Women Who Own It
CEO of Duobed, LLC
What inspired you to start your business?
I came up with Duobed design while remodeling the den in of my condo. I have two grandsons, and I wanted that room to be a place for them to sleep when they visited. But when I used it for a den or work, I wanted it to be comfortable, and a sofa bed is the most uncomfortable thing there is. I was not going to sit in on furniture that was going to break my back, so I created a multifunctional concept – basic ottomans that can be put together many creative ways – chairs, sofas, beds, or chaise lounges. I chose high-density foam for the cushions to provide great back support, and fabrics that would look stylish, but that the kids couldn’t ruin.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
As a senior entrepreneur you need an open mind hire employees from different generations with expertise in all aspects of your business. Money is also critical, and no matter how much you plan it will never be enough, so you have to be resourceful.
What three traits define you?
Visionary. Perseverance. Optimism. I always see the glass half full.
What women inspire you?
Women who have worked at a profession successfully, regardless of the hurdles it took to get there.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
I had absolutely no idea what I would need to do to market Duobed. I signed up for the first Platinum Supplier Class [through WBEC-West] and started to learn what selling Duobed would really require.
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
Selling furniture online is becoming an accepted way of buying. I would not be able to sell an American made furniture unit and still be successful if I had to sell to retail stores.
What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?
Experience, funding and mentoring.
When you have a product, you have to be passionate about it and be ready to give 100% in order to make it really fly, because you’re going to hit every roadblock and bump in the road before you get it launched and going. One of my WBENC mentors early on said, “At every lunch sit at a table where you don’t know anybody,” That’s great advice because it’s really important to be out there and talk to other people. You never know who knows somebody else who might be able to help you.
What do you love about being a business owner?
I really appreciate all the people who see Duobed before they buy and tell me what a great idea it is and how much they love the product. The consumer reviews online are so enthusiastic. It validates why I keep trying to market Duobed.
What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?
I haven’t been able to take a real vacation since I started Duobed.
How do you define success?
You get positive feedback about your product, and the bottom line financial statement is positive.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
From my son: “Mother you need to hire someone half your age who knows how to do spreadsheets and work with Amazon, and to stop trying to do it all yourself.”
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I love to work and do some of my most efficient work early in the morning.
What are you reading or listening to now? (Book, blog, magazine, podcast, etc.)
Books on tape as I drive. I live in Southern California and spend a lot of time on the 405 Freeway.
What’s the best way to start your day?
With a big sales order.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was raised to be a wife and mother, went to college and majored in education. When I started to practice teaching, I hated it, so I got married. When I got the family candy store, I found my business/entrepreneurial calling. I loved selling candy to consumers and corporations for gifts at the holidays. I also got into real estate which I really liked doing. I purchased a lot and built a house on it at age 28. I went on to do a condo conversion, build 14 apartments, and remodel several more houses.
What do you like about your workspace?
I bought the building before it was built and it has all the things that make me feel successful.
Fill in the blank:
When I face a challenge, I... look for a mentor.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... be careful not to extend myself financially.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my companion, my dogs, kids, and good friends.
By this time next year, I will be... · successful because I was able to get a hospital to see the value of Duobed to make a patient’s family comfortable, especially when staying overnight with a sick relative.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... finding out how WBENC is supporting Women Owned retail product businesses. We have different selling needs than service businesses.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... have good conversations with others, especially my WBEC sisters encountering the same problems I have had and how we can learn from and partner with each other.
Duobed is an American furniture manufacturing company with a new concept, designed for today's lifestyle with comfort and style, maximizing your space and minimizing your cost. Our modular multifunctional furniture system easily converts chairs, sofas and sectionals; to beds (Twin or King), chaises, the possibilities are endless. We can customize the fabric, cushion firmness, and even the dimensions to meet your needs. Duobed is ideal for family and visitor seating or sleeping in hospitals, hotels, offices, government housing, student housing, and any home -- anywhere people need to sit and sleep. Learn more.