The beginning is a hard place to pick because I feel like my whole entire life has lead me here, to this place, this time and this career. Let's start with super simple facts. My name is Heather Marzigliano and I own Grace on Broadway with my husband Edward. We have one store location two Co-Op booths. I was given the Business Person of the Year award in my ten town district. I am on the Board of the Chamber on Commerce and I am a Chairperson on the Business Association. I am a founding member of the Belles and Beau Tour. I work with industry companies to promote and bring awareness to their brands such as: Dixie Belle Paint Company, Surf Prep Sanding, ReDesign with Prima, D.Lwaless Hardware, Signopoly and more. You found this blog because maybe you already "follow me". I never in a MILLION years thought I would be asked to be on committees, given awards, followed or even own a store. So now lets go back to what I would gather is the start of this particular journey.
In 2012, I was going through a divorce and I would become a single mother. Leaving the situation I was in was more necessary than it was a choice. I was scared out of my mind but resolute in that this is what must happen. It was time to go, time to leave and time for a better life. The task seemed beyond daunting, however I knew that I was far from the only single mom on the planet, if those ladies could handle it, then so could I!! The family that owned the house next door to my grandmother was getting ready to rent it out because Reuben had just passed away. I had been helping to do his grocery shopping and knew his son well. I called and explained my situation and said that I had no money but I would clean out the house, paint the walls and such in lieu of security deposit and first months rent. He allowed me to move in and even let me keep and use whatever was left in the home. What a blessing this was, I had a safe home next to family.
My boys were one and three at the time. Ty, my three year old, was going through some medical stuff and I had to continue to be a stay at home mom. Well this is where it got complicated for me... How on EARTH was I going to pay my bills and stay at home. I should mention that I had NO job and ONE month of the bills paid so, basically had 30 days to figure this out.
Weeks before I left I figured out that I could go to local auction houses and purchase items cheap and resell them!! Who knew!! This is where I managed to scrape together that first month of bills. Well now that I was on my own it was time to step it up!! I felt free, brave, strong, and absolutely terrified. I had never been a single mom, I had never been a business owner, and now I was both. I decided that day that I would work for myself from home it HAD to work. This way I could continue to be available to my boys and pay the bills.
I worked 7 days a week and at LEAST 10 hour days. I went to every auction, garage sale, estate sale started leaving cards and taking out ads letting people know I buy things. I would load up my grandfather and his landscape trailer on the weekends and hit local flea markets to sell my finds. During the week I would list everything I could on eBay. I would list items until the early hours of the mornings while my kids slept. I had zeroed in on Vintage clothes and had clothing racks and mannequins all over my tiny house!! Pretty soon my small car was not big enough and I need a mini van so that I didn't need to keep borrowing my grandfathers or forcing him to come with me to flea markets. I had also taken a space in a local Co-op to sell my vintage clothing and accessories it was doing well!! I was paying my bills!! On my own!! While working for myself from home just like I wanted! This was not easy and it required so much work but I was so very proud of myself . I was not going to be a statistic.
During this time I started dating this great guy named Eddie . He's great, funny, strong, and knows all the things about "stuff". Ed has a daughter and understood how hard it was to be a single parent. Eddie owned (and we still own) a clean out company he goes into home and helps families remove everything. I met him at one of my frequented auction houses. I often tell him I am the most expensive thing he got there! About year and a half into our relationship I was almost exclusively selling vintage clothes on eBay and he was selling his "stuff" from cleanouts to the auction houses. I had a GREAT idea!! Now most people have learned my ideas often aren't little. Let's get a store and we can both sell our stuff!! The boys are a bit older and I can do more. Truth be told I had already found the perfect store I just hadn't told him yet. Well Ed was not as excited as I was, not even a little bit. "Store's take work, and time, and money" Ugh..... Well I kept on him and he told me if you can get the rent down to $800 I'm in. So I should have been excited except the store I wanted was listed at $1200!!!! How was I ever going to get them to $800!! I'm stubborn. I called the realtor at least 2 or 3 times a month for months. One day while I was driving out of state headed to vacation with my boys (now 2 and 4) and my grandparents in the car I got a phone call. It was the realtor the owners of the property would like to talk. They may be interested in my offer!! I remember hanging up the phone and looking at my Nanny (Grace) in the passenger seat and around the car at my boys and Pop-Pop and I knew my life had just changed. I could feel it with every fiber of my being.
