Mary Kaufman of Bluebird's Garage understands the power of a well-branded image. Her small but quickly growing studio in Virginia Beach provides full-service vintage rentals and concept design for events, parties, photoshoots and more. Mary has a unique talent at bringing brands and ideas to life for guests and the camera lens through expert styling and the perfect custom details.
What was your path to starting Bluebird’s Garage?
It was a “now or never” moment! The day I got back from our honeymoon, I found out that I lost my job in sales. My new husband and I looked at each other and said, “now’s the time!”
How did you develop the branding for Bluebird’s Garage? Where did the name come from?
I had also been a collector of eclectic and vintage items and always had an interest in fashion. I always said that I would have my own store one day but I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. This was a daydream since high school, I remember making business cards in my fashion class. It wasn’t until I realized that I did not want to do retail that I came up with the idea to rent my furniture and props. I stored all of my finds in our large detached garage in our first home in Chesapeake and I loved the juxtaposition of the feminine and grit of the name.
What do you love most about owning your own business? What do you like the least?
I love being my own boss and the flexibility it allows me to fulfill my other dream which is to be a mother. My least favorite thing is the money. Thankfully my mom handles my books!
What do you wish you’d known before you started your business?
That it would change. Life is ever changing and your flexibility to allow yourself that change is key.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Fake it till you make it. (We at Campfire & Co. couldn't agree more with this one!)
Any advice or tips you think are overrated in the small business community?
I may get some backlash for this but “community over competition” drives me insane. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my community and have always been passionate about uplifting businesses that I love and admire. Some competition is healthy and is what drives us all to be better. Giving away all your secrets, for anything in life, is never a good idea.
What’s your “can’t live without” business tool?
My phone! As a mother of two and one on the way, my car is my day to day office. I send emails in between stop lights and diaper changes. My email on my phone allows me the ability to be easily reachable and reliable which I think is one of my strong suits. Also, the camera! It makes it easy to capture things for what I consider my portfolio, Instagram.
Any big business goals for the near or distant future?
More commercial work is always a goal and making time for personal creativity building shoots with some of my favorite collaborators in the area!
Thanks so much to Mary for sharing her thoughtful advice and personal story of growing her own brand. You can join Campfire & Co., The Content Chop Shop, and Mary at our next Fireside Sessions workshop on Branding at Corner Gallery in Norfolk on September 21st!