Three years ago, we sat down to talk with Meg Piercy of MegMade, who told us about her growing business and inspiring career. Back then, she was just getting her start. Today, MegMade is one of the top furniture restoration and painting businesses in the country. We’re excited to share our follow up interview with this inspiring business owner and mom to two boys and one on the way. Read on as Meg shares details of her beautifully decorated home (with insane before and after photos), her adorable family, and the ways her business and life have changed as she transitioned to a mom of two.
We’re huge fans of your career and your business. How has MegMade expanded since we last spoke with you?
MegMade had just begun when we spoke in 2015. It is wild to look back at all that has happened since then. Some growth was in our business plan, but we organically grew into something we didn’t foresee. We started by painting vintage furniture by hand in our home, which translated easily into doing it out of our storefront and then, warehouse. We moved into a facility in Roscoe Village and have seen exponential expansion. We now spray every piece in our state-of-the-art spray booth with top-of-the-line products from around the world. We are making our own line of custom-designed case goods. We do custom upholstery and we have a private label soft goods line. We have shipped our products to 36 states and plan to ship overseas in the near future. It has been a wild ride and not always smooth, but it is always fun to look back!
You used to run MegMade out of your home — how did that impact your lifestyle at home?
MegMade was born out of necessity. We just had our first born son and my husband was flipping a house and the contractor walked away with a lot of the money. We were broke. It was not ideal to be selling and running a business out of a little apartment, but when you are desperate, you do anything. Thankfully, my husband and I are glass-half-full type of people and decided to embrace it — and we made it work because of our passion and hunger. It definitely made for a home that was packed full of furniture at times, but at least our baby didn’t know how to walk yet. Looking back at those times, they were hard, but they made us so strong.
This home, in fact, became your “test lab” for product. What did that look like?
We were renting an apartment when we started MegMade. We found out the duplex across the hall was up for short sale and moved into it two months before we rented our first storefront. Two heavy smokers lived there before us and all the trim that was supposed to be white had a nasty yellow tinge. Thankfully, through our line of work, we knew what it could be. It had the right bones with all of the wrong colors. Because it smelled of smoke, we decided to repaint the entire place, trim, ceiling, and walls before we moved in. We did it in four days! It took a village. From there, we did one room at a time and did a lot of it ourselves. We used our own line from the store in order to test the durability of our paint, our fabric, and how different styles can mesh. We didn’t really have a style that we called our own when we first moved in, it took some iterations to finally figure out what we both naturally gravitated towards.
What about this design and style did you know was right for you?
We have two young boys and a dog and we are strong believers in letting kids be kids. Because of that, some design decisions make themselves. We want furniture that is kid-friendly, inviting for people to put their feet up on, while also dynamic and stylish. We like color and pattern, but are minimalistic at the same time. We love the juxtaposition of vintage and modern. We think it looks so custom and personal. It tells a story. We are also strong believers in the style of the home having some suggestions on what the decor should be too!
What’s your favorite room in your home? Which room does your family spend the most time in?
I love so many different rooms in our house for different reasons, but I think the room that has the most nostalgia for me is our oldest son Wells’s bedroom. When we moved in, the basement floors were ripped up and you could see the earth in some parts. We decided to carpet the majority of the basement, but Wells’s bedroom was off of the laundry room which was tiled, so we decided to leave that room empty for paint projects. We learned how to spray furniture in that room. We obviously did it with all green, eco-friendly paint as it was in our home, but we worked out of that room during his naps and late into the night getting the store ready to open.
When I was pregnant with number two, we decided to turn that room into his toddler room and we could still see some of the paint drips from where we tested the spray guns on the wall. The normal person wouldn’t be able to see them, but we knew where they were and they kind of warmed our heart every night when we would put him to sleep. In addition to the story behind why I love this room, I also just love the design of it.
I love the custom-made twin headboards that we dreamed up and built, the campaign dresser that we painted in between the beds, and I still pray every night that our kids would work hard and be nice to people just like the poster says. We do what we do and work so hard because of our kids, so his room is definitely my favorite.
You can usually find us having tickle wars or cuddling on the couch in our informal living room. We are a touchy family and are always on top of each other. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Can you pick a favorite piece of furniture in your home?
So the joke around our house is that everything is for sale and up for grabs except for the people (and dog). And that is kind of true. I moved a lot growing up, which allowed me to not really get attached to places or things. I think that translated into my lack of attachment and, in turn, my ability to change things up in my home. Currently, though, my favorite piece of furniture is our Mastercraft dining room table that we restored. I love the burlwood of it in the warm walnut tone. The table is timelessly elegant and has multiple leaves so it’s very easy to entertain our friends!
