Hi there! My name is Marissa, and I am the owner of MissFlips Furniture LLC. I started my furniture-flipping adventure back in 2020 as a way to take control of my finances. I ended up turning it into a full-time business that I still thrive off of three years later.
I am going to be showing you the ins and outs of how I started and how I continue to live off this full-time hobby! So let’s get flippin’!
🦸♀️ The Origin Story
“I am an actor.” This statement, or really, this admission, is often met with a variety of judgmental responses.
The stereotypical one is, “Oh, what restaurant do you work at?”. This beautiful dish served with a side of sarcasm, and a heavy-handed dash of condescension is one that often graces the table of us folks brave enough to enter this metaphorical restaurant. To which, after picking up our pride, we humbly reply with a chuckle and fake smile, knowing full well the reality of this question.
I worked at a few restaurants during my time in the not-so-glamorous city of Los Angeles. Having never been a server before, my resume was covered in elaborate embellishments and family members disguised as references. But I knew if I could just get my foot in the door, I would make a great employee to anyone forgiving enough to hire me. And it worked!
I started small with a museum restaurant, then worked my way up to a hot new spot in the Hollywood Hills, where I weaseled my way into bartending. The pay was decent, hours flexible, and there was always someone as desperate as you willing to cover your shift should a last-minute audition pop up. All degrading stereotypes aside, it really was the perfect job!
But alas, all good things must abruptly be interrupted by a massive and unforeseeable global catastrophe that forces us to stay in our homes while completely derailing our lives!… That’s how that goes, right?
🧨️ Where Things Went Wrong
And just like that, like so many others around the world, I lost my job. I used to say that I was forced to move out of LA. That I had to leave. But looking back, I was lucky to leave. And lucky that all I actually had to do was decide. All I had to support was a dream and nothing more. No kids, no family, no debilitating debts to take care of. So now, I look back and say I was able to leave LA and move in with my boyfriend’s parents in my now home of Georgia. But as grateful as I am, it didn’t make the transition any easier.
Time seemed boring, empty, and long. The acting doors were shut for the foreseeable future, and here I was, back under a parental roof after living seven years on my own. I felt stuck. I was thousands of miles away from my own family and cohabitating with, at the time, a very new partner and his unfamiliar family. It was strange.
Other people in my life had begun finding creative ways to adapt to this strange new reality, but not me. Honestly, looking back, I was depressed. It was the kind of boredom that you’re too tired and unmotivated to care about. But I knew I needed something to pass the time. So I began exploring something that I wasn’t too familiar with: Youtube.
🙃 Things are Looking Up!
YouTube. Truly the unsung hero of this story. I quickly got hooked on old castle restorations. The combination of history, restoration, and beautiful craftsmanship fascinated me. And after a few days of tumbling down the rabbit hole, I found it. I found the hobby that was going to carry me out of this mucky 2020 dread and back into the sunshine. Furniture Flipping. At first, I thought it was just going to be that; a hobby. But it quickly turned into something that would completely change my life.
🚀 Getting Started
The most difficult thing when starting anything new is usually the “starting” part. There are always going to be reasons not to do something. So really, the best advice that I can give is just to do it. Take the leap and jump in with all you have! In the beginning, I didn’t know a lot and wasn’t sure which pieces to flip, what would sell, or how best to sell it. But I knew I wanted to do this, so I immediately started a Youtube channel and Instagram despite all my hesitation and lack of knowledge. This really helped me take it seriously and keep me accountable, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Can Anyone Flip Furniture?
This is an interesting question. I personally think anyone is capable of doing anything as long as they put their mind to it. But it also depends on whether or not you like it enough to persevere through the challenges that flipping furniture can sometimes present. It’s a lot of hard work! You have to lift heavy objects, sometimes work in extreme temperatures, deal with unpredictable income, meet deadlines, and all the other, sometimes, grueling labor that comes with flipping furniture. It’s definitely not for everyone. But if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, well, that’s really all you need! The skills will come. You can do anything you put your mind to, no matter your experience!
So yes, I’d say anyone can flip furniture if they want to.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend heading to YouTube and watching all the videos you can. There’s a tutorial on there for everything! But keep in mind that you don’t need to know how to do everything before you start. Growing up, I was always around construction projects of some kind and would hammer the occasional nail or sometimes caulk a corner. This experience definitely helped me a little in a way that I knew how to use a drill and that the general idea of painting made sense to me. But I honestly had no idea what I was doing and just figured everything out as I went along.
Some people ask me if they have to be artistic in order to start. Being artistic is helpful, but it’s not necessary. I’d argue that if you are inclined to start furniture flipping, you are most likely inherently artistic in some way. But if you’re not and still find yourself drawn to it, that’s all that matters! Any skill can be learned, including art.
