I’m Amanda Ficek, Mama’s Happy proprietor and resident “Mama.” I juggle many roles as you do, and I wanted a little something for me. I’ve combined a career in the apparel business and retail merchandising, with a personal passion for beautiful home decorating on a shoestring budget with a need for female company and inspiration from a community of creative women, to create Mama’s Happy. I wanted to give other talented women a creative outlet and for those perhaps not as creatively gifted, a wonderful place to shop!
In my family, a “happy” is when you give someone a gift for no reason – as in, “I just brought you a little happy.” That combined with the notion that “when mama’s happy, everybody’s happy” made the name Mama’s Happy all the more perfect.
I am blessed beyond measure by the women that God has brought into my shop. Each one has come in with a style all their own and with unique gifts they bring to our group. We laugh that our paths would never have crossed apart from this venture, but we’re so glad that our passion for this business brought us together. Because together we make up the girls of Mama’s Happy.
Ann started out as a guest vendor at our Independence store, but we just wouldn’t let her leave! You’ll be glad we didn’t, cuz this is one talented woman. And the fact that she is the most even-keeled among us…well, every group needs that. Ann is now helping spread the Chalk Paint® love, teaching classes as well as providing ongoing training for our staff & vendors. And when you call with questions about the paint, this is the face behind that Minnesota accent.
Becky started out at our Independence shop, but after a stint there we wondered if her style would be a better fit for our St. Louis Park store. And boy are we glad we gave that a shot! Because the customers there LOVE her stuff! She’s one of the few on our team who has mastered the art of upholstery (NOT an easy skill by the way), and her re-creation of these pieces is nothing short of incredible. Becky is our token redhead (because I think every family should have one), and she has three of the most adorable (redheaded) children on the planet. Now, I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, (cough..Everett) but anyone under the age of ten who is drawn to rusty old stuff is sure to be at the top of our list.
I was doing cartwheels when this lady (top right) reached out after closing her fabulous brick and mortar store, Eclectic 887 in St. Paul. She was looking for new venues to sell her wares, and I put the hard sell on her. And I am SO GLAD I DID. This lady never sleeps. She knows everyone. She can make anything. And her sweet daddy keeps the shop running alongside her. Need something? Becky will always step up. Having a down day? Just listen to one of her stories and wait for her laugh. You’ll know. Becky’s one-in-a-million, “ya know what I mean?”
I plucked Charity right out of her booth at Junk Bonanza and practically insisted that she join our team in St. Paul. I was thrilled when she said yes, cuz she is one talented cookie! And we didn’t even know that Aaron was going to be part of the package, but he’s there helping, schlepping & building right alongside her every step of the way. And always with a smile on his face. (Makes us all a little jealous, I’m not gonna lie.) Charity’s our queen of upcycling and repurposing, with a fabulous eye for vintage architectural pieces. Put a saw and a nail gun in this girl’s hands and then stand back and watch the creativity flow. The results are pretty amazing.
We all like to joke that many of us are old enough to be Christa’s mother (well, yours truly, anyway). Everyone who knows this girl knows that she is PURE JOY to be around. Her smile is contagious, and she uplifts everyone around her wherever she goes. Just ask the middle school kids at Wayzata Community Church, where she’s the Youth Group Leader. We’re so glad that in her free time (when she’s not taking 75 kids sledding or on a camping trip), she chooses to create for Mama’s Happy in St. Louis Park. We think you will be too.
Darlene joined us after “retiring” from Orono High School, which is why she knows just about everyone who walks into our Independence shop where she sells her goods. As an “empty nester” she has plenty of time, if not space, to create (she’s been known for upsetting their neighborhood association because she can’t always park in her garage…but what mama can??). Darlene is one of the most upbeat, energetic people on our team. She is ALWAYS willing to jump in and help (something this Mama deeply appreciates) and always with a smile on her face.
Debbi is both an employee (our Tuesday gal) and an artisan at our St. Louis Park location. While her full-time gig may be styling hair, we think you’ll agree that this lady also has a talent for re-styling furniture. Debbi is a little bundle of energy, and when she’s not working with someone’s hair or someone’s dresser, you’re likely to find her knee deep in her son’s Ultimate Frisbee League organizing tournaments. Moss does not grow under this lady’s feet, that’s for sure.
