There are so many things you can do with self-storage facilities. These units have been the inspiration for a number of businesses, movies and books. Taking things a step further, Jacqueline Sharp has taken her ideas and transformed them into a thriving business – all because of a storage unit. After a serious heartbreaking situation, Ms. Sharp took matters into her own hands. She always took old furniture and new pieces that she would find to make new selections.
Renting a storage unit, she put her ideas to work and started attending estate sales to house and develop her product. Through her motivation, her company FORT (Furnish or Trade) was born. “The more I went to estate sales, the more I fell in love with furniture, the more I would collect. Once I filled up the storage unit, I realized I had to do something with all my pieces, so I started to sell,” says Sharp.
She decorated her first home with furniture she made, getting her first table saw from Craigslist. “I didn’t know how to use it, so I went on YouTube and figured out how to use one, and that’s sort of where it began. After I made my first table, then I started making mirrors and side tables, and it kind of spiraled from there.”
Knowledge of FORT quickly spread, and Jacqueline’s storage unit became a showroom of sorts. After about four months, she had to move into her own facility. The brand has grown, getting recognition from an online promotion and a print ad from American Express featuring small business owners. Sharp was also asked to participate in the Tory Burch Foundation’s first West Coast class.
The company has grown through the sales of items and also works with a company to acquire furniture left over from Hollywood sets. Building furniture has always been a lifelong dream of Jacqueline, and she used to make forts in her grandparent’s house. Jaqueline says that every piece featured at FORT tells a story.
FORT has taken the Los Angeles furniture market by storm. Sharp says, “I love old things – old people, old furniture, old fabrics, old everything. I just feel like there is a history or a soul to these things that make them so much more valuable.”
Jacqueline has the support of her family to help her endeavor. Her brother Jeffrey speaks highly of his sister, calling her a talented craftswoman who can find value in what others have discarded. “This is what she’s been passionate about since she was young. You can almost make a room with just a piece from FORT. It really becomes a definitive piece of any room – a talking point in its second life.”
FORT holds a lot of promise for the future. Jacqueline’s company has been featured in Forbes Magazine, attracting attention from designers and retailers all over the world. It’s amazing what you can do with recycled materials and a lifelong passion. And it all started from a storage unit!