Let us introduce you to this week’s Open for Business featured shop.
Shop: Hen & Chicks Studio
Owner: Heidi Kaisand
Location: 101 N. Main St., Conrad, Iowa; Conrad population is 1100
Years in Business: 6 (October 2011)
Services: quilting and scrapbooking supplies, longarm machine rental, fully-equipped retreat center
AQR: What does a customer see first when they come into your store? How often does that change?
Kaisand: Because we own a large old building, the first thing customers often comment on is the “Wow” factor of the tall ceilings and the color that jumps out at them. It’s wonderful to get the impact of that large space and for the customer to be able to really see the quilts. We only change the quilts on the walls 2-3 times a year. There are several reasons for that. First, it’s labor intensive getting the ladder up and we end up having to move so much furniture on the floor in order to get where we need to be. It’s wonderful because we do deep cleaning on a regular basis! Second, our customers have so much to look at when they come in the store, they don’t often even see all the quilts in one visit. And, third, but often a huge factor, is the cost that is involved in making those quilts. I need to get the most out of every sample we make, from fabric sales to pattern sales.
AQR: What were your fears when you first began? How did you resolve them?
Kaisand: I honestly can’t say that fear is a factor for me. If I believe in what I’m doing, I believe it will happen. With that said, there certainly are moments when a tinge of fear creeps in…I often say it’s like throwing a party and we invited everyone, but will anyone show up. You don’t know sometimes how it will turn out until the party is over. If I’ve done my preparation, planning and marketing well, then the party will be successful.
AQR: Which jobs do you expect employees to do? Which do you do yourself?
Kaisand: We’re a small staff at Hen & Chicks Studio, so I need everyone to be able to jump in and almost do everything! Of course, we have preferences and some staff are better at some things than other, and we acknowledge that. We’re constantly working to find the right way to communicate with each other, as there is very little overlap of staff. So, for example today Janet is working and if she takes a phone call about longarm rental that Jeri was making on Saturday, Janet needs to know what to do with that information. The one item that I probably keep the most control over is inventory. Our bookkeeper Deb and I work on getting the inventory entered and set up correct.
AQR: With three active kids and your businesses, how do you juggle them and still find time for yourself?
Kaisand: Some days its a challenge, but I always say at the end of the day that it’s all good. As the girls get older (they are 10 now), they have become a great asset to me. They know how to chat with customers, how to run the cash register, and where stuff is in the store. The only thing I haven’t turned over to them is rotary cutting. They love to hang out with our customers and enjoy retreating with me. Henry (who is 13) is more involved with farm chores, but every once in a while I get him to the store to help with things. My Google calendar is pretty colorful with our activities. And, I’m an early riser, so that’s when I try and squeeze in walking on the treadmill and listening to my latest self-help book. Today it’s Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly.
AQR: What are your biggest frustrations and joys as a shop owner?
Kaisand: My biggest joy is having the pleasure of being able to make people happy while they are being creative, whether it’s helping them with a particular project or providing the space in our retreat center for them to be creative.
My biggest frustration is that I can’t do MORE!! I have so many ideas, but not enough money or hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to do both personally and professionally. So I just keep chipping away at the to-do list.