While raising her four children, Lodi resident Lisa Esparza was constantly repainting and upholstering the chairs in her home to match her decor. Her love of transforming everyday items into statement pieces led to the opening of her new store, featuring vintage items that she has rescued and turned into something completely new.
Tucked in a Victorian home on Lockeford Street, Esparza and her friend Ilene Vasquez opened their boutique, called Consign Y.O.U.R.S. (which stands for "Your Old, Used, Re-purposed Stuff"), in mid-December.
The two women work in the back of the home, sanding, painting, stenciling, building and tweaking their items, then sell the finished items in the front.
Describing their artwork as modern-day recycling, they take furniture and home decor pieces that have been discarded and reshape them into something worthy of being featured in someone's home.
"Whatever we see, we try to look for a way to make it different. We are looking for any old items that have a unique style. You are not going to find it at Ross," Esparza said.
By using already existing items, the two hope to keep their prices low while still providing unique finds. They also sell refurbished household goods from local residents on consignment.
"It looks high-end with a cheaper price tag," Esparza said.
The walls of the sunshine-filled shop are lined with their creations, made of re-purposed, vintage finds the two picked up at garage sales, flea markets or estate sales and transformed. Items include candle holders, picture coasters, pillows, frames, paintings, chandeliers, rugs, vases and other household knick-knacks. The shop resembles Etsy, a website that features handmade products for sale around the world.
The two women use Pinterest — a website where people can create photo galleries arranged like bulletin boards of whimsical or inspirational images — to get ideas for projects in their shop.
When Esparza and Vasquez start working on a piece, they keep in mind that the final product should still look vintage.
One of their featured pieces is a scrapbook memo board, created from a large frame. Over the scrapbook design is chicken wire, where people can attach photos, cards and other items.
With projects like this, Esparza said they often paint the frame and then make sure to distress it to keep the older feel.
"We make something new and then make it old again," Esparza said while laughing.
Esparza is a Lodi High graduate who was a stay-at-home mom and decided to start a new business now that her youngest child is 11. Her family owns the old Victorian near the corner of Pleasant and Lockeford streets, and the style of the building matched their aesthetic. She met Vasquez through The Life Church in Stockton, and found out their crafting styles complement each other.
Vasquez enjoys building new creations, like tables out of shipping pallets and painting, while Esparza loves working with old chairs and adding decorative details to projects.
The business also allows local crafters and artisans to repurpose their own older items and sell them in the shop.
They currently have seven consigners who bring in several pieces for a month-long period and sell them at the store. The artists receive 60 percent of the sale price, and it gives them a place to share their products.
"We also wanted to do this for others, so stay-at-home moms and other people, can sell here, too," Esparza said. "I believe in people helping people."
The main advantage for consigners is that they can ask higher prices for their work than if they attempted to sell online or at a garage sale, Esparza said.
"Something that goes for $10 at a garage sale will go for $25 at a high-end boutique-style place," she said.
For customers, the advantage is that they are not having to go to people's houses, and they can touch and see the objects as opposed to looking at a picture on the computer screen, Vasquez said.
"We had a woman who used Craiglist and said it is uncomfortable going to someone's home. Here it's more comfortable because it's the atmosphere of an actual store," she said.
The two women hope their store gives an opportunity for buyers to find handmade gems they are excited to take home and display.
"We are more unique than a typical consignment store," Esparza said. "People have put a lot of work into the items they have brought in to sell."
Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at firstname.lastname@example.org.