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Be Flexible

By Karen Booy, Ewe & Me Pattern Co.
Crafting the American Dream, and CRAFTLINK Newsletter.

Susan Wells’ Dream Home

Her generous nature could have put her out of business, instead it created a new income opportunity. Running a successful home-based drapery business, Susan Wells would often say to her customers, “Oh don’t pay me to do this for you, let me show you how to do it yourself and save money!”  The satisfaction Susan felt from helping others outweighed the income she would have received selling the finished product.  Realizing that she had the ability to effectively communicate with people, Susan also noticed a shortage of seminars and teachers for the growing demand for do-it-yourself home decor.

Her awareness of the emerging home dec movement created an opportunity for her business to “find a need and fill it” the rest is history. Susan has since authored several books, including two decorating best sellers, Window Expressions and Interior Design on a Dime and her expertise in the home decor market landed her the position of executive producer and host of the award-winning television series, Susan Wells’ Dream Homes which began filming in 1998.

Although she still considers herself an expert in the field of home dec, Susan’s business now involves training and education through several different venues; workbooks, television, and local seminars and trade show seminars. Like many in the industry, Susan finds the lines between crafts and home decor dissolving. Seminars that started off in drapery making have evolved to include paint based decorating and hobby based decorating. Today Susan teaches seminars on home accessories, slipcovers, upholstered headboards in addition to new seminars on faux finishes, antiquing and refinishing furniture or accessories.

When asked about her best business decision Susan replied “To always offer the best quality possible. I’ve always ensured seminar attendees or customers go away with the feeling ‘that was way better than I expected’.  And looking back, I would not give into the temptation to be all things to all people.”

Susan is known for her ability to pass on high quality ideas that have been exclusive to the professional decorating industry. She makes the procedures quicker, easier, cheaper, with the end result being professional quality the first time through. By subscribing to high-end magazines and catalogues like Nieman Marcus, Spielberg and Style at Home (an excellent Canadian decorating magazine) Susan is able to see what the rich people are buying and incorporate the new trends into her seminars. Consumer shows include the Sewing & Stitchery Expo (Puyallup), the Sewing & Crafts Show (Victoria and Vancouver) and the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival (Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton).

Although Susan’s business has grown she still works from home adding that “it is now more vogue to work from home than when I started!” In addition to home dec seminars, Susan has added Seminars for the Soul (featured at corporate or club events), delightful presentations to enrich women’s lives. Further evidence that Susan has is one step ahead of the trends. 

Keeping an eye out for hot new tends in decorating and crafting and finding out who’s on the cutting edge of doing that ensures the success of Susan’s television show. Tons of prepatory work in advance of filming the show creates a winning combination as Susan is able to work with interesting guests, she is caught up with the excitement of passing on great ideas.

When asked to share some works of advice to other business owners, Sue replied “Be Flexible". I’m teaching topics and working in venues now I would have never dreamed of. Consumer needs and demands are constantly evolving. Your business will go the way of the “record player” if you don’t remain alert and be willing to transform, modify and adapt.”

Join Susan Wells at the following consumer shows, you’ll be so glad you did! 

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