Don’t just sell new products, but provide an ongoing service – stocking all replacement parts and providing a repair and cleaning service. All products are made in New Zealand which means that parts are readily available and warranties are much easier to fulfil. This contrast with most ready-made products which come from overseas and replacements parts are rarely available. Our linings are all flocked here, which ensures control and quality are maintained. Our linings are all fully launderable, unlike many of our competitors’ products.
Lots of reasons. Because I had a passion for interiors having trained as an interior designer. It was the start of the recession and there were very few jobs on offer in the industry, so I ended up going into business for myself. Also we were starting a family and owning your own business provides flexibility around the children. I was a qualified interior designer and Dan is an accountant, so it was a good combination. It was a really good opportunity to learn from my father who had the business previously and I could learn from his wealth of experience. I love textiles and the opportunity to express my creativity with this was attractive. Dan is a very social person so his role in the business suits him as well.
We both went into business at the same time, so walked away from two salaries so we had to make it work right from the start. Having just started a family and normal family expenses to meet this was a challenge. Especially as we had a new baby at the same time, so we had some financial and challenges that comes from change. Owning a business means you have expertise in many areas and neither of us had ever been in sales roles before. Also initially we didn’t have a great deal of product knowledge, so having the confidence to make recommendations was a challenge.
Having a business mentor was a fundamental turning point in the business. Things were a bit out of control. I was up to the early hours of the morning seven days a week with a young baby, sewing curtains. Hence the quality of the product wasn’t great, but the stress levels were unsustainable. Our business mentor helped us get the business under control. We stopped doing everything ourselves and established procedures to make the business run much more smoothly. Having a business mentor provided an objective, non-emotional perspective which helped us become much more efficient and professional and manage our relationship and our roles much better.
The early days of the business with our new baby were crazy, and our family was questioning why we were doing this. We had walked away from stable jobs with good incomes to take on a business working long hours for not much money in the early days. We often questioned whether it was worth it and there were many times when we almost gave up. Getting through that period was crucial and there were many times where it was touch and go.
Five years in business, and a stable business with a solid income without working ourselves into the ground. We have a business which provides our family with a good standard of living and flexibility for our family. Early on I was doubtful if we could achieve what we have, without a shop (like a lot of our competitors have), but we have maintained our low overhead structure working from home and have still managed to grow our business.
Around 60% of our business is repeat or word of mouth business, so I am proud that our customers want to come back and also refer others. To me, this shows we are doing our job. I am also proud of the standard and quality of work that we now produce on a consistent basis.
Flexibility – as I am a young mum with two young children where I pick up the kids at 3pm and then work from home if necessary. When you live in a small community like the Kapiti Coast the benefits of being a business owner are considerable. There are many learning opportunities to grow as a business person.
We are currently working an initiative for a local family to learn how to make their own curtains, where we will train and guide them through the whole process. We will be advertising for entries and selecting a family.
Really happy that we preserved and got past the five year mark in business. We have a huge sense of achievement and are proud of the service we provide and the reputation we are building in the local market. We don’t compromise on quality while still maintaining competitive pricing. We compete on quality and service and we are passionate about maintaining our standards.