A Peak Inside Casa Fuente: Mark Fuentebella, DDB Chicago

I expected it to be a thing we do in our free time, but now it’s all we do when we’re not working.

DDB Worldwide Inc.
Marketing/Creative Services
New York, United States
See Profile
 

Mark Fuentebella
Art Director DDB Chicago
 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.
 
I’m an art director at DDB and have always been a do-er. I grew up skateboarding, which led me to photography & video, which then led me into art school, which finally led me here—advertising. Along with my wife, Alexis, we run CasaFuenteThrift, which is a vintage/thrift resale business that we operate through Instagram. Basically, we find, buy, and sell furniture and home goods.

 
What inspired you to start your side hustle and what were your expectations when you began?
 
Since buying and selling camera gear and motorcycles in the past years, I’ve always had this “flipping” mentality. Alexis also loves furniture & décor and is always online looking for cool pieces. With vintage-everything being what’s in, there’s a huge market for us. Starting out I had no idea that it would end up becoming a second job, but six months later my wife and I have no plans of stopping. I expected it to be a thing we do in our free time, but now it’s all we do when we’re not working.

 
What have you learned since you began your side hustle? How has it evolved since then?
 
Efficiency is an absolute key. Before we would drive all over the city and suburbs to get just a few items. Now we try to find a lot of items in a certain area so we aren’t picking up three items that are all 45 minutes away from each other. Along with that, we’re trying to take photos of more items in one or two days instead of through the week. I love using natural light, and as the winter creeps in I know we’ll also need to adjust for that. Gotta love the Midwest!

 
How do you stay motivated to keep hustling?
 
It’s honestly a great way to spend time with my wife. We get to drive around and spend money that our business has earned to buy really unique items. On top of that, we try to keep our prices affordable, so even students in the city can buy cool items. Delivering things that people want to keep in their own homes that we’ve hand-picked is a great feeling.

 
How has the reaction been to it from within your agency?
 
There’s a lot of excitement from the people who know about it! A lot of people have bought some items and others show a big interest in the business and how it works. People will tell me what they’re looking for, or just say that they loved the items that were just posted on Instagram. I hope we can find a great piece for everyone!

 
Have your side hustle and day job benefitted each other in any way?
 
Yes! I like to think that my day job is a huge factor in why Casa Fuente has grown so quickly. The things I’ve learned from my day job have helped in the logistics and marketing side of the business. On the flip side, styling and photographing each product in our (not so big) apartment is a great way to continue visually solving with limited resources—that comes in handy with making comps and on shoots.

 
Any memorable stories from your side project that you’d like to share?
 
Probably one of the funniest moments was finding a bamboo shelf online that looked pretty good in size. We drove about 40 minutes to the opposite side of the city. The guy that was selling it was an older gentleman that had kind of a snappy attitude. I forget his name, but I thought it was a woman and called him “ma’am.” Showing up at his front door I was extremely embarrassed to see not just a man but a small bamboo shelf that was probably meant for just a few small trinkets and jewelry. The piece sold fine, but I couldn’t believe the difference in the size of what I thought I was getting and what it actually was.
 
 
Is there any advice you’d give to creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?
 
You just have to go for it! It might start out small or not as profitable, but if you put the time and work in you’ll definitely grow. I know it’s cliché, but you gotta take risks. I was hesitant to spend more than a couple hundred dollars on the first batch of items, but once they sold I knew this could go somewhere.