Industry Influencers: Shane Brown from Big Daddy’s Antiques

Recently, I was lucky enough to meet and then sit down with Shane Brown of Big Daddy’s Antiques (THE Big Daddy!)

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Chatting with the man behind the brand.

I’ve loved BD’s for quite some time, I love to go to their massive store off Jefferson and just get lost. They always have creative, fun, and funky pieces (antiques and custom made!) that will take your rooms up a notch and make your space special. In the store, we started talking, and Shane told me about how he got interested in buying and selling furniture, and I knew I had to interview him.

We talked about the business and how he got started, the find that got away, and he even gave me some tips for negotiating prices!

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These are just perfect.

RR: What’s your biggest source of inspiration?

Shane: Walking in here. There’s nothing more inspiring than moving stuff around and combining different things and having it sell in the next day or 20 minutes even.

I also look at a lot of magazines for inspiration.

It’s interesting because (Big Daddy’s) hits every outlet. My creative outlet, my business outlet, and I think that’s why I still have a lot of passion for it. Other than that, the business is really fun and every day is different– I can go to the San Francisco store. I can go buying in the south of France or somewhere else. Its just fun!

RR: How did you get started?

Shane: I decorated a girlfriend’s house, and when it ended, I was selling off the pieces, and the buyers were telling me I had a great eye. I guess that’s why I’m still in business—I have a good eye.

When I first started, I was schlepping stuff to the Rose Bowl at 4 AM in a $800 van I bought from my uncle. I’d be praying that it would make it to Rose Bowl so I could make money to feed myself and buy more stuff.

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So chic and so comfortable.

RR: What do you look for in a piece?

Shane: Patina and character. What’s going on at the time influences it. How I’m feeling, what people are buying. It evolves constantly. I’m not buying the same kind of stuff I was buying 20 years ago. Thank God!

Also, I think what I look for has evolved with the amount of money I can spend. I had a good eye in the beginning, but I didn’t always have the money to back my eye. My eye is ALWAYS better than my pocketbook.

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Character: check. Patina: check.

RR: How has your style evolved?

Shane: I’m moving away from the look Restoration Hardware has started doing now. (Author note: he’s been doing it for about 10 years already!) I’m going toward a more minimalistic, contemporary look with my twist on it. That might be some leather…(the twist) will come organically within the next year. I’m looking for the next thing– “what are we doing, what we should be doing?”

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RR: A lot of rehabbers dream of having shops. How did you go from buying and selling pieces to having a brick and mortar establishment?

Shane: People couldn’t always come to markets, or they would call me and want to see stuff during the week. I heard that enough, so I finally opened here in LA. I was doing markets up in San Francisco, and I started hearing that enough. I would set up my area like a store, and people would ask where the store was, and I had some people come down to LA to see the store, and I realized it was time to open a store in San Francisco.

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A peak inside the a portion of the GIANT LA store.

RR: Most memorable buy(s)?

Shane: When I was first getting started, I bought some paintings for $5 each, they sold for $1300 each.

I bought a Louis Vuitton trunk for $600. I still own that, and it is now probably worth $15,000.

RR: Has there been a “find that got away”?

Shane: A sterling silver trophy. The price was fine, he just wasn’t negotiating with me. Someone else bought it about twelve steps later.

When I was younger, there were a lot of things I had to let go because I just didn’t have the cash to buy them. Now, I usually just buy something if I think its great!

RR: Where do you find this amazing stuff?

Shane: People text me photos all day. I have two containers coming in that I bought off photos.

Also, I find a lot of stuff in Europe. I do major buying trips about 6 times a year.

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This sign has character, a thing to look for when buying pieces for your spaces!

RR: What’s the best part of the job?

Shane: I meet the most interesting people. You meet the whole spectrum of society. I might meet a broke artist making really cool things, or a billionaire collecting odd and interesting things.

Like yesterday, I wasn’t planning on going downtown, but I went and met this amazing artist from Portugal who is doing all of these murals on the sides of buildings that are crazy and a client of ours took me down there. I’ve flown on a customer’s private plane to go install a rock from Bali. That’s the best thing—meeting really interesting people.

Also, I’m living exactly the dream I created in my head as a child. I mean, to the wife, to the kids, to the business, to multiple homes… everything I wanted as a kid. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to travel, have a healthy family, and I wanted to have a fun, interesting lifestyle. And, I think I’ve done it!

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I love old safes!

RR: Have you had any “what was I thinking” moments?

Shane: I’ve been married for a long time now, so I don’t really have any of those!

In business—I’ve been pretty lucky. The hardest thing, really, has been the employees. “Why did I hire that particular person?”

What I’ve created– I don’t look back at things I’ve created negatively. I saw some photos recently from when I first started and said, “wow! look how far I’ve come!”

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RR: What are your design pet peeves?

Shane: Dead plants, plants in cheap container or the black plastic container. If you’re sitting in a multi-million dollar home and have really cheap pottery because you’re too cheap to buy nice pottery, it really irks me.

Also, lamps without lampshades drive me crazy.

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This bench is pure perfection. They had several in store while I was there, and they were on their way out the door.

RR: Do you have any negotiating tips?

Shane: The best way to the best price is to be nice. Show that you love a piece, don’t knock it down and point out the flaws. Have respect for the seller, be honest if something is above what you can pay but you really love it. Put a package together and buy multiple pieces. Ask for the seller’s “friendliest price.”

