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Southern Sassy Creations reimagines furniture pieces, wows customers

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Therese Snyder is a visionary.

When others see a piece of furniture beyond its prime, or come to her with memories of what an item used to be, she sees it for what it could be.

Therese Snyder Southern Sassy Creations

Therese Snyder of West City's Southern Sassy Creations refinishes and transforms wooden furniture. Her work ranges from simple reconditioning to elaborate transformations.

Every day at her West City business, Southern Sassy Creations, Snyder transforms furniture and other pieces into something more than her customers ever imagined.

“I do a little bit of everything with furniture,” she explains. “It’s a combination of upcycling, repurposing, refinishing, painting and more.”

Surrounded by three dozen pieces waiting for her magic, Snyder explained how she began restoring and reworking furniture.

“I had always played around with it as a hobby, but it really started when I was a young mom,” she recalled. “I was a teen mom and didn’t have much money. People would give me things, but I didn’t love them, so I would create and try to make them pretty. It was trial and error.”

Eventually, she would see pieces at rummage sales and flea markets, imagining what they could be.

“I’d say, ‘that would make a pretty this or pretty that,’ and people wouldn’t be able to get into my brain and see what I would see,” she shared. “I would purchase it, bring it home and make something beautiful.”

Before long, others took notice of what she was creating.

“People would bring me stuff and I would just make it pretty. Then someone asked on Facebook if any of their friends if they knew someone who could turn their grandmother’s dresser into a bench. I got tagged on the post and it’s never stopped since.”

She is currently working on another piece from a dining room: turning the top of a hutch into a decorative piece to hang on a wall and the bottom of the hutch into a bench as a memorial to the family’s grandmother.

She also has roll-top desks, bedroom suites and dining sets in process.

“Some people want their pieces to look completely different, but others just want them to be restored to the way they looked originally,” she said.

Often, customers are not certain what they want, so Snyder presents them with options and sometimes surprises.

Her process is to take everything “down to the bones,” she said, stripping pieces of paint, varnish and other finishes before cleaning, conditioning and applying primer. The entire process, complete with curing time and necessary drying, can take several weeks. Snyder moves from one project to another regularly, multitasking on a variety of pieces each day. She stops only long enough to take in another project. That is when her ability to see beyond peeling paint and decaying wood comes into play.

“As soon as they start unloading it, I know what I want to do with it,” said Snyder, who is part woodworker, part painter, part designer and a little bit show-woman. In fact, one of her favorite ways to approach her craft is with secrecy, not giving customers a peek at her work until it is finished.

“If I do a piece for you, you’re not going to see it until it is finished and staged. Clients have to trust me. I love it when customers finally see it. They get so excited, sometimes they even pick me up, jumping with joy,” she said. “The best part is seeing their faces. Sometimes they get pretty emotional, especially if it is a really special piece from their family that now has a new life. It is so much fun.”

Snyder said she has had customers bring her work from as far away as Florida.

“They just drop them off and go on down the road, then I’ll call them when it’s all done,” she said.

Her hope is to continue to grow Southern Sassy Creations, perhaps even bringing on a staff member.

“If I had somebody that could do a lot of the hard, hard work, I could do more of the easy stuff,” she said with a grin.

Melise Oakley talks about the changes she has made in her business, Melise's (formerly Melise's Boutique) in Marion and why it is important in business to be willing to evolve and change.

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