Well we met with the owners, we told them who we were, what our goals were and they agreed that we were worth the chance. Ed and I were thrilled, over the moon excited! This was a big step and it felt in every way like what we were meant to be doing. So within that month we opened our first shop called His & Hers.
I put the boys in daycare where they could learn and make friends (I could afford it!!) Half of the store was all my vintage clothes and accessories and the other was all of the items that Ed got with his cleanout company. Furniture, collectibles, nick-nacks you name it we had it!! I ran the store and had a few employees to help out. (Can you believe it I had employees!!)
I kept staring at all this boring brown wood furniture that Ed would bring in by the droves. It was solid and made well but it was UGLY!! Who is going to buy it?!?!? Why would they want it?? Half of my store was a sea of brown and it drove me crazy!!
That's right this is where I had another Great Idea!! I would paint some of the furniture! I had never done this before but Nanny had and how hard could it be?? I rounded up a few friends and a few small pieces of furniture on Nanny's back deck with a chalk paint that I found at a local hobby store . We were going to paint the day away and teach ourselves how to do this!! Well our creations were not wonderful and we hated the paint but it was a start!!
I was then on a mission.. I wanted to find a paint that was made in the USA, priced reasonable, with good sizes, fun colors and worked well. (tall order I know) I was going to find it and carry it in our store so people could buy furniture and paint and take home to paint themselves. I had zero interest in doing that painting thing again!! One afternoon I found myself calling a company in Florida called Dixie Belle the owner of the company got on the phone and we talked for what seemed like forever. I ordered her entire line that day and knew that this was the next big moment in our story. Little did I know how much this moment was going to change the entire course of my life but I knew it was big!!
We got our paint in and people wanted to know how to use it!! Sooo I had friends help me teach classes and paint furniture because I knew I could never paint furniture that people would want to buy!! I knew that I was not creative or artistic or good. All those terribly sad voices of self doubt kept echoing in my ear. The voices that tell you you should quit, that you're not good as others (I hadn't learned how to mute them yet) One day I was bored it was a sunny beautiful day and I picked up a brush. I painted a cute little table and even put a stencil on it and guess what it SOLD while i was painting it!!
So then I picked another piece and another and before I knew it I was painting almost every day. We also expanded that store into the store next door and kept growing our paint stock as Dixie Belle grew. We had regular customers and kept that store for 3 years. Then as life does things change..
It was time to all move in together!! We purchased Ed's childhood home in Pennsylvania. Our first year here we still had our NJ store but I kept driving by this shop... and I had another great idea!! I wanted to close the NJ store and open one in our downtown. I wanted to be close to the kids, I wanted to focus on the refinished furniture. Ed was hesitant but agreed and we sold all of our NJ inventory. I sold all my vintage clothes to two women who were single moms and looking for a start and as fitting as that full circle was man i cried. Those clothes were my freedom, they were the blood, sweat and tears that I built a life for my kids upon. It was time to close that chapter and open a new one no matter how bittersweet. A new life was waiting for us and a new store!!
This store was different and needed a new name. For all of these years (and many more in my life) my grandmother was the one who made sure that we were always ok. She helped in any way that she could, she watched the boys, she came over and helped me clean, she created projects with us. She was and is my rock, my safe place. So I knew that the store would bear her name Grace. The shop is on Broadway so it became Grace on Broadway.
Nanny is thrilled to have the store named after her and often visits and creates items for the shop. The store just as Nanny is has become my happy place (as I no longer need a safe one). Grace has become a place where many can come to paint, chat and just buy something pretty. It is where I go to create and reflect.
I have had the shop for 3 years now. I have grown in so many ways in this process. I am married now, this time very happily! Our Family is whole we have three kids Brandi, Tyler and Travis and a chocolate lab named Bruno.
My primary focus is paint and teaching in the industry and I absolutely adore it. I have a paint conference tour that I created with a wonderful group of people. These people were once online mentors who had no idea who I was. Now they're my family.
I have an online group created just to teach basics and fundamentals. I teach in workshops, online tutorials, in our shop one on one or in groups. I teach through private messages and facebook pages... I just teach and I LOVE it.
My whole story isn't all here and there's things that probably could still be explained. Why did I pick my building... What work do I do in my community.. How did we come up with a vintage market .. How did the Belles and Beaus start... We will save those stories for another day.
I have grown to a point where I want to help other women who want to do what I did succeed. I want to empower, teach and help women grow. Everyone of us is capable of incredible things we just have to believe. We just have to have great ideas and reach for them with everything we have. Step by step if you work hard you will get there. You need just enough Grace for today.