If you spend even 2 minutes around this crazy mama, you’ll know her laugh is one of our favorite things about her. It cannot help but bring a smile to your face, just as she will. She’s hilarious, honest, kind and as real as they come. She genuinely loves people, loves being a part of Mama’s Happy (perhaps for the opportunity to escape her three little ones?) and loves building furniture with her very own tools. Do NOT make the mistake of assuming they’re her husband’s or this little spitfire will put you in your place. When she’s not holding down the fort at home or building farm tables in her workshop she’s supervising special education student teachers at St. Thomas or doing consulting for Advocating for Autism. No, she does not like to sit still.
Do you have one of those people in your life where every time you get the chance to be around them you wish it happened more often? Jan is one of those people in my life. She’s as even-keeled as they come, she’s open and honest with her opinion in the most respectful way, and she’s got a wicked sense of humor. All qualities I value in a friend. Every team should have a Jan and I’m sure glad the Grand Avenue store has theirs.
When Jeanie’s not caring for patients as an RN or wrangling her three boys at home, she’s painting furniture or creating other fabulousness to bring into our Grand Avenue store in St. Paul. This lady (the one on the left) is SO talented! Creating under the business name Red Door, she’s the real deal. Her kindness shows through the minute you see that sweet smile break across her face. Just don’t mistake her serious demeanor or quiet nature for not caring, cuz this lady feels deeply and is the kind of loyal, dependable friend you want on your side. One we’re lucky to have her on ours.
When Jill reached out to inquire about joining our Independence team she had her interview questions ready. We humored her as we answered them all, and refrained from telling her that no one had ever taken this decision so seriously before. We love that about this girl. She’s very purposeful, very detailed and about as kind as they come. We’re so glad we passed her interview, because we super love having her on our team.
If you asked everyone who is their favorite in the group, I think many would say this lady. And the ones that didn’t, well they’d be stuck listening to her give all the reasons why she should be. Jolie is the friend everyone should have in their lives, the kind that shoots straight and doesn’t sugar coat it. She’s as real as they come and insanely talented to boot. If you’re lucky enough to snag a piece with a “J. Raimondo” on it, you better hang on to it – cuz I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth something someday. She’s that good. Look for Jolie’s work at our Independence store.
You guys, I simply love this girl. I don’t get to see her very often, but every time I do it makes me happy. She is just SO incredibly kind. Joy is a busy mama of three, a talented upholsterer (not an easy skill, mind you), and pretty fantastic with a paint brush. You’ll find her work at our St. Paul store on Grand Avenue.
Julie started out in this crazy business when she rescued a neighbor’s old picnic table and turned it into a spot for ice and cocktails as a bar. Julie found Mama’s Happy as a loyal paint customer, falling in love with the St. Louis Park store, where she is happy to now be called a “Mama”! If you ask her what made her take the leap she’d tell you it’s the awesome support from a team of creative women that she was drawn to. After life in the corporate world, Julie is loving the freedom and the time with her children that this crazy business provides.You’ll find her late at night in her dining room workshop dreaming up her next project as she finally watches TV in peace.
We had loved Katie as a frequent customer at our Independence shop long before she decided to take the plunge and join our team. There are some people that you just know are meant to be a part of your group as soon as they join, and that’s how it was with this girl. And our first impression proved true. When she’s not redesigning furniture for our shop, she’s making big decisions in her position with a Minneapolis commercial interior design company, or she’s chasing after her two (adorable) little boys, or she’s lacing up her running shoes to get away from all of the above. I’ve threatened to break out my running shoes and join her one of these days, but time has proven I was just kidding.
Kelly joined our Stillwater team not long after we opened the doors, and man alive has this girl’s talent in painting and re-designing furniture been fun to watch! When not wearing her painting clothes Kelly can be found in scrubs (unless she’s teaching other nurses, then she gets to dress fancy). She and her husband reside in Wisconsin, but we’ve decided not to hold that against her. Kelly is the first to raise her hand when help is needed and the last to leave when we’re working on a job. We’re so lucky to have this lady.
