Some might see old items as used-up and ready to discard, but not Pam England and Tamara Lewis.
“We see old things and we try to transform them,” Lewis said.
Painting and refinishing furniture is a passion the longtime friends have shared through the years and are trying to profit from in their business, Chic or Shabby, at 975 Riverside Drive, Gainesville.
“We started out doing this for ourselves and our friends — that was our love — and now we do it for other people,” England said.
The two were honored for their work Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the 7th Annual Master Craftsmen ceremony at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood. The ceremony recognizes high achievers in construction-related jobs.
The Master Craftsmen awards are part of the Featherbone Communiversity Master Series, which recognizes people in various fields.
“We were real honored to be recognized, because we are hard-working women,” England said later at the store.
The two have known each other since they were classmates at East Hall High School.
Sharing the same interest, they opened a store about 20 years ago out of a converted gas station in Flowery Branch.
“We put our furniture outside on the weekends, and it sold,” England said.
After about seven years, they decided to move their operation to Gainesville. They’ve been at a location next to Green’s Grocery for 13 years.
Through the years, they have found that “people have a vision of what they like (in fixing up old pieces), but don’t know to make that come to life.”
That’s where the friends step in.
“We take antique pieces that are heirlooms … and try to transform them into things that can be used,” Lewis said.
Also recognized at the ceremony were machinist/toolmaker Luis Azpieta, home builder Jon Canada, heating and air conditioning technician Tommy Hawks and electrician Steve Paul.
Each was presented a glass trophy in a ceremony before family, friends and high school students brought in to learn more about Lanier Tech.
“Tradesmen and tradeswomen are very important to the economy of this country, this state and county,” said Carl Rogers, Lanier Tech’s vice president of economic development, to the audience.
Addressing the students, he said, “I know you’re trying to make a decision on what you want to do. As several of our honorees have said, follow your heart.”
The Chic or Shabby pair also had wisdom to share to students or even would-be craftsmen.
“You can go into your grandfather’s barn and look around at all the old pieces that are out there, break ’em apart and rehab and refinish them,” England said.
In turning an interest into livelihood, Lewis said, “if you’ve a craft and you’ve got a passion, then go for it.”