Welcome to day two of Navy Federal’s National Small Business Week celebration. If you haven’t done so already, check out yesterday’s blogpost highlighting small business members Bill and Caroline Ross, who run River Bend Bistro and National River Tour Co. in Alexandria, Va.
Today I’d like to shine the spotlight on business services member Janneke Rowland-Wolken and Cpt. Daniel Rowland, owners of furniture and home décor store Taft & Teak located in Pacific Grove, Calif. Opened in January of this year, Taft & Teak features a large collection of armoires and cabinets, as well as dining, coffee and console tables. Most pieces are made of reclaimed wood and are all solid hardwood, making them great pieces for our military family members on the move.
Janneke and Cpt. Daniel have a lot on their hands with a brand new business and baby number two on the way! I recently caught up with the small business members to find out their magical formula for juggling a new business while maintaining a focus on family life.
Jim: Please tell readers a little bit about yourself and why you started a furniture store.
Janneke: I must admit that the idea to start a furniture store is not my own but my husband’s. When he was stationed in Italy he was an avid collector of antiques at the local markets and had good friends who did the same, but only to export to the U.S. for retail purposes. Three years ago, after resigning from my banking job in London, I joined my then fiancé, now husband in Japan before moving to Monterey, Calif. With no jobs available in my former career path in the area, I thought it would be great timing to pick up our idea of starting a furniture store. In addition, being my own boss would give me more flexibility to spend time with my family while making use of my former professional experiences. It is definitely a challenge to set up a business in a formerly unknown environment, but the citizens of Pacific Grove have been very welcoming.
Jim: What is one thing you wish you knew when you first started?
Janneke: Given that we are a new business it is hard to tell yet what I would have done different if I knew some things in advance. We are currently taking our daily experiences and trying to make ad hoc changes to improve our business constantly. Coming from someone who usually keeps things in her own hands, I have learned that relying on others is a necessity. You cannot do everything yourself and although you may have experience in the different aspects of your business, its good to outsource so you can focus on the priorities of making your business grow.
Jim: What’s the best advice you have for someone looking to open a furniture store?
Janneke: Keep your eyes and ears open at all times, do your homework and adapt if needed. The furniture business is not easy – there is a lot of competition, both in brick and mortar and online. Stay true to your core, but see what you can change and where you can add value beyond the ordinary. Offer great service and listen to your customers. All intuitive comments, but often overseen in the rush of day-to-day business.
Jim: What’s the best business advice you’ve received from someone else?
Janneke: “Think big,” and “know how much you would like to invest in your company and don’t go beyond if things do not go as expected.” Keep both in mind while making business decisions and you will stay on the right track.
Jim: What do you enjoy most about owning a furniture store?
Janneke: The enjoyment is twofold. Most of Taft & Teak’s furniture is made of reclaimed wood and we carry a whole line of repurposed home décor items as well. In addition to being quality products, they are good for the environment too, which make them lovely to work with. Being a business owner means having more flexibility than when working for a boss. I feel I can spend a lot of time with my son and my husband, but enjoy being a working mom as well. In short, I would recommend any spouse in the military to consider starting your own business as it will allow you to fulfill your own ambitions while being able to support your spouse’s career with its potential many moves.
For our members who are interested in starting a business or have questions about the process, join us for a Live Q&A on Facebook this Wednesday, 5/14 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET.