As you know, I’m a huge fan of HGTV and the DIY network. I seek out shows that are authentic and inspiring. I started renovating and decorating when I got married 5 years ago. My husband and I were dirt poor and living on love, so I had to get creative with my purchases. I realized I could make or refurbish a lot of what we needed for our home. I turned to blogs, magazines, and HGTV for inspiration.
Now five years later, we are in a different spot in life financially, but I still hold to my DIY roots when it comes to decorating and furnishing our home. So, when I heard that I could get an exclusive interview with the hosts and sisters of HGTV’s pilot series, Open Concept, I jumped at the opportunity!
Their two episodes will air tomorrow on the DIY Network at 11PM/10C. It’ll be your last chance to see the episodes before HGTV and/or the DIY Network decide if they will pick the show up for a season. So, set your DVD players or tune in live, but in the mean time, get to know Ashley and Whitney in my exclusive interview with them!
1) What made you both decide to start building furniture?
In 2009, we both moved into larger homes and were challenged with the task of filling them with more furniture. Having large families, budget is always an issue, especially where furniture and decor is concerned. We have always said that when we want something done, we want it done yesterday! The best solution for us was to dig in and get our hands dirty! The best way to learn is through hands-on experience! Trial and error, friends! We began by finding old pieces of furniture on Craigslist, garage sales, sometimes on the side of the road, and we would rehab them, give them a nice paint job and change out the hardware.
We looked around our homes one day and everything was painted. We felt like it was time to mix in some stained pieces and the process of stripping a piece to re-stain wasn’t appealing. That is what led us to try our hand at building. We both built our first pieces of furniture on our garage floors with a hand saw, a drill and a hammer and nails. We were addicted immediately and challenged ourselves to master new tools and grow our tool collections.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, Whitney found a DIY blog while she was searching for something online, and she called me up: “You won’t believe this, there are these websites called blogs and they teach people how to do DIY stuff like what we’re doing. AND they have followers that read the tutorials and comment!” We had both spent the past 10 years of our lives coaching gymnastics and competitive cheerleading and have always been drawn to teach. It was a no-brainer for us and in August 2009 we created our DIY website, Shanty-to-Chic ! We never intended to make a career of this blog. It was just a creative outlet for us and it was exciting to see our following grow and for our work to be published for anyone to see! After a few years of blogging and growing a decent following, we realized that we could actually make a living with this hobby! Ashley quit her part-time job and we both went full steam in to creating what Shanty2Chic is today.
2) Can you tell me about your journey to getting a TV show? Who discovered you? What’s the process been like?
We had actually been contacted by a few productions companies, about making a TV show, in the year prior to meeting Jenna from RTR Media. We don’t know why but we never felt like they were opportunities that we should explore. I can’t explain it any other way than we just didn’t have a good gut feeling.
Jenna contacted us one day in the Spring of 2014 and asked if we had ever thought about doing a TV show. She mentioned that they produced Income Property (which we were huge fans of) so we thought we would jump on a call and hear her out. She told us that she found us because she was shopping for a dining table and her friend told her she should just build one from a Shanty2Chic plan because they share the free plans and teach how to build it! Jenna checked out our website, picked out a table to build and emailed us about a TV show. We both got off of the phone with Jenna and knew this was it! We both had that good gut feeling and loved that she found us, not because she was looking for someone to make a TV show with but because she wanted help building something! We always want to stay true to who we are and what we do and we knew that she “got” what we do!
Jenna warned us the process was long and full of hurry up and waits. We are used to thinking of a project in our heads, building it and sharing it immediately on our site. That’s not the way TV networks work so that has been a huge adjustment for us but we have learned to go with it. We have filmed three pilot episodes of Open Concept over the past two years and we are waiting to learn if the network will order a series. Regardless of what happens with Open Concept, we are extremely thankful for the opportunity to help the families that we have helped and for the chance to put our work out there on a much larger scale. It’s been exciting to be a part of the DIY furniture movement and we still get so excited to open a new email or see a new tag on social media of a piece of furniture that a new DIY’er was encouraged to build by our plans. Knowing that we are inspiring people is what makes us LOVE what we do and it’s what drives us to keep going every day!
3) As moms, how do you balance family life and everything else you have going on?
Every day is a juggling act but every day is different and that keeps it fun! We try to work in our shops when the kids can play outside, we work on our computers when they sleep, we drink lots of coffee and we have a lot of help from our hubbies and grandparents! We love crock pot meals and we’ve accepted that the laundry won’t always be done, the dishes won’t always be washed and the kitchen won’t always be clean 😉 We can’t and won’t complain about our busy schedules, long crazy days or hard work. We have been blessed with this opportunity to have our hobby and passion become our careers and the hard work and crazy schedule that comes with it makes it that much more rewarding! We are going to enjoy the ride that God takes us on and appreciate every second of it 🙂