Posted: July 19, 2022

Re-Fabbed’s online success story

Brooke Riley’s life seemed like a juggling act. The wife and mother of two young children worked full time, and she never seemed to have enough hours with her family. After a health scare, she looked for ways to spend more time at home.

In 2015, Brooke created a DIY and decorating blog, Re-Fabbed, and the side project quickly turned into a full-time business. It expanded in 2018 to include an online boutique and took in $5 million in revenue in 2021. It’s on target to more than double that number this year.

Now, the Re-Fabbed website, home to the blog, has 852,000 followers, and 111,000 followers on Instagram. Brooke manages Re-Fabbed, and her husband, Brandon, manages, Re-Fabbed Boutique with its 109,000 followers on Facebook and 41,000 followers on Instagram.

“I still pinch myself that we’ve grown this much,” Brooke says.

The beginning
Brooke and Brandon met in college, got married and settled in his hometown of Mayfield. They both had good jobs. She worked at West Kentucky Rural Electric, and he worked at Mayfield Electric & Water. “With our jobs, we knew we were very blessed, but we both had entrepreneurial spirits, too, so we always did side things for extra money, and flipping houses was one of them,” she says.

Brooke also restored old furniture, sold jewelry for a direct sales company and had several other extra jobs. The couple wanted to start a family but struggled with miscarriages and infertility. Brooke finally conceived, and their daughter, Eden, was born, and 13 months later, their son, Blaize, followed.

By then, Brooke says, God was changing her heart about her life goals.

Then, at 29 years old, Brooke suffered a ministroke brought on by stress, and she was flown to Vanderbilt for treatment. “The health scare opened my eyes, but God had been changing my heart for years,” she says.

She searched for a way to quit her job and spend more time at home with her family. She sometimes shared photos of some of her restoration projects on Face- book, and friends often made encouraging comments, one of which planted a seed.

Brooke, the senior class valedictorian at her high school in Hopkinsville, loved to write and tell stories. It seemed crazy at the time, she says, but she told her husband she wanted to write blog posts about her projects.

“He said, ‘What’s a blog?’ I told him I wasn’t positive, ‘But I think I write and share pictures,’” she says.

She wrote her first blog post, which she called Easy Upholstered Bench, with how-tos and photos, also sharing her mistakes and miscues along the way. She uploaded the piece and a few others to her website, Re-Fabbed, and shared them on Facebook in April 2015, asking friends to follow the blog.

It was slow, but one post, Tale of the Vintage Tea Cart, found a feature spot on Good Housekeeping’s website. “That was a God wink for me,” she says. “If they thought it was good enough to feature, I knew God had something big planned.”

Even though she still hadn’t made any money in her startup online business, she took a leap of faith and quit her job at the electric cooperative. “I was going to go home and focus on my family and my business,” she says.

She remembers excitedly calling Brandon with the news the first time she made money based on the number of page views. “He said, ‘How much did you make?’” she says. “It was 6 cents. It was only 6 cents, but I made 6 cents.”

Turning point
Brooke excelled at sharing her story through writing, but she knew she had to overcome her fears and start speaking publicly. “I had always said I wasn’t going to go live on Facebook,” she says. “The first time I did, I was practically hyperventilating, but I made a bow from scratch, showing step-by-step how to do it.”

And going live was a turning point for her online business. Now Brooke’s a natural. She makes viewers feel like they’re right there in her living room as she’s demonstrating a DIY project or explaining about her latest bargain finds.

She also gets questions from viewers about what she’s wearing or where she got her blouse or earrings. “I started thinking, ‘This is a business opportunity,’” she says.

Re-Fabbed Boutique, an online store selling clothes and accessories, started in 2018. “I chose things for the online store that I liked, and then I’d wear those on Facebook live events. Then, if someone mentioned something they liked, I could send them a link to the store.”

The online business is possible through WK&T’s fast fiber internet. “Every single thing we do is online, and it wouldn’t be possible without fast internet,” she says. “We’d have to move if we didn’t live where we have fast internet.”

The online boutique flourished. “It was a God thing again,” she says. “It was getting to be more than I could handle, and Brandon tore his bicep tendon and was home with me for 12 weeks and it gave him a whole new appreciation for how busy we were.”

He eventually quit his job and joined Re-Fabbed, managing the online boutique — now a booming business, which provides about 14 jobs. “We mail out hundreds of packages a day,” Brooke says. “He’s analytically minded, and I’m design-minded, and the boutique flourished under his leadership.”

The blog had its first 1-million-page-view month in August 2020, and that accomplishment is rare. Now, Brooke makes seven figures through Re-Fabbed, and that number doesn’t include the boutique profits. “There’s no way I could have done all this by myself. It’s definitely a team effort,” she says.

Content provided with permission from WK&T.