In episode 21 of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech (air date August 14, 2019), Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock talk about building a support network of friends and colleagues within the industry.
You can listen here: Episode 21: Building Relationships to Build Your Workroom Business
Your Network Begins at Home
Being self-employed can be lonely at times and running a business has so many challenges. We can’t do it all alone. Start with the people closest to you; friends and family. "I don’t think any of us would have started our businesses without some kind of encouragement or support from our loved ones. I started my workroom with my Mother’s help and support. I could not have done it without her", Susan shared.
Susan is pictured below with the two most important people in her life; her mother Irene Eagles, and husband, Rodger Walker.
If you are starting out, help your friends and family to help you by teaching them how to share your business with others. Give them an elevator pitch to share! Educate them about what you do and the value of your products and services. Don’t expect them to know this. Your family can be supportive in other areas, too – whether that’s with helping to run the household, or helping out in the workroom.
Whether you are just starting out, or have been in business for a long time, it’s important to build friendships with other workroom professionals. It’s much different now that it was just 15 years ago, Susan said. "In the early days of my business, I only knew of a few other workrooms. I personally knew two other workrooms because I worked for them! Any other workrooms that were out there were hidden. This was before internet and social media. Back then workrooms didn’t want to share with their competitors and honestly, neither did I. It just wasn’t how workrooms operated then".
"What changed?" Ceil asked..."When did you start to connect and build relationships with other workrooms?" Susan shared that the one thing that changed her business, and opened up a world of opportunity was the internet, and the ability to meet others in the workroom industry through online groups. "Being able to share was a turning point in my career", Susan said. "If I had never joined and shared with other workrooms, what would my business be like today"?
Pictured below is Susan with Margie Nance. Susan credits Margie for the opportunity to teach at Custom Home Furnishings School.
A World of Support
Another resource for connecting with other workroom and design professionals is the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA).
Susan and Ceil shared the benefits of belonging to a local chapter of the WCAA, and the personal and professional friendships that have developed from chapter meetings. You can learn more about the WCAA and find a local chapter near you at www.wcaa.org
One of the first seminars Susan taught was for a WCAA chapter in northern Virginia. "That was really something because Kitty Stein was there taking notes, and she used my seminar as the topic of one of her magazine articles", Susan said.
Pro-Plus members of the Curtains & Soft Furnishings Resource Library can see a recorded video of Susan reading the article by Kitty Stein under the Classic Writings Revisited tab.
Companies that provide services, tools and supplies are valued business partners. It is important to build good relationships with vendors.
It can be more difficult now, than in the past. Online networking groups have helped build relationships in some ways, but online shopping has hurt vendor relationships because we don’t interact on a personal level.