About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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Q&A with The Grit & Polish

Q&A

Haaaappy Friday!

Ever since we started doing Q&A on our Instagram Stories, we’ve been receiving lots of questions about getting started in design, construction, real estate investment, and vacation rentals.  We’ve been logging all of our answers on Instagram in our “Q&A Highlight” here (click and hold each frame to read before it switches to the next) and love sharing whatever knowledge we can about all of those things, but decided to take it a step further.  We’re connected with so many talented Instagrammers who are doing very similar things to what we’re doing… why not share others’ stories, too?

Today, we’re kicking off a five-part series on the blog where we’ll be chatting with five duos around the country who have gained traction in the industry.  We’ll be publishing a different story each week, so be sure to subscribe to the blog to get each interview emailed directly to you when it’s posted.  If you have questions you’d like to see answered, leave them in the comments below!

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First up: Cathy & Garrett Poshusta, the husband & wife team behind The Grit and Polish.  You may know them for their polished farmhouse aesthetic on Instagram, real estate savvy wisdom (they used real estate to achieve early retirement!), or from their HGTV pilot that aired earlier this year.  Today, we’re sitting down with them to chat about their business, life on the west coast, and goals & dreams.

BITM: Tell us about yourselves (as people!). Hobbies, interests? How did you meet?

G&P: Garrett and I met in the 7th grade when he moved to my small hometown in Washington state. We’ve been married for almost 13 years now and have 3 young kiddos, which spurred our move from Seattle back to our hometown in 2016. We love anything active, outdoors, and pertaining to beer or old properties. Travel, reading, and cooking/baking are also passions although with three young kids at our feet, we settle for park visits and family time 😉

BITM: Tell us about your business.  What made you want to get into real estate/design, and How’d you get to where you are today?

G&P: Garrett and I are renovators and landlords and have always loved old homes (okay, me more than him ;). But we got our start in the field much by accident. In 2008 we bought an old craftsman fixer in Seattle, which turned out to be the beginning of the recession. A couple of months later, Garrett entered a 7-year PhD program (in BioChemistry) and I got laid off from my structural engineering job. With no way to pay our mortgage, we renovated our home – adding two bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement – rented it out, and moved into our 400sf backyard cottage. We ended up living there for three years while our tenants paid the mortgage.  Essentially we ‘house hacked’ before the term existed and we were hooked! After I got a job and we saved enough money, we bought our second old home, renovated it, rented it out, and then repeated the process over and over again. We still own most of the homes we’ve renovated over the years.

The Grit and Polish blog started as a passion project during our third renovation. I’ve always loved writing and photography so it felt natural for me to share our renovations. Over the years, the Grit and Polish has grown into more and opened doors we didn’t know existed. We flipped our first (and probably last 😉 home last year and filmed a pilot for HGTV.  This year we started creating content for brands while still being landlords/Airbnb-hosts and renovating. We’re still figuring out what we like and don’t like doing so our business is always evolving, which is half the fun.

BITM: How did your HGTV pilot experience impact your career?  Would you do it again?

G&P: The pilot was crazy and busy and not lucrative, but it was also insanely fun and a great learning experience. It gave us the confidence to branch out into video content and reminded us how much we love renovating old homes. We’d do it again in a heart beat.

BITM: What’s your favorite and not so favorite part about being a small business owner?

G&P: My favorite part about being our own bosses is that we’re in control of our time. We get to choose what we want to work on and what we don’t. Of course that also means some late nights, paying for our own healthcare (ugh), and a general lack of routine.

BITM: How has social media helped your business?  Any tricks you can share with us that have helped you grow your following?

G&P: Instagram is the sole reason an HGTV exec found us. It’s also why brands want to work with us and how we connect with our followers. I really love Instagram. It’s like this huge like-minded community and also a treasure trove of inspiration. But it does require lots of time every day to grow your following.

My favorite tips for growing a following is to first and foremost, be authentic. Post good photos that fit the niche you’re trying to grow. And get involved with others in your niche. Building a community of fellow renovators, many of who are now my actual friends, has made Instagram so much more enjoyable for me!

BITM: you guys have mentioned on Instagram that you’re early retirees.  we’re on the same path to reaching financial independence!  how did you get there and how has it impacted your life?
G&P: I like to refer to Garrett and I as “early retirees”, which really just means that we quit our 9-5 jobs and live off of our rental investments.  It’s a term that the Financial Independence community uses – especially Mr. Money Mustache – and I’ve latched on to it. Of course we still work in our “retirement” as landlords, renovators, and bloggers but it’s for ourselves and on our own schedule.
BITM: What goals are you working toward?  Any big dreams or aspirations that you’d love to achieve in the future?

G&P: Right now we’re working to sell one of our Seattle rentals to free up some time for new projects in our lives. We also plan to do some traveling. Long-term, we’ve always dreamed about renovating an old commercial space and opening a brewery so maybe those things will come someday.

BITM: What do you like most about living in washington? Any recommendations on where to stay & what to eat for anyone who might be traveling there?

G&P: We’re big brewery people both in Ellensburg and Seattle. And you can hardly go wrong with them. We have an Airbnb on the west side of Lake Union so that’s where we stay when we’re in Seattle.

BITM: What are some of your favorite design / real estate books?

G&P: I loved Old Home Love, Habitat, and Get Your House Right for design, but spend a lot more time on blogs and Instagram these days. Bigger Pockets is great for real estate investing too!

BITM: Biggest lesson learned / advice to people just starting out?

G&P: We’ve always lived by the Thomas Edison quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. That has certainly held true for us. Every success we’ve had has been an insane amount of hard work and perseverance. The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that it’s okay to buck the status quo. When we were getting started in real estate and living in a 400sf backyard cottage, I was often embarrassed how different our living situation looked from our peers, but now I’m so thankful we took the path we did. When people are calling you crazy, you’re usually on the right track 😉

BITM: last but not least, the most important question of all… what’s your Favorite white paint color?

G&P: Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. It covers at least 75% of the walls in the homes we’ve renovated!

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You can check out all of Cathy & Garret’s renovations here, and follow their adventures on Instagram here.  Questions?  Leave them in the comments below!

 

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  1. Sarah says:

    Love this story! Can totally relate to often feeling embarrassed when your living situation doesn’t look like your peers- but you gotta do you! Excited to follow their story on IG!

  2. Thanks for having us Catherine and Bryan! Can’t wait to read the rest of the series

  3. […] duos in the real estate / design / home renovation space around the country.  We chatted with The Grit & Polish, Nestrs, Construction2Style, and Brett & Kara about how they got started in the industry, […]

  4. […] the past few weeks, we’ve chatted with Cathy of The Grit & Polish and Sarah & Nick of Nestrs, and have left feeling inspired by each of their entrepreneurial […]

  5. […] design (if you missed last week’s Q&A with Cathy from Grit & Polish, you can catch it here.)  This week, we’re chatting with Sarah & Nick from Nestrs – they’re real […]

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About BEGINNING IN THE MIDDLE

Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.

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Our journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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