By Reginald Tucker
When Michelle Winters, co-owner of Texas-based New Braunfels Flooring, launched the Women of the Flooring Business group on social media last year, the goal was to exalt female store owners while offering a platform to share best practices. The initiative is progressing as planned, she said, as increased participation across the industry is helping the group boost its profile.
“The flooring business is a bit of a road less traveled for females, where many of us have taught ourselves how to overcome unique obstacles to success in our industry,” Winters told FCNews. “As a relative newcomer to the business, I quickly discovered that there was no outstanding, easily accessible source for support.”
Winters—together with industry consultant and longtime FCNews columnist Lisbeth Calandrino, as well as Rachel Berlin, sales manager at Precision Floors & Décor, Sheboygan, Wis.—created an online community to change all that. Conceived as an online gathering place for like-minded women, Winters said, “These are forward-thinking businesswomen who want to up their game and bring better leadership skills and business development strategies to their respective workplaces.”
As facilitators, Winters, Calandrino and Berlin work together to cover everything from mindset practices to technology to product knowledge. For instance, Winters gives members a “backstage pass” to how she is scaling her own store, based on the lessons learned in scaling other successful businesses.
Meanwhile, Calandrino, who comes with decades of firsthand experience, acts as an “uber mentor” for women at all levels of the flooring business, Winters noted. (Her 1:1 mentorship programs are also available to members.)
Berlin, an interior designer who transitioned into flooring store manager, stays on the cutting edge of new product development and shares her knowledge of the current consumer climate and best practices in turning customers into raving fans.
Getting on board
One prominent member of the Women of the Flooring Business group is Deb DeGraaf, owner of DeGraaf Interiors, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. She applauded the group’s mission to connect women everywhere and share valuable solutions and resources. “Talking with other women and learning from their experiences is one of the key components to success,” she said. “Alone, none of us have the perfect formula. However, the combining of ideas and best practices gets us closer.”
With high-profile women in flooring engaging within this highly inclusive community, participants can expect to see a major impact on the industry as a whole. “This group has quickly become a trusted resource for me,” said Shannon Vogel, director of social media at Creating Your Space, a Broadlume company. “Having these conversations via a Facebook group is a brilliant way for more than 400 women to easily stay in touch, share information and keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry. The energy of the group is so good that I encourage all women in the flooring industry to join in the conversation.”
Winters said she has big plans for the group moving forward. In addition to growing membership organically, she plans to work closely with FCNews on columns and articles designed to help members succeed. “My vision is for all of the women of the flooring business to have access to whatever they need to be as outrageously successful as they want to be.”
This article first appeared in Floor Covering News on September 21, 2020