In late 1999, ignoring the rampaging fears of millennial catastrophe, Melanie Lunsford signed a lease at 44th and Tennyson and opened her own frame shop called Metro Frame Works.
A woodworker by trade, she had just left a furniture restoration job to apprentice in a framing store and then decided she wanted to go out on her own. She found the financial capital in the place many entrepreneurs do—within her own family.
An inheritance had allowed her to purchase a home, renovate it and flip it for a considerable profit. That profit allowed her to make the key investments in the lease for her store and tools and feel comfortable for a year. A few years working at FirstBank didn’t hurt her financial acumen, either.
Her advice to individuals who want to work for themselves: Make sure you understand your financial tools as well as you understand your core business.
Her knowledge of credit, audits, taxes and accounting have enabled her to grow to three times the size she was in 1999, add staff and become very successful as both a frame shop and an art gallery.
Melanie also stays on top of the technology in her field, ensuring that she can work with clients in as many ways as possible. Today, a client can e-mail her an image of a piece of art to frame, and she can provide proofs of the image framed in a number of different ways. The client chooses a style, couriers the art, and Melanie frames and couriers it back.
Convenience for her clients keeps her ahead of the competition. Today’s economy has hurt the entire art community and Metro Frame Works is no exception. Melanie and her team are managing by using their existing inventory of frames, cutting hours, but not personnel and continuing to participating in community events like First Friday Art nights to bring new people into the store. Art has been important part of humanity for thousands of years—and Melanie plans on being around for at least the next several decades to frame great pieces of work.