Published: May 18, 2016
Marian Parsons — a pastor’s wife, mother of two little boys and passionate home decorator — never thought of herself as an entrepreneur. She founded her business, Mustard Seed Interiors LLC, in 2009 with the hope of earning $200 a month to help with household purchases such as groceries and diapers. She created her blog to connect with other do-it-yourself enthusiasts online. To make it a valuable resource, she filled it with pictorial tutorials, practical advice and words of encouragement. What started on Marian’s kitchen counter quickly grew into an international brand featured in numerous magazines and television shows. Her blog has grown to more than 23,000 subscribers and more than 800,000 page views each month. More than 300 retailers worldwide carry Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, launched in 2012. Thomas Nelson published her first book, Inspired You, in 2012. She invites fans to visit her studio in Biglerville, in the orchards of south central Pennsylvania. We recently asked Marian about her love of antiques, decorating on a budget and use of milk paint to give flea market finds new life.
What sparked your interest in antiques?
I grew up in Germany — my dad was in the Army — and I think that’s where I first acquired my love of old things. We were able to tour many of the old cities, castles and churches around Europe. They always spoke to me. When I set up my home as a newlywed, I pretty quickly gravitated toward antiques. I have loved using and living with them ever since.
What inspired Miss Mustard Seed?
My brother came up with the name, which is off my original web domain. Mustard Seed Interiors, the name of my business, is a reference to a Bible verse about having faith as small as a mustard seed. With that, you can move mountains. Starting this business was a huge step of faith for me and my family. I always want to remember that.
How and where do you shop? Do you have any favorite flea markets?
I primarily shop at antiques stores and try to find the bargains. I’ve learned that I come home with more of what I’m looking for than if I hit thrift stores, estate sales or yard sales. I enjoy the Raleigh Flea Market in North Carolina. I try to go there anytime we visit our family in Raleigh.
What is your most exciting antique or vintage find?
I have a lot of great finds, but one of my best is the antique crystal chandelier in my dining room. I bought it at a yard sale for $4. It was disassembled and packed in a box, so other shoppers overlooked it.
Do you buy from One Kings Lane or other online sources?
While it has really cool stuff, One Kings Lane is a bit expensive for me. I almost always shop locally unless there is something specific that I can’t find. In those cases, I’ll scour eBay and Etsy.
What do people learn during your workshops?
I teach a variety of workshops, but mostly I teach how to use the products in my milk paint line. I host introductory workshops as well as ones where participants can bring a piece of furniture to paint. Those are definitely my favorite, because participants get to learn and transform a piece of furniture at the same time. It’s a win-win.
How would you describe your typical customer?
My typical customer loves antiques for how beautiful they look in the home, not necessarily how collectible or valuable they are. Some of my favorite finds are ones that are chipped, stained, cracked, repaired or devalued in some way. They are still beautiful and I love them for their imperfections. I think my customers feel the same way.
Do you have any tips for collecting and decorating on a budget?
Learn to sew and paint! You can transform any room dramatically with paint and fabric and you will save a bundle if you can do it yourself.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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