Hello. My name is Cheryl Coppola. My husband Sergio and I
own Expressions House of Draperies in Regina. We provide window
coverings to residential and commercial applications in the
city and outside of the city as well. We also sell bedspreads
and accessories like placemats, co-ordinating items to go with
your other fabrics.
People do come into our store, but we always suggest that
we come out to see them because it's nice to see the colours
with their couch, with their paint, with their carpet. So it's
a lot of very, very personal service that we provide. The customer
service is such a big part of any business these days that
sometimes you do work at strange hours and do strange things.
And it's usually the business owner that's doing that and not
[Typical Work Day:]
I shuffle a lot of the paper. Look after the payables and
receivables. Originally, I was a big part of the sales force,
but we now have four sales consultants. So I would process
the mail, look after paying the bills, doing invoicing as the
consultants come back with a job that they've sold. I kind
of put a bit of the paperwork there together for them.
"Good morning, Expressions House of Draperies…"
[Decision To Enter This Particular Occupation:]
Actually, I'm a psychiatric nurse, which has nothing to do
with draperies. But my mother-in-law and her sister and bother
owned House of Draperies. When I was expecting our first child,
they were at a time in their life when they were wanting to
retire, or sell the store, or just shut it down. And my husband
and I had a very brief chat about giving it a go, and here
we are today seven years later with three stores.
[Education & Training:]
Without a formal business education, of course I don't think
anyone needs that, and you don't in a lot of cases. It depends
on the type of business that you get into. A lot of it is experience.
A lot of my background is in public service, whether it was
life guarding, or teaching swimming lessons, or being a customer
service person at Bi-Right Drugs or something like that. I've
always tended to be in that kind of role where I'm working
with the public and helping them to do something or find something.
[What I Would Do Different:]
You find resources to increase your knowledge in the field,
whether it's going to suppliers or tradeshows, or seminars,
or whatever else is available out there. A lot of learning
on the job is involved in owning this type of business. If
I were to do this all again, I probably would have sought out
some type of education in marketing.
[Personal Characteristics & Attitude:]
Some people will come in and know exactly what they want,
and some people will come in with no idea of what's even available.
So, you have to have a lot of product knowledge, some background
or experience in decorating and putting all of these things
together. So, you have to be able to communicate well with
the customer. A bad attitude results in bad performance, and
you can't afford bad performance in public service.
It's important to feel confident with the decisions you do
make and follow through with them, and be a leader. And if
anything else, in having a good attitude. Flexibility, sensibility,
personability - no one would come to our store if we were all
Preparation is, I think, really important in starting a business.
Seeking out financial backing if that's necessary: what is
available, what is available to you, suppliers, the demographics.
You really have to roll with the punches.
It's a just nice feeling to know that you're making someone
happy in quite a small way in the large spectrum of things,
but satisfying. I didn't get into the business because I love
it, I came to love it because I got into the business, luckily!