(Editor’s note: Following is the latest installment in a series promoting Women of the Flooring Business, an industry group that provides members with a networking platform, mentorship, coaching and more. To join, visit womenflooring.com)
By Rachel Maddox—I know I’m not the only one who started their business on the brink of the pandemic, but it was something none of us counted on. I looked at it as just another hill to climb—not a problem, though, I’ve climbed plenty so I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
My love for business started when I got a position with Empire Today in their first retail store in Fairfax, Va. I applied for a measuring position because, as a single mom, I needed flexibility so I could take care of my family.
I worked in sales for three months, became assistant manager and then store manager within six months. After three years, I moved to the inside sales division.
You’ve probably heard that Empire is high pressure; I would say it was very high pressure with unrealistic goals, but I learned a lot about building customer relationships, follow through and how to grow a business. My boss eventually left the company, which left me with a completely different managerial group—men running the operation.
I’m competitive, and despite being the only woman I managed to move myself into a managerial position in 2018. I soon realized I could make the business more efficient, but my immediate managerial team didn’t share my desire to make a difference. So, I left the company for a smaller flooring company. After tripling his business accounts in three months, I knew I had the skills to start my own business.
In 2019, with less than $100 in my account and as the single mother of a 6-month-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, I took the leap and started One Step Floors. My desire is to offer my clients the positive customer experience and customer service someone deserves.
After my first successful year, I decided it was finally time to follow another dream and start a nonprofit. Unfortunately, what made me want to start this nonprofit was the loss of a friend to postpartum depression. Having been a single mom since I was 20, with little to no financial help, I struggled with postpartum depression myself and I understood the struggle. “Start With One Step” supplies items—and one day, hopefully, housing—for parents in need. I feel that I was blessed to get through the hard times and wanted to share these blessings.
I believe giving back is the key to a successful business and life. All of us want to cause a positive change in our life and the world. Part of that mission is to share our experiences with others. The Women of the Flooring Business provides me with motivation and a realization that there are many women who have started their businesses on a shoestring budget and have become successful. I will continue to utilize this community for advice and encouragement as I continue my growth and efforts to help other women, mothers and aspiring business owners.
Rachel Maddox is the owner of One Step Floors in Gainesville, Va., and the founder of Start With One Step, a nonprofit that helps parents in need. As a mother, entrepreneur and philanthropist, her mission is to make a positive impact in the world and make change for the better.