Published: October 02. 2012 6:52PM
Written by Stephanie Trotter
Photographed by Cindy Hosea and Josh Norris
Skim the daily business section of the newspaper and odds are the usual companies jump from the page. Greenville has built its reputation as a Carolina commerce leader upon the backs of BMW, Michelin, Fluor and others. Yet just beyond the media’s eye, the vast majority of us work at low-profile, smaller companies. And while they may not make headlines, they keep our economy running while enriching our lives with innovative products, commendable personal service and a vibrant community image. Here are just a few.
It’s one thing to sell your wares on Main Street; it’s quite another to have clients spread around the world. Such is the situation for Linda McDougald Design | Postcard from Paris Home. While the high-end interior design firm has created gorgeous living spaces from The Cliffs to Kiawah, its services are now in demand from coast to coast and beyond.
“A number of clients have found us from as far away as London and Ontario,” explains Linda McDougald, principal and lead designer. “We are also designing homes for clients from Long Island, N.Y., to Southern California.”
She credits the international reach to her team’s ability to blend a keen eye and professional services with Southern charm.
“I created this firm by hiring individuals who have degrees in interior design, architectural design and art history,” she says. “I surround myself with innately talented and intelligent people,.
Southern Accents and Southern Living magazines have featured the firm’s work as several national home magazines court the company.
Rather than rest on past accomplishments, McDougald recently opened a second store at The Shops at Greenridge and is overseeing an e-commerce launch.
“This will continue to increase our national scope,” she says. “It’s very complex and high end. It won’t be as simple as, ‘here’s a product, click and buy it.’ We want it to be an engaging experience for our clients, and that takes a great deal of work.”
To move from Greenville across the globe in a little over a decade is a whirlwind, but one she relishes.
“Twelve years in some ways seems like a long time, but to become a nationally known firm in that short period of time is pretty amazing,” McDougald says.
And she quickly offers advice for others.
“Do something you’re passionate about,” she says. “Find really talented people to work with, people who are as passionate as you, and build a team.”
For more: www.postcardfromparis.com
Greenville has supplied fertile fields for hundreds of outside chains, franchises, shops and companies to expand and grow. One of the newest to move to the area is Lululemon, a Vancouver-based apparel company. Managers opened a showroom across from the entrance to Falls Park in August, with hopes of establishing a full-fledged store in about a year.
“We’ve had incredible response from the community,” says Jodi Hudgins, assistant manager. “We were bursting at the seams when we opened. Greenville is so active with athletes, runners and cyclists. It’s a perfect match. That’s exactly why they decided to come here.”
Founded in 1998, Lululemon first set standards in the yoga community with its technical fabrics and functional designs. With a manifesto that includes “Breathe Deeply” and “Sweat Once a Day,” the manufacturer was soon branching out into other sports and opening facilities in North America, Asia and Australia.
“I love being a part of this company as it starts in Greenville,” shares Hudgins, who’s been on the job for several months now. “I heard about the company and loved their clothing and went from there. I’ve loved being with them here from the get-go.”
The slim, energetic athlete is responsible for introducing Lululemon’s clothing at area yoga studios, sports clubs and gyms. From boot camps to ballet bar class, you’re likely to find her stretching and sweating next to you in a variety of activities as she advertises and networks.
“There’s nothing better to work out in,” she says. “We have everything from tanks and capri pants to heavy and light-weight jackets for fall.”
The multi-tasking Hudgins also recommends wearing Lululemon for comfortable travel; a great suggestion, knowing the company will most likely move into other cities she will visit as well.
For more: www.lululemon.com
Sometimes a visionary comes along and sees what no one else can: an empty niche and the perfect way to fill it. Jordan Allen was the typical senior at Coastal Carolina University majoring in finance when he realized there was a better way to teach students how to invest and manage money in various markets by using a virtual computer program.
“There was basically nothing available for instructors to use,” the now 25-year-old explains. “I did some research and put some ideas together and presented them to my professor and he loved it.”
With his parent’s blessing and financial backing, Allen took the next semester off, and the next, and the next. Two years later, StockLinkU Version 1.0 is now up and running.
“It’s a learning-management system that allows professors to evaluate student’s performance in portfolio management and trading simulations,” Allen says. “The program can be manipulated and tailored for freshman business majors up through graduate-level wealth-management students. Everything is real but the money. The students can see the concepts they’ve learned in class and how to apply them in the real world.”
This past spring, professors across the United States were permitted to test a live beta demonstration as it interfaced with 25 global exchanges. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
“Going into this, I thought a few schools would use it and we’d go from there,” admits the young entrepreneur. “But once they picked up on it, they gave us invaluable information from a teacher’s perspective that allowed us to further enhance the program before launching our first version. Professors from the other side of the country were saying, ‘Go for it.’”
And so he is. As founder and CEO, Allen is guiding a team of five as they solicit North American colleges and universities. Seizing on the social media of his generation, much of the marketing effort has been through Facebook and LinkedIn. “It’s a much more effective way to reach our target market. We can isolate our end user and narrow our communication to focus on finance and business instructors and students. We’ve got hundreds of schools on our list.”
As for the future, growth is inevitable, Allen says. The next step is to create an application for personal investors who aren’t attending school. After that?
“I could see this lasting 20 to 30 years, or possibly getting picked up, and then I’ll move on to something else,” he says.
Allen has promised mom that “something else” will include finishing his degree — if another profitable idea doesn’t come along first.
For more: www.stocklinku.com
|Natalie Rossi find herself surrounded by athletes in her job as manager of lululemon.CINDY HOSEA/Staff|