In celebration of Women’s Small Business Month, we sat down with the majority owner of Grand Kitchen + Bath, Julie Burch to learn how Grand Kitchen started, how the business has changed and the opportunities and challenges that exist for a female entrepreneur.
How did you and Richard get into the business in this industry?
When we first started Grand Kitchen + Bath I was still working a full-time job for a steady paycheck and working at the showroom as a side hustle. Designing is essentially a form of merchandising, and I had a retail merchandising background, so as the business really started to grow it just made sense that I use my background to integrate into a larger ownership role in the business. When we started GKB we just did cabinets; as the business grew so did the products and services we offered, adding on countertops, tile, lighting, fixtures, sinks, etc. We now offer over 500 products in our portfolio, which was easy to learn as we added them, but now it can be a little daunting for someone new to come into.
Most small businesses start with the owner deciding they don’t want to work for someone else and essentially go into business to give themselves a job. We did just that; we decided we didn’t want to be working for someone else through to retirement, so as the business grew, we also grew our staff, so it became about leading a business and hiring other people as part of the team. This way, I could really take charge of managing the client process while Richard maximized his talents in Design. We feel we had an advantage; we got into this business without being taught so we didn’t know any rules and that allowed us to experiment. Now, 3 showrooms later, here we are.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Recruiting the right talent. Along the way, I’ve learned you can’t ask enough questions; you can’t dismiss your gut instinct. No matter how many questions you ask, no matter what a person’s qualifications or how recommended they come, the early red flags your gut picks up on usually lead to bigger things down the road you’ll wish you’d paid more attention to.
Have you had any mentors or coaches along the way?
We’ve had a couple coaching opportunities along the way, most notably getting involved in Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership. The formula is adaptable to every type of business. We’ve worked with local entities that helped get us into the coaching world, but we needed to go deeper and EntreLeadership is very good at educating and coaching for businesses whether they are transactional, or service based. The way they maximize technology and the network of other business owners gives you a great support system to share and learn from each other in addition to the resources from the Ramsey team. It’s a cohesive comradery of everyone helping everyone else.
Pros and cons of being a female business owner in 2019?
Compared to the rest of our industry, we are an interesting mix, because we have a bit of a hybrid with the interior design business and the construction side, where many just do one or the other. The construction part of the industry is of course still very male-dominated while it’s safe to say interior design has been a female-dominated industry for decades. Kim and I are really devoted to managing the people and client-side of the business along with the merchandising side. Realistically, this works better as most of the demographic we deal with is female and often they relate better to other females as a major decision-maker and homeowner.
Tips for women wanting to start their own business?
Think about it very carefully. I think we really learned a lot the hard way going by the seat of our pants. If you want to get into business for yourself, I can’t stress enough to really think about it and be realistic. You need a business plan from the beginning, a vision and a roadmap of how you are going to get there and what it’s going to take, financially, mentally, and physically. We sort of lucked out that we jumped in and it eventually all came together as we were self-taught. There are a lot of resources out there these days for small business owners and I can’t stress enough to really tap into those; many of the small businesses we’ve seen not make it in the past 15 years since we started GKB, not having a clear plan was probably one of their first downfalls.
I would also recommend utilizing your network and take advantage of programs out there designed to help promote women-owned businesses. I know funding can still be a barrier for women who want to launch their own business for example so there are a number of resources from agencies like the Small Business Administration, The National Women’s Business Council, National Association of Women Business Owners among many others that can help connect you with the resources that might help you take the next step.
What motivates or encourages you?
Wine! All kidding aside, a good motivator for me daily is to have happy homeowners; they put a great deal of trust into us to invite us into their homes, tear apart something, and then create something brand new that they will love. Just the other day, working with a client, I pulled some materials together that they never even dreamed of putting together and they were totally gaga over it! That’s what gets me out of bed each day, the ability to do that and knowing that many of the clients we’ve worked with have become close friends. Our projects can take a great deal of time, and there is no better compliment than when that project is complete, that we’ve created not only an amazing space for them, but we’ve also built amazing friendships along the way.
