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Life & Work with Christin Wittwer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christin Wittwer.  

Hi Christin, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up with a very talented and artistic mother who had inspired me to explore my creative side. In my mid 20’s, I started painting furniture as a hobby, and in 2018 while working a very stressful corporate job, began to realize that I was not living my passion. I would spend every weekend with a brush in my hand until one day I decided to take a leap of faith and turn my passion into a business. I took a few woodworking classes and expanded my love of painting furniture into making furniture, decor, and art. I set up a shop on Etsy, and within a few months things started growing. By that summer, I had more orders than I could keep up with, but I struggled to capture the true beauty of my refinished pieces in photos. Managing the business side of things also became challenging because I was too busy in the workshop. I started wondering if there were other small businesses like mine that were experiencing the same challenges, and a vision of an artisan collaboration began to form. I did some networking and found a small community of makers who wanted nothing more than to just focus on creating. Through those conversations, I discovered that my desire to create a space full of pretty things had become more focused on how I could help them. It became something I felt overwhelmingly compelled to do, something to bring to the neighborhood for artists and the community alike. So, I took yet another leap of faith, leased the space, and got to work bringing the vision to life. Hometown was built around a “sip, shop, create” theme; we are currently showcasing 45 local artisans in our retail store, plus we have a large studio for classes and workshops and a full-service coffee/wine bar. Our goal is to make you smile at every turn and offer a unique destination with a little something for everyone. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
About a year into my business venture, we were hit with a pandemic, and I didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, business not only grew but completely exploded with people that finally had the time for all of those home improvement projects they had been putting off. During that time, there were tons of material shortages and crazy price hikes on things like lumber, paper towels, and gloves. 

Since Hometown has opened, we’ve seen some of these pricing challenges come back around. The economy has played a big role in some of our challenges; with the cost of living increasing, we see that many people have less to spend. We work really hard to combat those challenges by keeping our pricing low and offering more value than you might expect. Our quality standards are really high, so it never feels like a compromise. 

Exposure has been another big obstacle. Our suite is located on the west end of the plaza and is situated behind a few other buildings that make us nearly invisible from the main road. Even with our sign on the monument at the front entrance, we still get customers daily that frequent the area and say they didn’t know we were here! Social media exposure is tough as well; I think this is a challenge for any small business as your content is only shown to a small percentage of your followers. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Furniture art is my passion and something I take the most pride in. I love taking an old piece and giving it new life. When it comes to managing our co-op market, I think that my ability to think outside of the box in a creative way rather than a competitive way has created a space that is truly unique. 

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I have lived in the Orlando area for 26 years and can say I have met some of the most incredible people here! Some of them are crazy drivers though; I’d say the traffic in Orlando is my least favorite thing about this city. 

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