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Hey there, this is Amitha Verma, founder of Village Antiques.
January 27th marked the 9th anniversary of our antique store based in Houston, Texas.
Like most of you, I've been incredibly busy at the start of the new year that I almost forgot to celebrate this milestone. If it weren't for my incredible team, surprising me with this video, I might have missed it.
Milestones like this always get me thinking about where I started and all the crazy ups and downs along the way — I wouldn't change it for anything!
Some of you have been clients from the day we opened our doors in 2012. And some of you are new clients, and so I wanted to take the opportunity to share a bit about us and how our little Memorial area antique shop came to be.
I'm a mom of two boys — Rohan (12) and Dayven (11) — wife to Bobby (Neal) for 17 years, dog mom to Coco, and lover of all things home design.
Interior design has always been part of my soul. If you'd ask my daddy, he'd tell you that I used to move around my furniture almost every day as a young girl!
I'm so lucky I had my dad, who always encouraged me to express my creativity. From a young age, I loved creating the feeling of heart in the home. That feeling drove me to learn "how to" constantly and it became a huge driver in the purpose behind my business.
My path to opening up Antique Villages is a little bit unconventional, in that I was a litigation attorney first. Yup, the kind of lawyer that goes to court and says, "objection, your honor!"
Growing up in a very conservative Asian household, lawyers barely made it to the list of acceptable professions in my family. Back then, I was so concerned with pleasing others (especially my parents) that I often put my dreams second.
I loved my job until several years in. I couldn't wait to meet my husband for happy hours to de-stress from work.
Eventually, my hubby said to me, "you need to find a job that you really love. A passion that you can turn into a career."
It was a huge risk for us newlyweds, and I struggled to break the news to my parents that I wanted to pursue design. I soul searched, cried, felt like an imposter, and so much more — but with my husband's support, we took the leap.
I went back to school for a year, got a degree in design, and began designing custom homes in Houston.
While I absolutely loved the custom design, I had a bigger mission in my heart to reach more people. So in 2012, almost a decade ago, I opened up a store called Village Antiques in Houston, TX.
One of my biggest aspirations is for people to feel authentic in their homes. Collecting cherished antiques to decorate is one of the best ways to do so.
But even after accomplishing so much with the antique store, I wanted to reach more people.
Over the years, I launched a national brand of chalk paints, DIY home products, and our own furniture line to help our clients find joy in crafting their dream space.
Follow your passion.
My husband's words still ring true to me, "Life is short — but the days are long, so follow your passion."
As someone who jumped off the deep end head-first into my passion, I can tell you that I have zero regrets when I look back over the last decade.
When you move into your passion space, you are flowing with the gifts that God gave you, and things will fall into space and make sense (eventually). While I have an eye for design, it doesn’t mean I didn’t put in a lot of hard work to make it look easy now.
Every time I work on a project, I encounter new and different challenges that I can take onto my next project. While it seems like I do things quickly, it took a lot of time to learn and fail to make what I do seem effortless.
If you're still struggling to find out what your passion is, think about what are those one or two things that are super easy for you? The thing that lights you up, the thing you would do for free all day if you could because it gives you so much joy, that's your passion.
The most significant impact that I look back on most fondly when I think about the last nine years isn't the inventory, the revenue, the losses. It's the people I've met along the way.
My best employees, my worst employees, all of them have made such a meaningful impact on my heart and mind.
All the many different people from all walks of life attending our workshops (pre-COVID) and the clients from day one to those who discovered our antique shop last week contribute to the meaning I find in this career.
I'm very deeply grateful for the opportunity to have helped you find heart in your home. The home is such a safe and nurturing place for your family, and I'm honored to be a part of creating such a wonderful space.
It has been a great pleasure to find a group of people who love all the same things: French country decor, farmhouse furniture, antiques, chalk finish paint, and to live beautifully and come together on a beautiful shared message.
In your own life, look for people who share your passions, values, and beliefs. You will be much more fulfilled when you stumble upon your tribe.
