Austintatious Blinds and Shutters opened its doors in 2003 and was co-founded by two women, Tracey Hopkins and Norma Catano. Brand Development Manager, Elizabeth Gray, recently sat down with Tracey to discuss her thoughts as a local women-owned business and what her hopes are for the future of the window covering industry.
Why did you start Austintatious Blinds and Shutters?
What started out as… what we referred to as ‘a lemonade’ stand, initially meant simply taking a break from Corporate America and catching a breath of fresh air by helping customers select pretty products for their home. However, once we “opened” that little lemonade stand, we realized that there was a huge void in the market. At that time, the marketplace was lacking professionalism, creativity, and people willing to put in the hard work. Luckily with our backgrounds, we were able to cover these areas (no pun intended) and bring the quality of the offering to an entirely new level.
All in all, the lemonade stand has done quite well and continually challenges us to stay fresh, creative, & unique… while always maintaining our focus on what really matters — which is making our clients happy.
Did you feel there was a lack of women in the industry?
When we started our business in 2003, there were a few women that sold window coverings in the marketplace. Most of these women were employees and did not own the business, consequently, the window covering industry was almost completely male dominate. Interestingly enough, it was also generally males that were making the decisions when purchasing window coverings for the home. During that time, the industry was plagued by mostly 2” faux wood or wood blinds & shutters… which definitely factored into why the window covering dealers and decision-makers purchasing window coverings were most often male.
We have always maintained focus on creating the perfect solution for every window, understanding that the window in and of itself, the view and the light it emits are all key factors. Simply covering it with a hard treatment (as we refer to blinds & shutters) isn’t always the best method and we want our clients to have the best!
How do you feel you run your business differently as women?
Although we are very business-oriented and always looking at the bottom line to make sure that our business is healthy and around for many years to come… our main focus will always be our employees and our customers. It’s definitely a core value that we have had since day one and we only feel stronger and more passionate about that mission. Business is about relationships… bottom line. Yes, the numbers are important, but it’s the relationships that we build that really create and sustain us.
What is your hope for the future as an established woman-owned business in the Austin area?
I love sitting down with other women business owners and trading ideas, strategies, and tidbits that we’ve picked up along the way. My hope is that women-owned businesses can continue to come together and support each other. I want us all to realize that we can help each other, rather than hiding ‘trade secrets’ or being fearful that someone is out to steal your clients, employees, ideas, etc. I would love it if we could set competition aside and replace it with bold advice and meaningful conversation. That is the future we will continually strive for and work to achieve, always.