One of the biggest challenges in creating your dream kitchen is deciding on which finish to use. What makes it even more difficult is that there's no customary instruction to selecting easy care finishes or materials. Likewise, there are numerous rules and styles when working with a professional. Without a doubt, every project is different and requires a special touch.
However, most professionals will agree that there are certain guidelines to follow when creating a perfect kitchen to fit your needs. For instance, easy maintenance and preventing fingerprints from showing are critical factors when deciding on the ideal finish. In truth, many people feel that an easy clean up on appliances is a major feature to have in their dream kitchen. There are also other factors to consider when designing the ideal home kitchen.
Stainless Steel Finishes
One of the most popular finishes is stainless steel. This is because there are several features that make it an outstanding selection. For instance, stainless steel is quite durable with a very strong structure, is simple and easy clean up on appliances plus easy maintenance and is environmentally friendly. Stainless steel will also blend in with most cabinets and décor.
Drawbacks to stainless steel can include that it is no longer original or unique and could be considered boring, it is prone to fingerprints, and most stainless steel appliances are monotone with a stainless finish on the appliance and the handle.
Black Stainless Steel Finishes
Black stainless steel has many features such as easy care finishes, minimal to no fingerprints when compared to regular stainless steel, and has contrast options like a black stainless steel appliance with stainless steel handles.
The cons are few but worth noting: limited consumer color testing, a new product with limited models, and there can be color variations, depending on the manufacturer.
Black appliances are a great way to add depth to a kitchen. When working with a professional, they can suggest different ways to mix and match but still have a modern look. For instance, black appliances pair well with stainless as well as various color cabinets. In addition, black finishes tend to be more cost effective and easy on the budget.
White finishes make a kitchen look bigger and brighter and, in fact, they have the ability to make a kitchen feel larger as well. White finishes are classic and have a clean ambiance and shine. It may seem like you clean often to keep the surface shiny and sparkling, however this is well worth the rewards of a sunnier and larger space.
Slate finishes are more popular with consumers who like a warmer touch instead of the cold feel of stainless steel. Slate has a metallic look but also has a warm matte finish. In addition, the earth tone of a slate finish pairs well with a variety of colors and materials.
What is more, slate finishes are resilient to fingerprints and smudges, are versatile with earthy tones, look amazing against white cabinetry and are well-tested by consumers with high ranks. The biggest downfall of a slate finish is that it does not pair well with the shine and polished look of stainless steel.
Black Slate Finishes
About the time black stainless steel appliances became popular, black slate finishes were introduced. Unfortunately, black stainless steel took the limelight. However, black slate is quickly making a comeback in many contemporary kitchens.
Black slate features the same exceptional stone matte finish plus stainless steel handles for a nice contrast. Black slate appliances are also available through most manufacturers and come in a variety of styles. Black slate’s other benefits include resilience to fingerprints, a great contrast with white cabinets, it has rich and warm tones with a matte finish, and both contrasting and matching handles are available. By the same token, black slate has a few drawbacks like limited availability and being difficult to match it with stainless steel.
Color finishes are quite popular for a modern look and contemporary décor. The ingenuity definitely makes a statement giving your kitchen the “wow” factor. However, color finishes are not for everyone. Keep in mind that when an appliance goes out it may be difficult to replace. Also, color appliances are generally more expensive than other finishes and styles. However, it is always worth it if it's the look you desire.
Work with the experts
Deciding on the best finish for your kitchen is a personal choice. However, if you find the process a bit challenging, your best option is to work with a professional. They will know what is best to suit your needs and desires when it comes to designing your dream kitchen.
As the calendar days begin to move through summer and parents think about the impending school year, that dark cloud of chaos starts to appear. Many homes certainly turn into a circus when it is time for the little ones to head back to school. If this happens in your household, then you may be looking for DIY or professional remodeling in keeping with small kids and organized lives. For the past month, you may have mentally mulled over the following questions: What bathroom additions make things easier for small kids going back to school? Which kitchen must haves for small kids make things easier for back to school? Should you hire a professional to make changes to these rooms? Do you need to make large changes, or can you make a few small changes? Fortunately, we have found a few suggestions that will help to keep the beginning of the school year chaos at bay for parents and help get the little ones up, dressed, fed, and off to school.
