Corey Gillum, owner and founder of Painted Tree, has a background in business ownership, marketing, and sales. Corey comes from a family of entrepreneurs who have always valued offering a good product and a reasonable price. After college, Corey worked in sales and marketing before opening his own photography studio at age 28. This business became a success with Corey’s knowledge in marketing and sales, as well as a background in photography. His parents had previously owned a photography studio of their own.
In 2008, Corey sold his business and started a career in buskins brokerage by opening his own company – Business Brokerage of Arkansas. After selling more than fifty companies in the Central Arkansas market, Corey joined his current business partner, Mike Cavallo in starting Painted Tree. This business started as a fun side business to the brokerage company, and was an exciting new opportunity for Corey and Mike to start a company which gave other entrepreneurs a chance to thrive by combining forces under one roof by sharing costs and customers. The first location, started near Little Rock, AR., was an instant success. Painted Tree quickly expanded to the DFW market in 2016. After a third location was opened, Corey committed to full time with Painted Tree and closed the brokerage company.
Corey and Mike have combined skills to lead Painted Tree in rapid growth. Corey attributes much of their success to business decisions made to “do the right thing”, not to just make money. Painted Tree has always done what’s best for the vendors as a whole, and is willing to lose money if necessary in order to do the right thing. The company trains it’s 500 employees to always “Treat everyone like your Grandma.” And always “Do the right thing by putting people ahead of policy.”
Corey believes Painted Tree can grow to over 200 locations in the next five years, with the staff and vision in place to make it happen. “I love what I do. I love working with the vendors and staff. Every day in business is a blessing I am thankful for. I know I was given this opportunity because of parents who did everything they could to give me the education, skills, and overall background needed to achieve success as an entrepreneur.”
Where did the idea for Painted Tree Boutiques come from?
The concept was to create a unique marketplace where shop owners could come together and create an upscale market.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day involves a series of meetings with key personnel, regarding marketing, sales, technology, administration, accounting, project management, and architectural design.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By delegating to capable staff members with the familiar commission – “Make it happen!”
What’s one trend that excites you?
As big retail continues to disappear across the country, Painted Tree continues to thrive.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
A constant, never ending desire to make Painted Tree the best it can be.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Go after what you love to do.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Being a good leader doesn’t always mean being their best friend.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Think big and chase your dreams.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Painted Tree, from the beginning, was designed to be a viable retailer in a competitive market. This means doing what’s best for the company as a whole, not just for certain individuals. For example, offering a return policy was a first in this type of business but immediately increased sales for all shop owners as shoppers had more confidence in making purchases at Painted Tree.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have made plenty of mistakes in my life. But I am driven to overcome adversity to accomplish a goal best for those around me and my family.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Offer a unique service to the public. Think out of the box, find a way to improve on an existing product and chase your dream.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
$100 bills given to successful store managers on impromptu drop in visits.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Monday.com is a recent software addition to our organizational abilities that has helped tremendously.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Inner Game of Golf. It changed the way I think about golf as well as business.
What is your favorite quote?
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.