Welcome! We're Paul Duffy and Johanna Schwalm and we own and operate Soldier58, an online store as well as a brick and mortar store in Bordentown, NJ where we sell our furniture and décor pieces as well as the full line of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan products.
The Bordentown, NJ location also houses our studio space where we work on custom painted furniture as well as hold Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan Workshops.
Experienced and knowledgable Annie Sloan stockists
Since becoming stockists of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan in 2014, we've led over 125 Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan workshops and we've helped thousands of customers through projects big and small.
In 2015, we were invited to tea in New York City with several other stockists to meet with Annie. It was a genuine pleasure to meet this worldwide icon only to find that she was incredibly down to earth, funny, and truly interested in our small business.
In 2018, we were honored when Annie Sloan reached out to us and invited us to be editors for her Annie Sloan America Facebook page.
At the end of 2018, Annie called us again and asked us to be her Area Coordinators for New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
In January 2019, Annie Sloan's Marketing Director in the UK emailed. She wanted to know if we would be interested in coordinating Annie's retail tent at the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck NY in the spring of that year. We jumped at the chance!
In March 2019, we travelled to the Annie Sloan offices and warehouse in Oxford, England for a week of training with Annie. Our heads were spinning at the end of that - we came back to our online and brick and mortar shop absolutely inspired!
May 2019, we finished months of designing, building, painting, and stocking Annie's Country Living Fair booth which culminated in a whirlwind 3 days managing it onsite in Rhinebeck, NY. It was a huge undertaking and Annie placed so much faith in our abilities that we knew we didn't want her to be disappointed.
Annie was delighted by what we put together (yay!) and it remains a crowing achievement for us professionally.
Read about our experience in our blog post The Road to Rhinebeck with Annie Sloan.
September 2019, found is in Columbus, OH because shortly after the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck ended, Annie personally asked us to do it all again at the Country Living Fair in Columbus.
We continue to be a top Annie Sloan stockist in New Jersey. Why? There's really two reasons.
That first piece of furniture
In 2012, Paul and I started painting furniture out of necessity. We purchased a dark brown china cabinet that didn't fit our decor. I went on the internet and typed in "best paint for furniture." What came up was a paint I'd never heard of - Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. We sought out our local stockist (Annie Sloan retailer) and purchased a quart of Paris Grey and a can of Clear Wax.
The painting process was easy and fun and the china cabinet turned out great. We wanted more! Paul and I started looking at all our furniture differently. Overlooking the color and finish on everything and simply look at the shape and the lines. It was liberating to think we could have exactly the look we wanted in our home using furniture we already owned!
Before long, Paul and I had painted everything we needed to paint in our home but it was so fun that we decided to buy a few thrift store pieces to paint. We listed them for sale and they sold!
That was the start of Soldier58.
The early years
During our first year the business was a part-time job for both of us. A wonderful, creative outlet that we both looked forward to on nights and weekends while we were working our full-time jobs. Paul was the Creative Director at a production company and I was in pharmaceutical Marketing.
That first year was also one of experimentation - we decided to try out different brands of paint in addition to Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. Until one day in the workshop, we were struggling to get a knock-off brand to do what we wanted. I put down my brush and said to Paul, we just need to use Annie Sloan paint, why are we fooling around with this other junk? Paul agreed "nothing is as good as Annie Sloan paint." That's the moment when we decided to use it exclusively.
Flash forward to February 2014, it was Valentine's Day and I was told that I'd was going to be laid off from my pharmaceutical job. My company was moving to Boston and I didn't want to go. Many of my colleagues expressed a desire to go into business for themselves, but didn't know where to begin. I was already doing what I loved part-time, so I took the leap and decided not to look for another job. I already had what I wanted.
We had been selling our painted furniture in a consignment store in Bordentown, NJ and the owner asked if we'd want to just rent half of the store from her for our pieces. The timing was perfect and we said yes.
Becoming Annie Sloan stockists
In August, 2014 Paul and I decided that we'd like to try to become stockists of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. We submitted our portfolio and photos of our shop and we were accepted! We attended stockist training and in September 2014, we received our first order of Chalk Paint®.
By the end of 2014, the business was getting brisk that Paul decided it was time to leave his job. It was just the two of us, flying without a net.
In January 2015, the owner of the store we shared asked if we would be interested in renting the entire store, not just half. We jumped at the chance to fill the entire store with our pieces - and our paint.
In February 2015, the 'Soldier58' sign was hung outside 225 Farnsworth Ave. and it was official.
The store was finally all ours.
So, what about the name?
The most frequently asked question in our shop is "where did the name Soldier58 come from?"
The name Soldier58 is the location of our home and workshop outside Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
Please stop in and say hello, check out our shop, and let us know if you have any questions!