RR: Any parting words?

Shane: We’ve become a throw away society. They aren’t as interested in quality because they don’t expect it to last. People used to pay $20,000 to decorate their living room and expect it to last 30 years. Now people just buy mid-priced things and expect to throw them away.  I’m trying to teach my little girls that is not all about looks, it is about what’s on the inside that counts.

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An example of a quality piece.

My note: This also applies to quality furniture. It’s about finding the good bones and quality pieces that will last. This is the kind of stuff Shane is attracted to and sells in the store.

Another note: We had a wonderful long interview. In some instances, word order has been modified for flow.

I loved talking to Shane and learning about how Big Daddy’s became what it is today. It was so much fun to hear his stories and learn about the business. After more than 20 years, he is still passionate and excited about the work that he does. Talk about a dream job!

Visit Big Daddy’s or Georgia Brown for your last minute Christmas needs or if you just want something really special.  You won’t leave disappointed (or empty handed!)

Big Daddy’s LA Location:     3334 La Cienega Place, LA, CA 90016

Big Daddy’s San Francisco Location:     1550 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Georgia Brown Aspen:     217 Galena St, Aspen, CO 81611


Big Article Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, I will be posting the second installment of “Industry Influencers” and I’m super excited about this interview!

Here’s a hint– you may have seen this post on my @chair_candy Instagram:

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From @chair_candy on Insta. You can check out the page for another clue on the interviewee!

Five Minute, $5 Holiday Fix

My favorite part of the holidays is decorating. It is hardly ever cold in LA, so its especially important to make your house feel extra homey so it feels like the holidays.

Other than decorating the tree, I like to put poinsettias everywhere. Usually they just come in the plastic containers or are wrapped in that bright shiny red or green paper that just never seems to be the right color.

Here's what I was working with before... these pots just aren't working.
Here’s what I was working with before… these pots just kill the effect.

Since I have a black thumb, my plants never last much longer than the holidays, so I don’t want to spend a ton of time and money buying pots and transferring the plants. Wandering through the giftwrap aisle, I had a brilliant idea. What if I just wrapped them in ribbon and called it a day?

I set out on a quick search for burlap looking ribbon, and lucked out when I found a roll of extra thick ribbon for $5 at World Market. At home, I just cut the ribbon in sections and wrapped it around the plastic pots, tying a loose knot to secure the ribbon.

I am pretty pleased with the results! The plants look a million times better and there was a minimal amount of work and cost. That’s what I call Roadside Rehab!

After! I still have to keep them in the little trays to protect the floor, but they really don’t bother me.
The beginnings of my little holiday nook.

End of the Semester

Wow! This semester is finally over! That means I only have one more semester of classes (and however long it takes to finish my thesis) and I’ll have a masters degree! I’m specializing in internet ads and credibility and I’m so excited to have a thesis committee together with literally the nicest thesis chair ever.

This semester has been filled with ups (a beautiful wedding for good friends in Mexico) and downs (my grandmother, who also loved arts and crafts, unexpectedly passed away.)

My biggest personal accomplishment in the past couple of months has been finishing a 141 page ad plan for a company I created called Vintage Baby.


I’m looking forward to looking into what it would take to get this thing off the ground. There’s still a lot more research to be done, but having this plan makes the semester seem that much more worth it.

I’m celebrating the end of the semester with a short trip to New York City, which I have always wanted to see at Christmas time! I’m looking forward to seeing the big tree, being in cold weather (LA is eternally warm and sunny) and checking out a couple of shops I love to browse online in person!

Bright Baby Shelves

Today is all about bright baby shelves I helped a girlfriend paint for her new baby’s room.

She wanted to add a touch of color and to create a reading space for when the baby gets a little bigger, so we started out with a cute denim “Bean” chair from Pottery Barn Kids and some plain wood shelves.

Here's an image of the bean chair I grabbed off of PB's site. Cozy and cute!
Here’s an image of the bean chair I grabbed off of PB’s site. Cozy and cute!

Kate (the mommy-to-be) bought some unfinished shelves online, and it was up to us to make them shine.

First, we sanded around the edges just to make the wood smooth and get rid of possible splinters. Then, we went over the whole thing with a tack cloth (sticky cloths that get all debris off of an item before you paint… believe me, they’re worth it!)

My biggest recommendation when painting anything a bright color is to use primer. Sounds simple, but every time I skip the primer, I feel like my projects don’t look as clean. While she stood well away from any possible fumes, I primed them with a spray primer (which is my favorite, it just looks better than one you’d paint on, and you can control the coverage.)

Me priming in her yard.
Me priming in her yard.

After a couple of coats, we left them outside to dry. A few days later, she painted them a bright orange that we chose and had mixed. She painted them with a brush.

Ready to be installed!
Ready to be installed!

After a couple of texts back and forth on technique, I think I should tell you guys that the best advice I have for painting with a brush is light strokes with less paint than you think you need so you don’t get those streaky brush marks.

Streaky brush marks are the equivalent to paint drips. In other words, avoid at all costs. But if you do get streaky brush marks or paint drips (we all do sometimes), I to sand them down a bit with a fine grain sandpaper, run a tack cloth over the piece, then get back to painting!

Okay, so here are the finished shelves installed. Cute, right?!

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And, just for fun, here is another corner of baby Caden’s bedroom. I love the animal theme!

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