Lisa Rickert is at the top of her game. The serial entrepreneur dropped her wisdom, business strategies and the story behind launching her two successful companies, Ave Home and UNFOLDED.
She established UNFOLDED in 2010, started with three customers and went on to build a distribution network of more than 700 shops across four countries and a gross yearly revenue of over $30 million.
Today, she’s revealing a little more of her story as our Entrepreneur of the Day.
LIONESS: How long have you been in business?
RICKERT: I started UNFOLDED six years ago as the first American distributor for Annie Sloan products, including the now famous Chalk Paint decorative paint. Over the last 6 years, Our company has grown the distribution to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Ave Home, a specialty furniture company, first went to market in January 2016. Its mission is to be the best resource for designers and boutique owners to purchase classically designed furniture.
LIONESS: Why have you chosen to dedicate yourself to this particular business/industry?
RICKERT: I really came into the decorative paint industry by chance, because I fell in love with a European product while designing and building a new home. I saw an opportunity to share this passion I had for Annie Sloan with others. On the other hand, my commitment to the furniture industry was well thought out as it indirectly connects with my other work, along with my love for antique style furniture and design.
LIONESS: What makes your product unique?
RICKERT: Annie Sloan is an amazing woman and created, what I can confidently say, the best paint in the world. When I found her Chalk Paint in 2009, I knew immediately that it was unique with its texture, ease of use, and versatility. In terms of our Distribution company, we do not just move product. We are driven to be a service-oriented company who supports all of the small businesses we have relationships with through an extensive training program, local marketing funds, and annual meetings.
With Ave Home, we implemented the same service-oriented approach. In addition, the products are meticulously designed to emulate the original antique designs that inspired the piece or the collection. I also designed a high-end unfinished furniture collection, called AVE RAW, for those that are looking for beautiful designs that can be finished any way the customer chooses.
LIONESS: You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur?
RICKERT: I know this sounds cliché, but I think I have always emerged as a leader. When I was younger, I did not think I had the guts to be an entrepreneur after seeing my parents go up and down in their own small business. However, when the time came to make the decision to go out on my own, along with my husband, I knew wholeheartedly that it was the right move. We were all in and there was no turning back. Now I cannot imagine life any other way.
LIONESS: What was your last, “why did I go into business for myself” moment?
RICKERT: Luckily, I have not had that yet.
LIONESS: Every female professional should have …
RICKERT: An amazing team, personally and professionally.
LIONESS: If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why?
RICKERT: I am pretty inspired by Jessica Alba in the way she balances multiple careers, philanthropy, and being a mom. I am at a point in my life that I am just beginning to pursue non-profits that I am super passionate about and a big life goal for me is to become an impactful lobbyist trying to achieve greater transparency of farmers and food manufacturers.
LIONESS: What is your business motto?
RICKERT: Be ambitious and dream big, then figure out the best way to achieve those goals.
LIONESS: If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be?
RICKERT: 1) Be decisive. 2) Be fluid and be willing to re-strategize when things are not working as planned. 3) Always be a relationship driven business, there are too many choices today and consumers want a personal connection.
LIONESS: Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you?
RICKERT: My iphone 6 plus. It is really a mobile office that I have with me 24/7. There is no way I could be as productive without it.
LIONESS: What is your goal for the next year?
RICKERT: We are now six years in the US market with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan so our focus is to continue strengthening the brand in light of the numerous knock off products now on the market.
With AVE, we are still in our infancy so it’s all about building new accounts and developing brand awareness within our target markets.
LIONESS: When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say?
That UNFOLDED has done so much to develop the Annie Sloan brand in its territories, which has impacted so many other small businesses in such a positive way.
With AVE, I would be flattered if someone said that I have designed gorgeous pieces and they want them for their own home.
Rickert shared her strategies to scale startups, what women need to stop doing and some of her startup Dos and Don’ts on yesterday’s Lioness Business Coaching Call. For access to the complete replay by Sunday, Aug. 28, click here, sign up and we’ll email you the replay details and passcode.