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Meet Michele Williams of Scarlet Thread Consulting in Alpharetta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michele Williams.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Michele. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began my career in financial software development with Management Science America and Dun & Bradstreet Software. It was here that I learned accounting from the inside out you might say. After ten years of software development, I came home to raise my young sons.

In January of 2000, I opened a soft furnishings company, The Scarlet Thread offering custom window treatments, pillows, cushions – anything for the home that was made of fabric. It was a welcome change of pace full of new challenges like…
• How much should I be charging for my work?
• Why am I second-guessing my decisions ALL THE TIME?
• How much money should I spend on advertising? And where are the best places to market my service?
• Should I join a networking group? And if so, which one?
• How do I handle difficult clients and stand up for myself and my work in a poised, professional way?

Thank goodness, I learned the answers to each of these questions, but I saw many of my colleagues struggling. Their talent with textiles and furnishings and design was being suffocated by the overwhelming demands of running-and attempting to grow-a business. I started offering advice and helpful tips where I could without seeming pushy and before I knew it, the next chapter of my career began.

In 2009, I began teaching business classes with an emphasis on good business practices and pricing custom work. I was an instructor at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy in North Carolina as well as at trade shows across the United States. I also formed a management company with several colleagues to manage and support the daily operations of the Custom Home Furnishings Academy from 2009-2012.

You might say I was getting serious about this whole business advice thing. Over the years, I have been asked to consult and coach businesses on how to move to the next level. I get a lot of questions like, “What do I do next?”

After four years of teaching concepts to entrepreneurs regarding their business practices, mission and pricing, I really wanted an opportunity to walk beside some of these business owners to personally coach and cheer them on as they moved toward their goals. In 2013, I began offering coaching for entrepreneurs in creative businesses. This is now my main focus – to help other entrepreneurs be highly successful in the business they are creating. My passion is to work with them on the financials and good business foundations. It is very normal for the financial aspects of the business to be overlooked or not understood. As a strategic financial coach certified in the Profit First methodology, I help each business owner actually OWN their financials. This alone makes all the difference in a company!

In addition to coaching, running workshops and providing online training, I also offer educational seminars and presentations on a variety of business topics around the country. I served as Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Drapery and Design Professional magazine from 2009-2012 and today I’m a proud member of the Design Collective, Designers Workroom Council and the Window Coverings Association of America, where I served as President of the national organization.

Has it been a smooth road?
Oh, it has not been smooth – but every bump has been a great learning opportunity. Balance is always what comes to mind. Learning to balance my time with two toddlers, then with young kids with after school activities. Running a business for many years out of my home while juggling wife/mom/friend activities was quite a juggling act. My joke was always, if I drop a “plate” let’s hope it is plastic.

Struggles also came at the beginning of my business to be all things to all people. Huge mistake. My methods and processes were always shifting to meet the needs of others and most always at a detriment to my income. Learning who I was perfectly meant to serve in the market and holding to that, has been a life saver. Learning to say NO so, I can later say YES took some effort and faith early on. I really believe “good” is the enemy of “best.” If we fill our calendar with all the good then when the best comes – we have no time for it. I have now learned to save time for the best – and to know it when it comes – and to not wait for the best but to actively pursue it. This is a big lesson to learn and one I love to share.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Scarlet Thread Consulting story. Tell us more about the business.
My company focuses on working with business owners in the home furnishings industry. Our goal is to help each business owner assess and create a firm foundation of business practices and principles to allow for growth. Trust me, if a business grows and the foundation is cracked – it will show up quickly.

I am known for helping creatives break down complex business ideas and processes into small manageable tasks so that they can understand, evaluate, strategize and create a business that works for them – not one that they work for.

One of the most important – and fun for me – aspects of my strategic coaching practice is to help each person fully understand their financials. To really “get the numbers.” Each set of financial documents tell a story and I love to interpret them for my clients so, that they can write the story of their business success.

Profit First is a cash management methodology that I teach and use in my own business. This is for sure a way of handling money that is maybe different from what you are taught in business school. However, it makes so much sense and works with our natural inclinations that when we put it into practice it creates healthy financial decision making and money management systems.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
So, the interior design industry, like many industries is always changing and evolving. Technology continues to play a large part both in how we run the internal operations of a company and how we interact with our clients. Keeping up with social media, collaboration and access to information will most assuredly change the landscape of design in the future.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Christina Wedge Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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