As a young mother looking to decorate her home, Treva James had to get creative. She “loved nice things,” but she didn’t have much in the way of a budget. Her husband was the only source of income for their family.
So, she improvised.
“I would find pieces at thrift stores or on the roadside, and I transformed them for our home, and all of a sudden people would say, ‘Oh my gosh, that's so nice. Where'd you find that?’” James said. “So all of a sudden it was like, OK, I guess this is working. People like it.”
James has since harnessed her talent for crafting into a career. She opened her own business, Re-Invintage, in Five Points in 2015.
The shop gives pre-owned items “a facelift,” turning the old objects into brand new creations: Old doors become tabletops, windows become mirrors and metal pieces become light fixtures.
“Even though one person may not want that piece any longer, somebody else does,” James said. “Those aren’t throwaway items.”
Deb McLean, a customer of about four years, described James as “one of the most creative individuals [she has] ever met.” She had a tough time narrowing down what she has bought from the shop over the years.
“More like, ‘What have I not bought from her?’ I’ve bought artwork, I’ve bought furniture, I buy — I bought some lamps. I just got some lamps actually last week,” McLean said. “I bought those candles, amazing smelling candles. I buy candles all the time in there.”
James’ creative process is a bit of trial and error. She may dip into her 75-color paint supply more than once before an item is finished, though she said some pieces do speak for themselves.
“I have started pieces and started it in blue and all of a sudden it's like, 'That's not my color,' and I start again,” James said. “It kind of tells you what it wants to be, believe it or not. You'll know when things are going right.”
A friend and customer of Re-Invintage, Kimberly Shields first visited the store a couple years ago and “loved everything in it.” Shields kept coming back until, eventually, she started helping out around the shop with tasks such as painting, cleaning and resetting the display window.
“She has a real good relationship with her customers. Her customers really kind of become her good friends,” Shields said. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere to shop in.”
According to James, one of her favorite aspects of the job is having conversations with the people who come into the store and getting to know her neighbors.
She also said she loves the satisfaction of watching her customers as they transform their spaces into exactly what they’re looking for.
“You can see it in their eyes,” James said. “Your space is sacred to you, and everybody’s is different, and it doesn’t have to be some magazine glamour space. It just has to feel good to you. It has to work for you.”
Shields said she wishes James could get more traffic from student customers. The items are affordable, she said, and its close proximity to campus is great for out-of-state students who can’t bring all of their furniture with them.
“Everybody needs to go into Re-Invintage and give it a look,” McLean said. “Once you go in the first time, you will always come back. There’s something for everybody there.”