An interview Cathy Papenhause, owner of How to Wow Interiors in Elgin.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
A: I do interior redesign, organizing, de-cluttering and home staging (home decorating on a budget).
Q: What made you start your business?
A: I was laid off from my former occupation of 20 years and had been redecorating my own home for years as a hobby and decided I loved to do it and I had many people tell me I was good at it. Quite the change from accounting. But my accounting background is extremely helpful in the area of budgets, rate of returns on the improvements.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: The most difficult aspect has been getting customers, advertising and marketing.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Seeing my clients reactions to the changes. They really do have the same reactions as they do on TV with the room reveals!
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I learned most of my skills from my dad. He was a "do it yourself" man and an electrician. But I never really knew what it was I wanted to do until now.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: My thoughts of how I want to do the next room and all the great potential I see in it.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Networking is important. Join the chambers as well as women's groups and talk to everyone you know about what you are doing. You never know where your next client may be coming from. I met my last client at a charity function.
-- Kim Mikus
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