* Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

A- Blinds and Designs is located in Asheville, western North Carolinas premier travel and retirement destination. Having realized that this was the place our Family preferred to live and do business, we relocated from our South Carolina home and 2 retail locations in 2005 to set up shop in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

* Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A- Having no college education, a very deep seated work ethic and never allowing failure as an option, going into business for myself was the only direction I every considered. From high school I sold real estate and soon realized it wasn’t the sale of houses that interested me – it was the home and the people who lived in it and built their life there.

* What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A- Living in a small sleepy town of South Carolina I saw the business opportunity for a professional to fill the void and set out to be that person. The education included myself setting up 5 sewing machines in my garage and studying old design books (at that time You Tube did not show you how to do everything).

* What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A- Get a yellow page listing – Ha – join the chamber for networking and have faith – being a single Mom with 2 children required lots of faith. There were times when regular hours seemed very appealing to me, but I always felt “stuck” in that position. Maybe that’s the difference between entrepreneurs and employees. It was very motivating to not do the same job day after day.

* How many hours do you work a day on average?
A- The business was started with a $5000 checking account and pleading for large lines of credit from vendors. Within 3 years my space went from 900 sq feet to over 4000 sq feet. My vision had culminated. I had made a name for myself through commitment, honesty and hard work. To me those are the 3 attributes of an entrepreneur. Yes the days will be long, 15 hours or so, but to not coin a phrase, when you love what you are doing – it is not work. To this day, I still love meeting people in the intimacy of their homes and helping them make that space a safe sanctuary whether through light control, aesthetics or privacy from the world.

* To what do you most attribute your success?
A- The business was started with a $5000 checking account and pleading for large lines of credit from vendors. Within 3 years my space went from 900 sq feet to over 4000 sq feet. My vision had culminated. I had made a name for myself through commitment, honesty and hard work. To me those are the 3 attributes of an entrepreneur. Yes the days will be long, 15 hours or so, but to not coin a phrase, when you love what you are doing – it is not work. To this day, I still love meeting people in the intimacy of their homes and helping them make that space a safe sanctuary whether through light control, aesthetics or privacy from the world.

* How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A- If honesty and never stopping for anything less than perfection are your motto then word of mouth is your best form of advertising. However, we always market to clients beginning 18 months prior to them needing our services, creating a database that regularly puts our name and services before them through the construction process. Our database generates frequent opportunities to reach out regularly through Constant Contact.
That’s the way the business started. For someone entering the same business today, the marketing plan would be significantly different. Today our demographic includes households of over $80K and age of 30 to 65. In the past the average age was 50. Those clients actually read a newspaper!

* What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A- I admire any brick and mortar small family business that employs locally and gives back to their community. Perhaps that is old fashioned, but I know how hard owners of small business work and the burden put on their business through every changing and increasing regulations. Today it is very rare for a small business to move into the second generation. Perhaps being in business for many years is not that important any more.

* Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A- In 5 years I see myself retiring and leaving the business to my daughter. She will be hiring a new sales force and training the existing installation team to take on new responsibilities.
How important have good employees been to your success?
A- The culture of our small business (7 employees) has been to look at each employee as family. Their needs, whether to meet family time obligations or financial hardships are also our concern. We believe that type of relationship rewards them for their hard work and dedication.

* How do you define success?
A- I feel very blessed to have realized success in my field and the ride has been invigorating! Now, move into phase 2 where I can share the fruits of my labor with those less fortunate. Cant wait to see where that takes me.

Blinds and Designs is a fashionable window treatment company located in Fletcher, North Carolina.