Learning this lesson has allowed me to have much more fulfilling relationships at work and outside of work.
Another lesson that I've had to learn the tough way is perseverance. Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart.
You have to be eager and willing to conquer any challenge that comes your way. And I tell you, if you're not in your passion zone, you're not going to do it.
When I first started the Village Antiques, my two boys were ages 2 and 4. Yes, I was a crazy person!
I wanted to be a present mama and be successful in my career, which was tough.
I'd wake up at 4 am every day to squeeze in work before my boys popped up like little roosters at 6 am.
And then I'd get back to work after they went to bed.
I could have never had the will to do that if I didn't love what I was building. Back then and still is now, my reason was to help as many people as possible with my gifts, which helped me persevere through the hard times.
You have to be willing to reinvent yourself if you want to be successful.
Living in Houston, circumstances are always changing — The oil and gas market would bottom out or hurricanes come through, completely altering our clients' needs.
Being in business has taught me you're never "done" building.
You have to stay relevant and in-touch with the world around you to meet your clients' needs.
This isn't to say you have to reinvent yourself or your business at every turn completely — think of it as adjusting your sails to the wind.
Styles change, price points need to adjust with the economy, and people’s needs change. Make sure you're meeting your audience where they are and serve in earnest. This will create the biggest impact on your clients.
I could write a book (and maybe I will) about all the business lessons that I've learned.
Perhaps the most useful advice is to just get started.
Analysis paralysis or perfectionism can get the best of us, stopping progress and growth in its tracks. But if we want to build something, we have to move forward.
Life is flying by, and if you want to reach your people, create an impact, find your tribe, work in your passion — you have to start somewhere. And trust me when I tell you that momentum will come in place.
Want to hear an amusing, egg-on-my-face story about when we first opened our antique shop in Houston?
First of all, the space we decided on required a big renovation and was a huge investment (it took up almost all the money in my piggy bank), so when it was time to curate the furniture and antiques, I didn't have a lot to get started.
We had no investors, no backers. Everything was bootstrapped.
I didn't have the funds to get everything in my dream collection. I only had eleven pieces of antique furniture to start my business. Eleven!
So, we had a huge store with only eleven pieces of furniture.
When my husband's manager came in to help me style my pieces, he walked in and saw an empty shop and said, "where is all the furniture?"
I shrugged and said, "this is all we've got to get started."
He was mortified and said that there was no way this was going to work.
I could have listened to him. I mean, technically, he was right about how terrible the shop looked — but I knew deep down in my gut I could do this.
Those nine pieces sold, and I could afford to buy more. Slowly, but surely my business grew from those eleven pieces of furniture and an empty looking shop.
I am so deeply thankful for you, our clients, my team, and for the many life lessons learned.
When people ask me what's next in my chapter, here it is.
A goal I want to realize soon is to make it into a national media platform regularly, sharing my french country and farmhouse design tips for creating an inspired home.
Whether that would be designing homes, decorating for the holidays, setting a beautiful tablescape, or furniture renovation, I'd love to share my passion for all things home with as many people as I can.
There, now you know my biggest and most secret desire expressed out loud! Work your magic, Universe!
I hope you gain from my blog, our products, our store, our YouTube channel, and more because you can take away something that will help you create a heart in your home.
What does "heart" in your home mean?
It's those warm and fuzzies, that cozy, inspired feeling of home. That feeling allows you to be authentically you, find contentment, peace, connections with your family, and ultimately joy.
It's my greatest hope you get something from us that gives you that feeling and allows you to go out in the world and share your gifts and passions.
Thank you again for allowing us to live out our passion and mission. Here's to another 9 years and beyond.
With love and in friendship,
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Amitha with Oprah Winfrey
I love the paint, it was so easy!
Just a quick note to say that I love your new paint line!! The colors are beautiful and it goes on so smooth and silky. The gray wax is fabulous. I'm getting some great new looks with your paint but most of all I'm having fun using them!! Hope all is well.
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