Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Melissa Feldman and Michael Belardes spent the summer of 2020 cultivating a new passion: woodworking. Now that they’ve opened their own Hammer & Stain franchise in Carson City, they’re hoping to share their enthusiasm for do-it-yourself wood projects with residents.
It started with a three-hour drive to Lodi, Calif.
“That was our closest Hammer & Stain at the time. We bought a bunch of take-home kits from them and had a lot of fun,” Feldman said. “We ended up looking into how to open our own.”
She and Belardes are both Northern Nevada natives currently living in Sparks. They’re engaged and planning a wedding for next year. Belardes has a second job at FedEx, and prior to opening Hammer & Stain, Feldman was working with preschoolers.
She has enjoyed the transition into teaching wood and paint classes and running a business.
“We still teach people, and they can have something to share in their home,” she said.
Belardes agreed. He operates the vinyl cutter and likes to see how folks personalize their wood. He said that lots of kids in their winter programs go overboard with the paint, but their projects always turn out surprisingly well.
“Everyone does such completely different things,” Feldman said. “Honestly, the hardest part is picking your colors.”
That’s not to say it’s been a cake walk for her and Belardes.
Studio rent, utilities, cost of materials and labor, paying their own bills – Feldman said that she was initially surprised at how pricey it was to stay open.
“I’d never thought about that when I shop somewhere. … But now as a business owner, there are those small prices that you just wouldn’t think about,” she said.
When she and Belardes take their products to craft fairs, sometimes folks try to haggle over the cost.
Belardes sometimes has to explain, “Our prices are our prices because we do good work and we’re not trying to sell ourselves short.”
The marketing aspect of business has also posed a learning curve for him and Feldman. They’re trying to build a social media presence and encourage more people to join their wood and paint classes.
Feldman said that she’s been grateful toward her family – they’ve filled seats in several of her classes. Her mother is even helping her teach children in their winter break program.
Belardes is grateful for good neighbors. He said that being next door to Flavors of India has been wonderful. He’s struck up a friendship with owner Dolly Kaur.
“She came in the night before (our grand opening) and said, ‘I’m here to help you.’”
They spend almost two and a half hours cleaning and rearranging to get everything ready for customers.
They’re creating a sign for the Flavors of India buffet area now. Beyond just serving as a thank you, Belardes is hoping that it will lead to Hammer & Stain selling more business signage to supplement their personalized home products.
He and …….