Let's start with the first question: What bathroom additions make things easier for small kids going back to school? We have found that it is amazing how small changes can make a difference. Adding a small basket layered with socks/clothing on the bottom, a wash cloth on top of the clothes, and the toothbrush on top of the wash cloth gives visual cues for children to brush, wash, and then dress. A mini sand glass timer will show the child how long he/she should brush their teeth. Adding an additional faucet to the bathroom will allow two children to wash their faces and brush their teeth at the same time. This will save you the headache of listening to them fight in the bathroom while you are trying to get ready. Wall mounted body wash and shampoo will make it easier for children to access these items when taking their shower prior to bed time. Getting them to bed on time is definitely something that makes the mornings go smoother. Install towel racks that are child height to deter them throwing their towels on the floor (it will probably happen anyway, but at least you tried). Step stools are a must if you don't want to have to turn the sink on/off for little ones with short arms. Touch free facets are great as well. They also help little ones be more independent with operating the faucets as well as keeping them from leaving the water running.
Here are some kitchen must haves for small kids to make things easier for back to school. Individual reusable water bottles filled with water, juice or milk and reusable bento boxes filled with fruit, yogurt, and granola or cereal placed on a low shelf in the refrigerator allow small ones to grab a drink and complete quick breakfast prep independently. Once again, it is wonderful how small changes can make a difference. Install a kitchen island; it is a great place for children to eat breakfast while you review the day's schedule. They will be in close proximity to you while you pack lunches. A snack cabinet that is one of the lower kitchen drawers or on one of the lower shelves in the pantry makes it easier for children to grab a snack for school. Touch free faucets also work well in the kitchen.
As you can see, there are several things that you can do in the kitchen and the bathroom to make things easier for back to school. Both large and small changes can make a difference. You don't necessarily need to hire a professional to make changes to these rooms. However, if you choose to, then be sure to hire one than can complete remodeling and keep small kids and organized lives in mind. And keep Grand Kitchen + Bath top of mind for any project you find you need for your home. Best of luck during the upcoming school year!
The holidays are considered to be special times for both family and friends. With all of the celebrating that goes on, your house may even be one of the main gathering places for many of these activities. Therefore, if you are hosting holiday events in your home, you may want to get a jump on remodeling your kitchen or bathroom to have it done before the holidays. Having said this, here are a few recommendations that you can use to kick off your holiday home improvement plans:
1. Talk to Professional Remodeling Companies
Getting the job done before the holidays can be a challenging undertaking if you are looking to get some major work done in time. This is especially the case if you want to completely remodel your kitchen and/or the bathroom. In either case, you need to know what you start can be completed before you open your doors for holiday entertainment. So, one of the first things that you will want to do is to schedule a consultation with a remodeling company that offers the skills and experience for the improvement projects that you have in mind. “At Grand Kitchen & Bath, we ensure that the vision you have for your remodeling project will become a reality both within your budget and your timeline,” says Richard Valmain, Co-Owner.
2. Set a Realistic Budget
As most of you already know the cost of these home improvement projects does not always come cheap. In fact, based on the type of enhancements to the home that you will be making, the price tag can be quite costly, and your budget can take a big hit. To assist in minimizing the financial impact that these projects can have on your pocket, it is important that you set a realistic budget for the work that needs to be done. Therefore, when you are talking with our renovation consultant about remodeling the bathroom or the kitchen area, you need to have a good idea ahead of time of the amount that will be needed and the amount that you are prepared to pay. Whatever the case, make sure that you have allotted enough financing to ensure the job is well done and will always look professionally renovated with Grand Kitchen + Bath.
