WOFB: Learning the tricks of the trade

Home Column WOFB: Learning the tricks of the trade

I help run a small, family-owned business, Tile Envy in LaPorte, Ind., that opened May 31, 2021. We have a showroom, and we offer design and installation as well. I got into tile because my fiancé, AJ, had always been in the remodeling trade, mainly 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 jobs currently include design, sales, orders, working with distributors and scheduling, and I’m currently the face of the showroom. Did I mention I’m also a full-time mom and we have four children? AJ does our consultations and installations with the help of his brother and another installer we know. Frank and Kathie (AJ’s parents) make sure to cover all the office work, electronic needs and business management. Needless to say, we’ve all had to take on many hats.

At first, when the money wasn’t coming in, I really had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I still don’t, so I have to seek out the answers. And, honestly, sometimes I have been afraid to ask questions. I have been afraid to look unqualified in this industry; sometimes I’m unable to answer questions because I am so new. But I tell our customers, “If I don’t know the answer, I will absolutely find the answer.” We ask the questions—that’s the only way we learn. I have spent a lot of time on the phone and on the internet endlessly researching information or products for our clients.

We have also found our way by asking a lot of questions and pushing because we absolutely had to. We’ve had other store owners help, our distributors have helped a ton and Facebook groups—like WOFB—have helped as well. They direct you to great resources like podcasts, YouTube videos, speeches and just have a lot of really good ideas and advice. I’m extremely grateful for all the help, guidance and education I’ve gotten from both inside my family and outside of it. We really appreciate the time others have taken to help.

Surviving the slow times

We have had days where it was so difficult to know what to do; when nobody was noticing our store or calling, for weeks. We wouldn’t have made it through the winter without the installs we had on the books.

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

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

Taylor Brickman is owner of a new retail 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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May 9/16, 2022

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