A Gift with Meaning from Natalie Fugère and The Painted Press
Sep 27, 2018 11:00AM
By Emily Miranda
By Emily Miranda
Photos courtesy of The Painted Press
IT BEGAN AS a holiday gift. What Natalie Fugère initially thought as a classic design for a simple Christmas gift soon turned into something far greater: The Painted Press, her very own business.
“I created my first jewelry dish in 2014,” says the accomplished twenty-something year old. “I had just graduated high school and was heading into the holiday season with a very small Christmas budget, so I was brainstorming things that I could make to save money and keep the gifts personal.” That is when Fugère thought of a jewelry dish. “After a lot of trial and error, I came up with the original design,” she finishes.
Her gifts were well received, she says. “I was told by multiple friends that I should list them on Etsy. I did, and the rest is history.”
Fugère explains how the dishes emphasize sentiment. “Personalized gifts have a way of making the recipient feel so loved, so seen and so valued.” Such sentiment inspires her to offer others the opportunity to let their friends and family feel cherished.
“Someone bought a dish for a woman who donated an organ to her. Another young lady purchased the ‘today I choose JOY’ dish for herself after her father passed away,” says Fugère.
“My mission was and continues to be to provide an affordable, meaningful gift option for people,” she says, adding that keeping prices low and paying employees well is also a core value. “I have never known what the paycheck would look like, but it’s always been enough and has allowed us to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
When The Painted Press began, Fugère was in her first year of college. She was attending Fresno State University as a communicative disorders and deaf studies major. “I continued my courses there while growing the business, and graduated summa cum laude in December of 2017,” she says, adding that in that time she also got married and bought her first house. “It’s been a whirlwind these past few years,” she admits, “but I wouldn’t take any of it back or do anything differently. I believe that juggling all
of it grew and stretched me in ways I didn’t know possible.”
The first big challenge came when her dishes were featured in The Huffington Post as “a top personalized holiday gift,” initiating a flood of orders. At the time, Fugère was still making the dishes in her parents’ kitchen, “It was a major growing pain. It went from being a hobby to a full-time business overnight.” The following day, she decided to move everything into an office building, hiring everyone who had ever helped her in order to fulfill the holiday orders.
During her first large order, “I was freaking out, working late into the night to create them and I just kept thinking, ‘Gosh, this is too many!’ Then my mom shared this quote by Walt Disney with me: ‘It’s kinda fun to do the impossible’,” Fugère says. “That sums up what I have always felt about this business.”
Upon hiring help, fear struck again: “I can’t be responsible for other people’s income. This is too much,” she recalls. “Now we are sending out 250 orders on average a week. I look back and think about how many impossible things we’ve accomplished, and it pushes us to take on more challenges. It truly is ‘kinda fun’, like Walt said.”
She also learned to delegate. “I definitely have the impulse to jump in and help everyone, but I was being stretched too thin and found it more important to stay in my own lane and let my team do their jobs,” she says.
Fugère has faced multiple fears, having seasons where she and her team have had to make personal sacrifices, working day and night to ensure the integrity of the business. Fortunately, The Painted Press has experienced slower seasons as well, seasons focused on creating new designs, marketing and prioritizing time with friends and family.
“The balance is something I think I’ll always be working on, but I’m prioritizing relationships more these days, and I don’t regret it for a second,” Fugère affirms, adding, “The monotony of creating the dishes is offset by the wild ride of trial and error.”
Along with The Painted Press, Fugère has been working on starting another business called Slay the Course. “It is a site I’m developing to help other Etsy sellers achieve their goals for selling on the platform. Meanwhile, she plans to release a few new dish designs in the coming months. “We are still full steam ahead,” she says.
“I recognize that this journey is a gift given to me by God, and I have seen His grace in everything. I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who has ever supported us,” Fugère says. “At the end of the day, this business is here because of people who purchase from us, spread the word or send us encouraging messages. I am beyond grateful for every single person.” •
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