Visiting the retail space or online site of our October Makers of the Month, Cedar & Cotton will leave you with the desire to refurbish your entire home. Their eclectic mix of new and vintage home furnishings are expertly curated, refurbished, and handcrafted in their Southwest Baltimore City space.
With 2.5 years in business, we asked owners, Reina and Nasira to share a bit of their experience in entrepreneurship thus far. They gave us some important elements and mantras to keep in mind when growing a business in the early years. Check it out!
MADE IN BALTIMORE: Share how you have specifically taken advantage of the camaraderie among makers through MIB? In other words, how has being a member of MIB helped your business?
CEDAR & COTTON: We think the biggest advantage of the camaraderie amongst makers is the motivation and inspiration we receive from those on a similar path. Being in a network of other makers and entrepreneurs allows us to sometimes pick the brains of those who have more experience than us or a different perspective than the one that we may hold. Sometimes just talking out an idea can make all the difference.
MADE IN BALTIMORE: What helped you make the decision to move into an actual retail location? What milestones did you set for yourselves to help you determine that you were ready for that step?
CEDAR & COTTON: We started out, like most makers, in our homes. Quickly realizing that adding a stock of furniture to a fully furnished house made for a cramped living space, we initially opted for a storage unit. The process was: sourcing furniture, moving it to (a packed to the brim) storage unit, unpack the unit to pull out a piece we wanted to work on, move it to one of our homes, work on the piece there, and move it back into the storage unit. With the constant movement a lot of furniture was getting damaged in the process, which was especially frustrating after we had diligently worked for days or weeks on restoration. After some of our favorite furniture suffered that fate, we realized that a dedicated workspace/showroom space was a necessity. It was a bit of a conundrum – the amount of business we had at that point didn’t generate enough revenue to support a retail space, but we knew we needed a retail space to begin generating revenue. We invested our personal funds and took a leap, which turned out to be one of the best decisions for our business thus far.
MADE IN BALTIMORE: What are some lessons you have learned about owning and operating your own manufacturing business that you wish you could go back in time and share with yourselves? Your answer will undoubtedly help other makers who are where C&C were two years ago before moving into an actual location.
CEDAR & COTTON: Allow for double the time you expect it to take to finish a project. Apply this rule to EVERY project – a ‘quick’ run to grab supplies, physically working on the piece, setting expectations for delivery time windows, and email/phone response time.
Always have a plan B.
MADE IN BALTIMORE: Is there anything else you would like to share to help your fellow makers? Insights? Pitfalls to avoid? Helpful advice or tips?
CEDAR & COTTON: One of our constant mantras is to ‘be the customer.’ Whenever we have a question about how to handle difficult situations within our business, we always put ourselves in the place of the customer. What would we, as consumers, expect in a product? In a price point? In a level of communication? In a transaction? This extension of the golden rule has proven to set us apart in a market where profit is often valued over personal connection.