Trish Spaulding – Sitting Pretty
By all accounts, Trish Spaulding was doing well as a PR and Marketing Manager for a construction company in 2007. She had a reliable and revered position, but saw the market for housing and construction slump all the way to its lowest point. She realized that she could benefit from supplemental employment and wanted the added security of something to rely on in case her industry continued to flounder. Trish wanted a small business that she could run on the side—something fun and relatively easy that wouldn’t interfere with her full-time work.
Brainstorming, Trish considered a sweet shop. She imagined having fun creating tasty treats and imaginative packaging in cute boxes. She sought advice on the viability of her plan, noting the one flaw: “I’m not a baker.” The professionals she asked advised against this type of business and encouraged her to research other ideas.
It wasn’t until her daughter started planning a wedding that Trish got a new idea. What about the wedding business? Trish believed she could provide a service to brides to do two things: first, she could make their weddings prettier, and second, she could take care of a detail with as much ease as possible. Trish saw that now, unlike when she got married, people are more willing to pay for someone to provide a service in order to take stress off of the bride and to give the family more time to enjoy the day instead of acting like the event crew. That’s when she began researching a relatively new decorating trend: chair covers.
Trish looked into the idea and spoke to business professionals about the viability of her plan. With their approval, she priced the covers she would need to purchase, and got a loan from family to buy her small initial inventory and samples. Trish then went to a bridal show and began selling her service of chair cover rentals and setup.
When she had a list of orders and no idea if her plan would work or not, she sought help from Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), a women’s business center that helps entrepreneurs start, grow, and maintain their businesses. Trish took advantage of the business services that GROW offers, and with free business counseling she worked through the early stages of starting her business. She was able to expand her inventory, build relationships with wedding planners and venues, and now has a great reputation for quality products and services with her business—Sitting Pretty.
Trish has a small group of employees that help set up and tear down for weddings, and she is able to match nearly any color with the array of covers and ribbons in which she has invested. She even does business with women in other states, sending them samples to make sure they know what they will see on their wedding day.
Trish loves being able to provide beautiful options for brides that they can get without having to stress or rely on their families to set up and tear down on their special day.
When asked if she was planning on turning this into a full-time business, Trish said she’ll maintain her sales until she retires in a few years. At that time, she will do her fun and profitable business as much as she’d like. For now, she’s continuing to foster her relationship with local venues and planners, and growing her social media presence.
According to Forbes, Baby Boomers are quickly become the “hottest group” of small business owners, choosing now to become successful entrepreneurs. Trish Spaulding is a woman who rocks because she developed a profitable business with the help of other women, to help other women, and to make the world just a little bit prettier.
To find a Women’s Business Center near you, visit SBA.gov.