by Lorie Lewis Ham
When I learned about Beautifully Damaged Art & Home Decor in Hanford, California it seemed a perfect fit for our Earth Day issue so I took some time to chat with it’s owner Jessica Ann Szalai.
KRL: Please tell us briefly about your shop and what you do and sell?
KRL: How and why did this come about?
Jessica: I had always restored and painted my own furniture for years, then my family and friends asked me to refurbish their items. My daughter then started playing A-Ball softball and I began selling items to help with all her travel expenses, I also had family that fell on hard times and needed help, it was a great way for me to help my family without hurting our pockets.
KRL: Where did you get the idea to do this?
Jessica: I actually had this idea from my grandma, when I was a little she used to take me yard selling. We use to paint items we found and make different items out of old junky stuff. It was always so much fun. As I got older, I wanted to put my visual art background to good use; I turned furniture into my canvas. I went to Academy of Art with a visual art degree. I’ve been an art student all through grammar and high school.
KRL: Where do you get the furniture you restore?
KRL: What is the process of that and how long does it take?
Jessica: It’s a lengthy process, I always first have to restore the pieces since my inventory is damaged items, I then clean, condition, paint or stain, then seal the items for longevity.
KRL: Why forgotten furniture?
Jessica: Forgotten furniture has a story to it, at one point in time it was fabulous and sought after, then as time went on it lost its luster due to new trends. But the beauty is still there hidden and waiting for new love to be brought back to its glory. Just like people, sometimes you get tossed to the side but we all are diamonds in the rough, we just need to remember we’re always diamonds.
KRL: What type of furniture do you have?
KRL: How did you learn to do this?
Jessica: I’ve been an art student since my days in Kettleman City Elementary and Avenal High school. I had a fabulous art teacher and I’ve studied visual art which was my major. That is where I learned most of my skills. I then attended Academy of Art in Pittsburg.
KRL: Is it just you involved in the business?
Jessica: My husband and I are partners. He is my heavy lifter, my sander, my fixer of all needing fixing and even helps me paint. He knows all my trade secrets. My 15 year old son Jason is even helping us when needed.
KRL: Where are you located and what are your business hours?
Jessica: I’m located inside the Original Hanford Antique Emporium 108 E 8th St. Hanford. We are open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays Noon – 5 p.m.
KRL: Future plans and goals?
Jessica: I would love to one day have my own location here in downtown Hanford and also I would like to start building our own line of furniture which we are dabbling in now.
KRL: Website, Facebook and Twitter?
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Jessica: We are a faith-based business that wouldn’t be here without God blessing us and leading us to this wonderful business. I feel so honored by all my clients and followers on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve met some amazing people with some really heartfelt stories. This business has been so therapeutic for myself, as I am a wife if a cancer survivor and a mother of an autistic child who is thriving. I have two more amazing boys who are so wonderful. We are a busy family who are always engaged with our boys’ football and baseball. My page has helped me reach other families who are affected by cancer and autism. This has been a wonderful journey and I look forward to how far God will allow us to grow.
Check out the rest of this issue of KRL, filled with special articles for Earth Day!