If you're a business owner, you'll definitely want to get to know our spotlight today! For that matter, if you like to support women in business or even if your just enjoy learning about interesting people who are genuine, honest, and awesome, you'll want to keep reading!
We are very pleased to introduce you to the beautiful, graceful, wise, and wonderful, Michele Williams of Scarlet Thread Consulting and Scarlet Thread Interiors. Michele is a business coach with years of experience as a business owner and custom drapery maker and a background rich with management and financial consulting. She has so much knowledge about the more technical side of owning a business, as well as the artful side of running a company in a creative industry.
As creative people and business owners, Christina and I both enjoy working with Michele as she understands how artistic people operate. She gives the guidance and knowledge we need to continue to be more and more successful while staying within our natural work style! Christina and I both go to her for our own businesses and it has been truly wonderful to learn from her and grow my business in confidence! Whether you're just starting out, or have been in business for years and want to refocus and get things on the right track, working with Scarlet Thread Consulting is the way to go! If you're in the market for draperies, you can trust your windows to Scarlet Thread Interiors for beautifully and thoughtfully made custom pieces!
Let's get to know Michele a bit better and get to know her story as a business owner and what drives her!
Describe a day in your work life.
I do not have a typical work day – meaning, every day is a bit different (or can be). The flexibility keeps me from being bored! How about a week – let’s look at that. For any given week you will find me meeting with local business owners in my home for coaching, meeting with business owners outside of my area by Go To Meeting (with webcam!), going to a networking meeting, designing or sewing and creating in my drapery workroom, or meeting with designers. Some weeks allow me to travel to teach my “Pricing Without Emotion” course or offering online education to groups. Like I said, I do not have cookie cutter days. And from working with mostly creative business owners – they don’t either! I do try to chunk my to-do list so I am efficient with my tasks. Especially when working in my drapery workroom – I like to have half days blocked as much as possible to allow me to really focus. Google Calendar is a MUST for me. Business organization is paramount.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
WOW – the absolute most exciting part of my career (both as a coach and a professional drapery workroom) is helping people. With custom home furnishings I am able to bring a bit of beauty into rooms with fabric at the windows or on pillows. With business coaching I am able to work with other creative business owners to help them understand the direction, focus and details of their business. Watching a business owner have an A-HA moment when they understand which business opportunities fit their growth plan and which don’t, when they see what is achievable instead of every obstacle, when they feel like they are “owning” their business instead of it being owned by their client base or circumstances - - that is my favorite part. And seriously, every client is my favorite. Because I am blessed to work with the most spectacular people, each unique in their craft, but traveling on a similar journey to freedom in owning a business.
What led you to start your current career?
My current career(s) are an amalgamation of everything prior. I bet most of us could say that! Directly out of college I worked in software development focusing on financial software (AP, GL, Project Accounting, Purchasing, Inventory). While in that career I took night classes on design (and cake decorating…seriously!) – because I LOVE color and fabric and texture. I am very math oriented, so calculating yardage or understanding scale and proportion felt like a challenge to me – much the same as software! After 10 years in software I came home to raise my two children and to decorate our new home. First up – window treatments. After about 1.5 years at home, I felt I needed something more. So, my prayer was for God to help me identify something to do at home to make some money (flexibility was key – being available for our kids after school was super important to our family). In January of 2000 my doorbell rang. Two of my neighbors wanted to pay me to make window treatments for them like I had made for our home. My second career started that day.
This sounds easy, right? Well, I did not come into my second business with a resume’ or a business plan. I just started working around my family schedule and child care. Things were purchased at retail to get the job done. I did not yet have wholesale accounts and did not even know who they were. My goal was just to create and get paid. I LOVED making and engineering window treatments and then installing them and watching the faces of the home owners. It was fantastic. After about year 3 (April of 2003 to be exact – that day is etched in my brain), I was completing our taxes to give to the accountant and I realized I had made NOTHING for the year. Sales were great but profit and salary were nil. (If I were to be honest, the number was actually a negative – meaning it cost my family for me to be in business! – now that hurt.) This was not what I had envisioned as the big entrepreneurial dream. I pouted, I cried, I called my husband. Together we agreed that I was running my “business” as a big fat hobby. Since I had been in management for a large company, and had a business degree, I knew what I had to do.
Step 1: Separate ME from my BUSINESS. Set up business boundaries, processes, procedures, terms and conditions, etc. – and go!
