[quote style=”boxed”]Don’t get comfortable thinking you’ve arrived. There is always someone or something ready and willing to bump you and your product out of business. Stay on your toes. No fear, just need to know your competition, know your strengths, know your weaknesses and keep learning, keep growing![/quote]
Darlene Farmer is founder and president of Creative Carpet Design, LLC. Darlene was hit by the entrepreneurial bug from an early age of 18 where she started her first of many businesses. Although none were quite successful Darlene never lost hope. When getting ready to embark on a new business venture in 2000 God had another plan. Darlene took God’s plan and had a successful home based business within only 1 month of starting. The financial success was so great that it allowed Darlene to pursue her ultimate goal and that was to become a manufacturer. She had her light bulb moment while out to dinner with her husband back in 2004. Without wasting any time Darlene & her husband Ron were embarking on a new venture in custom rug making. With Darlene’s passion for interior design & decorating and Ron being skilled with working with his hands she knew this would be a perfect fit for them. The business has grown every year by leaps and bounds even during recession. Darlene attributes the success of Creative Carpet Design to following God principle of tithing and giving. She says that when they put God first it’s his job then to look out for them…and they say he’s doing a very good job of it! Every year their business has grown by at least double from the year before. Creative Carpet Design has approx. 80 authorized retailers throughout the US & Canada. They are now branching out to offer other vendors products as well to coordinate with their custom rugs. The future is very bright!
What are you working on right now?
Planning a vacation to St. John ,Virgin Islands.
Where did the idea for Creative Carpet Design come from?
My husband and I were actually at dinner and I told him that I was going to have a hard time finding a rug to coordinate with my new sofa & loveseat we had purchased. I said, “I wish there was a company that did custom rugs and I could pick my colors and design.” That was my “Light Bulb” moment! I then said, “Hey, that’s a good business idea!” So within a few months later hubby & I were trained in the art of custom rug making. The rest is history…
How do you make money?
We are custom rug manufacturers, so we sell our rugs at wholesale to our authorized retailers across the US and Canada. In addition to that we also have a retail website.
What does your typical day look like?
Well since our company is owned and operated by both my husband and I l’ll explain our typical day jointly.
Hubby has always been a morning person….me not so much! Everyone that knows me knows I am a night owl. So hubby graciously gets up at 6:30am to make coffee for us and drive our 15 yr old to school. When he returns from taking her to school around 8am I am usually getting up. He brings me coffee and we watch one of our early morning Christian shows together before we start our work day. Jesus has really blessed us and we want to honor him with putting him first every day. Makes for a great start of our day. At 9am hubby leaves to go to the shop to start the days rug manufacturing. I power up the computer and start answering emails and processing custom rug orders that have come in from our retailers. After that I can be found doing many things such as marketing ,research, ordering supplies, processing accounts receivables, accounts payable, returning phone calls, mailing samples, designing new rug designs, etc… Sometimes I stop working and take an actual lunch break but many days I just work through lunch. At 2:45 I have to stop everything and go pick up our daughter from school. Back by 3:15 and replying to emails, processing more orders. 4pm I go to the shop where the custom rugs are manufactured and find out what rugs are shipping that day, take photos, get shipping info all ready and update production list with new orders that came in. 4:30pm hubby is busy packaging rugs for shipment and at 6pm rugs are loaded for UPS. Our work day officially ends around 7pm. However there are some nights that we work way past 7pm just to not get so far behind.
How do you bring ideas to life?
