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Small Business RevolutionBlog

Bristol Businesses

October 18, 2017

More than a spreadsheet

By Lynne Robertson, CEO Fame Retail

Over the course of my career, I have occasionally seen clients become emotional about the work my team has worked so hard to create. That said, no one – NO ONE – has ever started crying over a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet! Until now. This one happened to be about window displays.

Feel free to pause on that sentence. Tears. Over window displays. Not even actual displays. Just a seemingly benign list of thought-starters on a calendar.

It makes no sense. Until you meet the woman in tears. It’s Paulette Kirk Kasmer, the earnest, gigantic-hearted, march-to-the-beat-of-her-own-drummer sole proprietor of the eclectic Polka Dot Parlor in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania. A remarkable woman in so many ways, Paulette simply became overcome when presented with these few pointers for convincing passersby to come inside.

The seasoned professional in me did not see this moment coming. I was completely caught off guard. And it revealed something: the power of belief. Allow me to explain.

For the past two years, I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of the team on the Small Business Revolution – Main Street series, working with my good friend Amanda Brinkman and the incredible people at Deluxe. Together, we are impacting small business owners who need advice, direction and, in Paulette’s case, validation.

With purple hair and a flair for edgy clothing, Paulette is her own woman. Her mantra is to be yourself. How you look is your thing and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, so dress the way you want – that’s her take on style. Her shop, Polka Dot Parlor, has a little something for everyone, from flirty dresses to mohair jackets to whimsical jewelry, to fun, quirky pieces you’d never find in a million years at the mall chain stores. If you want to spend a couple hundred on some great outfits or just $5 on a bracelet – if it makes you feel good, then you are a Paulette customer.

Working through the business plan together with Amanda, we realized early on this wasn’t just a retail makeover. This was a women’s empowerment moment. Paulette is a living, breathing, small business-running example of how women help other women – inspiring each other to achieve more.

She didn’t cry because I gave her a spreadsheet. She cried because other strong, professional, female business owners took the time to think about her pain points, giving her practical tools and solutions to thrive and prosper. And she in turn, will take the tools we gave her and share them with other women in the Bristol Borough community.

The movement Deluxe has created with the Small Business Revolution isn’t about charity for a small town or propping up its local businesses. It’s about the spark that comes from the sharing of ideas. Those business owners work diligently right alongside our team, listening and ultimately applying. They embrace the advice and make tough decisions about what needs to change. And as that happens, we experience moments like this one with Paulette, when what seems like a no-big-deal piece of advice evolves into a far greater life-affirming moment.

Too often, we go through the motions of our day, forgetting that something as simple as a spreadsheet about window displays can be a pivotal moment in one small business owner’s life.

As much as we taught Paulette in practical terms, I was far more inspired by the strength of women helping other women. She lives it every day and takes pride in passing it forward. Finding another like-minded leader further enhances my belief in empowering women to support each other and to never stop striving for more.

Maybe a spreadsheet can’t change the world, but it sure changed a few lives that day – mine included.


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