Beyond the door of a nondescript University City brick building lies an unimaginable amount of color – a resplendence, some might say.
Sucheta Bhide rented out the massive 8,000-square-foot warehouse last fall to house her growing high-gloss lacquer and painting company, The Resplendent Crow, where she reimagines furniture in a glamorous, Hollywood Regency style.
It all started in 2013, when Bhide bought a little house in Maryland Heights and was looking for a high-gloss accent table. When she had little luck finding anything locally, she decided to research how to create the look herself. She was so pleased with the results that she did a few more pieces in her house, including a dresser.
“After a while, I realized I only had so big of a house and decided to start selling [the furniture],” she says.
Bhide set about finding a name for her new venture, knowing she wanted a word that would describe the rich, colorful tones she was using to reimagine the pieces. Since she loves birds and used to enjoy painting them, her then-boyfriend suggested looking to feathered friends for inspiration. Bhide started researching colorful birds and stumbled across the resplendent quetzal, a Central American bird of stunning green and red.
“I knew the word ‘resplendent’ was exactly what I was looking for,” she says.
But she also wanted a not-so-serious, slightly oxymoronic feel to the name, so she tacked on the word “crow.”
“There [are] times when I feel like even though my furniture is resplendent, I’m here with my hair in a bun and covered in paint,” she says. “So I’m kind of like the crow.”
Kicking off her new venture, Bhide painted a set she had found on Craigslist and put it on Etsy. When someone from Wyoming purchased it, she realized it wasn’t just local St. Louisans who were looking for this unique glam look – it was folks from all over the country. To accommodate her growing business, Bhide knew she had to expand out of her house.
“I was doing it in my garage for a year or so, and it got so cramped,” she says. “The house would smell like paint all the time.”
Bhide started with a 1,000-square-foot warehouse on Olive Boulevard, thinking that space would be plenty.
“I outgrew it in two months,” she says. “This kind of business just needs a huge amount of storage space.”
She continued to work out of the warehouse for two years until she found her current space on Maple Avenue. The two-story building houses all the pieces that are either finished or ready for customization on the second floor, while all of the work takes place on the main level.
Although a large portion of her business consists of customers bringing in pieces to be painted, she also offers pieces that she’s sought out from all over the country. When a customer has a dresser he or she wants customized, for example, The Resplendent Crow arranges for pickup. When the piece makes it to the warehouse, Bhide and her six team members take it apart, setting the hardware aside. They sand the piece down, scuffing the surface up enough to the point where it can easily be primed. After a few coats of primer, they fix any dings and imperfections with filler. From there, the piece receives three to five coats of lacquer. Gloss finishes are what The Resplendent Crow is known for, but Bhide and her team can also do satin and matte sheens on pieces. The process takes about three to four weeks, and the finished pieces sell for an average of approximately $1,500.
Bhide sends dressers, credenzas, chairs, desks, nightstands and more out all over the country. In a tour of her facility, she pointed out pieces that were going to California, Oklahoma, Maryland and New Jersey. One piece is even in the works to go to Hawaii.
Although she can match any color for paint, there’s one in particular that’s remained popular among her sold pieces.
“I never would’ve guessed, but I sell hot pink furniture all day long,” she says. “I think people see the colors I’ve used on social media, and they finally feel brave enough to make the jump.”
Bhide’s goal with The Resplendent Crow is to continue selling and customizing furniture, in the hopes of eventually opening a retail location. She believes it would be easier to show off the eclectic mix-and-match look people are going for in a shop-type location.
“As much as I like this space right now, it’s still a warehouse setup, and it’s hard for people to imagine the pieces in their own spaces,” she says.
Since she began her business, Bhide has been met overwhelmingly with support from her customers and suggests those interested get to know her work better by following The Resplendent Crow’s Instagram or Facebook page and also visit her Etsy shop.
“People love that they can get their old pieces of furniture customized,” she says. “They’ve come to appreciate vintage and older pieces. They’re thrilled with the transformations, especially if it’s a piece that’s theirs that they really love.”
The Resplendent Crow, 6201 Maple Ave., University City, 314-255-3242, theresplendentcrow.com