Our NJMOMpreneur of the week, Kim Rommel, has always loved giving old things new life and creating one-of-a-kind furniture pieces with colored paint and stencils. Though she never saw herself doing it as a business, her husband Pete did—and it was his faith in her that made her decide to make it one. In 2016, she opened Four Get-Me-Not, a home décor store filled with her unique repurposed and repainted cabinets, desks, and tables, as well as a place for Kim to teach DIY workshops. Yet, the last year has been challenging—her beloved Pete passed away last November a month after they had just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. We sat down to talk with the Edison mama (and grandma) of four adult kids and four grandsons about how Pete saw a vision for her store before she did, how COVID made her go outside her comfort zone, and her favorite NJ spot when she needs an escape any time of year.
You’ve been hand painting and repurposing furniture a while now. How did it turn into a business for you?
I was a stay-at-home mom, and I always refurbished what we had. I would spot something on the curb, pick it up, and repaint it. I always made do with what we had, and back then, it never occurred to me that I’d be doing this as a business. But it all started with an extra cabinet that I had refurbished—my husband Pete and I decided to sell it at a flea market and did. Then, we began to make it a regular thing—we’d get up at 2:30 in the morning, wait in line at the market, and sell the repurposed furniture. Pete was also making tables from lobster cages and barn doors, and we sold those too. After we did the flea market for two seasons, Pete suggested I open a store. It hadn’t been something I had ever thought of myself, but he was my biggest fan and had faith in me that I could do it. He found a spot in Hightstown (he was looking before he even brought it up to me), a town we loved for its charming downtown, and when we went to see it, I could only peer through the window. I cried on the way home because I loved it.
Much of the home décor and furniture in your shop are items you painted or designed yourself. How
would you describe your style?
I would say that I lean towards farm vintage, French cottage, and a coastal vibe. I’ve evolved in my painting too, and have expanded to faux finishes, transfers, stenciling, and working with acrylic molds, adding patterns and gilding details. I’ve always made do with what I had and have fun with it. I think that’s why I’m into repurposing older furniture which has withstood the test of time—I help it live a little longer by recreating it.
It hasn’t even been a year since your husband passed away. How have you been doing?
If he had to pass, I am glad that he didn’t have to go into the hospital alone, as some people do with COVID. I would not have been able to bear that. We found out the day after Valentine’s Day in 2019 that he had stage 4 lung cancer. He fought hard for eight months, and I’m grateful that it was in November and not March, and I got to be by his side.
My family is a tremendous support, and being with them has helped me get through this. We have dinner together every Sunday. When Pete passed, my son stepped in to do what he had been doing, like picking up clients’ work and delivering it. He’s also been teaching me how to cut the wood for my DIY workshops. All my children are very creative, and each brings something to the table, which has been so helpful during the last year.
How have you pivoted your business with COVID?
Before COVID hit, I started doing workshops with customers in my shop, and everyone loved it. We made decorative wooden hearts, stove covers, and welcome signs. When we had to close, I wanted something that people could do at home with everything included, since you couldn’t run out to get things you’d need. So I created complete project kits for curbside pickup. They had wood cutouts with wallpaper for decoupaging, paint, sponges to dab the paint with, and a stencil.
But I knew I had to keep a presence, so I started doing Facebook Live workshops. I wanted to show the products I sell and repurpose what you have—like how you can turn a window into a mirror and use different stencils to redo an old cabinet. But doing it in this live video format is way out of my comfort zone. One time a product went right off the table during the session. Another time I started choking. You have to laugh—I hope it makes me more relatable and human.
What local businesses do you support?
Now that we can hold events outside, I’ve teamed up with Old Hights Brewing Co to have workshops in the beer garden. Our first one is on September 30th, and we’ll be painting and stenciling totes. What I love about Hightstown is that we’re so supportive of each other. Some of my other favorite places downtown are 4 Seasons Deli—they have great subs, sandwiches, chili, and homemade ice cream—Fernando’s Grille for dinner, and Perennial Home for when I need to pick up a gift.
What are your favorite places in New Jersey?
My favorite place is the beach. For the past 16 years, my entire family goes to LBI for a week together. This year without Pete was bittersweet, but we know we have to keep moving forward. When I want a short day trip getaway, I love to go to Ocean Grove with the little cottage tents and flea markets. I never take for granted how close we are to the beach, and if there is a nice day in November or December, I will go to the shore—it’s such a luxury.
What advice would you give to other mom entrepreneurs just starting?
If you have a passion in your heart, you need to move forward with it. Even though I have doubts sometimes, I love what I do and that I get to do it every day. I believe anything is possible—some ideas and journeys take longer than others, but how sad would it be if we never tried? My advice is to seek out your tribe and those who support you. Set your goal and aim for it because you never know—it just might happen.