“I rearranged our home many times,” says Neala Hester, co-owner and curator of The Find. “I would often do this before my husband got home from work. He would arrive and say, ‘What happened in here?’ or ‘How did you do this?’ — I guess it was a precursor for things to come.” Nowadays, rearranging furniture in her shop is a regular occurrence, and it continues to bring Neala great joy. In just five years, Neala went from finding great deals out of necessity to turning it into a home business to opening her first shop to needing an even larger space, which is now open in Regalia. In her business’ meteoric rise, once known as Frugal Home Finds and now simply The Find, she has amassed 13.9K Instagram followers and 47K Facebook followers — and throngs of shoppers adoring of her good taste, great prices and charming personality. We are delighted to introduce today’s FACE of Memphis, Neala Hester.
Where did you grow up, what brought you here to Memphis?
I grew up in Southaven, MS. Even though it is a stone’s throw away from Memphis, back in the 1980s and early ’90s, it had a very small-town feel. Also, early in my childhood, we spent most weekends and summers with my mother’s family in rural Mississippi. Both of those experiences gave me a great appreciation for being a part of a close-knit community. After my husband and I got married, Memphis became home. Thankfully, through the years, we have experienced that same close-knit community feel here.
Tell us a bit about your background in interiors.
I don’t have a professional background in interior design, but I have always had an interest in interiors. From my feather-painted purple and yellow room in 1982 to my mauve and green room as a freshman in high school, I always wanted to design and love my environment. As an adult, I wasn’t one to follow trends, but I did pay attention to how design can either make a space feel like home or not. I have a vivid memory from early in my marriage that I carry with me always: A friend of my husband was visiting our home for coffee one morning and said, “I really don’t want to leave. Your house feels so homey.” When my husband shared his friend’s comment with me, I was elated. That was the greatest compliment I could have been given!
Your showroom started as a small business in your home. Tell us a bit about why and how the business came about.
Pretty much by accident. When my husband and I had our children, we had a strong passion for me to be able to stay at home with them while they were little. So, this is what we did. Financially, times were tough, but the decision that this was best for our family remained. Through those years, when our family needed something — kids’ clothes, a new dishwasher, anything — I would hunt down deals out of necessity. I had a knack for finding things on clearance, and soon, my friends and family would let me know what they were looking for. Through finding things for others, I began buying items that I could sell for a profit on eBay or Craigslist. We always say, “It all started with a ladder bookcase and $6,” but it really is the truth. That was the first piece of furniture that I sold. At first, my husband thought I was crazy driving all over town to find items, but after I sold that bookcase for $60, he began to change his mind and started helping me. At first, he split his time between his family’s business and my new hobby, but when a few opportunities came our way to buy larger quantities of items, together we took a chance on it. We launched our Facebook page in May of 2013 to have a platform to showcase our pieces, and people would set up appointments at our home to see them. After gaining momentum over several months, our children began saying, “We can’t see the TV anymore because the headboards are blocking it!” It was then that we realized we needed a dedicated space for our new business, and the Highland location just happened to be recently vacated.
How do you hunt down your unique finds?
These days, I don’t have to do as much hunting as I used to. With us having exclusive agreements with many vendors, we now get shipments almost every week filled with unique items. It never gets old seeing the new finds when they come in.
What are your favorite home trends at the moment, and alternately, any timeless aspects of home decor that you cling to?
I am so excited to see color again. A few years ago, everything seemed to turn grey. Don’t get me wrong, I love monochromatic interiors, but only in small doses. With an appreciation for antique and vintage furniture (which I credit to one of my grandmothers), I love incorporating a few timeless or statement-making pieces in with new items. I get really giddy over vintage Persian and Turkish rugs that are full of color. Just ask my crew how excited I really get. They think it is rather funny.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love to hang out with my family — our favorite spot is on our deck in our backyard. We watch the kids swing while we sit by the fire pit. It’s bliss. I also love to travel, cook and garden.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Learning to take risks. I’m naturally a “stay in the box” kind of gal, but as I grow older, I am learning that to have a truly full life, you have to take risks. I used to think that taking risks was equal to being foolish, but I have learned that is far from the truth. Taking risks involves calculating the costs through the lens of being hopeful for the rewards. It is through this faith that we take action. In the past, I would overthink any situation to the point that I would end up doing nothing. I could only see the possible failure and was too fearful to try. Embracing the reality that failure is always an option and not being scared to face it head-on has given me the freedom to try things I normally wouldn’t. I often share with others that “mistakes are only failures if you don’t learn from them.” This has freed me in so many ways.
What do you love most about Memphis?
It is the smallest big city around. People from all areas of the city have real connections. I can’t count the times that I have heard comments like, “I know so-and-so — she and I worked together for years” or, “Your aunt taught me third grade,” and the people saying these things had never met and had little in common. The connections themselves bring down walls. Even though we have our share of struggles, the people of our city have a resiliency that only comes from opening ourselves to connections we otherwise wouldn’t pursue.
If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Hang in there. You are stronger than you think.
What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
For 22 years, I was a dancer. It was my life growing up.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be humble, pray hard and love people well.
Aside from faith, family and friends, name three things you can’t live without.
Coffee, Kleenex (this girl has allergies, but wouldn’t want to live anywhere but the South) and laughter
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