On March 15th we celebrated 26 years in business. We reflected on all the ups and downs, the wins and losses, the milestones and the trying times. We were talking to a women's co-working group we meet with each week and they brought up a great point that since it's Women's History Month, it would be interesting to really touch on what it was like to start and grow a woman-owned business. So this post will be part memoir and reflecting back on some of those big moments in our history and part resource and inspiration for those women that are looking to start their business!
1995 - OPENING THE SHOWROOM
Starting the business, picking the studio location and landing on which manufacturer to use was not a quick process. We worked on the business plan and did all of our research for a year prior to opening the showroom. At the time there were over 60 other cabinet companies competing in Windsor. Tereza (mom) decided right away that she didn't want to be like everyone else. She wanted to offer her community a high-end product, timeless designs and incredible customer service. If homeowners wanted this kind of experience from their Kitchen designers, they had to go to Toronto or across the river to Michigan. This changed in March 1995 when The Cabinet Studio opened their showroom doors in Pillette Village. This 2000sqft. showroom had two levels and had full rooms full of cabinetry, not just vignettes. We even designed a beautiful child's bedroom set right across from where the presentations took place, this way if her clients brought their kids to the meeting, they had somewhere fun to sit and read books and play games, while their parents explored their new kitchen design! Tereza was and is always concerned about what's best for her clients, and this came shining through from day one when they opened up the showroom doors.
the first year of design...
Tereza feels blessed with the incredible clients that trusted her with such a big part of their home right out of the gate. Within the first year of opening the showroom, Tereza had designed and sold cabinetry for Kitchens across Windsor & Essex-County as well as Chatham-Kent County and into Michigan! Throughout the years this referral network would eventually continue to spread across North America and even into Europe. The business grew because of a mix of drive and conviction by Tereza and a client base that were so proud of their kitchens they told everyone they could about The Cabinet Studio. Tereza's drive and determination came from knowing that she was selling the best cabinetry in the area, was designing personalized forward-thinking designs and was committed to each and every one of her clients. This is the same reason her client's were so eager to refer.
CLOSED THE SHOWROOM (2000)
The Studio was originally leased for 5-years and by the time the lease was coming time to be renewed Tereza was barely spending any time in the showroom. She had developed what was at the time a very innovative way of selling cabinetry. Tereza was meeting her clients at their homes and bringing samples right to them. This was unheard of in the industry. As a matter of fact, when Tereza decided to close her showroom doors, instead of renewing the lease, she was told by her manufacturer that if she didn't have a showroom, she wouldn't be able to sell their cabinetry. Tereza knew that their product was incredible but she also knew that the true reason people were hiring her, wasn't because of the cabinetry they were purchasing, it was because of the service and designs she was providing. So, Tereza told her manufacturer that she was going on a ride and if they wanted to join her, great, if not, that was fine too. They countered by telling her she had to sell x-amount of cabinets that next year, and she far exceeded that number and the rest is history. They have been our sole wood manufacturer for the entire 26 years. Now, mom was nervous when she said this to her supplier, but the lesson here is to trust what you know to be true. Believe in yourself and stick to what you think is right. Even if others don't believe (or understand) your vision!
LEIGH JOINED FULL-TIME (2005)
WE GOT PUBLISHED...INTERNATIONALLY (2007)
Here is a picture of me in my "Canadian Tuxedo" super excited about our very first international article! In my 20's I thought getting published was a "must" for designers to prove themselves and get noticed in the industry. We write articles for local publications, but this was the first time we were published by a major design series out of California called: "The Art of Luxury Living". I still remember how thrilling it was to walk into our Chapters Bookstore that day and find the magazine that mom and I had an 8 page spread in. To think that anyone across North America could pick up that issue and read our thoughts on design was absolutely incredible.
and the award goes to...
Another thing that I thought was a "must", was to be an "Award Winning Kitchen Designer" The award I had my eye on was our industry association design awards by The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). We are grateful for the honours of winning awards through that Association for our work in both Bath and Kitchen Design. Throughout the years we have also been awarded some other business and community awards, like the BizX Mobile Biz That's Going Places Award. One honour that really stands out to us because we had absolutely no inclination that we were even in the running for was the Entrepreneur of The Year Award through the Women's Council of Realtors - Birmingham-Bloomfield Chapter. This meant a lot to be recognized by such a powerful group of successful women (& men) in business. I still remember sitting at the table guessing who was going to win the award that year and when they announced our names mom and I were in complete shock. The lesson here is people are always watching what you're doing, even when you don't think they are!
1st Non-toxic CHERRY kitchen in North America (2010)
This was also a big highlight for our company. Our manufacturer revamped their entire facility to be completely green and non-toxic. This was a huge undertaking and something that was not happening in North America at the time. They also changed their entire finishing process to a European water-based system. This now meant that none of the cabinetry would off-gas harmful toxins into clients homes, food or dishes! Our manufacturer created the first Non-Toxic Kitchen in North America and we are proud to say that we sold the first Cherry Non-Toxic Kitchen in North America right here in Leamington, Ontario. We are so proud to be able to offer healthy Kitchen cabinets to our clients.
we fell in love with cambria (2011)
Up until 2011 we were granite girls at the core. We loved the depth and beauty of natural stone and didn't think anything could compare. However, we are so grateful to the team at Quartz Countertop Supply and Cambria for continuing to "woo" us, because it didn't take too too long for us to fall in love and now we do probably at least 75% of our Kitchen jobs with Cambria. The depth, the consistency, the ease of use and the quality are just a few of the reasons we love it. What's really interesting is that now, Cambria is actually a separate part of our business. We have clients that come to us just for their Cambria countertops. They still love their cabinetry but need a change and we help them liven up their space with some gorgeous maintenance-free countertops! Who knew this would have been part of our business ten years ago!
exclusive partner of imd - aluminum cabinetry (2019)
In 2019 a metal cabinet manufacturer out of Spain contacted us to sell their product and partner with them exclusively for the North American market. This was another decision that took a lot of research, discussion and thought, but we are so grateful to have them as part of our non-toxic family! We are so excited that we are able to exclusively offer this innovative metal cabinetry to clients in our area! All the pictures above are made head to toe from aluminium!
These gorgeous cabinets are powder-coated inside and out in any colour you choose and are great for many areas:
WHAT'S NEXT?? (2021 and beyond)
This gets us exhilarated because we get so much interest in not only homeowners wanting to update their main Kitchen but also expanding that livable space outdoors. We are thrilled to see these projects come alive and to hear from you with what ideas you have in mind for your home!
This was a fun post to put together but we've missed a lot! Especially all of the amazing clients, friends and associates that we've met and connected with throughout the years! We could fill a book with all of the incredible stories! If you have a fun story to share with us, we would love to hear it. Feel free to comment below, email us from the contact page or give us a ring!