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September 6, 2023 97 mins
Join us for an inspiring journey on this episode of [Podcast Name] as we uncover the remarkable story of Kathleen Bennett, a trailblazing entrepreneur whose childhood hobby blossomed into a thriving career in the world of fashion. Kathleen's tale is a testament to the incredible potential that lies within the seeds of our earliest passions.
We delve into Kathleen's upbringing, where a simple childhood pastime of designing and sewing clothes for her dolls ignited a fire that would eventually lead her to found one of the country's leading textiles companies, Floor 13 Textiles. Her formative experiences, visiting pattern and fabric shops with her mother, instilled in her the profound joy of creating unique designs and crafting her own clothing.
From Barbie outfits to intricate textiles, Kathleen's journey through the fashion landscape is an embodiment of dedication and persistence. We explore her evolution from working in the hospitality industry to becoming a distinguished entrepreneur. Alongside her business accomplishments, Kathleen's commitment to community involvement and mentorship shines brightly.
In this captivating episode, Kathleen shares her insights on the pivotal steps required to ascend from any starting point. Discover the art of effective networking, the importance of seizing educational opportunities, and the transformational power of mastering your craft. Kathleen Bennett's story is a beacon of inspiration, proving that with determination and a touch of creativity, even the tiniest seed can grow into a breathtaking flower.
Tune in to hear how a childhood spark led to a blazing entrepreneurial journey, and gain valuable takeaways for your own path to success.
Connect with Kathleen at
This podcast is powered by DenTen Insurance - Insurance for the Greater Good. To listen to more and be inspired, visit
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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
This show is sponsored by den tenInsurance Services, helping businesses get the right
insurance for all their insurance needs.Visit den ten dot io to get a
quote d N t N dot ioand remember, when you buy an insurance
policy from dent ten, you're givingback on a global scale. Hello all,

my entrepreneurs and business leaders, andwelcome to the Michael Esposito Show,
where I interview titans of industry inorder to inform, educate, and inspire
you to be great. My guesttoday has spent over twenty years in the
high end furnishing industry projects with anumber of major design firms, helping to

create textiles and interior products suitable tothe needs of the hotel industry and their
discerning customers. She began Floor thirteenTextiles in twenty twelve with the concept to
exercise a unique positioning between design firmclients and weaving sources to create a collection
suitable for these contract designers particular needs. She is an overachiever with a desire

to learn and grow to serve ahigher purpose, which is to help those
around her to be strong enough tochange the world. Please welcome Kathleen Bennett.
Hi, Thanks for having me.Oh, you're welcome. I'm happy.
I'm happy to have you on theshow today. I know we've met
a couple of times at different networkingevents. Yeah, that's just Chamber Chamber,

Yes, yeah, and we've talkeda little bit about the podcast,
and we've talked about your business andeverything. So it's kind of It was
really nice when I saw your intakeform come through and that you went through
with it, because I know therewas a little apprehension or a little not
sure uncertainty, but I'm so happyto have you here today. Yeah,
this is definitely a first time forme. So it's well, it's it's

a lot of fun. And aswe talked about it, it's really about
you. And i'd love to justjump into that because as I was writing
out your your bio, some ofit I took from your about page and
other things that I saw written aboutyou. But the part where I wrote
Overachiever was what I read in thebio that you submitted to me in the
intake form, And so I wouldlove to go back to those college days

to where you were just a collegestudent in fashion and thinking about fashion.
And by the way, I haveto bring up your your beautiful cot and
your wardrobe today. I know thatyou know people, you'll be able to
see it on the YouTube channel,but just so such a fashionista, but
you were all into fashion, butstill it didn't stop you from looking into

other subjects and really exploring other things, even when others didn't think that that
was the best idea for you.Yeah, so, you know, I
studied fashion design. I went toa Merrymount which no longer exists. It's
now part of Fordham, but itwas in Terrytown, New York, and
it was a woman's Catholic college,one of the last ones, which was

unique in itself. But while studyingfashion, I kind of started having this
realization that fashion design is a business. It's an art, yes, but
it's also very much a business.And all of the fashion designers that I

