By Taylor Boyd
Amber Huffman combined her love of art and upcycling furniture and her desire to be her own boss into a new career launched in December, and opened ‘The Hatteras Pearl,’ located on Main Street in Stuart, to sell handcrafted, repurposed, and repainted furniture and other unique finds.
“Because of COVID, we closed for about a month and a half. It gave me extra time at home to paint, and of course spend time with my children,” she said, adding that time out of work gave her the opportunity to paint and craft, and that made her realize that’s what she wanted to do.
Huffman said she always wanted to own a store but didn’t expect it to happen this soon because of the pandemic and having young children.
“I decided you know what, I’m going for it because I might back out later otherwise,” she said.
Although it may seem like a total career shift, Huffman said she has experience in the business and previously rented a booth at a store in Petersburg for about a year.
“I’ve done something similar before, but it wasn’t my own store. It was just something I did as a hobby on the side,” she said.
Huffman designs and sells her own pieces, which she describes as “shabby chic, vintage, and rustic home décor.” She said her repainted furniture, particularly the desks, have been her best-selling item so far.
“I don’t know how many desks that I have had in here that I was still working on and somebody has bought it,” she said.
Huffman said she is not limited in how she designed her pieces, which differ from standard furniture. “I’ll look at a piece and I’ll say, ‘I want to paint that turquoise or I want to paint that purple,’ and I just go for it,” she said, adding that if a piece doesn’t sell within a certain time period, she’ll repaint it.
Several of her pieces have been salvaged.
“I’ve had quite a few people call or come by and say ‘hey, I’ve got this old piece of furniture. I hate to just throw it away. Do you want to give it new life,’” she said, adding that is “really neat.”
Huffman also helps other artisans in the area by renting out spaces in her store to help them share and sell their art. She is currently renting space out to half a dozen artisans and two people who do consignments.
“What that is, is they just bring a piece of their furniture and we do a 70-30 split where they take 70 percent of the profits and I take 30 percent,” she said. Renters pay a monthly fee and Huffman said she also receives 12 percent of their sales.
The process “works out pretty good. They all seem happy with it, and everybody is doing really well. It’s not just one person, it’s a little bit of everything I’ve noticed,” she said.
Huffman is contemplating tackling custom commission work due to public interest.
“I’ve had people reach out to me about doing custom pieces for them, so that is something I might do, time permitting,” she said.
Huffman occasionally offers craft and painting classes but would like “to get into doing a class or week, or maybe even eventually down the road, two classes a week.” Her classes generally involve using random items, such as paint sticks and burlap to create art.
“I like to do classes that are different and get people’s creative juices flowing,” she said.
Huffman said she came up with the name ‘The Hatteras Pearl’ after visiting Hatteras Island, N.C. as a child with her mother. Pearl was her grandmother’s name and is her daughter’s middle name.
“I figured the name was catchy, different, and unique,” she said, and added that while her mother and grandmother are now deceased, “it’s kind of like part of them are kind of in this with their names.”
For more information, call Huffman at (276) 692-4523, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the store’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/The Hatteras Pearl.