Women in flooring: How finding a place to belong can build business

By Paula Anselone Twenty-one years ago, my husband, Chuck, and I opened a flooring store in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Before that, I was at home raising my two children, Charlie and Gina, while my husband was a subcontractor installing carpet. for a few retailers in our area.

When we opened the store it was the first time I was involved in selling products and running a retail showroom – I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

People knew us from the city and customers came to ask my husband. To them, he was the flooring expert, and they didn’t want to deal with me – I thought it was because they knew him. But I soon realized that flooring was a man’s world. Floor conventions only confirmed it: This was a man’s world and there were very few female entrepreneurs.

When we started the company, I may not have known about the products, but what I did know was that customer service was the most important key to success. Over the years, I’ve realized that women are great salespeople. I’ve hired men, but women seem to have the patience and interest to build rapport, get things done, and generally satisfy customers. That’s why I was surprised that there were very few women in the industry.

What a different world it was 21 years ago. There were no women’s groups for floors. There were certainly no resources online, and I didn’t know anyone to call. But then I met Lisbeth Calandrino at Mohawk University. It was then that I realized that there were women who were changing our industry. Lisbeth is a great teacher, motivator and mentor. Lisbeth invited me to join the Women of the Flooring Business group.

The name says it all. This is a place where women can discuss their ideas and answer their questions – for women, by women. These are women struggling with the same decisions I’ve had to make over the years, as well as women sharing new ideas that have been so helpful to me.

I am excited about belonging. I love all the women in the group – the veterans of the flooring industry and meeting younger women with great ideas.

The group not only makes me feel young again, but it has also become a place where I can share my ideas, help the other members and even be inspired. I’ve also gotten new ideas for my business that will help us grow in the future.

We eventually opened a second location in Norwood, Massachusetts, and my children work with us full time. As they develop their place in the business, we can all benefit from the group – get new ideas and stay inspired.

Paula Anselone co-owns Anselone Flooring with her husband Chuck. The store has two locations, one in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and another in Norwood, Massachusetts.

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