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Meet Jill and Mark Roberts of Twigs and Twine in Melrose District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill and Mark Roberts.

Jill and Mark, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I remember refinishing my first piece of furniture when I was 20 years old. I bought this huge oak armoire from a thrift store. Mark and I were dating at the time and he thought I was ridiculous right from the get go. I was still living in my parents’ house and had access to my dad’s small palm sander. Without any knowledge of how hard the journey would be, I pressed sandpaper to wood and labored for days. The finished product wasn’t going to win any awards but it was something we used for many years after getting married.

Fast forward many years and many children later. Mark was working a fairly low level corporate job and I wanted to help contribute financially. My original goal was to make $500 a month to help support the family. I found a dresser to refinish and loaded it into my SUV. I spent hours transforming the dresser from an intolerable brown to a barn door red. After paying back all my material cost, I made a whole $75 dollars. I knew it wasn’t a ton of money at the time but it was something I could do from home while raising little ones.

Part of the fun of teaching myself to refinish was going out shopping for good vintage finds. Next thing you know I’ve collected a small ensemble of vintage home goods. Mark wasn’t necessarily excited about the idea that I was spending my profit on items “I couldn’t pass up because the deal was too good”. So that led to finding an outlet for me to sell my vintage goods and some of the smaller pieces I had refinished. The first vendor store I sold from was called Qcumberz. My space was 50 square feet and cost $100 per month. Mark’s first question was, “Do you think you’ll sell enough to break even?” Little did Mark know that every few months, we would expand how much vendor space we needed. We eventually grew to the point that we decided to open our own retail location. When we found out the old Qcumberz building was available for rent two years ago, we jumped at the opportunity to move back into our old space. But this time we leased the whole space. Our register stand is located in the first 50 square feet I leased.

The journey for us continues to grow with the launch of our custom furniture brand Draftwood Design. We were having a hard time finding enough mid-century furniture in to keep in stock. Mark began to dream about building his own furniture company. About three years ago, Mark revealed his first creation. It was a Mid-Century Modern inspired credenza made of walnut and maple. The Draftwood Design brand has continued to grow and recently got picked up to sell at West Elm. It’s been a dream journey for us.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest obstacle is learning how to grow the right way and still raise a family. I’m a mother to three kids between 8 and 13. We have so many activities throughout the week and I really want to be an attentive mother. There is enough work for Mark and I to each work 100 hours a week but I have to make the conscious choice to turn off my work and just be present with my kids. Part of that growth means handing over some of my weekly responsibility. We feel incredibly lucky to have hired an amazing refinisher who works full time. We also have a trusted friend who uses his talents to manage the daily activity at the Draftwood Design workshop. Learning to hand over responsibility to others might mean less profit for us but so good for my family.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Twigs and Twine – what should we know?
I think people enjoy the quality of our refinished vintage furniture. We worked really hard in the early years of our business learning how to achieve a professional, durable finish. I can’t tell you how many instructional videos I watched and how many spray guns I purchased. I’m also really proud that we keep our prices in a reasonable range. I always tell people that we work really hard on the buying side so that the selling part is easy. All the home goods I sell are pieces that I would be proud to display in my home. That means I buy less than others, but the stuff I buy I genuinely love.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think that being adaptable is key. I feel like trends and styles can change on a dime. We work really hard at understanding what our customers like we are ready to pivot. Something would sell great for 6 months then out of nowhere the product would dry up. Mark and I had to learn how to move with the customer’s preferences.

Pricing:

  • Refinished Furniture ranges from $250 – $550
  • Vintage Home Goods range from $5 -$75
  • Draftwood Design Custom New Furniture starting from $595

Contact Info:

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