One month after its grand opening on May 15, 2013, Cloth Interiors of Kennebunk, Maine has been nominated by the Seacoast Chapter of SCORE as a small business success story for 2013.
Teri Cardinelli, proprietor of Cloth Interiors, spent over 25 years honing her skills in the design and craftsmanship of custom window treatments and furniture coverings before she decided to open her own shop in October 2012. At the time, she was working at two part time jobs while designing and producing custom window treatments out of her home for a few customers. She decided that she needed to commit full time to serving her customers, so she started looking for a space in the Kennebunk area to locate her business.
Cardinelli attended two evening workshops offered by SCORE, one on marketing and the other on finance. She says, “My shop opened in May, 2013, with the help and support of the Kennebunk Chamber of Commerce and SCORE, and I am totally supporting myself with the sales I have generated. This could not have been done without the assistance of my mentors and the inspiring workshops that I participated in. They were a springboard to my creativity and development. I believe my website, which I made myself, speaks highly of the skills I learned in the marketing workshop. (www.clothinteriors.com) - clients continually compliment me on it.”
With SCORE’s help, Cardinelli started making a plan for her business, found a perfect location, organized her bookkeeping, contracts and pricing, and got ready for her grand opening in May. She did all this while completing jobs, adding new customers and showing a solid profit and positive cash flow in every month of 2013.
Like many SCORE clients, Cardinelli has tremendous talent and technical skill, but needed help getting the business details organized. She had experience working in a similar business and Sandy Carlisle recognized the value of this. He pointed out, “Teri has an extensive background in her craft, which she now needs to recognize and draw upon. Most of her issues are in the areas of business management and marketing, which SCORE is exceptionally well equipped to address. As we discussed these issues, her responses and insights made this apparent. She is actively pursuing both local and trade networking, is establishing trade relationships with the major fabric suppliers and production shops, and is working on developing her own web site.”
Mentor Lisa Allison says that Cloth Interiors fills an important niche. “Teri’s skill is transforming her clients’ visions into reality. Whatever look the client wants, Teri can create it. She has the experience and know-how to create three dimensional effects, to obscure any problem areas, to bring in light or emphasize a beautiful view. She can even repurpose old fabric and blend the new with the old.” Recognizing her strengths, skills, and networking abilities, Cardinelli is now marketing her services to decorators and other third parties, for whom she has created a professional level trade package.
Cardinelli contacted SCORE and was connected with mentor Sanford “Sandy” Carlisle, a retired executive who volunteers as an online mentor for SCORE. After many email and phone exchanges, Cardinelli arranged to come in to the Portsmouth office of SCORE, where she met with Sandy Carlisle and Lisa Allison, another SCORE volunteer. As Cardinelli explained, “From that first meeting I got the validation I was on the right track, experience to point me in the right direction, wisdom to guide me through my ideas and suggest better ones, and encouragement to know what my real value is to myself and my clients. That is a lot to have on my team. Because of Sandy and Lisa, my confidence just kept on building and my business began to grow.”