Heather Hodgetts – Vintage to Modern Designs

Walking down past her in the street, you wouldn’t have any idea that Heather Hodgetts, is any different than you. There’s a good reason for this, she isn’t. Heather discredits a major myth that surround successful and inspiring women. You don’t have to be blessed with wealth or a university degree. More importantly the absence of a Ralph Lauren coat, draped over your shoulders does not eliminate you from the list. The quality that successful women share, is that they all saw something they wanted, and they went after it without hesitation or apology.

Heather runs a furniture restoration business called ‘Vintage to Modern Designs’, with her husband. Together they find furniture at garage sales, op shops and online, for very cheap and restore them to their original glory – with a modern twist. They work from home, sanding back wood and creating new furniture from scratch. The result is flawless, you would think they had built the end product from scratch.

So how did Heather get involved in running a business from home, particularly a furniture restoration business. Well, it happened a lot more easily than you might think. After high school, Heather got involved in administration work where she learnt all about bookkeeping and other essential business running components. She started her own conveyancing company at the age of twenty eight. She ran it for thirteen years, before selling it, simply because she stopped enjoying it. There is an important lesson to take from this part of Heathers story. Heather could have continued to run her conveyancing company, after all it was doing very well. She wasn’t happy though, so she made the decision to move in a direction that would make her happy. A large part of being the kind of woman who people aspire to be like, is not letting yourself remain stagnant for too long. Keep moving forward. Heather went to work at her fathers dyeing company, which she helped her father run for thirteen years, before he too sold his business.

It was at this time, that Heather and her husband started their furniture restoration business. 

Both of them were out of job when the dyeing company shut down, as Heather’s husband had left the motor mechanic industry to work for his father in-law as well. They faced a challenge in that work was incredibly hard to get and almost everything, required a qualification. Heather’s husband, had no intention of becoming a motor mechanic as he hated the life. Heather on the other hand, didn’t have a single qualification other than high school to her name. She had experience though, and a knack for art that had previously had her creating dozens of intricately designed quilts for years. Recently, the pair had restored a single piece of furniture they found in an op-shop, and had been surprised by their own talent. An idea had begun to buzz away inside Heather’s mind. Neither herself or her husband wanted to spend the rest of their life living on centrelink, and if Heather’s idea panned out – maybe they wouldn’t have to. So, they began to refurbish more and more furniture and sold it on eBay. Eventually, they had multiple garages full of furniture they had bought, waiting to be restored and a large client base that kept coming back for more.

Heather succeeded in her endeavour for a number of reasons. She knew what she had at her disposal, that is to say she knew what she was good at and that it would sell. Furthermore, her experience in administration and helping to run her father’s business taught her the dos and don’ts of starting a company.

You have to know you’re overhead. How much is it going to cost you to run your business and can you make that money? Are you going to profit afterwards? The other really important thing is to put your tax away. You need to have that ready when tax time comes around or you’ll run into big, big problems”.

You can find Heather and her restorations on Facebook and Instagram

BY GITTA HODGETTS

Working from home by Gitta Hodgetts

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The idea of working from home can be very daunting when you start calculating the risk. There isn’t a guaranteed pay cheque at the end of the week. You can’t file for unfair dismissal if all of a sudden you stop getting work. You have to stand on your own two feet and work hard for every dollar you bring in. In the beginning you find yourself busier than you were when you worked nine to five. It’s disheartening because there’s no secret code to make it work, there will be days that are extremely slow. You’ll tell yourself to give up once every so often.

Yet in spite of all the risks, writing from home to pay my bills has been one of the most liberating choices of my life. I get to decide what I write, how much for and if I write at all. It’s the perfect job for a university student because my time becomes my own. I am able to plan each part of my day around assignments and class time, without worrying about being let go from a casual job that wants me around more. One of the biggest plus sides, is that it allows me to build up a portfolio of paid work, that I can show to future employers and prove my worth.

Creativity has always been at the centre of who I am as a person. Ever since I was a kid I have been writing stories, even if they used to be about sporting heroes coming into my life to make me a superstar. Now, thanks to the internet and social media, I am able to make money off the one thing I believe I am destined to do. It’s a genuinely uplifting thing and while I have to work hard and earn every dollar that I make, the reward is more that worth it.

The key to working online is knowing what you’re good at. Believing you can achieve something is half the game. If you believe you can, others will too – your passion will shine through. Determining what you’re going to sell is the easier part. Planning the best way to monetise it is a different story. There are lots of options out there, Google Adcents, affiliate marketing or you could plan to sell your services directly. Not every option works for every product or skill set and it’s important to map out where you plan to go and how you are going to get there.


The next step is to determine whether there is a niche for your skill or product. When it comes to writing, the demand is ample and constant. Not every skill set is that easy to build your name in though. For example, trying to sell clothes online puts you in direct competition with BooHoo, Myers and eBay. If you do decide to enter a market where the competition is that high, you have to find yourself an edge. In other words, you need to be able to offer something the majority of your competition can not. Even then, building a reputation and having brand name awareness will be key.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will be vital in helping you do this. SEO crawls your website so that it will appear high on the list of links a search engine, such as google or ask.com, will compile. This helps trading posts and Gumtree appear above eBay, when you type “buy and sell websites” into google. eBay relies very heavily on brand name, and it can get away with doing that, because eBay is the google of buying and selling goods online. People who are starting out, particularly people who work by themselves, can’t afford to rely on brand name. Investigating how to make SEOs flag your sites, will go a long way to making you successful.

Overtime you will build a client base and it’s important to keep in contact with them. You are selling a service at the end of the day, and you aren’t the only one doing it. Keeping up a friendly narrative with your client’s will help them to feel valued and will encourage them to come back again. Communicating with your client base needs to rely on much more than just a twitter following, who read your tweets every now and again. Lots of people see email as an outdated way of communicating but its a good way to communicate with your clients in a personal way, while still maintaining a professional appearance. A newsletter, detailing new services you offer and your latest achievements to date, won’t go astray either.

At the end of the day, anyone who knows their way around a computer can make money from their kitchen table. Success will depend on a stubborn persistence to keep going, even on the days you feel you’ve made a mistake. Working from home isn’t a shortcut to making thousands of dollars, it’s the key to making a living doing something you love. If you want to be a graphic designer, a writer, start a website making business or have another unaccomplished dream, there is no excuse not to tackle it head on. It’s the twenty first century, our technology is limitless, if you really want to do it – there is no reason why you can’t. Just remember to investigate thoroughly, plan ahead and you’ll remain on the top of your game.

Gitta sends us a photo of her and her Cozy looking workspace

Click here to view Gitta’s contact page.