Each year, Americans start their own business to pursue their passions and achieve a work life balance that their careers don’t otherwise afford them. That freedom to “be your own boss” appealed to Janneke and Cpt. Daniel, owners of Taft & Teak.
Janneke quit her corporate finance job in the United States to follow her then fiancé to Japan where he was stationed. Japan is known for its unique furniture and China patterns, and it was there that she discovered her passion for antique furniture. Not only did she adopt her husband’s passion of collecting antiques, but the appeal of having a flexible schedule to spend more time with her family was the ultimate driver to start Taft & Teak.
Taft & Teak, a furniture and home décor store located in Pacific Grove, Calif., opened in January of 2014. The shop 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 military family members on the move. Not only does Janneke love antiques, she stays true to maintaining a highly quality of products for both the furniture and home décor line, with environmental friendliness being an added benefit of using reclaimed wood.
Starting a business isn’t easy and there are always some bumps in the road. Janneke has leveraged those as opportunities for Taft & Teak to constantly improve and evolve. It helps to ask others for assistance too she found, and that it’s impossible to do it all herself. She recommends outsourcing projects, even if you have the expertise to complete it, and to prioritize tasks and responsibilities that will help grow the business.
Janneke shared her best advice for those looking to, or just starting, their own small business:
“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.”
As a business owner she’s struck a balance between remaining loyal to the core business and mission of Taft & Teak, and the rapid evolution to compete in the market. Like she said, the furniture business isn’t easy, especially because of competition between online sites and big box stores. She also advises careful financial planning, a product of her past experience in finance, and to know when to invest in growth.
Janneke has achieved her American dream and continues to thrive with her balance of family and career. “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,” Janneke said. We commend her for being an inspiration to military families everywhere.