So now that we’ve got your doubts out of the way, let’s get you the popper equipment.
What You’re Going to Need and General Costs
When I first started flipping furniture, I was watching tutorials like crazy. With my limited knowledge, I created a list of tools that I needed and thrifted what I could… I do not recommend this. I made do with what I thrifted for a time.
💵 However, if you have the means, I highly recommend buying these must-have tools and materials for beginners.
- Safety Gear such as Respirator mask, gloves, goggles, work boots, shoulder lifting straps, etc. ($100-$250).
- Sander and sandpaper ($40-$90).
- Sponge brushes and regular paint brushes ($10-$20).
- Multi-Bit Screw Driver ($10-$15).
- Paint, stain, and top coat ($30-$100).
Costs vary depending on quality and quantity.
New tools will work and will last you a while. If you can’t afford them, you can use the earnings from your first few flips to invest in some good-quality tools.
Tools are most likely going to be one-time expenses. But things like sandpaper, paint, top coat, and respirator filters are going to be reoccurring expenses. It’s a good idea to set aside a percentage of every flip to put toward these things.
The most important items are those dealing with safety. These should be your top priority when getting into furniture flipping. We flippers deal with many hazardous things, from chemical fumes to the heavy pieces themselves. So make sure that you are well protected from all of these from the beginning so that you can continue to do this for a long time.
Proper lifting technique is an underrated need when discussing the necessities of furniture flipping. Make sure to watch tutorials on how to properly lift furniture before attempting to lift heavy pieces. I highly recommend getting shoulder-lifting straps to make it easier and safer. But if you’re going to be lifting heavy things, it’s most likely a larger piece, which means you’ll need a decently-sized car or trailer. This isn’t a necessity, but it does make things a lot easier.
Further down the line, you can start saving up for more advanced tools like miter saws, jig saws, oscillating tools, dowel jigs, routers, and such. These things are not necessary for flipping but will definitely come in handy and help expedite your flipping process.
Finding the Right Pieces
Finding a piece to flip can be tricky when you’re first starting out. I didn’t want anything too complicated, so I went to a thrift store and picked up a seemingly simple coffee table with minimal details. Keeping it simple was the right idea, but I was too inexperienced to realize that it was covered in several layers of paint that I would have to strip and sand down. To avoid this, I’d recommend getting a piece with no paint, meaning visible wood grain. That way, you know you’re starting with a blank canvas.
Starting small with something like a coffee table is a great idea; You don’t have to risk committing to a large project and then deciding it’s not for you. You’re also less likely to run into major repairs with a smaller piece. Other starter-friendly pieces include nightstands, bar stools, small desks, or bookshelves.
What to Look For
To maximize profits, it’s important to figure out what’s popular in your area.
Here in Atlanta, Georgia, Mid-Century Modern, and Antique Farmhouse furniture sells the best in my experience. But popularity and listing prices vary from place to place. An easy way to figure this out is to spend some time on Facebook Marketplace and see what kind of furniture is popular in your area. I also recommend going on Instagram and looking up local hashtags.
🕵 Learn to spot styles like these:
- Mid-Century Modern (MCM)
- Art Deco
👉 For Example
To find local furniture flippers here in Georgia, I search the hashtags #Georgiafurnitureflipper or #ATLfurnitureartist. This will allow you to see what works for other local artists.
However, the best way to find out what sells and what doesn’t is just to try out different styles. It may take a few projects to figure out not only what sells best but also what you enjoy doing. Be patient with yourself, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t find it right away. Start by looking for the most popular styles of furniture and work off of that. The rest will come.
Another thing to look for when purchasing a piece is its overall condition. Bedbugs and termites can be potential problems with 2nd hand furniture, and if you work and store your pieces in one space as I do, a bug infestation would mean a complete shutdown! Bugs aside, the quality of a piece is also very important. If you don’t know already, you will quickly get to know the difference in materials such as real wood, veneer, particle board, and the sorts. These things aren’t a deciding factor for me when it comes to whether or not I’d flip it, but they do help when pricing your finished products. Damage, however, is a deciding factor.
Broken furniture is honestly part of the process. You will eventually learn how to make repairs and fix things you never thought you’d be able to fix, but some damage is not worth the time it takes to repair. This is determined by personal preference, your repair skills, and how much time and energy you’re willing to expend on one flip.
Where to Hunt for Furniture
I personally get most of my pieces from Facebook Marketplace. It’s a great place to find unique pieces for an affordable price. Sellers on this platform are usually willing to negotiate, so don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price. I also recommend going to locally-owned thrift stores in your area. This allows you to help support local businesses while also getting a great deal on furniture. Places like Goodwill aren’t your best bet these days. With inflation being so high, it takes away from possible profits.
👉 Pro Tip: Give yourself a maximum budget when looking for furniture. For example, a budget cap of $50 per piece will help maximize profits and keep things affordable.