admired at the time, Donnick Karenwas huge at the time, and Aging
myself, but you know, CalvinKlein, it was all these businesses and
it just kind of went beyond pinningand sewing the fabrics. So in college
you have electives you know where,and all of my friends, especially in

the design programs, they would takeyou know, art as an elective or
you know something, and they're like, I just got to, you know,
get my DPA up and have theeasy A. And I was like,
but I'm have the opportunity. I'mpaying for college. I'm paying to
learn. So I started taking accounting, I started taking business law, I

started taking macro and microeconomics. Andeverybody was like, what are you doing?
Like you're no good at math,you know, you're taking all these
courses that you're not going to excelin. And I said, well,
you know, I don't know whyI feel compelled to do this, but
I feel like it's important. Ifeel like when I go on the job

interviews, my GPA isn't going tomatter as much as them looking wow,
not only do you have a degreein fashion, but y'all also took all
these electives. You know. Ifeel like that just made me were more
well rounded when I went into theworkflow force. Yeah, and there was
kind of also this thing that ifI become a fashion designer, if I

become the next on A Karen ACalvin Klein or whatever, I'm going to
need to know how to run thatcompany, right, which then did happen
for you? Right? Yeah?But I really expected though. Yeah,
you weren't expecting it. No.It's interesting though that you did attach yourself
to these entrepreneurs and Donna Karen andCalvin Klein, because while you didn't expect

it, you kind of were plantingthe seed early on, maybe not knowing.
Yeah, that's what I look backon it now and I'm just like,
WHOA, Like I knew, butI didn't like. No, it
was just very strange. It is. It's funny how those things kind of
like circle back. So what gotyou into fashion? So before even college
now and you know, getting intothis, what was what was the big

moment in your life where you thoughtof fashion as being something that you wanted
to get into. I you know, my mom immigrated here from Belgium and
she had a sewing machine. Itwas kind of like, you know,
there was a kind of thing whereit was even more common back then that

people were still making their clothes,but not it would. You still had
pattern making stores and fabric stores ina lot of towns, but it wasn't
as popular maybe as it used tobe. But I loved going to the
store with her and the the freedomof like selecting a pattern right, and

then you can also select the fabrics, and so, you know, it
just instead of just buying something offof the rack, it was like,
oh wow, this is like reallycool, you know. And I could
even split you know, the outfitwith this pattern and that pattern, and
here's this cool fabric and there's thatcool fabric. And I just started playing

when I was young enough, andmy mom taught me how to sew when
I was little, and she alwaysmade our Halloween costumes. You know,
we never had the store Bok Halloweencostume. We always had is sewn made
Halloween costume. We would go tothe you know, the fabric store with
her and we'd pick out the patternand we would pick out the fabrics and

we would help her make the Halloweencostumes. So it was always just kind
of like something happening in the house. If it makes you feel better about
your age, because you said youwere dating yourself. I remember my grandmother
making me my Halloween costumes. Ihave one in particular that stands out,
which was a Oh my goodness,what was the cartoon? I just had
it in my mind for us.I think it was called thunder not ThunderCats.

It wasn't ThunderCats, but it was. It was in that like cartoon
sequence and they were these silver silverflying people. Oh, my goodness,
silverhawks, that's what it was.My goodness, I think I remember that.
Yes, so I was actually Silverhawk. My grandmother made the Silverhawk costume

for me. I remember that.So that's pretty, you know, pretty
interesting that you brought up the Halloweencostumes. I remember it was kind of
funny, like, you know,here you have this flexibility and this amazing
you know, talent to like almostmake these costumes. And I would always
be jealous over the kids with theplastic costumes of the plastic mask, like
why can't everybody else has that?And I have to go in this like

you know, right, But yeah, but you look back and it was
unique. It was. I don'tknow if back then for me, I
know, there was an Amazon,so I don't know if we would have
found a Silverhawk's costume. Probably not. I remember my brother went one year.
Since I told you, my mom'sfrom Belgium, right, the Smurfs

