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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.