Estate sales are also a great option! Estate sales are likely to give great discounts, especially towards the end of their sale. Make sure also to keep an eye on the roadsides. People are always looking to get rid of stuff and will often leave old furniture on the side of the street for free!
People often don’t know what they have. So do your research and try to keep an eye out for valuable pieces. The Google Lens App is a great tool for this. Just take a photo of the piece and search for it with the app. It’ll bring up similar items and their pricing.
Selling Your Furniture
Finding pieces and making them look their best is important, but selling is where you make your profit. Here are some key factors.
The Importance of Staging
Staging. Is. Everything. Staging your pieces well can make the difference between making a sale and not making a sale. By “staging,” I do not mean covering your piece with art and decor items. I rarely use items when staging my pieces. I’ve found that the most important factor when taking good photos of your pieces is lighting.
🎥 For a more detailed tutorial on staging, check out my Youtube video on the topic.
👉 Interesting Fact: Most Flippers experience a seasonal lull in their sales and find that the best time for sales is fall and winter.
The caliber of your staging can also increase your profits, which brings me to my next topic… pricing.
How to Price Your Pieces
When pricing your pieces, there are several factors to take into consideration. Here are three things to consider when you calculate pricing:
Your time is valuable. The hours that you spend on a piece are the main factor that you want to take into consideration when pricing your pieces. Keep a detailed log that includes pick-up and drop-off time, the time you spent working on the piece, and the time you spent gathering materials. When you start doing commissions, you will also include the time it took to find the piece. A good starting hourly is $30/hour, but value your time as you see fit.
This next one is much more straightforward. It’s the cost of the materials that you used. You want to make sure that none of these costs are coming out of your pocket and will be covered in the price. These are the reoccurring costs that we talked about earlier: Paint, sandpaper, brushes, etc. It also includes the price of the piece itself. This is easily calculated by adding everything together. I usually add a few dollars to cover taxes.
The price of a piece can be affected by the popularity of the style. Looking up a piece online to see the original price is a great way to do this. You can’t expect to get the original price, but it is a good barometer to work from. So after adding up numbers 1 and 2, do research on the piece that you’re working on and add a bit on the top. I often add a bit more than I expect to get to leave room for negotiation. For Antiques or MCM pieces, you’re more likely going to fetch a higher price by restoring than refurbishing.
Restoring vs. Refurbishing
🔨 The definition of restoring is in the word. It’s when you restore a piece of furniture to its original state.
🎨 Refurbishing is a blanket term for any kind of changes made to furniture. This can include restoring but almost always refers to painting.
Where to Sell Your Furniture
Selling your furniture has never been easier. There are so many different modes to do it. The two most popular ways to sell are Facebook Marketplace and Etsy. Facebook Marketplace is more accessible and allows you to accept the payment methods that best suit you, but you can reach a wider audience and fetch a better price on Etsy.
On Facebook Marketplace, your audience is usually made of people looking to get a deal. With Etsy, the clientele is much more specific and usually expects to pay a high price for a piece of furniture. The only downside with Etsy is shipping, which can be very intimidating at first, but after years of doing it now, I no longer see it as a downside but as an advantage.
Shipping furniture takes the work of delivery off your hands and into the hands of the carrier. Once you get past the intimidation of shipping, it will probably be the easiest part of flipping furniture.
🎥 For more advice on shipping furniture, check out my video on YouTube, where I tell you all about my method of shipping furniture: Uship.
Uship is an amazing service that works like Uber, in the sense that anyone with a truck can sign up to be a driver.
It’s different because it allows you to set your asking price, choose which driver you’d like to work with based on ratings and experience and allows you to get free estimates for your shipment. It also provides insurance options to cover your shipment in case of accidents.
At the beginning of my career, I immediately opened up my business to Etsy, and I credit a lot of my success to this. Not only did it help me increase the amount of money I could make, but it also helped me get commissions from people all over the country! These factors combined all led me from turning my side hustle into something I could make into a full business.
So let’s talk about how much you can make.
How Much Money Can I Make?
Now before I go into the numbers, I do want to say that the money you make depends not only on the piece and what you do to it but also on where you live and your personal market.
With that said, I know furniture flippers all over the country in high and low markets who all make a living doing what I do.
I will also say again that Etsy gets rid of any limitations of local markets, and I cannot recommend it enough! But let’s get started, shall we?
When I was first starting out, I was charging anywhere between $150-$400 a piece, depending on the size. With the price of materials, I was profiting around $125-$375. This is about average here in my area. Because of my YouTube channel, I was on a schedule of having to post a weekly video, so I held myself to a piece a week, giving me time to edit and post my videos. Given that price range and productivity, I averaged about $1000 a month.