are originally from Belgium, so wewould go to Belgium as kids, but
nobody knew about them in the UnitedStates yet. So they were stromps.
That's the and so he went toschool as a stromp, and so he
was blue with a thing, andnobody knew what he was and he was
trying to explain. Everybody thought hewas an alien. That's why do you

have any do you know any storiesabout this smurs as to why they are
smurfs? So strump I guess waseasy when they came over the US,
they changed their It's easier to say, that's interesting. Yes, back to
your like in this like this momenthere where you're shopping with your mom and
you're you're exploring fabrics and feels.Were you also making your own clothes then
at that time? Or yeah,I kind of was, or I was

helping her more. You know,thank goodness for Barbie dolls and tissues because
they had the most amazing tissue dresses. I would just take tissues and I
would just kind of, you know, drape them and make my own like
little tissue outfits, and then Iwould throw it away and move on to
the next one. So yeah,that's just kind of you know, now

we have iPhones, but back thenI just had a Barbie doll in a
box of tissues. So you werejust exploring different, different motifs with it.
So this whole like fashion thing kindof evolved from this childhood fantasy.
But it was making clothes, andnow you don't make clothes, you actually
make more of these. You'd comeup with fabric designs for hotels and all

these cool things. Yeah. Theonly sewing I do now is when we
have to do our sampling or ifthe if my twins need the new Girl
Scout patch. So not so doyou miss making clothes or anything like that?
Or no? No, okay,no I don't, which is so

weird because it was such a partof my past. But no, Yeah,
it sounds like when two, whenyou kind of like go back on
it. It's the feeling the fabricsand everything, which is really what you
do at at floor thirteen, which, by the by the way, I
we're going to talk about it.The name is pretty neat. How you
came up with the name, Ithought that's neat and then so ironic on

what it ends up becoming for you. So we're going to get there.
But my first question before we gothere is out of college, you ended
up landing some jobs, but onewas in the Chrysler building, and so
I am so inquisitive as to whatit was like to work in the Chrysler
Building at the time, where theChristler Building, the Empire State Building.

Working in New York City at thattime, those buildings, not that they're
not significant today, but back then, especially in you know, just the
way that New York City was,what that feeling was like, and what
that experience. You can't even seethem in the skyline anyway, right,
that's weird, but acting there,and it was an investment banking and the

mergers at an acquisitions firm that didmergers and acquisitions in the banking industry.
So if one bank wanted to buyanother bank, they would contact this firm
and we would put these packages together. And I kind of landed in it
because in high school I would Iwas working in an office doing bookkeeping,
and that's another story on how Ilanded there. It's just like these weird

things. But so a friend ofmy mother said, oh, we need
are looking for an intern, youknow, paid intern, and I think
you would be perfect. And Isaid perfect, it's investment banking. I'm
studying fashion, you know, Andshe says, no, no, no,
come in, come in, comein. So I started working in

mergers and acquisitions while I was incollege at the Chrysler Building, which was
really just incredible. We were onthe fifthy first floor, I believe,
so the view was fantastic. Andjust so you know, a little sidebar
on the top of the Chrysler Buildingat that time was a dentist office,

so that the tippity top floor wasa dentist office that had like three sixty
views of the you know, Manhattan, of of everything. So that was
I was like, my goodness,how expensive is that done? Anyway,
I digressed, so yeah, wellI'm interested in how much you charged for
a crown right eat? But yeah, So that was just kind of really

meet and the company. I stayedwith a company for all through college.
They gave amazing bonuses, they paidreally well, and so I would construct
my schedule with classes around having aday or two extra to go down into
the city. So I was reallyjust like in college on the phone and

meeting in person these titans of banking, because they all knew this firm and
they would call and they you know, they oh, Dady, how are
you doing? And I'm like,oh, good, mister Mason, you
know from like Mason or something.And it was like just it was it
was just crazy, but it wasa lot of fun and everybody in the

firm we all got along, andthat was it was just a great experience.
What did you What did you learnfrom that? It brought me more
into the business side. You know, I did do an internship with Simplicity
Pattern Company, so that was kindof neat for me. But you know,

they had me in a closet separatinghangars, and I wasn't really learning
anything about the business. I wasn'tso this was just kind of like,
wow, this is like not onlyhow fashion goes, right, this is
how the business world goes because banking, I mean like everybody has to touch

a bank, right, like,so this is how this is how everything
flows, This is how things work. So it was like a bigger picture
and just commuting into the city andyou know, meeting different people that way,
just in general, it just kindof gave me more of a sense
of just the I guess, thebigness of the world right outside of what