How much of your furniture was “made by Meg”?
In the beginning, all of it! After all, it is named MegMade! My husband would show all of our friends and customers everything that I made around the house. Now, because of the growth, I get to our studio and do a piece every once in a while for fun, but I have hired pros. You definitely want them doing your pieces now and not me 🙂 I still have a say about what our pieces are painted and love helping customers choose the finish, but I don’t hold the paint gun as much anymore.
Other than thrift stores, where else do you like to shop for furniture?
We have great relationships with thrift stores around the city and while alleys finds would be amazing and free, we rarely get them there. We have several pickers around the city and in nearby states that buy for us. We are big fans of estate sale closeouts and auctions. Anytime we can get multiple pieces at once, we are super happy! About 25% of our painting business comes from people who already own their furniture too and just want it refreshed!
What’s your best advice for someone decorating a home with kids?
I think it is all about balance. I don’t think you need to sacrifice style because you have kids, but I do think that you should make decisions based on them at the same time. I have had so many people come into our store and say I will decorate the house when my kids go to college and I think that is silly. Kids will be kids and they will make a mess, but having a decorated home while having a family is totally feasible.
Here are a couple of kid-friendly decorarating suggestions: use durable materials (krypton fabric is a must), create kid zones and adult zones so it doesn’t look like they took over the house, frame their artwork, only buy furniture that doubles as storage, and keep your breakables high.
Enjoying a well-decorated home and having kids is totally doable, you just need to be a little creative with how you accomplish it!
What’s next for you – at home, with your family and business? What are you most looking forward to?
Someone said that hearing about what is going on in our lives is like drinking from a firehose. We are so busy but it’s all we know and it’s how we like it. If we were bored, that would mean we weren’t growing. Currently, I am working on marketing the business. One fun thing I am doing is building our new YouTube channel, where we are going to customer homes and filming the transformation. We just started and are super excited to see where it goes. We started a series on Instagram called #megmademini showing before and afters which has been a huge hit.
Family is always first in our books. Our oldest is now five (tears) and our youngest is three and we just announced that we’re having another boy. We are excited about the new addition and, in the meantime, we are enjoying being a family of four and making loads of memories. We just moved into our new house (with a backyard — hip hip hooray) and are slowly making it into our home.
The business is growing and I am so thankful. We are very excited to be launching more custom pieces that we are designing, building, and producing. They are so well made and beautiful and just make me want to cry every time we get a new one in. You will be seeing a lot of partnerships this year with bloggers, designers, and other startups! My motto is partnership over competition!
It is so hard for me to say what I am most looking forward to because there is so much that I feel 2018 is going to bring to our marriage, our family, and our business. 2017 was a year of intense highs and intense lows. I’m honestly ready for a new year and a new start!
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
A couple of months ago, things were really hard. I felt like giving up the dream of MegMade and just moving to a normal business lifestyle where you don’t eat and breathe your business. I was focusing on everything that had gone wrong, was going wrong, and that could go wrong in the future and it was making me physically sick. It was affecting my family and my business, if I’m honest.
Someone told me, stop focusing on the past and what is going wrong and count your blessings. Focus on what you want it to look like and fight for that. That flipped the switch and even though things are far from perfect and we are learning the hard-knock way, having the right perspective is all that matters.
Owning your business is not an easy path, it hasn’t been for anybody, but you can either enjoy the ups and downs or you can let them get the best of you.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
This has always been the same for me. I was so into making everyone else happy and so interested in them approving of me. Now, as I am more confident in who I am, I just wish my younger self would have known that pleasing everyone else is a waste of time. Be confident, be kind, and be ok with what people think of you. You can’t please everyone.
Meg Piercy is The Everygirl…
Soho House. Such good avocado toast.
Favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Gather in Lincoln Square
Funniest thing your kids have said lately?
My kids had just finished watching the movie Sing the night before and the only line they picked up from it was “Oh my goodness, look at her butt.” The next morning at church, my youngest belted it during a quiet time. Good thing we know everyone there and they just started laughing. Oh geez.
Ideal date night with your husband?
Anything where we can experience something new together. We just went to an ax-throwing place a few weeks ago and are going to iFly on Thursday! Dinners are fun, but experiences are our jam.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
Lately, I just have loved laughing and I think Kristen Bell is hilarious. I love her love for sloths and her funny kid stories. She’s too good and keeps it real.