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In this weekly spotlight series, we visit the unique and family-oriented styles of A Red Bird Refinished, a hidden gem nestled just 30 minutes outside of Chicago’s bustling, downtown area. Debby Albrecht and Caitlin Young are the perfect dynamic, mother-daughter duo, who bring wit and charm to the small business life.

Only a little over a year old, A Red Bird began with the upholstery and refinishing of Albrecht and Young’s own furniture. Debby, the “woman behind it all”, has been a seamstress for years, and found both joy and an outlet for her creativity. Once it was clear that the two of them possessed an incredible talent for it, family and friends were eager to put in their orders for designs as well!

They became so busy that Debby was able to leave her full time job, which lacked that “creative side” to it, and start making A Red Bird her full time job. From there, they were able to get almost the whole family involved in both big and small ways, working together to bring A Red Bird to homes and communities around the Great Lakes. From wooden furniture and 1800s chaise lounges, to poofs and personally designed laptop bags, it seems that A Red Bird may have it all!

 

Explore their News and Gallery on Facebook.com Here!

 

How did A Red Bird get Started?

Debby’s full time job before A Red Bird was “rewarding but not creative,” and did not allow her to stretch her limits into the realm of possibilities that A Red Bird Refinished has become. Once it was clear that there was not only a demand, but a surplus of orders, Debby decided to make Red Bird her full time job!

Debby and Caitlin are the “main pair” in the family business, and they are sure to get the job done! Accompanied by family around the world, like Danielle Albrecht writing all the way from Egypt, and their husbands’ occasional delivery crew, the “Red Birds on the Fly”, they have created an elite, family team of entrepreneurs!

Even the name A Red Bird was inspired by Debby’s mother, a woman who knew what it was like to find beauty in the world around us, and how to have faith in life, love and family.

Family-oriented, family-inspired and family-run, Red Bird is the kind, caring and cozy sort of business that anyone would be lucky to work with.

Gabrielle Albrecht helping with a large project.
Debby and Demetrius II hard at work!

How do these designs and Projects get where they’re going?

Whether it’s by SUV, rented truck or something you pick up yourself, A Red Bird will make sure each piece is carefully handled and transported where it needs to go!

When I asked them how they were able to transport such large pieces of furniture, such as “Scarlett” the 1800s chaise lounge, Caitlin said that they have an SUV of their own and “we’re often surprised what can fit in there!” They dedicate a lot of time and energy to make sure that each piece gets where it needs to go in the safest, fastest way possible.

“Red Bird on the Fly” with husbands Daniel and Demetrius!

What is the most Important Part of A Red Bird?

“We love when the clients have a sentimental value,” says Debby. “To “take something and bring something beautiful to someone’s home,”.

From the moment I spoke to them, I could tell that Caitlin and Debby were a pair of strong, caring women who would do anything for family. Perhaps most notably, for others’ families!

They described that A Red Bird was about “keeping things out of landfills,” and being able to preserve long-forgotten, or even delicate pieces of family history that their clients would bring to them. They described the joy that they felt in being able to renew or prolong family heirlooms, furnitures or other items and objects passed down throughout the generations.

Another amazing thing about A Red Bird is their attention to detail, and the heart that they put in. Though their primary goal is to restore a piece of furniture or item to a new glory so that it can be used or better admired, Caitlin and Debby know when to preserve a little bit of the past. “Every piece has a past, it’s owns story and minor cosmetic imperfections help tell that story so they are left intact,” – Red Bird Facebook.

Caitlyn and her gorgeous baby, stitching away!

 

What sets A Red Bird apart?

A Red Bird not only takes great care and intricacy of detail into their work, but they also customize smaller projects, such as their new laptop bags and their many fantastic poofs. Not only are they homemade and hand-designed, these items are usually customizable by color, fabric, size and style. You’ll never see something twice from them, unless specially ordered of course.

The charm only grows when you look over the past accomplishments and achievements earned by the A Red Bird family in just a short amount of time. Each piece of refinished or reupholstered furniture on their Facebook.com page, where they primarily do their business, has a name.

Unlike large business chains or Amazon.com who would name their products long, strings of “keywords” to catch as many eyes as possible, Red Bird highlights each completed project with a charming, hand-picked name to match the personality or significance of the project.

