Maybe you’ve been there — you spot a "generously loved" piece of furniture that might need some extra elbow grease but the thought of making it happen is a little too much. That’s where Revitaliste, founded by Amy Frederickson, comes in. The San Francisco start-up takes the middleman out of the revitalization process and makes it insanely easy to take even the most hopeless of home pieces and personalize and beautify them like new.
Give us the short story on how you got your big break in the design space.
"Transforming vintage and 'found' furniture into unique pieces has been a longtime personal passion. I loved the creative outlet that reimagining old furniture provided but it was undoubtedly a labor of love — there was nothing easy about it. I often complained 'someone should make this process easier.' A move to S.F. was the unexpected catalyst for launching Revitaliste.
"After living in small NYC apartments, we finally had a house with space. I was eager to decorate this home with revitalized pieces but I had no trusted upholsterers or refinishers in my new city. That’s when it dawned on me that I was in fact just the right person to tackle the difficulties of transforming furniture — I had an intimate understanding of the problem and I had the passion, knowledge and professional background to design an easier process. So today Revitaliste’s clients can simply, seamlessly, and confidently transform their favorite furniture into one-of-a-kind pieces without ever even leaving their home, quality guaranteed."
What do you offer that other brands don’t?
"Revitaliste is the first brand to build a comprehensive service offering that makes it super simple to reupholster, refinish, or otherwise transform your favorite furniture. In the past it was effortful to revitalize beloved pieces. Our service makes the transformation process a snap for both design professionals and individuals. We’ve eliminated the onerous parts (finding the best artisan, delivery logistics, getting a firm quote, finding the perfect fabric and finish) so you can just focus on the exciting part — designing a uniquely beautiful piece. And we’re here to help you with that part, too."
What does a typical day look like for you?
"No day is ever the same — which I find exhilarating. My day might be spent visiting artisan workrooms or searching for fabrics, dressing down to get dirty or dressing up to get new business, brainstorming design concepts with clients or problem solving with artisans."
What’s been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on to date?
"A recent favorite was revitalizing an heirloom rocking chair. Three generations had lulled their babies to sleep in that rocking chair — our client had been rocked in that very chair when she was a baby — and each had altered the chair to suit her design aesthetic. What a priceless treasure and story to pass from parent to child."
How do you define success?
"Recognizing and celebrating small successes — staying present, feeling balanced or accomplishing baby steps — energizes me to continue striving for larger goals. From a big picture perspective, I gauge success by embracing new challenges and experiences, being true to myself and pursuing a path I deem to be meaningful."
Tell us about a recent challenge and how you worked through it.
"There are many pitfalls in revitalizing a piece of furniture. I’ve made every mistake throughout the years. While these mistakes were often costly — financially and sometimes emotionally — there were always valuable lessons to take away. And now I have packaged all this knowledge into Revitaliste’s service offering! The silver lining of enduring all those bumps in my early days of revitalizing furniture is seeing Revitaliste flourish."
What other professions did you consider and why?
"My career has had several chapters: finance, economic development, brand strategy, a previous entrepreneurial endeavor, and motherhood. It is a dream come true to combine a personal passion and my past professional experience to build a new company!"
What advice do you have for people trying to enter the design space?
"Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride — and you’re sitting in the last car so you feel each dip and curve more intensely. But it’s an electrifying experience. I believe it’s important to be steadfast in your optimism while maintaining a super flexible mindset as you build your business."
Is college needed — yes or no?
"There are many educational avenues one can pursue to gain knowledge and skills — college is of course one option. Apprenticeships — an age-old education tradition — is another. Many of our artisans have mastered their craft through years of apprenticeship under a dedicated mentor. And never underestimate the power of skills that can not be taught in a classroom — passion, determination and flexibility. "
What’s next for your Revitaliste?
"Revitaliste is gearing up to roll out in new cities. Stay tuned!"
See the full list of Lonny’s design disruptors here.