HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J. -- When Liz Carrino's father died in 2006, the Hasbrouck Heights resident had an epiphany about the meaning of life.
"I suddenly realized how fast it goes by. I was in the garment district 33 years and all the creativity I loved about it was gone," she said.
Her father left behind an empty store that her mother was about to rent out when Carrino decided she wanted to start a business.
"I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do but I had an idea. I just didn't have a business plan," she said of opening Not Too Shabby a decade ago.
Not Too Shabby specializes in custom and painted furniture. She reuses, recycles and restores old and vintage pieces.
Having grown up around her family's construction business, she learned to paint at her father's knee and had a love of restoring furniture.
She also had a keen eye for design and just before opening the shop had finished building her own house on a piece of land the family owned in town.
"I love restoring stuff. My house is a testament to what I do."
Her house was built with salvage and designed with treasures from flea markets. Leftover items started the inventory for her Boulevard store.
Until meeting a refinisher at Lowe's she was open only on weekends and by appointment. He expanded the business with her an additional night and soon she was busier than she could handle on a part-time basis.
The first item she sold was something not even up for sale.
"It was an upholstered bench I refinished and I thought I would keep it in the store so people could sit," she said.
A family walked in to buy it just after she asked her father for a sign.
"It was a rainy Saturday and I started talking to my dad, asking him if I should go through with the business. I told him I needed a sign."
Many of her clients are young girls and couples getting their first apartments or women redoing their kids' rooms.
Divorced women are also big customers, ditching black leather couches for whites and brights.
"That single guy is not likely my client. If a single guy wanders in I think he's lost," she said laughing.
Over the years her business morphed into on-site renovations, where she works with a team of carpenters and other experts depending on the job.
"I’m not adding additions; I’m working with what’s there. I do faux brick and distressed looks. I love the general contractor part of it," she said.
March 1 she's opening a pop-up shop in the space next store to Not Too Shappy.
Interior Design Consign will consign furniture from customers.
"Not everything, but pieces that fit a look," she said.
The store will be a pop-up since the building is being sold.
It will carry mid-century modern furniture, "not the stuff you put a paintbrush to."
Click here for more information about Not Too Shabby or call (201) 221-6159.
Not Too Shabby is located at 206 Boulevard, Hasbrouck Heights.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.