When she’s not at her day job as a blood and marrow transplant nurse, Laura loves a good furniture makeover. You know I must like her to have kept her on this long (she’s a serious Iowa State fan…ugh). But despite her love of red and yellow, even this Hawkeye fan must admit, she’s been a great addition to our St. Louis Park team.
Lauri also came to us as a Chalk Paint® customer (are you noticing a trend?). When she first heard the fact that there is no sanding or priming required and that you can manipulate the paint to do so many more techniques, she couldn’t wait to try it! Now she’s hooked. Her family also loves seeing the entire process come to life – from finding a piece, coming up with design ideas, applying the paint and then watching it go out the door into someone else’s home. They seem to have gotten used to having their house become Lauri’s studio, because she’ll tell you she’ll work on projects all over the house if her family lets her! Well we hope they do, because the pieces she creates are absolutely beautiful.
This sweet lady gave me more than the gift of helping me out when we needed it at our St. Paul store, she also gave me the gift of my amazing husband. Knowing her experience in the retail world, I begged her to come out of retirement, and she obliged. So now MIL (mother-in-law for those not in the know) holds down the fort on Thursdays at the Grand Avenue location. I knew we couldn’t ask for a better “Mimi”, but I didn’t realize what a wonderful addition to our team she would be. And yes, I do get a bit of a kick out of being her boss (at least one day a week.)
We often joke that we’re gonna have an intervention with Linnea to get her to stop buying stuff, but truth is, we couldn’t stand the thought, cuz it makes her so happy (and she does find the coolest stuff)! Not one for furniture, this mama’s all vintage smalls. (Though between you and me, this Annie Sloan stuff has even gotten Linnea picking up a paint brush.) Look for Linnea’s work (and fabulous finds) at our Independence store.
Lora splits her time between St. Louis Park and St. Paul, working two days a week at each of these stores. She’s a bundle of energy and a lover of people, making her a great person to greet you when you walk in the door. There’s no question her first love is her oil business, and if Chalk Paint can’t take care of it, you can bet “there’s an oil for that”.
Lori joined our St. Louis Park team after becoming an empty-nester (I know – she looks way too young for that to be possible). In talking with her friend Debbi (who holds down the fort on Tuesdays), she decided to give Mondays a shot, and we’re so glad she did! You see, Lori spends the rest of her days running her graphic design business, Atheneum Graphics, from her home office, so she needed a little social interaction, and we were just the fix! Lori is a HUGE blessing to our team, and if you shop in St. Louis Park on Mondays, you understand what I mean.
Every time we have an opening in the St. Louis Park store I try to convince Luann to take on another day, but she’s too busy enjoying her life, family & friends to pick up any more hours. So, I guess Thursday’s all we get. But we’ll take it because we love her that much. Luann is the “steady Eddie” of our group, she never gets flustered, always gets her job done, is a joy to work with and will always greet you with a smile. I’m not sure how it is that nothing seems to bother her, but that’s something I’d like to clone (including in myself).
This girl. Our shop brightened the day that she walked in. Not only is she hilarious, she’s as real as they come (which is kind of what we prefer around here). A native of Brazil, she’s also added a little culture to our pretty homogeneous Minnesota-bred group. There are so many things to love about this girl, but some of my favorites are her ability to laugh at herself, her passion for what we do and her appreciation for having a place to do it. I can’t imagine our group without her!
Mary Jo has worn many hats at Mama’s Happy over the years, but has settled on her favorite two. Mary Jo works at our Stillwater and St. Paul stores during the week and she teaches Chalk Paint® workshops for our customers in both stores as well. Her specialty is in cabinet refinishing, working under the business name Living Painted.
Our Pam. Our team cheerleader. There’s just something about this lady that you cannot help but love. I think part of it is that she just loves almost everybody. No matter what we’re working on, she’s just glad to be a part of it! She’ll help with anything and she’ll do it with a smile (as long as it’s not before noon).
And the fact that she has a significant other who actually likes what we do, is just an added bonus! Her wit and her attention to detail make her the perfect right hand to this Mama, something everyone on our team appreciates. This lady has been an amazing addition to our team, and not just because she makes the best chocolate chip cookies.
