Dealing with adversity is a familiar challenge for all small business owners. Obstacles and setbacks can come from many places, at varying levels of intensity, and be expected or unexpected. For Debbie Lewis, the owner of sewing company Lewis Home & Bridal, trouble came suddenly, and she needed to make changes quickly. It was then that she turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance.
Lewis Home & Bridal has been serving Lake County and Central Florida since 2009 with professional seamstress services, specializing in bridal and other formal wear as well as home décor and upholstery. Comprised of a team of seamstresses with decades of sewing experience, Lewis Home & Bridal offers a mix of old-school technique, skill, and quality assurance blended with a command of contemporary tastes and trends. Lewis Home & Bridal also partnered with several local companies to help design and manufacture the products they sell and has worked with most of the major theme parks in Central Florida.
“Our company is unique because we really take a personal interest in everyone we serve,” says Lewis. “We are focused on quality and excellence and integrity in everything we do. In the home, we help you bring the whole décor together, from window treatments to upholstery to accessories. On the bridal side, brides love coming to us. They love the personal, one-on-one attention. They’ll come to us with dresses that do not fit; we take care of every detail and make sure that when they come to pick up their gowns, they feel fantastic.”
In June 2020, Lewis needed help. “I contacted the FSBDC because I suddenly found myself as the sole provider for my family,” Lewis recalls. “I needed to take my sewing business from a side hobby to something that could support my family. The FSBDC helped me do just that. They were just this amazing group that helped me with every aspect of my business, from marketing to sales to the finances to the hiring, and firing, of subcontractors. I can’t believe how much they helped me.”
The FSBDC applied a team consulting approach, bringing in its own consultants – several of whom joined the FSBDC thanks to funding from the CARES Act – to address Lewis’s specific challenges. Subject matter experts in their respective fields, FSBDC consultants such as Steven South and Michael Townes brought their expertise in strategy, sales and marketing to bear. Other consultants, including Jose Molfino and Eric Moneyham, did the same, assisting with improving the financial picture by creating a budget and P&L as well as educating about cashflow management.
“I guess the biggest thing was that I felt very comfortable to talk to them, even though sometimes I didn’t know what I was doing, and they probably knew I didn’t know what I was doing, but they came alongside me anyway so I could grow,” Lewis remarks.
Since starting with the FSBDC, Lewis Home & Bridal has been on a winning streak and has achieved significant growth. It has added seven new employees, expanded its workspace and shop, and seen revenues almost double. Profits are up almost 60%. “I don’t think I would have taken the steps I did if the FSBDC hadn’t been there and encouraged me along the way. It’s just been amazing. It’s been great,” concludes Lewis.
For more information about Lewis Home & Bridal, please visit https://www.lewishomeandbridal.com/.