After almost a decade of military service including a stint in Desert Storm, Sean Natale had his fill of commands, or so he thought. The army veteran now takes orders from consumers along Florida’s gulf coast who want him and his partner to do something with the furniture and household items they can no longer use.
Along with Stephen Hampton, a local army reservist, Natale started his own business at the beginning of the year. WeDo, based in St. Petersburg, does much of everything that taps into the founders’ passion for working with their hands to restore furniture pieces into a recycled condition that makes them useful and, just as important, keeps them out of landfills.
But, like others who start most any small business, the army veterans found themselves on the short side of funds to make their concept work. Rejected by banks and lacking a history of credit, Natale and Hampton refused to throw up their hands and give up. When Natale started reading up on crowdfunding as an alternative source for start-up revenue, he landed on YouHelp.com.
Because furniture is a slow-moving inventory and repurposing recyclable household goods can take up space in both housing and transport, Natale hopes his crowdfunding campaign 2 U.S. Army Vets Need You !! will provide the funds that the army vets need to purchase a truck and additional tools, equipment and supplies to make their business thrive.
Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of YouHelp, said the free crowdfunding site offers a platform for veterans who have run into financial difficulties to get the assistance they need to live out their dreams when their military service has been completed. For the founders of WeDo, that means overcoming the most challenging aspects of getting a small business off the ground.
Natale said, the seed for restoring furniture was planted in him at an early age, when he would watch his father strip and retain old rocking chairs. But his fervor for “watching old paint fall off” and working with his hands didn’t begin to materialize until after he left the military and bounced around as a restaurant manager.
“We were both pretty good at working with our hands, enjoyed it and owning our own business is better than working for someone else,” said Natale, who is both surprised and sometimes annoyed at what people are willing to discard.
On any given day, Natale said, he stumbles on antiques like an armoire hand-built in 1900, which, after three hours of labor, he can transform into an item of furniture worth $250.
“If I had room, I could get to 70 of these pieces,” he said.
But, with each potential restoration, he also sees plenty of lost opportunities.
“I watch the recycling bin behind my house,” said the former radio communications specialist, who learned the value of recycling during a military tour in Europe. “I see people walk by and put plastic bottles that could be recycled into the dumpster. It irritates me. You don’t have to throw things away.”
YouHelp.com, a free fundraising website, offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, veterans, and individuals seeking to raise money and awareness about start-up initiatives. The YouHelp process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, add high resolution images and a compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and the campaign is promoted properly, contributors will pledge their support.
About the Author: Staff Writer for YouHelp