This is not a livable wage for most people. But it is probably where you can expect to start as a beginning furniture flipper. As your business grows and you find your style, you can begin to charge more, and you will start to get commissions. Commissions are the bread and butter of any furniture flipper. You can charge more because you are meeting someone else’s specifications instead of your own, and you are spending more time and money to get them exactly what they’re looking for.
For my first commissioned piece ever, I remember squealing at the fact that I was charging $800, including the price of the piece and materials! It was my biggest profit yet, $575! I was ecstatic. Now, only two years later, I’m profiting over 3x that amount from one commission. This is also just the way that I do things. Remember that commissions are not for everyone, and you can just as easily make upwards of $2000 a month by doing multiple easy flips a week with a quick turnaround. This is where I see most flippers making bigger profits.
👉 Note: I like what I do and don’t do it just for a quick buck. This is something that helps me express myself, and thus, I prefer to take my time with pieces and create art. This is sometimes a detriment as it takes me longer to finish a piece and limits my output and, therefore, my income. This is why I use things like social media and YouTube to supplement my income when business is slow or I’m between commissions.
The Importance of Social Media
💪 Do not underestimate the power of social media!
Social media can be your biggest tool if you know how to use it. It can be used to spread the word about your business, get commissions, acquire more buyers, get passive income, and also help you get brand deals with companies that will give you free materials such as paint, tools, and other necessities and may eventually pay you to post about their brand!
There are three main platforms that I think are absolute must-haves in the world of Social Media. These apps have helped my career grow exponentially and have helped me make a passive income on top of what I make from flipping furniture.
In my experience, YouTube is the best platform for passive income. While it is a lot of work to maintain a video schedule with a monetization requirement of 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch/hours, this is the most accessible way to start making money from ad revenue. The video schedule is also beneficial because it ensures that you are doing at least four pieces a month.
TikTok is great for several reasons. It reaches a younger audience, drives traffic to your other platforms, and develops brand interest. It’s also a great place to do research on successful video formats. Learning what kind of videos catch attention will help you across all platforms.
Instagram is a must-have for a freelance artist. I use it as a website, as a self-promotion, and as a way to get brand deals. This is where I’ve had the most success and where I’ve gotten the most brand deals.
I credit a lot of my success to Furniture Flipping Challenges. These are set challenges put on by specific furniture flippers, and being involved in these will help your social media grow exponentially! They will also help get you involved with other new and experienced furniture flippers. To find these, look up hashtags life, #furnitureflipchallenge, #uglyducklingchallenge, or anything of the like.
At this point, you may wonder whether brand deals and social media are really that important for furniture flipping. Honestly, it really depends on what you want to do. If you’re doing quick repairs and paint jobs and want to put out multiple pieces a week, then social media may not be important to your business and may become a nuisance that takes up too much of your time. If you plan on making this a business that you will do for a long time, social media will help you get there!
How to Avoid Burning Out
Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to avoid burning out at some point. Starting a business is hard! It’s expensive, stressful, and a lot of hard work. Your finances will most likely be inconsistent, which can cause a lot of stress, and if you choose to incorporate social media, juggling your workload and creating content can be a lot to take on.
🧯️ But fortunately, I’ve learned a few helpful solutions to help keep burnout at bay:
- Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect too much too fast. Set reasonable goals and expectations.
- Focus on furniture styles that you are passionate about. This will help keep things fun and interesting for you.
- Have set time off. When starting a business, it’s easy to get lost in the work and not take a break. So take at least one day a week to dedicate to rest, or do something fun!
- Exercise! I cannot recommend this enough! Take the time and be active! Not only does it help with physical health, but it’ll also improve your mental health, which is a MUST when you own your own business. Yoga, cardio, the gym, swimming, or even a simple 15 min. stretch in the morning. Anything!
- If lists help you, keep a list of your schedule, and I highly recommend keeping a list of all your clients, the piece you’re working on for them, and the price you quote them.
- Keep a log of everything! Every receipt, every mile driven, every penny spent. This will help you in the future with taxes and if you do decide to make this a serious business.
- Get involved with other furniture flippers on social media, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most flippers, in my experience, are more than happy to help.
At the end of the day, love yourself. Be proud of all the little accomplishments, big or small, and celebrate them. You’re starting something, and that’s more than a lot of people can say.
It’s Only the Beginning!
There is no greater feeling in the world than being able to support your dreams with your own business! The ability to work from home set your own hours, and determine your own income are just a few of the benefits of starting your own Furniture Flipping Business.
I understand that it can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t done it before. But with these tools and insights, I hope that you feel more inspired, empowered, and motivated to live the life you want by doing what you want. Just remember, I used to make hundreds, and now I make thousands. We all start somewhere. The important thing is that you start.
“I am an Actor, and I own my own business.” It Never gets old.
🔎 Real People, Real Stories:
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