From a gorgeous rocking chair named “Jeanine”, to a couch and armchair set named “Chloe”, it is clear that each project does not only received great attention to detail in its refinishing, but holds a special place in the hearts of Albrecht and Young.

This caring and gentle attention sets them apart from any chain store or large business only looking to move product as fast as possible. Instead, clients get to choose colors or designs on their projects or requested items. It lends a sense of collaboration and creativity to the business. This is why A Red Bird is your go-to for Great Lakes refinishing and homemade, hand-designed products!

Chloe, a charming couch and armchair set
Jeanine, your classic rocking chair

What was one of Your Favorite Projects?

Sometimes the projects that fall into A Red Bird’s lap aren’t simple, but that just “adds to the fun!”. Scarlett, an 1800s era chaise lounge “came to us in a rather dilapidated and indisposed state,”, says the A Red Bird team.

It was a bare base frame with large exposed springs that teetered precariously to the left. Once they were confronted with this project, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.Scarlett was all springs – it did come with a layer of “chainmail” it was “just a mess, it wasn’t usable,” so Debby’s husband was able to pull the top off.

With a little extra help from family, Albrecht and Young were able to completely reconstruct Scarlett: “…we tightened and refinished the feet, re-tied the loosened springs, and layered her with fresh padding,”. They finished her off with a “Gone-with-the-Wind inspired chenille jacquard fabric,” and the results couldn’t be more enchanting! I imagine that Scarlett’s name came from the inspired, gorgeous fabric that they chose.

This just goes to show that the team at A Red Bird is not only prepared to do more complicated projects, but have excellent taste, too!

Scarlett in all her gorgeous glory!

What is Next for A Red Bird Refinishing?

Debby and Caitlin are interested in hosting their own events soon, “where all types of creatives can come together,” but haven’t been able to “narrow anything down yet,”. They are also looking into owning their own storefront someday to sell their amazing products. For now, Debby’s sister is opening a mercantile boutique called Finery and Finishes in Richmond Illinois that they hope to display some of their wares in.

Also, A Red Bird has been fortunate enough to be contracted to refinish and update library furniture for the teens and kid sections of the Crown Point Library in Crown Point Indiana! It’s an “amazing opportunity” to showcase their work to the public, but also to help their community in an amazing way!

In addition to their amazing, newly designed seat cushions, laptop and tote bags, Red Bird refinished is setting out to two markets that take place in the next few weeks:

The first is the Hunt and Gather market taking place at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point Indiana. This event takes place on May 10th and 11th, and is guaranteed to be an amazing display of artisan crafts and designs, A Red Bird among them.

The second market event is the Homewood Artisan Street Fair which takes place on June 7th and 8th in Homewood Illinois. Vendors from the Great Lakes region and all over will be in attendance, and Albrecht and Young are very excited to participate this year.

Gorgeous, custom chair cushions!
Classy and Customizable Laptop Bags that come in all sizes!
A Bo-Ho Poof for any home!
The perfect tote bag for this summer!
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It’s tough to open up a new online shop when you have to recreate every single listing one by one. It was time to discover how it could be possible for you to get your shop up and running fast so you can focus on doing what you do best. Introducing the Etsy and Shopify importer that allows Great Lakes Made to import your products from your shop. The importer only reads the product information so it will have no effect on your current store.

This is a lot of information to cover, but the value you’ll get from this will help you grow exponentially on Great Lakes Made.


Etsy API


This is the easiest option because all you need to do is become a vendor and supply your Etsy URL. Your products will be imported to your account as a draft.

After your products are uploaded you will need to:

  • Enable shipping in your store “Settings”
  • Add location category to each product Great Lakes Region -> Your State or Province
  • Product location for Search by Location
  • Shipping weight
  • Yoast SEO to get found on Google (optional)
  • Any other unique customizations

Already have a Great Lakes Made shop, but need to import? Reply here


Shopify API


The Shopify API is a little more strict. Follow the steps below. It will take just a few minutes:

  1. You will have to go to apps in your Shopify dashboard
  2.  Scroll to the bottom and click Manage Private Apps
  3. Create a new private app
  4. Copy the API key and password
  5. Send it to [email protected] 
  6. You’re all set. They’ll be imported to your vendor account as a draft.

