After being laid off from her first “real job”, our NJMomprenuer of the week, Alice Scottidantuono, never expected that a yard sale would be the place where she would start a whole new chapter. But seven years ago when she eyed cans of furniture paint and the owner’s painted furniture, a light bulb moment happened—Alice, who had always loved painting, had the idea to repurpose furniture pieces and sell them. She began painting the one-of-a-kind pieces in her mom’s backyard, built a loyal client following, and, a few years later, opened Renu by Alice. The wildly popular store now boasts in-home interior design, custom furniture, cabinetry painting, furniture refinishing, and has been featured on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. We interviewed this Point Pleasant mom to talk about the origins of her catchy business name, the one thing she wants to make sure her daughter learns from her, and the local shore businesses she’s been supporting these last few months.
featured image via Alexis Wood of A Local Photo
Tell us about your family and being a mom in New Jersey. Where in NJ are you from?
I was born and raised in Point Pleasant, NJ. I moved to Philadelphia for seven years, but I came back home to Jersey and my husband Terrance, who is originally from Philadelphia, came back with me. I missed the water, and I missed my family. I am so happy living here—I love riding my bike in town with my daughter Gia and my husband and eating outside at my favorite restaurants.
What inspired you to start Renu By Alice?
I was inspired to start painting furniture after being laid off of my first “grown-up job” working in development. I was at a yard sale in Point Pleasant, and the woman who was having the sale was selling furniture paint. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting on canvas, and I was intrigued. She brought me in her home and showed me some furniture pieces she transformed, and I thought I want to do this—it was like a lightbulb lit in my head to start my own furniture painting business. In 2013, I began painting furniture in my mom’s backyard, and seven years later, I have a workshop and retail location.
How did you come up with the name, and how has the business grown from furniture painting?
The name, “Renu by Alice,” actually came from my husband’s (then boyfriend) friend. We were all sitting around one day and bouncing off names. I wanted to make business cards and realized I needed a name. At the time, I never thought the business would become what it is, I just needed a catchy business card, and “Renu By Alice” was born. My husband and I opened the retail store in 2015. Besides painting furniture, we also offer custom-built furniture options, including farm tables, buffet tables, and barn doors. We do cabinet painting, and we have a retail location that sells home decor, accessories, and unique gifts.
What is the mission of Renu By Alice?
My goal is to produce high quality and unique furniture and home transformations at competitive price points. I strive to give my clients something they will cherish for a long time, whether it be the restoration or redesign of a family heirloom, a custom-built furniture piece, or a kitchen cabinet update. Most importantly, I want them to know I truly care about their project, and I treat it with as much skill and attention as if I am going to put it in my own home.
So many businesses have had to make changes during the pandemic and pivot their business plan. What changes have you made?
Unfortunately, we had to close our retail location, and we also took time off doing kitchen cabinet jobs because we didn’t want to be working in people’s homes. Still, we were able to continue with contactless drop-off and pickups for custom furniture jobs, and thankfully that kept us going through these past few months. Being home also helped me put more energy into my online presence and social media account. Now that retail has re-opened, I want to support more small USA vendors and artists for my retail store. I am doing a lot more research on the company instead of just the products, and I’m focusing on their company values.
What do you hope your daughter will learn from you and your business?
As a mom, and especially a mom to a little girl who is biracial, I want her to learn from me that there are NO ceilings. I want her to see a confident and successful woman, and I want her to become that, as well. I want her to learn success takes hard work, sweat, tears, blood, and some failure, but it is worth it, and if she keeps going and stays focused on a goal, she can, and she will achieve it.
What’s next for your business?
My husband and I have started renovating properties and we are currently working on our second project in Philadelphia. It is a three-unit residential property with retail space on the first floor. Ultimately our goal is to expand staff and create an entire brand focused on real estate development and renovation as well as the furniture.
What businesses in New Jersey have you supported during quarantine, and now?
We have supported a lot of our favorite local restaurants, Amendment 21 and The Coal House in Point Pleasant Beach and Scarborough Fair in Sea Girt. I have also done some curbside pickups from Squan Dry Goods in Manasquan and a few shipments from Double Take Consignment in Red Bank. We also do the majority of our grocery shopping at Lenny’s Colonial Market, because they offer curbside pickup.
Do you have any advice for moms wanting to start their own business?
I would tell them not to be so hard on yourself and to quiet the noise of everyone else’s opinions. Take risks and go for it—don’t be scared of failing because failure leads to growth and learning experiences. I also believe if you feel strongly about doing something, don’t let anyone talk you out of it, but always be prepared with an exit plan.