Miss Robyn, she’s the quiet one of the group but very possibly has the most experience in this business out of all of us. And if you are around her long enough you’ll discover she’s only quiet for a while. This lady paints furniture, she sews, she embroiders, and she will help any time, any where and any way she’s needed. I have grown to love this woman so much and am so thankful to have her on our team! You will find Robyn’s work in our Stillwater and Independence stores.
If you asked Sara what her dream job would be she’d say she’s doing it today at Mama’s Happy. A transplant from New Orleans, we have Katrina to thank for this wonderful addition to our team!
With a background in art & marketing, Sara is loving the chance to use her creativity to give old items a new life and to explore her artsy side. But the kicker for this mama is getting to do something she loves on a schedule flexible enough to allow her to be home with her three children. Throw in the fact that her husband’s hobby is building amazing things out of wood and you’ve got the perfect mix for Mama’s Happy! Look for Sara’s work at our Independence and St. Louis Park stores.
Sarah is our resident over-achiever. You know the one…always had her papers done on time, set the curve on all the tests while working two jobs and carrying a full course load. You wanted to hate her, but she was just so damn likable. Well that’s our Sarah. She churns out furniture so fast you’d swear she’s got a small staff working in her garage at night. She gets her space set up early, restocks the moment a piece sells…all without ever breaking a sweat. She’s a tell-it-like-it-is, don’t hold back, shoot straight kinda girl…just the kind this group needs! Look for Sarah’s pieces at our Independence store.
This lady (second mama from the left) brightens a room the minute she walks in the door. She’s up for anything, supportive of everything, and has a genuine love for “all the things”. But aside from exuding pure joy wherever she goes, she is also SUPER talented and creative. And she “loves her paintbrush”, just ask her. She prefers to stay in her lane of Pure White or Old White Chalk Paint®, but if she’s feeling a little “edgy” we can occasionally convince to break out the Old Ochre. I cannot imagine our team without Tammy, not just for the amazing work she does, but for the person she is. She makes us better. You can find Tammy’s work at our St. Louis Park and St. Paul stores.
Tammy joined our Independence team with her friend Sherry, but when Sherry left Tammy decided to give it a go on her very own. And we’re so proud of her for that! As a mom of four she somehow squeezes in time to scour for furniture that needs revamping – and we all know what a skill that is! Tammy’s the social one of the group who will never pass up a good time. As soon as she hears the words, “would anyone want to join me…” she’s in. Everyone loves a friend like that.
Tauna started her repurposing while on maternity leave with her second child. In need of a creative outlet, she started redoing old furniture she inherited from her mom, who had inherited it from her mom. When she started to sell some pieces, she realized she was onto something. She was so excited to find that people actually wanted to buy something she had re-done! The groundwork was laid. In September of 2014 she was laid off from her “day” job, and while panic may have set in for some, Tauna knew just what to do. She picked up her paint brush and called Mama’s Happy. And she hasn’t had to look for a “real” job yet.
She loves creating and giving old items a new life, and is always surprised at just what a little bit of paint can do! She loves being able to do something new every day and then seeing it go home with a happy customer. It also helps to have a very handy husband…now if he could only quit his day job. You can find Tauna at our St. Louis Park store and managing our social media.
(The Mama in the middle) This girl cracks me up every single time I’m around her. She’s scared of everything, skeptical of everyone, she can do anything & she’ll tell you everything. She is so innocent you wonder if she’s really for real, but trust me, she is. She had so many proposal ideas for her fiancee we thought the man didn’t have a chance of coming up with something she hadn’t already thought of. Tracy spends her days in the dental office, her weekends photographing weddings and babies, and her spare time? painting furniture and creating for our St. Paul store. Just don’t tell her you heard something in the store late at night or she’ll never return. And that would make me sad.
Mamas Through The Years
Though many of the faces have changed over the years as friends have come and gone from our group, nothing can take away the wonderful memories we’ve made on this journey together. So whether you were with me for a season or you’ve stuck with me for the long haul, you’ve had an impact on me and this business, and your fingerprints are still felt today. I love each and every one of you more than you know. Cue the music while I go get my kleenex…