I was studying. Yeah, andso you said, and commuting to the
city, where were you living atthe time, living in Yonkers? Shout
out to Yonkers. Okay, butyeah, so it was a twenty minute
train rider right right right, AndI want to go back to fashion on
this too, because you're commuting tothe city and again you're at the Chrysler
building, so there's so much fashionhappening around you. There's suits, and

now women are in business and sothey're wearing you know, different types of
suits and blouses and all these differentthings. Did that have any impact?
It did? Well. That's actuallyyou know, I brought up down Donna
Karen earlier. That's kind of whenshe started kind of emerging onto the scene,
and she really changed the whole landscapeof how women would dress for work.

She had she introduced the peak aboo shoulder, you know, where
the shoulders started kind of coming out, and the body suit and this whole
kind of idea of getting out ofthe business suit, you know, and
kind of you could look professional andjust have this amazing style. So that

was very and I became like kindof like a Donna Karan junkie back then.
But yeah, so it was justthis whole idea that that moment was
the early nineties, That moment waschanging a lot for fashion. You had,
you know, all of the topmodels there like Cindy Crawford and now

you don't really know unless they're aninfluencer. But like, there was this
whole thing with Versace and everything.It was a lot of energy back then
around fashion. I have one Iwant to talk about the suits for a
second, but I have a vividmemory. So I grew up in Queens
and we would always take the fiftynine freet Bridge into the city and there
was there was a billboard DK andWhy always like as soon as you got

off the bridge of the fifty ninethree bridge, the DK and Why.
And I remember That's how I learnedabout DK and why was because my mother
I'd be like, what is DKand why? I mean, I know
Biggie Smalls ended up singing about itbut rapping about it, but that was
the like my first knowledge of whatit was like. That's Donna are in
New York, so it was likekind of neat back to the suits thing.

Though we're on the same page onthat. It's so funny. I
was just having this conversation I can'tremember with who it was recently where I
don't wear a suit really that oftenanymore, And the reason for it is
just that what you said is thatyou can dress professionally with style and where
a suit doesn't have to define whatyou really do or who you are as

a business professional. Right correctly.I mean, I feel like clothes just
speaks so much. There's just anoppertuve unity to be yourself express. I
wouldn't even say maybe it is acreative yes, but like just who are
you? Don't like, you know, instead of just putting on a suit
and a tie and that's you know, like there's so much expression and you

know, it's funny. We goto the chamber events and there's some people
that just kind of like they dostand out because you could say, Okay,
I know who that person is,you know, instead of it's just
kind of I don't know, it'sit's it's fun, Yeah it is.
And what I'll say to that too, is just because you know, this

whole podcast is about helping our entrepreneurialcommunity, in our business community, is
I mean from your CEO of abusiness. I own a business and we
look for employees and times have changed, and so there was probably a time
where suit and tie was was anecessity. But for me, what I
look for is neatness and attire youknow, is that you know, how

do you carry yourself? How doyou dress? Because I remember this.
I started my career at Yellow Book, and they had a dress code of
sorts, right, and you wouldsee people come in with their slacks or
their shirt that they're supposed to wear. But it wasn't tidy. It was
wrinkled, it was it didn't fitthem properly. It was long, and
so their heels were ripped, andyou know, and it's like, yeah,

you're meeting the standard, right,but you don't look professional. You'd
actually probably look better in a pairof jeans and a T shirt because they
might actually be cleaner and not lesswrinkled. Yeah, exactly, exactly,
And not only that, Like nowthere's social media, right, so you're
being photographed all the time, right, and whether you're the owner of a

