February 18-24, 2019
By Caitlin Smith
Who knew painting furniture could be so therapeutic? That’s how it is for Annabelle Rector, the owner of Reinvented Vintage – she’ll stay in her shop after hours, turn on some music, and unwind while painting a piece of furniture. “You can either fully immerse your brain in it or you can just immerse your hands and think through what you’re working on,” said Rector.
Rector took over Reinvented Vintage – a store that specializes in repurposing tired or worn furniture pieces and accessories – in June 2016. Recreating pieces of furniture comes naturally to Rector, however, the business side didn’t come as easy. The store was on its last leg when Rector stepped in to save it. “The previous owner was going to close it at the end of May. I came in late March and was like “‘Well, let’s at least talk about this.’” said Rector.
Rector faced hurdles when trying to get the business back on its feet. “It’s definitely been a challenge to learn accounting programs that I didn’t know, ordering systems, how to build a website [...] people don’t realize all the behind the scenes stuff that goes on,” explained Rector.
Location was another issue on the list as it was previously open in Breckenridge Village. Rector said that often people would come in while killing time in between movies at the nearby theatre. She made it her main goal to relocate the business to attract the right clientele.
Now sitting on South Main Street alongside other creative employers, Rector said her business is flourishing. “It’s really cool to have [...] four places of similar vibe around each other. The area is so good for working,” said Rector. Since the shop is situated in the downtown area, Rector said she gets lots of foot traffic. “I’ve had one guy come in and he had been a museum curator for the army. So, he had done all these different bases. It’s really interesting to run into people like that and have great conversations,” said Rector.
Rector, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, said family was her introduction to vintage furniture. “Our Nana always took us [Rector and her sister] to thrift stores, antique stores, flea markets – all that. And of course, my Dad has a love for it. He’s built furniture,” said Rector. What really drove Rector into the business was her strong value for sustainability. “One of the things that’s really important to me is less environmental waste. Buying local is not the most convenient and I’m never going to say that it is, but it makes such a difference to the financial and stable health of your community,” she said.
Rector graduated from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri with a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on International Development. Initially, she thought she was going to be doing work in Africa, but her calling was back home in Little Rock. Rector’s Dad convinced her to get into repurposing furniture full-time. “He knew I was unhappy with what I was doing and so this came up as an opportunity. We decided it was worth a shot,” said Rector.
Rector said staying local is one of her passions. From soap to vintage clothing, she has around 20 to 25 different local artists’ work on display in her shop. “It’s something that I’ve really been trying to do. I have soap that is out of North Carolina, that’s the farthest I want to go away for any of my vendors,” said Rector.
When Rector does carry something that’s not local, she makes sure it goes to a good cause. “The wraps, they’re made in China but 10 percent of all of their profits go to fund orphanages in China and India. If I’m going to buy something from out of the region then it’s going to be like that,” said Rector.
Reinvented Vintage also carries two specialty lines of paints: Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture Paint and Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint. Both paints are chalk-based and can be used on many things. “I’ve used it on old metal tanker desks. You can use it on glass. If you put it on anything and you don’t seal it, it’s going to act as a chalkboard. With nonwood surfaces, it’s a different process you use but you can do it on anything,” said Rector.
Along with the paints, Rector offers workshops to help others learn how to use them properly on furniture. “I want everyone to come in, learn, and feel empowered enough to where they can go home and do it on their own piece or teach their friends how to do it,” said Rector.
Local artists, Stacy Spangler and Sarah Henry, are among the few guest teachers who conduct workshops focused on their art styles. “Stacy does wet on wet acrylic. Sarah does layers but you dry the paint in between, so not as much of mixing with colors. I have an artist that teaches acrylic pours. I have a bunch of different artists I’m working with,” said Rector.
What Rector enjoys the most about her business is the interacting with her customers. “Honestly, the best part of any business is the people you get to meet. I guess if I had to sum up the business into one sentence or idea, that would be it,” she said. Aside from the challenges she has gone through, becoming her own boss has been the best decision she’s made.
Reinvented Vintage is located on 1222 South Main Street, Little Rock, AR, 72202 in the SoMa District, downtown Little Rock. Hours of operations are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30-6 p.m. and Sunday, 10:30-2:30 p.m.
Long into breathing life into worn-out pieces of furniture, it was a natural fit for Annabelle Rector to take over Reinvented Vintage – a store that specializes in just that. Rector poses next to one of her reinvented dining sets. (Photos by Caitlin Smith)