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Entrepreneur Profile , Joanie Smith

Joanie Smith, founder of the Sorrento Valley-based store Trappings Home Couture, has taken her background in the new-homes industry and her love of furniture and combined them into a company that provides chic, low-cost furnishings to the San Diego area.


VITALS

Name: Joanie Smith.

Titles: Proprietor and mother.

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Company: Trappings Home Couture.

Company address: 10801 Vista Sorrento Parkway, San Diego 92121.

Company phone: (858) 202-0043.

Year founded: 1999.

Prior business experience: Homebuilding industry sales representative with Standard Pacific Homes, Ryland Homes, KB Home and McMillin Homes.

Average hours worked weekly: 40.

Source of startup capital: Personal savings, coins under the mattress, etc.: Roughly $25,000.

2006 revenue: $950,000.

2005 revenue: $900,000.

Number of employees: 10.

Web site: www.trappingsinc.com.


BACKGROUND

Birthplace: Southern California native.

Education: Some college and more than 25 years of on-the-job experience.

Age: 47.

Current residence: Leucadia.

Family: Twin 7-year-old boys, Finn and Elijah.

Hobbies: Camping with my boys in our tricked-out Airstream, the “Tin Twinkie,” walking on the beach and enjoying time spent with friends and colleagues.


JUDGMENT CALLS

Reason for getting into business: I wanted to own a business that offered something chic and design-oriented in an atypical business model. I wanted to bring people and home decorating together through a referral-based business, where customers and employees felt welcome enough to include their children.

How I plan to grow the business: Introduction of new products, appealing to homeowners’ and designers’ changing tastes and styles. Keep overhead at a minimum , to keep prices down and the referral pipeline full.

Biggest plus of business ownership: My kids are always welcome; no day is ever the same and seeing satisfied customers throughout the design process.

Biggest drawback: There is not enough time to accomplish all of the goals and objectives I have for the business.

Biggest business strength: Referrals and repeat business. These devoted and motivated customers enjoy their time spent going through the process. And when they tell their friends, and so on, my business becomes rich with talented armchair decorators, sales team players and a coach that enjoys fostering the process and infiltrating new ideas, new products and a unique way of doing things.

Biggest business weakness: Because we don’t aggressively market in a traditional sense to keep costs low for our customers, we could be missing new customers.

Biggest risk: Uprooting to a new location, although I now consider it a risk-reward.

Smartest business decision: A similar furniture shop owner in Orange County was willing to share her business philosophy and lessons learned so that I could launch my business the right way from the start.

Biggest business mistake: So far there haven’t been any big ones, let’s hope the trend continues.

Biggest ongoing challenge: Introducing my business to new customers.

The most important part of my business: My customers, because they are loyal.

My business works best when: My life is in balance and I can focus with clarity on new and innovative ideas.

Best way to stay competitive: Introduce new fashion forward home furnishings and accessories as often as possible to lead the pack in home decorating.

How I measure success: Happy customers who enjoy the process, tell their friends, and come back again and again.

Toughest career decision: Taking the leap from a regular paycheck in the building industry to the uncertainty of a fresh new idea in a new industry.


GOALS

Goals yet to be achieved: For now, improving accessibility through events and Web-based communications to enable clients to acquire more of what they have come to expect; high quality for a low price.

My five-year business plan: To own my own, centrally located building.

I would sell my business only if: It was imperative with respect to my children or our health.

Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Nurture existing customer relationships and working hard to bring new inspiration to the business of home decorating.

, Andrew Schweizer

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