WOFB: Learning the tricks of the trade

I help run a small family business, Tile Envy in LaPorte, Ind., which opened May 31, 2021. We have a showroom and we also offer design and installation. I got into tile because my fiancé, AJ, had always been into remodeling, mostly tile. He wanted to open a showroom as a family, so we – including his parents and I – jumped in together and worked hard to make it happen.

My duties currently include design, sales, orders, working with distributors and planning, and currently I am the face of the showroom. Did I mention I’m also a full-time mom and we have four kids? AJ does our consultations and installations with the help of his brother and another installer we know. Frank and Kathie (AJ’s parents) take care of all office work, electronic needs and business management. Needless to say, we’ve all had to wear a lot of hats.

In the beginning, when the money didn’t come in, I really had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes still not, so I have to look for the answers. And to be honest, sometimes I was afraid to ask questions. I have been afraid of looking unqualified in this industry; sometimes i can’t answer questions because i’m so new. But I tell our customers, “If I don’t know the answer, I will definitely find the answer.” We ask the questions – that’s the only way we learn. I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone and on the internet looking for information or products for our customers.

We also found our way by asking a lot of questions and pushing because we absolutely had to. We’ve had help from other store owners, our distributors have helped a lot, and Facebook groups like WOFB have helped too. They direct you to great resources like podcasts, YouTube videos, speeches and just have tons of great ideas and advice. I am immensely grateful for all the help, guidance and education I have received from both within my family and beyond. We greatly appreciate the time others have taken to help.

Surviving the slow times

We’ve had days when it’s been so hard to know what to do; when no one noticed or called our store, for weeks. We wouldn’t have made it through the winter without the installations we had on the books.

The only way we survive slow times is to stay in the market constantly, even if it’s organic marketing. I’ve spent a lot of time creating lists and sharing them with groups. But even more than that, the installation is what got us through it. Installation provides you with a lot more financially, at least in our experience!

In general this is [experience] can be so rewarding. I want our kids to see that the old adage, “Hard work pays off,” is true. And nothing beats being your own boss.

Taylor Brickman owns a new tile store, Tile Envy, located in LaPorte, Ind. She owns the business with her fiancé AJ and his parents. She is also a mother of four.

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