Within a single year’s span –– during a pandemic –– Christine Cardo embraced a new career direction, new marriage, and new home. She also happens to be one of the revamped Sleepy Poet Antique Mall’s newest vendors (Check her out on aisle 9!) Cardo tackles each day with a calm demeanor and easy laughter. What’s her secret?
Q: Tell us what has grounded you amidst so much change? How do you recharge when life gets overwhelming?
A: My family. My husband, daughter, and I have stuck by each other’s sides through all the challenges these recent years have brought. Hurdles have made our family unit closer and stronger. I have no doubt now that the three of us can get through anything together. And when life gets overwhelming, yoga really helps me re-center.
Q: When you experienced a layoff due to COVID-19, you didn’t let it keep you down. You started your own hustle with Dogwood Designs. Now, you’re even teaming with and supporting other female-owned small businesses. You’ve collaborated with Laurie Martin of Simplicity Organizers, Heather Opal of Heather Opal Art, Emily Chandler of EF Chandler Linens, Emily Gulledge of Montford Wicks, and Lauren Bryant of The Rooted Nest. Tell us what that has been like and more about your design services.
A: Throughout the pandemic and professional changes, I’ve met a lot of different people. Several of them started new career paths as well. Supporting other women is always important! Dogwood Designs started out as makeovers for antique and vintage furniture pieces. Then, I acquired the skills to perform custom cabinet transformations. Over time, I landed a spot in the new Sleepy Poet location. It’s been a fun, unexpected twist for my creativity that I’m really enjoying.
Q: Entrepreneurial success does not happen overnight. What did it take to transform Dogwood Designs from vision to the reality it is today?
A: I started off painting and learning around my own home during the beginning of the pandemic. This calmed me during quarantine chaos. When I began posting projects on my personal social media, several friends and family members suggested I get my business license and turn it into a career. A good friend believed in me to transform her kitchen cabinets and then her bathroom cabinets. Things started growing from there. I’ve had several repeat clients, which I feel is the biggest compliment.
Q: You’re a mom too. And for a time, you were a single one. Where do you struggle in parenting? What have you learned about forming a blended family?
A: I struggle with finding balance in life (Don’t we all?) I always joke with my husband that I’m a work in progress, but I guess that means I’m growing! I love being a mom and watching my daughter grow. It’s rewarding to see the little person she is becoming. Being a parent is hard though because you want what’s best for your child and family, and we don’t always have a clear answer as to what that is. I’ve learned as a blended family to lean more on my husband Thomas. After being a single parent, you get used to doing things alone. It feels good to have a teammate in life now. He supports me and has my back.
Q: Style is evident in your wardrobe, home décor, and brand. What defines yours?
A: I’ve tried to transform our new home into a mixture of everyone’s tastes. Thomas likes a more modern feel, and I’m into the bohemian look. We have managed to harmonize the two for a comfortable and hopefully welcoming feel for visitors. As far as my wardrobe, I’m mostly in athletic leisure or clothes with paint drips. Occasionally though, it’s nice to go out with the girls or a date night and put on a fun Anthropology dress.
Q: Even with all the changes you’ve already experienced, how do you hope to continue to evolve in 2022?
A: Like I said, I’m a work in progress! My plan is to continue furniture makeover and custom painting for new and existing clients, as well as develop my booth further at Sleepy Poet. But who knows? I’m always up for a curveball. Change is good.