It begins with Sandra Kelly and her daughter, Melissa Loe, finding a piece of junk at a rummage sale or an auction, and it ends with them turning it into a rustic or chic decoration they display at their local business, Strawberry Hill Upcycling Boutique.
As the name implies, the business is a retail shop home to hundreds of unique picture frames, wine bottle, candle holders, furniture and other knick knacks big and small that started as worthless items Kelly and Loe “upcycled” into unique home decor, they said.
As a child, Kelly would see lawn decorations and furniture and wonder to herself how she might improve them. Now she runs a store that allows her to explore that creative outlet, she said.
“I have a wide variety of talent and interest in crafts,” Kelly said.
For Loe, owning the upcycling boutique was not an initial dream of hers. She suffered life-threatening immune disorders in college, and even though she had a journalism degree, Kelly pushed her to help with upcycling projects. Reluctantly, Melissa gave it a shot.
“I went through six months of chemo, and I was a zombie. I needed a purpose,” Melissa said.
At first, Melissa’s paint jobs and other work to retouch antiques were not impressive, but her mother kept encouraging her. Now, Melissa handles most of the store’s bigger pieces, such as furniture, on her own, she said.
“People say we will pick anything up and paint it,” Loe said.
Kelly and Loe said it is a joy to help customers learn how to upcycle on their own. They encourage the store’s patrons at do-it-yourself nights to try repainting and repurposing old items, and many find success and share photos of their work with Kelly and Loe, they said.
But the best part of the job for them both is working with family.
Kelly’s father was a salesman who opened a themed retail shop called Strawberry Hill in Missouri. When opening the boutique in League City, Kelly and Loe simultaneously came to the decision to carry on that legacy by giving their own shop the same name.
Ever since, the women have enjoyed working with each other daily.
“It’s a great collaboration,” Kelly said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Strawberry Hill Upcycling Boutique
240 Park Ave., Ste. 2, League City
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sun.-Mon.