An idea is only a thought it takes action to bring it to life. First thing I do is research, research, research to make sure the idea is what I think it is. I then calculate the risk and the potential and devise a gameplan of bringing the idea to life. I really do not listen to friends or family about my ideas. I pray and ask God for his guidance. When I feel at peace about an idea/investment I move forward If I do not…I don’t. For instance, back in 2000 I was planning for 1 yr to start a mobile kids photography business. I had the funds, had bought props, but God said No. I told hubby that I felt God didn’t want me to start the photography business but that I felt he was leading me to sell on ebay. (I had been dabbling on ebay selling my daughter’s outgrown baby clothes) Anyway, it turned out I was right to listen to God! Within 1 month I was selling as seen on tv merchandise fulltime on ebay and in 1 yr I did over a quarter of a million in sales. This allowed us for the first time to become debt free and prepared me to be in a financial position to start our custom rug business in 2004.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Initial & Monograms are so popular and that is exciting considering we specialize in Initial & Monogram Inlay Rugs!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked several years at restaurants as a waitress and the last waitress job I had before I quit that profession I had a coworker tell me that if I was making at least $8 an hour that I better feel lucky because that was the best I would ever get. Wow! I knew that was not true and no one was ever going to put a limit on what I would or could earn! I quit soon after his comment and started my successful ebay business. That coworker by the way is still waiting tables 13 yrs later.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Well when we first started the custom rug business we marketed to high end customers in our local area. We did quite a few custom rugs locally but I knew there would be times when people couldn’t afford $3000-$6000 for a rug so I began selling simple border rugs for kids on ebay and it took off! Soon our simple border rugs were keeping us so busy that we didn’t even market to our local high end clientele any longer. This is what put us into the juvenile market with our custom rugs. So, what would I do different? Hmmm, I guess not. It was fun designing & creating the one of a kind high end rugs in the beginning but it’s just as fun and rewarding to design and create custom rugs for baby’s & kid’s rooms. The best difference is you don’t have to be a “Donald Trump” to afford our custom baby/kid’s rugs!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t get comfortable thinking you’ve arrived. There is always someone or something ready and willing to bump you and your product out of business. Stay on your toes. No fear, just need to know your competition, know your strengths, know your weaknesses and keep learning, keep growing! Oh and as a Christian I say to be sure and tithe! Hubby & I know that God has blessed us and will continue as long as we honor him with our first fruits (tithe) and treat customers how you would want to be treated.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have been an entrepreneur since I was 18 years old when I started my first business. It was called “Art Expressions” and I was an art promoter. I represented about a dozen artists and held an art show at a hotel to promote them. The artists would be at the show that I set up in hopes to sell their art. The show unfortunately didn’t have enough customers which led to some unhappy artists. My lesson in this was that I needed to put a lot more into advertising the shows. But being only 18 years old without hardly any capital to work with I decided to stop that business. Sometimes it is better to cut your losses and this was one of those times.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Ok, you’re lucky because I’ve never told anyone this idea, but I’m not going to pursue this into a business so here you go…
Hubby kept me awake, tossing and turning all night for many years due to his snoring. Until one night he took a tablespoon of olive oil before bed…Voila…no snoring!! He kept doing night after night and still no snoring. Wow, I said I think we are on to something great! A few nights he forgot to take it before bed and guess what? He snored! This could be packaged as an all natural anti snore remedy and wives would buy it up!!! Sleep is a precious thing and people will pay to have it when their partner is a snorer.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
That evil would not exist! Just keep shining the light & showing love.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
A yearly vacation to me is as important as a bill. Let me explain.. we would never say I can’t pay that cell phone bill, mortgage, electricity, etc.. it’s too expensive, but a lot people say that they can’t afford a vacation. Well treat your vacation as a necessary expense just like a bill. It is necessary! Just please don’t go in debt to take it, you can do it frugally! For several years we didn’t take vacations because we said it would be wiser to use the money for …..(whatever) Then in 1997-2000 I had a brother, a sister, my dad, an uncle, and grandma all pass away. It put a whole new perspective on life for me. One was it was important to not only work hard but it was important to take time off work to create family memories! So in 2000 we took our first family vacation and have taken one every year since. We have created so many fun memories on vacations that we will all remember all the days of our lives.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Facebook.com – Great targeted advertising & social networking
PayPal.com – Accept money, credit cards from anyone, anywhere
helpareporter.com It is the best place to get your PR
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have read sooooooo many books on business that I can’t even remember the names of, but can tell you one that I can see on my bookshelf right now that was a great book. It is called Mommy Millionaire by Kim Lavine. It shows what it takes to bring a product to market and all the struggles as well as success that follows.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed today, because of my dog Bailey who is a golden retriever mix . We laugh all the time because of her. She thinks she is a lap dog so she just sits on anyone. We have to watch her because sometimes she tries to sit on the cat. Lol
Who is your hero?
Only one comes to mind-Jesus! He is my rock!
Is there any business/company out there that you really admire?
Yes, I admire companies that give to those less fortunate. For instance TOMS is awesome that they give 1 pair of shoes for every pair of shoes that are purchased. I LOVE that! I wish we would give a rug for someone in need for every rug that was sold….but the need for rugs isn’t exactly the same as the need for shoes. However, we do give a certain percentage of all our website sales to support orphans.
What is your best advice for someone that wants to start a business?
Find someone with the type of business you are interested in that will talk honestly with you. Don’t be afraid to contact successful people for advice. Most of the time they are flattered and willing to give advice provided it is not in competition with their business. They can help you to avoid mistakes that they probably already made. Do not listen to naysayers that have never owned a successful business. Surround yourself with positivity!!
Darlene Farmer’s Email: [email protected]
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.