After your products are uploaded you will need to:

  • Enable shipping in your store “Settings”
  • Add location category to each product Great Lakes Region -> Your State or Province
  • Product location for Search by Location
  • Shipping weight
  • Yoast SEO to get found on Google (optional)
  • Any other unique customizations

Already have a Great Lakes Made shop, but need to import? Reply here


FAQs


What are the listing fees?

There aren’t any. It’s free to list with only a 10% commission given to Great Lakes Made when you make a sale.

How do I get the shipping cost to show up at the checkout?

MARKETPLACE SHIPPING: You need to enable shipping in your store manager “Settings”. Each product is calculated by weight. The will enable marketplace shipping. You’ll be able to add individual shipping costs when adding your product.

INDIVIDUAL SHIPPING: You can enable individual (Multi-Carrier Shipping) with carrier rates from your location with USPS/UPS IDs here: Edit My Account and Add Vendor Shipping

How can I get more visibility on the marketplace and on search engines?

  • When you add a new product make sure to ad Yoast SEO information to help you become more visible on Google
  • Add your poduct category location Great Lakes Region -> Your state or province
  • Add your shop url to social channels: https://greatlakesmade.com/marketplace/greatlakesmade/
    • Check out Linktree to add multiple URLs to your Instagram
  • Join our Affiliate Program by replying here
    • Offer a commission to affiliates (bloggers, writers, fans) when they share your products or services. They get a unique link associated with your products. When someones uses it to buy from you, it will give them a commission on the sale.
  • Write a blog post on Great Lakes Made to announce your new shop on the marketplace. Learn more below.

How do I get paid?

Great Lakes Made is set up to automatically pay you when an order is processed. Payout options are set up through PayPal or Stripe. 

What is the return policy?

You’re in charge of returns and you can create your own return policy or choose not to have one at all, but as a rule of thumb, there is a 30-day return policy in the marketplace. Make sure to state your policy clearly in your shop.

I’ll be at a show soon and I want to attract visitors. How can I do that?

  • Writing a blog post of your upcoming event is highly encouraged and will help you attract visitors in the area. Try to stick to around 500 – 1000 words and include high-quality images as a preview of what they can see when they visit.
  • Add your event to the marketplace. It’s completely free and will help you get exposure. Shoppers can search for events in their area and find your show. Add Your Event

I want to get featured on social media. How do I do that?

  • Become a vendor and start listing. Products are randomly chosen to be featured on the Great Lakes Made story and gallery
  • Instagram Live with Great Lakes Made and tell your story. Reply to this email and we’ll set up a date and time. Learn more about two-person Instagram Live here 

Free Advertising


Get your logo featured throughout the marketplace. The first 20 requests are free.Reply for more info. View Original Tin Cup on the homepage for a great example.

Advertise with display ads on the marketplace and on social media. Get linked posts directly to your product on the marketplace. The first 20 requests are free.Reply for more info.


Create Your Own Website


Enhance your brand by creating a unique website with the Great Lakes Made Website Builder. It requires no coding skills with our simple drag and drop platform. You can have your own e-commerce store up and running in minutes.

Create a website >


Buy Original Movement


Join the Buy Original Movement by getting your verified unique badges. Our goal is to help protect original work and ideas by getting our customers to search for the verified unique badges when buying a local product or service. Request your badge for free when you become a seller on the marketplace.

Learn more >


Easy CSV Import from Other Marketplaces


If you don’t have an Etsy or Shopify then you can still import your products with a CSV file from other marketplaces so you can avoid the struggle of having to recreate your listings from scratch.


Get Help with Your Store Setup


Look for the chat icon and send a message anytime you need help with your setup, importing products, or general inquiries.


Announce Your New Shop in the Marketplace


Write a blog post about your new shop in the marketplace. Tell shoppers your story and encourage them to check out your new vendor store. Announce new product releases, events, or shows you’ll be attending.

Posts will be moderated so quality content is highly encouraged so your posts aren’t marked as spam. A great resource for adding high-quality free images to your articles is Unsplash. Check out the free Chrome extension Grammarly to help with your content. Make sure to credit each image you use with a link. If you have questions, then use the chat icon above anytime.

Learn more by visiting: How it Works

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