Growing up in Texas, many of us can recall childhood memories of garage sales and unique items in the homes of friends and family. Much of the treasure hunting has come to an end and the wonder has faded as we’ve grown up, but for Catelyn Silapachai of The Distillery the hunt has continued into adulthood. I was able to get to know a bit about Silapachai and The Distillery, and she’s got a great story.
How did you get started? How have you made it to this point?
I feel like we are still at the beginning of the process of building our business, but we have grown from where we were when we first started. My brother and I started The Distillery together in 2013, with the idea of curating fine vintage goods. Our mom sold antiques when we were younger, so we grew up going to estate sales and flea markets with her, and have always loved discovering interesting treasures. We started out just selling online, and now we sell our vintage jewelry collections in boutiques, host pop ups, and are just starting to give guided trips to Round Top!
I know the curation aspect is only a part of the puzzle. What’s your process?
Honestly, just showing up to work is a big part of getting anything done. I rent an office inside of the Loot Vintage Rentals showroom, which has been very helpful. Having some separation between home and work has made my work time much more efficient. I find having lists and goals helpful as well. That being said, I have to allow myself the flexibility to adjust timelines if some task or project ends up taking longer than I thought. I use Evernote to keep track of my goals and to-do lists, which I prefer to paper.
What inspires your creativity?
I’m most inspired when I’m meeting with and surrounded by other creative folks. I have to build in one or two coffee dates with friends or new online friends every week- this really motivates and inspires me. I also host a series of pop ups called The Fine Goods Pop Up that showcases 10-12 local artists, vintage sellers, and makers. The next The Fine Goods Pop Up is on Dec. 7th. One of the benefits of hosting these events is that I get to meet some seriously talented people, many of whom are now my good friends. Additionally, I love to read and listen to audible books and podcasts. These are the main ways that I take in new content, so I’m inevitably inspired by what I learn.
Given your social nature, are you giving back to the community?
My good friend Melissa Massello and I recently started a grassroots campaign for shelter dogs called 1Dog1Hour. Our mission is simply to inspire people to spend one hour (or less) to walk one shelter dog. There’s no commitment or signups required. Melissa and I love stopping by the local Austin shelters to help walk dogs in our free time. We realized that a lot of people don’t know that they can simply stop by at any time with very minimal or no training required — depending on the shelter — and walk a dog. The benefits of this simple act are numerous: walking and playing with a dog has been proven to lower stress and blood pressure, and the dog is more likely to get adopted afterwards because its anxiety decreases with exercise and socialization as well.
I also donate my time as the foster coordinator for Greyhound Pets of America and use my platform with The Distillery to help raise awareness for the retired racing greyhounds. We have an annual fundraiser for the greyhounds called The Greyt Gatsby. It has an Art Deco theme and so there are lots of opportunities for The Distillery to be involved.
What’s next for you and The Distillery?
This year, I’m hosting guided shopping trips to the Round Top Antiques Show. I’ve been going for years, and am excited to share this experience with others. I’m hoping to position myself as someone that people can trust to take them to Round Top and have a great shopping or browsing experience. The next show is at the end of March – you can find more details about it here. Right now, I’m focusing on becoming an expert in this area and getting the word out about my guided trips!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
The most practical advice I can give is to figure out a marketing plan and distribution channel. In other words, how are people going to find you and your products and how will they buy them? It’s helpful to keep in mind that in the online world, if you build it they will not necessarily come. I’ll be the first to admit that I was very naïve in this area when I started my business. Since learning from those mistakes, I’ve primarily focused on social media, hosting events, and building consignment / wholesale relationships with like-minded brick and mortar stores. There are lots of ways to approach these challenges, so I’d encourage others to really think about them before starting a business.