Best friends since the third grade, Amy Calvert and Kristy Dipiazza started a business together simply out of need.
“Since my son’s birthday is one week before Christmas, I got him a TV for one holiday and a gaming station for the other but then I realized I didn’t have anything to put it on,” said Calvert.
So Calvert got some wood, sanded it and painted it, drilled some holes in the back for the cords and was happy with the results. Her sister then asked to have a bench made and that’s how Rustic City Living was born.
“We thought, ‘we could do this.’ We could do craft shows, little things, centerpieces, some mirrors, just smaller items,” said Calvert.
But then Calvert and Dipiazza started to make bigger items, including dining tables, and quickly realized that craft shows weren’t the right fit. Last May, they created a Facebook page and started taking custom orders — and business exploded.
“People would start sending us stuff and asking us if we could make it,” said Dipiazza. “Amy would research online to find a plan or something similar to an item that they wanted for us to make. So a lot of our stuff we make is custom.”
The pair has someone send them a picture from Instagram, Facebook or through text with their request, then Calvert and Dipiazza come up with a quote and plans from there.
They also do in-home consultations for bigger items or items that need to be installed, like their custom animal gates.
“[Those items] really takes us going out to the house, measuring, figuring out what their needs are, what style they want and then creating it,” said Calvert.
Because of the bigger items they sell, they decided to open a storefront, which they did in June. Rustic City Living opened in the Creston neighborhood, at 1541 Plainfield Ave NE. Tony Leonard, a skilled builder, joined Calvert and Dipiazza as a co-owner of the building. He also helps build the furniture.
“Initially, Kristy and I really wanted to do this. We have been friends forever. We knew we wanted a business,” said Calvert. “[Tony] had done contractor work [in the past] and we thought he would teach us everything he knew and then we wouldn’t need him, but everything has gone so fast that it really takes all three of us.”
“We always have a little assembly line going,” said Dipiazza. ”Cut, sand and stain. It just keeps going.”
Both of them also have full time jobs aside from running the store. Calvert is a registered nurse and Dipiazza is an optician.
But since the storefront opened, they have not stopped taking orders.
Rustic City Living also carries items by other local vendors, including handmade mugs, pillows, clothing and jewelry.
“We hand-picked our vendors,” said Calvert. “We really talked about it and discussed what we wanted. There is no competition here. They are all women vendors, all local.”
They supply the space and let the vendors sell their items in the store. They want those women to feel that this is their space as well.
Dipiazza and Calvert want their customers to know they stand behind their product. “If somebody gets it and there’s an issue or problem and they aren’t satisfied, we want them to come to us and we want to resolve it,” said Dipiazza.
They are also focused on price. They researched different sites to make sure they were pricing their own items fairly. “We want to be low price but great quality,” said Dipiazza. “We want everybody to be happy.”
What inspires them to keep going is their customers’ reactions when they get their product.
“To know that we made a difference for someone, that’s what’s inspiring to me,” said Dipiazza. “We have been blessed so much in this business and God has opened many doors for us and for us to keep going is great.”
Rustic City Living is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and by appointment.