Step 2: Repeat step 1 often!
It was then that I saw the shift. But it had to start with me – no one else. After that I started sharing with others and eventually teaching classes in the workroom industry on how to build profit into your business with better pricing, policies, procedures – all the things big business does is also important to us – no matter the size of our business.
In 2013 after making some business changes and having a health issue in 2012 – I really decided to focus on what I loved to do the most at that point. That is helping people who are where I have been get to the other side. It is truly possible to have a business you love that you run – that does not run you! It is possible to have a profitable business, it is possible to run a business efficiently, it is possible to do the work you love while loving the work you do! It seriously makes me laugh and humbles me at the same time to look back over my career. God has not wasted a bit on my journey. First working with accounting and software with policies and procedures. Then creating a love for the creative industry that just makes my heart pound – and if that were not blessing enough – allowing me to help others see the connections and make changes. Then to wrap all of that up for a coaching business some 14 years later – amazing. I never saw this path when I began my career. It has been anything but linear. I did not even notice it when I shifted to the next phase of creation of home furnishings. It was not until I had been coaching other businesses that I realized how it was all coming together. AMAZING. I look forward every day to working with fantastic people who are pushing themselves and then push me to be better at what I am meant to do. Continuing to create in my drapery workroom that I love keeps me connected to the concepts I teach and coach.
Was there one experience that set the course of your career?
This is a difficult question – not sure there was any one experience overall. I can say this. The one experience that set the course for my current coaching career was my health issues in 2012. Prior to that I was running a drapery workroom in Georgia – and in NC helping to manage a brick and mortar school 3.5 hours from my home, editing and publishing a magazine every other month, hosting monthly webinars and working with a dynamic group of women as business partners – while also traveling to teach my “Pricing Without Emotion” class. In February 2012 I was severely ill – almost at the point of death. Something had to change and my body was physically weak. During this time I was getting calls from business friends asking questions about their business or some concept they had learned in one of my classes. They were asking me how to implement it in their particular business – not just the theory. It became clear that this is work I had been doing for years – and it was time for this to come more front and center. Without the health slow down – I probably would not have made the move to add coaching to my Scarlet Thread business at this time. I feel certain it would have happened at some point – but probably not 2013.
Who does your business serve?
My business serves business owners (or those who want to start a business). I have helped many industries, not just the interiors industry. In addition to custom drapery workrooms, I am currently working with professionals in the fields of interior design, marketing, photography, bookkeeping,window blinds/shade companies, financial wealth management, jewelry artisans, hair salon owners, educators, and other entrepreneurs. The key component I look for when working with other professionals is a willingness to learn and grow and to be challenged beyond the status quo! A “yes” attitude is worth so much when faced with doing hard things in our business
What are your passions?
I am passionate about so many things. First I am passionate about my love for Jesus. Without my faith, I know my life would have been so much more difficult. Because I have hope in a secure future – it makes today more manageable. I am passionate about my family. My husband, Joel, and two sons, Harrison and Brantley, light up my world. The laughs and conversations in our home are fantastic. They keep me going and support me like crazy. My extended family and close friends are also very important to me. I am passionate about reading. At any time I have 2-3 books that I am in the middle of. Amazon Prime should just set aside a drone to deliver directly to me. My goal is to one day have huge bookcases on 3 walls of a room filled with nothing but books I have read! I am passionate about speaking truth to women. Helping women see the lies that they believe based on circumstance or opinions – and then to trade that for truth. I am passionate about good health and life. (And it might not be passion on the same level, but I love pretty things!)
What is your favorite meal?
Sticky subject. In 2012 I was diagnosed as a Type 1 (used to be called juvenile) diabetic. This rocked my world. I am now insulin dependent and always will be. So – this meant my diet had to drastically change to support my health and travel schedule. I eat very low carb and gluten free. My favorite meals are those that feed my body for fuel…..and don’t make me feel terrible in the process. I love a good salad and vegetables, love steak, and bacon is candy to me! Each morning I am excited for that first cup of coffee – and then for the second. The foods that I loved prior to 2012 were biscuits (yes, I am from the south), brownies, pound cake, pizza, shrimp and grits, and mashed potatoes. The recipes that are available to substitute for each of these has been great which has allowed me to find a way to eat almost everything I used to – but in a much healthier way for my body.