Debra Green Karen Kneeland
Tell us about your business.When the economy took a downturn in 2010, I was forced to close my Interior Design business and shop in Cashiers NC. I knew then, I had to reinvent myself. My mother Karen, was one of my workrooms, her income was also affected. A Fibromyalgia sufferer, she had made and used hot cold packs. With a need to reinvent ourselves, a basement full of fabric and the knowledge that people loved the packs, Luxury Therapeutics was born! We took a business planning class, sent out letters to prospective clients. Amazingly, one of the replies came from the owner of a Spa Management company. She owned 15 spas! Her team loved our products, saw the potential and have been mentors as well as a customers. We are hands on, sew many products, package and ship. Mom designs the product, I make fabric selections and combinations. Since January, we have hired 3 rep groups who will show our products. We recently contracted with a local sewing facility to help with volume. We plan to add spa decor items in 2014.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.We have a workroom in the Macon County Economic Development Center in our town. We were able to lease a space with very reasonable rent and overhead because we had a great business plan and a great idea. It has been wonderful working with the Economic Development in our county. They are so willing to help with any business needs we have. We have so many resources at our fingertips! It has really helped our business to grow. We have a sewing area, packing area, and design area where we make fabric selections, work on product development, catalogs, flyers, logos etc. We love fabric and color- Everywhere you look there are bolts of beautiful fabrics and colorful samples! We recently have contracted with a local sewing facility that hires disadvantaged people and puts people in our area to work. We are happy to keep our business local and keep our high quality, while putting people in our area to work.
What inspires you?When we started this, we had no idea how blessed we would be to become involved in this business. We are inspired everyday! I am inspired by several things. I love fabric, color and design. The fabrics and new colors when we visit Showtime to make fabric selections for our new products are great. Seeing the completed products on the shelves in 5 star spas and gift shops is such a kick! We are inspired by the wonderful people we have met in this journey. The Spa World is very different from the stress of Interior Design. It is very laid back and our customers have become friends. Working with them on fabrics and their logos to achieve a signature look is so rewarding. It's a great feeling when they reorder! Mostly, we are inspired by the thanks we get when our products give people relief from chronic pain and stress. People tell us they "can't live without their packs". What I thought was the worst time in my career turned out to be the best thing that could have happened!
What makes your business stand out?Luxury Therapeutics has found a niche in the luxury Spa World. Our business and products stand out because we have beautiful, on trend, fabric combinations. Customers love that we are willing to work with Spa Directors and their companies, going the extra mile to create signature products for 4 and 5 star spas and gift shops. We understand the luxury 5 star world and have developed products that reflect that. We care about our products, and customers like the personal touch we bring to our relationships with them. We believe what goes around comes around. We are always willing to share resources and ideas. Giving of ourselves amongst our peers and business associates has come back ten fold to us in the form of mentors, business contacts and respect.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?The best advice I could give is 1) to find a niche that is not overcrowded. Come out of the box to make your idea unique, yet something people will use and buy. 2)Spend the time to develop a business plan, then be willing to revisit it as your business evolves. Where we started, where we are now and where we expect to be in one year all require tweaking to our original plan. You learn and evolve as you go along. Follow your gut and don't be afraid to take it in another direction if needed- I have learned from successful people I have known, if a door is opened for you, it is for a reason-walk through it! 3) Have a great story. People want to know they are working with a real person, not just a big company. They want to know they are helping someone make a difference, change lives and feel like they are getting something special. Our story has gotten us alot of PR, opened some amazing doors and several customers.
What does American Made mean to you?We are passionate about our products being American Made, especially North Carolina made. To us, it's personal. Handcrafted is a movement that is really taking hold, not only in our area, but all over the country. We want to have our hands on our products and our customers want to know we care about every piece they buy from us. It's a vital part of our story. People will spend a bit more to have a handcrafted product that they know has put people to work. Customers use our story as a selling tool to help them sell our products. We are very excited to join with the local sewing facility I mentioned. We are putting people to work! Those people will put that money back into our community, thus creating more jobs. They are learning life long skills that can allow them to keep employment. That is what American Made means to us.
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