It started with a piece of furniture set out as trash and turned into a successful business.
Last week, BayFront Vintage Home Gallery owners Jill Parks and Susie Fillius celebrated the Edgewater store’s first anniversary in the South River Colony shopping center with mimosas, coffee and cake, inviting customers in to thank them for their support.
“We have been well received by the community, and we are so grateful,” Parks said.
The shop has an overall warm, fixer-upper vibe, offering an eclectic mix of new and vintage furniture and other decorative items, many crafted by local artisans.
“We like to support local artists,” Fillius said, pointing out the tobacco-stick barn stars and hand-painted word art as examples.
The vintage furniture is refurbished in-house, mostly by Fillius. She hand paints each item with the Dixie Belle chalk paint line, which the store also sells for do-it-yourselfers.
“Our vintage furniture is all solid wood, all good, old stuff. We take our time with what we pick for the store,” Fillius said. “We also custom paint pieces to suit repeat clients.”
Most of their clients have been from south county and Annapolis, although some have come from as far as Pennsylvania and North Carolina for that just-right piece of furniture, thanks to the duo’s strong social media presence. Parks credits Fillius with that.
“She’s the marketing queen,” Parks said. “She posts new pieces, promotions, online yard sales and games to increase our exposure.”
Fillius is the one who rescued the furniture from the trash six years ago, and painted it.
“I loved the before and after,” she said. “I still do. I feel like I am saving furniture that might otherwise end up in a landfill.”
It quickly became a passion. Despite working full-time as a commercial lighting estimator, she painted more furniture after work and on weekends, and sold her pieces online, as Susie’s Renewsies.
Parks is the one with an eye for design. She designed the shop itself, and is the merchandise stager. The process now has a nickname-they call it “Jilling” the store. She also has experience as a business owner.
The two met when Parks, who has owned Hair Bizz in Deale since she was 22, did Fillius’ hair for her wedding 18 years ago. They have been friends since, their families growing closer over the years.
They were pregnant at the same time — Fillius with her only child, Jocelyn, and Parks with her first of five, Natalie. The girls were born weeks apart and have been best friends since before preschool. Both are now juniors in high school and work at the shop part-time.
She calls herself the silent partner, but Parks is creative and enjoys rehabbing furniture, too. About two years ago they started thinking about going into business together.
“We thought that we could make something of this,” Parks said.
They fed off of each other’s excitement, bouncing ideas back and forth. Parks began researching the business end, finding wholesalers, and purchasing furniture and tchotchkes.
“The space was large … we needed more than just furniture,” she said.
With five children, a salon, a part-time job as media assistant at Deale Elementary School and coaching softball at Southern High School, she is rarely in the shop. Still, she keeps the store stocked, and she and Fillius stay in constant communication.
“My text is the last thing Susie reads and night, and her text is the first thing I read in the morning,” Parks said.
This year has been a learning experience for both women and neither is afraid to try something new as their business evolves. The store periodically hosts classes to teach furniture painting, and provides pop-up space to Vivere Amore, a do-it-yourself home decor paint party business, owned by Joanne Musgrove.
Fillius is perfecting her paint technique, and painting faster. As BayFront Vintage, they are finding their niche, providing what most appeals to clients.
Furnishings range from $5 to $400 and there is some wiggle room in pricing.
“If you find something you can’t live without, let’s talk,” they said.
For more information, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bayfrontvintage.
Lothian Ruritan Club scholarships
The Lothian Ruritan Club is offering 11 $1,000 scholarships to seniors in the public high schools within its service area, including Southern and South River high schools.
Community service is the main criteria used in selecting the recipients. The deadline for applications, available from the guidance department at school, is Feb. 18.
Awards will be announced at Lothian Ruritan’s Scholarship Banquet March 25 at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 122 Bayard Road.
Additional questions may be referred via email to email@example.com.
Email south county community news and events to Vicki Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.