The story of Kayleigh Cox’s Rotterdam-based furniture refurbish business, The Attic By Kay, begins more than 3,000 miles away at Ramstein Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Cox, who is half German, half British—her father was in the British Army and met her mother in Germany—lived in England until she was 12, then moved to Germany during her teenage years. It was there that Cox eventually met her own husband, an American stationed abroad with the US Air Force. “We got engaged really fast,” she says. “We were together for three months.” The couple then moved to Guam and lived there for a year, before picking up and traveling more than 6,000 miles to Great Falls, MT, where they lived for seven more.
By the time the couple got to Montana, they had three young children, and Cox was working a day job. And then her husband, who is part of the rapid-response division of civil engineers that make up the Air Force’s 819 Red Horse Squadron, was deployed to Iraq. While he was abroad, she and her children moved yet again, this time to the East Coast, so that they could be closer to relatives (her husband had grown up in Rotterdam, and her parents were just a hop, skip and jump over the drink in England). “Money was tight,” she says. “New York is definitely a different lifestyle than Montana.” Then Cox’s mom came over to visit and keyed her in on a new trend that sweeping across England: furniture refurbishment. People were grabbing old, unwanted pieces, repainting and flipping them. To show her what it was all about, Cox’s mother guided her through a refurb while she was visiting, they put it out at a yard sale, and it was gone in five minutes.
Soon, the completely self-taught Cox began refurbing at will, and this past September, she registered for an LLC. “It’s been a hobby that turned into a business that I’ve built from the ground up,” she says, with a chuckle. And ironically, since the pandemic hit, she’s been nothing but busy. “During COVID, I’ve made a killing,” she says. “I’ve done so well, because everyone’s been confined to their house, wanting to change it.”
Where exactly does Cox secure all her refurbishable wears? Besides return customers, Cox’s favorite refurb hook-ups include Schenectady’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which she likes, because sales there go back into the community, and JDog Junk Removal and Hauling, which is veteran run.
Although Cox is on the cusp of taking the next big step—she’s searching the Capital Region for a rentable storefront—she’s laying all the right groundwork for the move. Case in point: She applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to take some interior design and home staging courses to help strengthen her chops. And hey, if you know of a good commercial realtor, she’s all ears. “It’s really hard to find a good retail space that isn’t so overpriced,” she says. “But I’m literally on the edge of doing it.”