–That people actually loved my finished pieces enough to buy them? Wow!
Naturally, I started posting my before and after photos of my projects on my Instagram account and started following more fellow furniture artists to get more inspiration. I uncovered an entire world of furniture artists and the community is so supportive of each other. Now I receive messages that I am inspiring others as well. It’s pretty amazing. Most importantly, there is a sense of a greater good and sustainability. Many of the pieces that I have picked up have been free, on their way to the landfill if no one had a vision for them. This is where my social responsibility comes in. I do like to raise awareness around this topic in my posts on Facebook. I think it’s important to recognize how much waste we produce and the small steps we can take to avoid it.
The challenges and lessons that I have learned were to be expected. A piece may not turn out the way I had envisioned it. Or I get too busy with work and life to get into my garage to focus on a project. I have even found myself feeling insecure when a piece doesn’t sell right away. This process has taught me patience. And it’s these moments that ground me in going back to why I started this in the first place. It’s supposed to be a place where the world melts away and I am in my element. It’s supposed to be fun, not frustrating. I am still practicing this concept, but I am getting better at it everyday. It’s not a job, it’s a hobby, it’s my safe place.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a mountain girl, so when guests come into town, I love to direct them to all things outdoors. I love hiking, camping and snowboarding. One of my favorite places that I have been to in Colorado is the San Isabel National Forest. And I do have a mountain lion encounter story, but that’s for another article. I love to also stay close to home and support our local businesses and restaurants. We live in Centennial, so we are surrounded by food and shopping. A couple of my favorite places to eat are India’s Castle and Menya Sushi. Last, my husband is an avid smoker (meat smoker that is). Our friends and family always get a taste of his cooking. His favorite place to purchase the best meat in town is Tony’s Market.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my husband and kids who support my work and are my biggest fans!