It was only meant to be a hobby.
That's what Fort Worth sisters Whitney Gainer and Ashley Turner thought when they first launched their DIY website, Shanty 2 Chic, in 2009.
At the time, the siblings had both just built new homes and were facing the challenge of figuring out how to furnish their large living spaces without breaking the bank. Their solution? Build their own furniture using affordable, easy-to-find materials.
"We started redoing old pieces of furniture and crafting simple projects for our homes and decided to document the process online to help others tackle their own projects," Gainer says.
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On shanty-2-chic.com, the sisters posted free blueprints with step-by-step photos of the furniture they built. When a friend suggested they find a way to monetize the website, they laughed the idea off. It was only a hobby, remember?
Gainer says that view quickly changed once the sisters learned they could earn money through paid partnerships with tool and paint brands.
"When we started our website 10 years ago, it was just a hobby for us," Turner says. "The website was an outlet for us to share our creativity and to help others decorate their homes on a budget. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think how fortunate we are to have been able to turn our passion into a career.
More impressive than Shabby 2 Chic's rise from passion project to full-fledged business is the fact that Gainer and Turner started the DIY website with zero experience using power tools. Both self-taught carpenters, Gainer attributes the sisters' can-do attitude to being raised by a single mother.
"Our father left our family when we were young, leaving our mom to raise us and our other three siblings," Gainer says. "We had great examples of strong women between her and our grandmother who also helped raise us. From that, we have never been fearful to try new things. It’s been a lot of trial and error for us, but so much fun learning along the way."
Opportunity comes calling
Over the last decade, Shanty 2 Chic has quickly grown from a casual hobby to a full-fledged home decor empire.
In 2014, a production company from Canada reached out to the sisters about doing a TV show. While they had already turned down offers from several other production companies, Turner says this time around they had a good gut feeling about the situation.
"The producer found us on social media because she was looking to build her own dining table," said Turner. "We loved that she found us organically and understood exactly what we did."
The siblings would eventually make it onto the small screen as the hosts of a short lived HGTV series called Open Concepts, which focused on the duo's knack for DIY home renovation and carpentry.
Most recently, Shanty 2 Chic teamed up with Plano-based retailer At Home to launch a budget-friendly collection of farmhouse chic furniture and home decor. The line, which is currently available in-stores nationwide, features almost 100 pieces ranging from headboards and coffee tables to bookcases and home accents.
For the collaboration, Gainer and Turner worked closely with the At Home buyers to pick their favorite and most popular designs, as well as some new designs not seen on the Shanty2Chic website.
"We were involved in every detail down to the finishes," Gainer says. "The buyers took our plans, as well as paint and finish samples we created for them, to create these pieces for our collection. We just want our line to always be a reflection of our style and look."
In addition to reflecting their style, it was also important to the sisters that the line be filled with quality pieces at highly-affordable prices. All items range in price between $9.99-$499.99.
"Our vision was to have high quality, beautiful pieces that look exactly like our original pieces and to offer them at an affordable price," Turner says. "We began building furniture because we wanted to save money and budget is so important to us."
What comes next
With more than 500,000 Instagram followers and over 4 million total views on YouTube, the future looks bright for the ladies of Shanty 2 Chic.
When asked what future goals for the business they've set their eyes on, the sisters say they simply hope to continue growing the brand.
"We have never planned for anything that has happened," Turner says. "But we have learned over the years to say 'yes' to new opportunities, because they always open doors for the next opportunity."
While their fans patiently wait to see what the the DIY queens do next, Gainer does have a piece of helpful advice for women contemplating taking their hobby and turning it into a career.
"Stay true to who you are. Be strong. Never be discouraged by failure, because this is where you learn," Gainer says. "And never give up. Women are strong and smart, and capable of so much."