Janelle Nelems spent 30 years working in the marketing research field. Kendyll Short was fresh out of college. JKN was nothing more than three individual letters of the alphabet.
Becoming a home stager – someone who “dresses up” homes on the market in order to help them sell quickly -- nothing short of an accident. Janelle needed to find a new place to keep her self-designated “high-end hoards” (beautiful, name brand furniture purchased at a ridiculously low cost) so that her husband could have his garage back.
At the time, Janelle’s son was dating Kendyll who introduced Janelle to refurbishing thrift store furniture to make a profit. Kendyll knew that Janelle had an eye for finding these amazing furniture pieces -- pieces that Janelle would frequently give-away to someone in need or simply because they had mentioned that they were looking for this one particular piece. Regardless, and on countless occasions, Janelle had just the right thing. Kendyll saw that some of the furniture she was finding just needed a little TLC to restore the natural value and look beautiful once again. Janelle loved the thrill of the hunt, especially when she left a thrift store knowing that she scored an amazing deal. Kendyll soon began to go with Janelle to the thrift stores to find pieces to share in the challenge. In a matter of days, the challenge became a passion, and later would turn into a vision of their business.
Janelle’s high-end hoards that filled the garage began exponentially growing, turning garages into studios. The new duo would spend hours on Marketplace, Craigslist, and many more to track down the right pieces of furniture, load it into the truck bed themselves, bring it home to sand it down and make the necessary changes. Little did they know they were practicing the abilities of patience, frugality and attention to detail that they would eventually build their business upon.
The pair quickly realized that people loved the results of Janelle and Kendyll’s efforts. While managing the first steps towards success, working out of a garage wasn’t working -- especially in the punishing summers in the lowcountry. With a supportive nudge from Janelle’s husband, the pair sought out to find a workspace -- to make it official.
The little DIY shop running out of the garage became a business. The hobby of buying and creating became a passion. “High-End Hoards” became a thing of the past, and out of it, JKN -- Janelle&Kendyll Nelems -- was born. (Even before Kendyll’s name had officially changed.)
Family, friends and strangers all shared in loving the furniture pieces the two continued to bring back to life and distribute. Many of them also shared in the difficulty visualizing multiple pieces of furniture working in the same space within their homes -- to which they would respond with a request. A request for the duo to not only provide the furniture, but to design the entirety of the space that piece of furniture was going. Shortly after JKN’s declaration into the professional world, it was beginning to evolve. Refurbishing furniture started to include designing small spaces, which eventually would turn into the concept called “Designs on a Dime”.
Designs on a Dime involved a client arriving at JKN with a budget to essentially say “This is what I can spend. What all do you think we can do with it?” It proved to be perfect for soon-to-be “empty-nesters” as they began to gather everything for their son’s or daughter’s new dorm room. Parents didn’t want to invest in expensive, brand new furniture -- instead, they reached out to JKN. It was like an alternative “Rooms-To-Go” package. But these “alternative” packages were just as good, if not better, than the real thing -- trendy and high-end. Additionally, more often than not, the thrift store finds were pieces of well-made, name-brand, furniture that would otherwise cost a small fortune in a retail store -- trendy, high-end, and cost effective.
Word-of-mouth was how JKN stayed busy. Janelle also had people on facebook stalking her Marketplace, just waiting to see what “new” furniture she would post. Designs on a Dime proved to Janelle and Kendyll that they had something special. They realized that they loved creating and collaborating, styling and putting rooms together. It wasn’t until shortly after when people began attempting to fill their entire homes with the look that the duo encapsulated. Those with brand new homes and condos started calling to request help furnishing and decorating.
The days of painting and refurbishing old furniture were over. Thrift store shopping turned into scouring retail stores for the best deals, and would later assume the form of traveling to Market in Atlanta to purchase furniture at wholesale. The workspace that Janelle and Kendyll had quickly turned into a space filled with brand new furniture. But while the two knew they loved the many aspects of their new line of work, they were still very unsure as to what that line of work exactly was -- or what to tell people JKN was. They agreed to jump under an umbrella term -- Design Services. This allowed Janelle and Kendyll to dive even deeper into their newfound love, giving paint consultations and designs for renovations. While neither had any formal training in interior design, they were following their instincts and people trusted them. It just came naturally.
A builder who knew Janelle through mutual friends had a home he was building in the neighborhood of Janelle’s personal home. Word-of-mouth had spread to the world of construction, prompting him to reach out to Janelle. He let her know that the home he was building would be a model home and that he was interested in having it staged. Janelle and Kendyll had never staged a home, but jumped on the opportunity. The idea of having the freedom to furnish and style a brand new home was so exciting. Again, neither completely understanding the new ambitious endeavor, but excited to continue learning.
Janelle and Kendyll completed the model home -- the first true project. After the first time staging a home, it would go on to appear in CB2, the modern furniture and home decor magazine. The builder would go on to employ the JKN services on more and more projects, one being his personal home. Kendyll and Janelle had found their answer to the aforementioned, “What are we?” question. They were home stagers.
Years later, Janelle and Kendyll continue to experience both the love and success they have found staging homes in the lowcountry. While the fictitious High-End Hoards no longer exists, the principle behind the idea remains -- beautiful, name brand furniture and services provided at a ridiculously low cost.
Over the last year, Kendyll and Michael made the move to beautiful Charleston, SC for Michael to finish medical school. In July of 2020, they welcomed their firstborn; Brooks. While Kendyll will always have her part in the JKN Team, she is taking time to enjoy raising her son. We are so proud of them and the parents they have become. It's been a blessing seeing Brooks grow up.