3. Establish a Timeline for the Remodel Projects
Having professionals remodel your kitchen or bathroom is one of the best ways to meet the deadlines for the holidays. This is because these professionals have the skills, experience, and expertise to start and complete these jobs within a specific time frame. So, for those of you who want to make sure the home improvements made in the kitchen or the bathroom will meet the deadline and its overall premium requirements, you need to discuss the timeline for the work that has to be done. For instance, in the timeline that is created, the designer of the newly remodeled bathroom or kitchen will need to consider several different factors including the actual design time, how much time that it will take for picking the brands, and the construction work that has to be completed. You and our professional remodeling specialist will make sure that the timeline or the remodeling plan gives you a chance to start picking the brands that you want for the appliances in your kitchen and bathroom areas.
4. Choose from a Complete Overhaul of Your Kitchen and Bathroom or Choose to Extend the Sizes
If you know that you are entertaining a large number of people in your home during the holidays, you may also be thinking about having enough room to host fun activities. While some homeowners may want to simply overhaul their bathrooms with a more updated and recent modern-day look, others may prefer extending the size of the bathroom and kitchen to a much larger space. Therefore, before you begin working on the construction of these jobs, you need to make sure to determine which option will suit your situation and preferences best. For instance, if you want to extend the size of your kitchen or your bathroom, this may involve knocking down one or more of the walls. Hence, when you begin this type of project before the holidays, you need to ensure that you have time, physical resources, a detailed plan, and the finances to tackle these jobs knowledgeably and professionally.
5. Leave Time to Decorate Your Newly Designed Kitchen or Bathroom
The design time that is included in your timeline may not factor in what needs to be done after the construction of the kitchen or bathroom has been completed. Because time is of the most essential in getting these types of big jobs done by a certain time, you may also factor in the time needed to furnish the new kitchen or bathroom with new appliances and decorations. By having our professionals remodel your kitchen or bathroom, they can always assist in decorating these new parts of the home with the best furnishings. Therefore, it is very important on the front end to know exactly what appliances will go in the new kitchen before it is considered to be completed, based on the timeline or remodel projects.
6. Choose A Reliable Remodeling Company to do the Work
Beauty, quality and time are of the essence when you are working to be ready for the upcoming holidays. Therefore, before these projects are started, you need to know in advance if you are working with a reputable kitchen or bathroom remodeling company such as Grand Kitchen + Bath. Before you approve these jobs to be done, you need to obtain some information about their background. For instance, you should see a portfolio of the work that they have done, customers who can vouch for their work ethics, and their ability to provide the work that is requested on schedule. By choosing a reliable remodeling company, such as Grand Kitchen + Bath, you can avoid potentially having to entertain your family and friends in a home that is still in the process of being remodeled. As Richard Valmain, co-owner of Grand Kitchen + Bath, states, “We will make sure your home is beautiful and is just what you envisioned."Remodeling Your Bathroom Adds Value to Your Home Is your bathroom looking worn or outdated? Do you wake up in the night to the sound of running water because the mechanism in your toilet is stuck open? Do you find yourself going over to friends’ homes and feeling envious of their dream bathroom? Well, put away that green monster and remodel your bathroom! You too can have a beautiful, tranquil bathroom in your home. After all, remodeling your bathroom increases the overall value of your home. Some things to consider when remodeling your bathroom (and adding value to your home) are choosing permanent fixtures that are more neutral not only in color but also in style. Many choices in tile, flooring, countertops, sinks, tub enclosures or any other permanent fixture in your bathroom can be easily converted from one style to another with paint and accessory changes. For example, if you choose a gray, white, or other neutral-toned tile for the walls surrounding your tub and a white sink, toilet, and tub, it would be simple to make those colors contemporary, minimalist, mid-century modern, transitional or any other popular style. Thus, adding more value to your home in the event you put it on the market for sale. Creating your dream bathroom can turn out to be a big project for you to try and tackle by yourself. If you do not have a lot of time or you are not very handy with plumbing and electrical issues, hiring a licensed contractor to remodel your bathroom is definitely for you. Sometimes, upon taking out the old fixtures there are additional surprises like rotting sub floor, mold in the sheetrock or under the fixtures. It might be best for you to hire a contractor to take care of the unexpected surprises that may be found. Hiring a contractor with a lot of experience and a good reputation can make your remodeling project a lot less frustrating and time consuming. When hiring a contractor to remodel your bathroom, here are some tips for finding a good contractor: