By Kelly Newsom | Photos by Killion Newsom
Shabby Chic, Prairie Chic, and Antique Chic are just a few decorating styles offered by Sheila Martin’s boutique The White Barn. Proof that she is capturing a niche of the local home décor market. Nestled nicely between Kitchen 428 and Black Pine Catering on First Street, The White Barn has something for everyone at all price points.
Sheila is warm and friendly and is clearly passionate for what she is doing. Combined with her home interior business and hair salon (located just behind the cash wrap), The White Barn has found success in more ways than revenue. The store is a culmination of a lifetime of passion, vision, risk and patience. Sheila has long dreamt of this venture and the ability to share her love and passion for decorating.
Cruise around slowly when you visit, take your time. When you do, you will appreciate her style, interior design ability and most importantly the fact that she brought The White Barn to Woodland.
“I would be much happier knowing I tried something, even knowing it didn’t turn out quite how I wanted, than having a life time of thinking, “I wish”.” – Sheila Martin
IT STARTED WITH A VISION…
Sheila: My store is my vision for vintage living. I like vintage jewelry, clothing and furniture and I want to incorporate all of those things I love into one place that represents my lifestyle.
…AND THEN THE VISION TURNED INTO REALITY
Sheila: For at least 10 years I’ve been dreaming about having my own little spot that I could use as a creative outlet. I just realized if you keep waiting, there really will never be a good time. I knew if I kept waiting and didn’t jump (on the opportunity) I was going to regret it. So, I thought if I could come to terms with “what’s the worst that can happen” then I won’t be scared anymore. The worse that can happen is actually not a horrible thing, it’s just taking that risk. It was more painful for me to think about a life of regret. I would be much happier knowing I tried something, even knowing it didn’t turn out quite how I wanted, than having a life time of “I wish”.
Kelly: What was the first step and then tell me about acquiring the space. Sheila: I had been storing an inventory for a couple of years, getting stuff together. But it took a year to find a space to lease. I knew I would need to incorporate the hair salon because that was steady income. Not knowing how the vintage living side of the business would do I knew with the hair salon open I was safe. There were at least six spaces that I looked at where either the lease was signed by someone else the day before or I wasn’t chosen. I was devastated but I now realize that those were not the spaces I was supposed to have. Then I came to this space, which is owned by Sean Denny, and it all finally came together. Sean (Denny) did the floors and the brick, which was covered by plaster. It would not have been the same store (aesthetically) without the brick. From the time I secured the lease to opening the doors was six months.
CREATING A CONNECTION WITH CUSTOMERS
Sheila: I love the creative outlet. I am always decorating and changing things, but it’s really about the affirmation from others that you are doing well. I think as human beings we always need that praise that what you are doing is good and creative and beautiful. That reassurance from people helps us move forward. And I love bringing joy to other people. When you do that other people bring joy to you.
THE SHOP OWNER SHOPS
Sheila: I go to the big gift shows in SF and LA to get ideas for soaps, lotions and jewelry. But for most of the furniture and antiques I go to a wide range of flea markets in California, usually a two hour radius from here. I’m also on the internet a lot. Kelly: How do you know what to bring in? Sheila: If it’s something I love then I think it will work. Which is a hard balance too, not everyone is going to like what I like and trying to keep an open mind is important. For instance, I have an aversion to red but a lot of people like red. So trying to incorporate bits of it without losing what I think is “my look”, it is hard to do sometimes. It plays into branding too. My sign and logo has turquoise, tans and whites. All the colors I tend to lean towards. I want to create a look that when people see it, they think, “that looks like The White Barn”. It is constant, I have to sleep with one eye open!
HOW MARKETING AND BRANDING PLAY A FACTOR
Sheila: That was the stuff I had to figure out later. As I’ve become a business owner and I’m learning, now I’m finding out about those things. Initially, it was about me opening the front door and selling antiques. My vision of the store has evolved so much since I first opened the store to now. I imagine that a year from now it will be even more so.
ACHIEVING WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Sheila: I’m not sure I’ve figured that out yet. I know that it would have been more difficult had my children been younger but the fact that two of them were driving (helped). On the upside, being a business owner I have flexibility, which is the advantage. You are more tied to this than you would a normal job but you have the flexibility to leave if you absolutely needed to.
Kelly: Do you think about the shop all the time? Sheila: I’m always thinking about what I should do with the store, what products I should purchase, where is the next flea market…It is constant.
Kelly: What a favorite “me” time activity? Sheila: I have two. One is the early morning when I get up and no one else is up. I can sit quietly plan out my day and drink my coffee. The other one is when I’m here at the store when it is closed and I can go around and create vignettes. Just get that creative outlet. That’s when I’m in the zone.
A HOMETOWN FEEL
Sheila: The store for me represents such a huge part of Woodland because I was born and raised here, because I was a farmer’s daughter. I reflect on my upbringing in this small little Ag town that the shop is who I am. Who I am is because I grew up here in Woodland. I think that’s a good representation of what it was like to grow up here. I enjoyed the country life and the Ag part of Woodland.
Stay local, spend local.
The White Barn
424 First Street
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