As I was looking for pretty pieces of furniture to furnish my new place, I stumbled upon Leroy Brown Furnishings. Jessica specializes in repurposing and repainting gorgeous pieces of furniture, to give it new life in a new home. I purchased my vanity from Jessica, which I am super in love with. I took this opportunity to interview her and learn more about her style.
ML: How long have you been refinishing furniture, and how did you discover this passion?
I have been refinishing furniture full time for almost one year and I really can’t believe it. Time does fly when you’re having fun! In early 2015 I was let go from a job. I spent a few months wallowing on the couch with my puppy before my sister told me about a program run through EI and Douglas College. Long story short (kinda haha), I ended up being accepted into The Self Employment Program at Douglas. The basis of the course is to guide you through starting a business but not in the figurative sense. You actually had to develop a business over the 2 month in class course. I’ve always been a very creative person and dabbled in painted furniture with my mom over the years. We had actually talked about starting a business years ago but as it goes, something came up and we put it on the back burner. SO, it was a no brainer to choose furniture refinishing as my new business venture. The course was hard, it was hard before it even started. It’s a government funded program so there is a rigorous application and interview process just to get approved. It was full time in class work for 2 months. Halfway through, each student had to present to judges like a mini Dragons Den and get approved to move on in the course. That was so nerve wracking, and honestly I’ve never been more nervous in my life! The rest of the course is jam packed with an insane amount of information and then you’re out in the field with monthly check-ins and reports to hand in. I just officially finished the program last month which feels AMAZING! It’s been a pretty crazy ride and I am so proud of myself for sticking it through till the end.
ML: What do you love most about your job?
Having the creative freedom! Many moons ago I was a hairstylist, I loved it & I hated it. I ended up leaving the profession due to an injury which lead me to be uninterested in the job. Since leaving the salon I have always craved more creativity in my life. Using my hands, getting dirty, having freedom to do whatever I wanted. And I’ve definitely found all of the above in furniture.
ML: How did you come up with the name “Leroy Brown”?
Ah, the million dollar question! Well, Leroy was a family pet, a cat. It’s kinda weird to write that he was a cat, I mean he was in the physical sense a cat but in every other way he was my brother. If you’ve never owned a pet, I’m 100% sure you think I’m crazy but its true. He had white fluffy fur and was overweight which made him the best lap warmer. We grew up together, I cried to him about boys, my friends knew him, friends of friends knew him. He was bad badLeroy Brown. The day he passed away was tough. I was an adult, about 4 years ago, but that didn’t make it any easier. It felt like my bother had passed, it was hard for my family for a long time. When talking about starting a business, my sister was the one who said “Leroy Brown” and it just kinda stuck. I didn’t want a name with a play on words about refinishing or painting. I wanted something unique, something people would remember and something that fit me personally. My Grama says often, “it’s so nice that leroy will live on forever.” And I think she’s right. 🙂
ML: What does your typical day look like?
I’m bad…I sleep in sometimes! Being an entrepreneur is hard, there is no one to yell at you when you’re late! But i make up for it by working later. I’m usually up around 8 and I’m out the door with my dog Dante, to the dog park or we go for a long walk along the water in New West. Then its back home for breakfast & emails and then I’m off to work! Right now I am working out of a space in Port Coquitlam, so I usually hit Starbucks on my way 🙂 I’m pretty much painting furniture all day after that, sometimes a run to Home Depot for supplies or to grab lunch. If i have pieces finished, my day is filled with staging, photographing, and editing. There is so much more to this business then what the eye sees! I usually end up getting home anywhere between 6-8pm where my boyfriend and I eat dinner together and watch countless episodes of Suits (such a good show!)
ML: How would you describe your personal design style?
That’s a tough one. Not to say anything bad about others in my profession (everyone is so amazing at what they do!) BUT, I don’t want to be known for painting everything white and distressing it, you know, the typical farmhouse/shabby chic/painted furniture style. I want to stand out but in a soft, modern, vintage kind of way. I like clean lines, soft colours, (i use a lot of grey), and I try to keep at least one part of every piece original. I honestly don’t know what to call my style but I know what I’m doing is working. At one of the last markets, I forgot my business sign. Multiple people approached me and said they knew this booth was mine by the style of pieces I had in it.
Maybe one day I’ll have a name for it 😉
ML: What are some favourite pieces of furniture you have on display in your own home?
To be honest, I only have 2 painted pieces in my home! My in-laws purchased a new dining room table last year so we decided to take their old one. I completely refinished it, a white base with a dark red/brown top and we love it! Its a classic oak dining table I think every family had when I was growing up. It’s pretty crazy the transformation a little bit of paint can do. The other piece is a dresser that never sold! It’s a really pretty peachy/tangerine colour. It’s so beautiful in person but didn’t photograph well so I decided to take it home and it fits perfectly.
ML: Do you have any tips for those looking to refresh/refurbish their own furniture?
Buy quality pieces! I find that most people bite off more then they can chew when it comes to the repair part of refinishing. I hardly ever take pieces that need extensive repair. Everyday people, including me, don’t own the type of equipment that makes extensive repairs easier and less time consuming. By taking your time and finding quality pieces, you’re halfway done! At the end of the day, you’re just painting a dresser. You can always paint it again if it doesn’t work out the first time 😉
Check out Jessica’s Instagram for all of her recent updates, as well as her Facebook page, and website for all of her available pieces.