Artist Tammy Neuhof is among 11 entrepreneurs chosen to participate in Count Me In’s new Urban Rebound business development program for women business owners in the greater Grand Rapids region. The Grand Rapids, MI, initiative, supported by the Kellogg Foundation, is designed to provide a full year of coaching and support for women entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses to the $250,000 revenue threshold quickly and sustainably, creating much needed jobs and measurable economic impact in the region.
Here, Tammy shares her thoughts on joining the program and how she plans to gain from it and grow her business, Windborne Studios. Founded in 2006, this Grand Rapids small business designs and produces custom fused, artisan glass pulls and handles. Windborne’s exciting line of functional art has already caught the eye of buyers at Home Depot and other national retailers and, with the Urban Rebound program, Tammy will learn how to grow professionally to best meet this new demand.
Count Me In: How did you hear about the Grand Rapids Urban Rebound opportunity and what made you decide to pursue it for you and your business?
Tammy Neuhof: I heard about Urban Rebound from Anne Marie Bassette with the Downtown Development Authority, here in Grand Rapids. Having a year-business mentoring program was very appealing to me for the continued success of my business. It just makes sense.
Count Me In: Having attended the first pitch competition back in October has your perception of your business and its potential changed at all? What about your view of yourself as a CEO?
Tammy Neuhof: Yes, everything has changed for me! Standing up and pitching was very uncomfortable at first but it has quickly become second nature. I knew I have a beautifully artistic functional product. The difference now: I am confident knowing when the consumer purchases and puts these knobs and pulls on their cabinets, they are not only getting a quality product, they are also getting a "conversation" piece.
Before CMI, I never thought of myself as CEO, but that too has changed. With multiple decorative hardware showrooms displaying my product throughout the country and having two large cabinet hardware distributors choose some of my lines to carry is a testament that I create a product that is being recognized in the hardware industry. I have a company that I am proud to say I am the CEO of!
Count Me In: While you’re still new to the Count Me In community, have you made any new connections, either with the women who participated in the October event or in the larger community?
Tammy Neuhof: Yes, I have been in touch with Deborah Richmond of TekkBuzz, she specializes in social media networking. We both participated in the October event. Also, while I was in New York City in November to launch my product in two of the Manhattan Home Depot stores, the ladies from CMI invited me to a gathering to show their support and even came to the launch on a Saturday morning! What a great group of supportive women! Thank You!
Count Me In: What advice would you give a woman entrepreneur who might be thinking about getting involved in the CMI program in Grand Rapids?
Tammy Neuhof: I would encourage women entrepreneurs to get involved with CMI. The amount of knowledge you’ll receive and contacts you meet will be a very valuable asset to you and your company.
Count Me In: In addition to your launch at Home Depot, what’s next for Windorne Studios?
Tammy Neuhof: We are currently working with another design artist who is an expert in metals and we are prototyping our first family of "metal and glass" knobs. We have also just been asked to expand to 12 more Home Depot stores and will continue our relationships with the larger cabinet hardware distributors to get our product recognized.
Learn more about Tammy and her business at www.windbornestudios.net.