Teri Cardinelli spent more than 25 years honing her skills in the design and craftsmanship of custom window treatments and furniture coverings. In 2012, she knew it was time to open a shop of her own. After designing and producing custom window treatments at home for a few customers — while also working two part-time jobs — Cardinelli decided to commit to serving her customers full time.
Cloth Interiors offers custom window treatments, cushions, bedding, pillows and more at its design studio in Kennebunk, Maine.
Cardinelli contacted SCORE and was connected with Sanford “Sandy” Carlisle, a retired executive who volunteers as an online mentor. After many email and phone exchanges, Cardinelli arranged to come into the Portsmouth office of SCORE, where she met with Carlisle and Lisa Allison, another SCORE volunteer.
Cardinelli explains, “From that first meeting I got the validation I was on the right track, experience to point me in the right direction, wisdom to guide me through my ideas and suggest better ones, and encouragement to know what my real value is to myself and my clients. That is a lot to have on my team. Because of Sandy and Lisa, my confidence just kept on building and my business began to grow.”
Like many SCORE clients, Cardinelli has talent and technical skill, but needed help getting the business details organized. She had experience working in a similar business and Carlisle recognized the value of this. “Teri has an extensive background in her craft, which she now needs to recognize and draw upon," Carlisle recalls. "Most of her issues are in the areas of business management and marketing, which SCORE is exceptionally well equipped to address. She is actively pursuing both local and trade networking, and is establishing trade relationships with the major fabric suppliers and production shops."
With SCORE’s help, Cardinelli started making a plan for her business; found a perfect location; organized her bookkeeping, contracts and pricing; and got ready for her grand opening. She did all this while completing jobs, adding new customers and showing a solid profit and positive cash flow in every month of 2013.
Cardinelli attended two evening workshops offered by SCORE, one on marketing and the other on finance. She says, “My shop opened in May 2013, with the help and support of the Kennebunk Chamber of Commerce and SCORE, and I am totally supporting myself with the sales I have generated. This could not have been done without the assistance of my mentors and the inspiring workshops that I participated in. They were a springboard to my creativity and development. I believe my website, which I made myself, speaks highly of the skills I learned in the marketing workshop. clients continually compliment me on it.”