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Malene Barnett

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Seizing Opportunities

Posted: 04/23/2013 5:20 pm

I'm the second of three girls in my family. When we attended events, parties and family celebrations as young girls the large crowds could be overwhelming, we have a very large extended family many of whom we barely knew. The three of us stuck together, however, long after my parents were off mingling with the adults. As we navigated through the parties the inevitable questions would always arise like "where's the bathroom?" or "when are we going to eat?" Since both my sisters were rather shy, I was always anointed to find out these answers and report back. I never simply came back with the answers; I usually brought new friends in tow. It was these early moments that taught me that seeking and cultivating new relationships would help me achieve my goals.

I started my carpet design business in 2009, right when we realized the bottom had dropped; I couldn't have had better timing right? But I had a vision and a passion for what I was about to do. My work was bold, global and modern; very different from the industry standards. The norm didn't interest me and I wanted to enliven the world with my designs; I wanted to set the trend. I have always been a creative spirit and have never had any interest in the business side of my past jobs. However I didn't let that serve as a barrier, in fact, it hardly crossed my mind. I saw beginning my own business as an opportunity to challenge my creativity beyond design. What I did know I was good at was building relationships and being bold enough to ask anyone questions.

My first goal was to find a way to get media coverage. How was I to do that when I didn't know anyone and I couldn't afford to advertise. I began with a list of the top 10 magazines that I would like to appear in. I meticulously studied the content and names of the people who worked at each publication. Fortuitously enough, my efforts paid off in a big way. While on a plane I spotted the editor in chief of one of the top design magazines on my list. As I mustered up the courage to introduce myself, I drew back on my childhood envisioning my sisters prodding me forward. I introduced myself to her and got confirmation she was who I thought. She graciously allowed me to share my work with her. She loved what she saw and offered to do something to help jump-start my business. And that she did!! Before I officially launched my company I had a full page feature in her magazine. I still maintain a close relationship today and she continues to be a strong supporter of mine and in every flooring issue my work makes an appearance.

Luck and timing had something to do with this, but without bold action on my part and trendsetting designs, it would never have come to fruition. I know it can be terrifying to introduce yourself to stranger but I encourage to you to be strong and do it. Turn your abilities into resources to help you grow your business. Don't be afraid to set a trend rather than follow one; and be bold, the rewards it brings are immeasurable!

 
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