Owning a retail store doesn't mean you just sell things.
And in Jessica Paris' case, that's especially true. The owner of J. Paris Designs (1835 4th St.) says the store is more than a secondhand shop. When it comes to the furniture in the store, Paris says, "I hunt it down, haul it home, fix it up (and) paint it pretty."
Below, Paris shares how DIY projects stole her heart and how she ensures her customers get a one-of-a-kind piece every time.
Cuyahoga Falls Patch: Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up running a place like J. Paris Designs.
Jessica Paris: I went to school for interior design and have always been "crafty" by nature. It started out as a hobby that just got out of control. Before I knew it, I was working on projects for clients, family members and friends out of our basement in the evenings and on weekends. I still had a full-time designer job as well. But I found myself thinking about furniture while I worked my 9 to 5. Eventually something had to give. Early last August my husband said to me "Maybe we should consider making J. Paris Designs a full time thing." That was all it took for us to move forward and never look back.
Cuyahoga Falls Patch: You've said before you're "more than a secondhand store." Why's that?
Paris: There is nothing wrong with secondhand stores — I find a lot of my pieces there! But I want customers to realize that everything they see for sale in my store has had something done to it. I hunt it down, haul it home, fix it up, paint it pretty, and present it in a way that makes people say "I never knew that could look so beautiful/cool/updated/pretty/etc!" Yes, my items start out as "secondhand," but once I'm finished with them, they are so much more than that!
Cuyahoga Falls Patch: Why do DIY? What do you love about it?
Paris: What I love about it could easily fill a book! There's just something about it. I get a rush when I start thinking about the possibilities for a particular project. I literally lie awake at night with ideas stirring in my head! There's a great pride in making things yourself, and I feel it every time I finish a project.
Cuyahoga Falls Patch: Can you tell me about one of your favorite creations or a piece you've worked on?
Paris: My all-time favorite piece, hands down, was a one-of-a-kind wine bar I made. It started out as a credenza and twin-size headboard that I somehow visualized into a portable bar. I tiled the entire top of it in real wine corks (over 300 of them!), I built a wine glass holder out of cedar wood, I used cardboard carpet tubes for the bottle storage ... it was a true labor of love and creativity! When I opened the doors to J. Paris Designs last November, it was the "showpiece" and conversation starter. Everyone had something to say about it. When it sold, I was admittedly sad to see it go, though I know it found a great new home! Since then, I've made another similar one custom for a client with lots of talk to make more.
Cuyahoga Falls Patch: Anything Patch readers would be surprised to learn about you or the store? Or anything else you'd like to add?
Paris: Surprising about me: I love power tools (and my husband loves buying them for me!). But as far as the store goes, we do custom work as well. You may be surprised by the potential in the furniture you already own. There's a lot to say for a unique piece that no one else has. If you are tired of the same old furnishings and accessories provided by the big box stores, then you have to stop in and see what we have to offer or what we can create for you!
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