We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Jessica Godsey. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jessica below.
Alright, Jessica thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. What’s been the most meaningful project you’ve worked on?
So many of my furniture refinishing projects that I look back on feel meaningful, but when I get to work on family heirlooms is when I feel the most purpose in my work. Not only do I get to turn something old and worn into something beautiful, I’m preserving memories and extending the life of the furniture so even more family memories can be created.
A dear friend came to me with a changing table that her grandfather built, which was used by all of his children. This piece had been passed from one expecting mother to another across her entire family. Even my friend had her little bum changed on this special vintage chest. When it was finally her turn to enjoy his craftsmanship for her own children she wanted to spruce things up a bit. I was honored that she chose and trusted me with the family heirloom.
Through my refinishing process, I share the behind the scenes of my projects in my Instagram stories. It turns out the whole family was watching the makeover unfold. It flooded the family with sweet memories of the craftsman, their grandfather, and almost acted as a memorial to him. Once completed, you should have seen my friend’s reaction. She cried and I’ll never forget that moment (Sure, it was probably some pregnancy hormones at play, but I’d like to take a little credit). Knowing my work touched the entire family was truly heartwarming. It was a special experience getting to work on such a cherished piece. Knowing the history of the furniture made for an intimate process, but helping pass on a family heirloom… well, that was priceless.
Jessica, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I started my refinishing journey at the beginning of Covid in effort to preserve my sanity. I’m a full-time Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant and as you can imagine, working in the ER during a pandemic will leave one in need of a healthy outlet. Painting furniture was a welcomed distraction to the stresses of an average day in the ER, only exacerbated by Covid.
My childhood dresser was my furniture debut. I was simply in search of a fun activity that would make me excited to wake up and stay home on my off days. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed working with my hands, using a completely opposite side of my brain than medicine requires and creating something beautiful. I then started buying pieces on Facebook Market and was shocked how quickly I could sell them once refinished mainly by means of paint mediums. My casual hobby quickly turned into a little business, almost unintentionally. Before I knew it, Oak | Grain was a brand.
I went on to form a legitimate LLC and have been able to build a small business all while continuing to work full-time in the ER, which is something I’m proud of. My work output is slow, but I find it most rewarding to do all the work myself and doing so in a meticulous manner. For the foreseeable future, I don’t see myself hiring out any of my work.
I also love sharing what I’ve learned with others, which is how I know I’ve truly found my passion. I have a growing YouTube channel and blog which only adds to the busyness. Because there is so much focus on the precision of my work and the love of sharing the process, there are some downsides. I have very limited time and unfortunately, have to say no to a lot of commission inquiries. My goal has always been to reserve my time for the work I find most inspiring and I hope clients I turn away understand that. But I really like being so small that people know items are limited and I hope that makes my pieces rare and even more desirable.
How did you build your audience on social media?
I started my Instagram account at the very beginning of my furniture refinishing journey – mainly because I think my friends were sick of seeing me paint furniture on my personal account. They very gently and kindly encouraged me to start a separate page and I’m so glad I did! Just a little over 2 years later I have managed to build a community that teaches and inspires me, I’ve been able to sell to clients outside of North Carolina, and I have made real life friends. People get so hung up on the follower count, but community and customers should be the focus for someone just starting out.
My best advice, be yourself. It’s sometimes hard when a camera is in front of your face, but don’t be afraid to be human, make mistakes, share those mistakes alongside the victories and take your audience along for it all.
With that in mind, be concise. People’s attention spans are very short, so while I encourage to share pertinent ups and down, do so in a way that’s engaging. Involve your audience in polls and questions to make them feel like they are taking the journey with you, opposed to being talked at.
BE CONSISTENT AND PREDICTABLE
Be consistent in a way that’s sustainable. You’ll hear gurus say things like, “You have to post every single day to grow your accounts.”. This just isn’t true and is in no way sustainable for most of us. Even if it’s posting once a week, find a schedule that you can manage and stick with it. Making it predictable can help too. For example, if you only want to post a story once a week, maybe make it a “What I’ve learned Wednesday” or a “project updates Friday”. Condition your followers to know when they will hear from you.
Lastly, share and applaud others like you’d like to be shared and applauded. Instead of viewing others who do what you do as competition, view them as a community. Be inspired by them, learn from them and provide valuable content in return. Like, share, comment on their content in an authentic way; people can sense when it’s not. From the beginning of my Instagram journey I’ve highlighted a few friends each week in a “Share a Friend Friday.” When I was brand spanking new I’d share people that helped me that week, answered questions or simply inspired me. By doing so I very intentionally planted myself within the community I sought to be a part of. I think it worked! Now I utilize my “Share a Friend Friday’s” to highlight newer or small accounts in efforts to uncover hidden gems and help them grow.
Is there mission driving your creative journey?
I strive to keep this a creative outlet for myself which is sometimes difficult as a Type A personality turning a creative venture into a business. The extra money can easily become distracting from the true goal and why I originally started … to have a creative and fun outlet. As things grow organically I’d love if I could cut back on hours in the ER, but I have to remind myself constantly that supplemental income is not the mission, it’s a by-product.
- Website: www.oakandgrainrefinishing.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oakandgrain_refinishing/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oakandgrain.restoration
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU03H7xwvtKsxwqZs3vveGg?app=desktop
- Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@oakandgrain_refinishing/video/7137274172065041710?is_from_webapp=v1&item_id=7137274172065041710
Headshots taken by Jamie Bailey.