Not Just Dorms: Filling a niche by creating a space that feels like home
Posted On September 11, 2019
The foundation of entrepreneurship is identifying a need and providing a solution.
Shawn Cushing did just that. When her oldest daughter left for college, she was shocked by the amount of money and effort that parents put into furnishing and decorating their children’s dorm rooms. And she thought she could do it better.
So in 2012, Cushing and a partner founded Not Just Dorms, a Mobile-based company that designs custom dorm room furnishings. Cushing and Annie Henseler, the company’s VP for Sales and Operations, joined me on the latest episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston” and shared how they got their business off the ground.
Henseler says decorating dorm rooms has become “like a competition” for many co-eds, but it’s not all about who can spend the most money. Cushing’s idea was to create lightweight headboards and custom bed skirts and pillows that would not only make a room feel like home, but make move-in day easier and less stressful for the student and parents.
“Everything we created had to be lightweight, damage-free, moveable and washable,” says Cushing, whose company now ships nationwide through its website.
Cushing and Henseler share how they developed their products, other types of clients the business serves and areas in which it can expand, how they’re able to cater to clients with different-sized budgets, and why, even though most of their sales are online, it’s still important to do home shows and direct sales.
“It’s something I never dreamed I would be involved in or encourage,” Cushing says. “But it feels so nice to have them in a beautiful space rather than a sterile environment. Most of our children have overachieved in high school, have done everything we’ve asked of them, haven’t given us any problems, and I think spending some money on their college dorm room to make them more comfortable, more positive and a little more confident is not that big of a deal.”
Join us for a stylish discussion about creating a dorm room that feels like home and starting a business that fills a niche.