Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kimberley Chagnon, Owner, and Instructor of Kim's Upholstery, located in Shelburne Falls, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Kim's Upholstery is an online membership teaching others how to upholster furniture for their own enjoyment or to create a way to earn an income doing something they love. Our membership contains video tutorials teaching the skills of upholstery, but the part I love the most is the community we've created. We have a booming community of beginner, intermediate, and advanced upholstery peeps. The community is made up of a group of super fun, supportive and creative ladies and men who love fabric and upholstery as much as I do. We have great in-depth discussions during our weekly live chats that are also a big part of our Kim's Upholstery membership.
Our members are DIYers who enjoy beautifying their own homes, as well as professionals who want to hone their skills and excel in their upholstery careers.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a wife, a mom, and a Nonie, as well as a DIYer who loves a challenge and creating beautiful upholstery pieces for my home. My business is an evolution of my love for sewing and working with beautiful fabrics. For me, learning upholstery started with a sofa I had that needed a new life. After doing a few smaller projects, I then tackled that sofa! Upholstery became my hobby, and when others saw what I could do, it quickly turned into a business where I was creating beautiful pieces for clients and making a good living doing something that made me happy. After starting a YouTube channel to share my knowledge, which now has over 70 thousand subscribers, our fans started asking for more content to help them learn upholstery. This is how our Kim's Upholstery Online Classes membership was formed.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Owning your own business is challenging. It takes time to build and a lot of commitment of time to grow a successful business. You have to be self-motivated and a self-starter. My business has been a big financial contributor to my family over the years. I've upholstered hundreds of pieces for clients, been featured in local magazines and Architectural Digests AD It Yourself, and presented at Country Living Magazines Fair in Georgia. But the biggest accomplishment for me is seeing our members grow. Watching our members improve their skills and seeing a good number of them start their own businesses is what really feels like the greatest out of all my accomplishments. We have created a growing community of like-minded people who all cheer each other on.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Time management! I started my business in 1996, first working from home. Having a business in your home has a lot of benefits, but it's easy to find yourself distracted by things other than your work. Years later, I bought a commercial property thinking this would help with the distractions and make me more efficient. That is not always the case… Managing your time is the hardest part of being self-employed. You have to be disciplined if you are going to be successful. Managing your time takes work to get good at, but you can do it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Wow, there are so many important things that it's really hard to decide which three are at the top.
- For me, I think it had a husband who supported me. Being a solo business owner can be lonely at times. Your friends may not get it or care to hear the things you want to chat about. Having a member of your family that supports you helps get you over the hurdles. In my case, my husband joined my business and became my partner.
- Another important tip would be to find a group of people in the same type or a related business that you can get together with. You don't have to learn everything the hard way. Sharing with and finding others who will share with you is so helpful in growing your business.
- Vendors are another key part of any business. Find vendors you can form relationships with and who will care about your success as much as you do.
- Oh, and one last thing that I just can't leave out..... LEARN WHEN TO SAY NO! Every client is not your client; every job is not a good fit. Be true to yourself, and don't do jobs that aren't a good fit. Rember, it's your business!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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