business or even if it's your employees, there's almost a brand. Now,
Yes, there is a brand,and that brand is just every single day.
That's why I always wear my Dentenshirt. Yeah, exactly, it
is my brand. I remember Tomfrom Tallex Media, who you might have

might have met a couple of times. He's also a chamber member. He
always wears a hat with that.Yes, yes, yes, Actually I
was thinking about him when I justwas referencing people at the chamber. It's
like, you may not he alwayshas his Talox Media hat on. And
that's kind of where I got itwith a Denten shirt because I don't really
wear a hat, but I'll weara shirt. And when I decided I

wasn't wear suits, I said,well, what am I going to wear?
That brands me for what I want? And it's this and that's why
I always people recognize you, butthen they also recognize the brand and it
stays in people's head and it's veryimportant. And the other the other thing
I do while we're on my dresshere, just just real quick for you,
is because people do notice it thatI wear sneakers. So I wear

my sneakers with my jeans, butI specifically choose my sneakers, right,
So my sneakers I'm wearing Steph Curry. And Steph Curry is an NBA player.
I follow basketball. I'm a basketbut he's a champion. And so
that's what I what I think aboutwhen I buy my back basketball sneakers is
not always for play. Like forplay, I look for what's comfortable,
what works, what fits me toplay on the court. But when I

look for with what I'm wearing here, like my next pair of sneakers that
I'll wear with this attire our champions, and it's because it's who I'm aligning
myself with, like your Donna Karin'sand your your Calvin Klein's of the world.
So I would assume that these experiencesthat you had at the Chrysler building
and at the others were part ofwhat played into your overachiever mentality. Right.

I love that you picked up allever achiever like, But but I
want to dig deeper into this mentalitythat you have. And maybe you're not
comfortable quite yet calling yourself that,And I totally get that, because it's
just who you are, right,But I'm interested in who And maybe it
was Donna Karen, But who inyour life played that role that made you

decide to ask more of yourself.Oh that's a really good question because it's
actually something I've been thinking a lotabout these days. I think my biggest
idol was Martha Stewart, and I'mstill obsessed with her. But she just

kind of was able to do everything, and she's still is going. She
still looks amazing and everything else.But I was also thinking just in terms
of my parents and my mom.You know, she came here from from
Belgium and she didn't really speak thelanguage. She came over as an o

pair through My grandfather was a bigwig in Belgium. He was a ambassador
to the UN and he was friendswith Eleanor Roosevelt. So my mom needed,
I know, my mom needed we'regoing to unpack that, don't worry
everyone. My mom needed an internshiphere. So Eleanor internship, I'm sorry,

a oh pere. She wanted tocome to the United States. So
my grandfather contacted Eleanor and she hookedmy mom up with one of her friends,
and so that's how she came tothe United States. She hated it,
but started learning English. So shethat was in Boston. She moved

to New York and she started workingat oh, I don't remember which department
store it was, but she wasselling handkerchiefs, and you know, she
kind of she did that and thenfrom there she just built herself. You
know, she didn't go to collegeor anything else, but she just had

this pathway where she went from onething, to the next thing, to
the next thing. And then bythe time I was in when I was
in elementary school, she was,you know, working part time at the
church doing administrative work. And thensomehow from there she and it was because

of her ability to speak French fluently, she landed in selling semi conductors to
France, and all of a sudden, like and it was a new industry.
She's being paid like up the wazoo, and it was just, you
know, it was just crazy.And from there they another company pilfered her

and she started selling semi conductors toBrazil and she was like this semi conductor
expert, just you know, andshe went on to get her degree after
that because she just kind of wantedto pursue. But she's like she she
started here not even knowing the language, and she just like carved this amazing
path for herself. So that waskind of interesting to watch growing up because

I would go and what she woulddo is she would bring me into the
offices with her. So when shewas working at the church, she would
bring me into the office and I'dbe playing around with a typewriter and she
goes, oh, why don't youtype this out or then she started bringing
me to the you know, thesemiconductor companies, like and we would run
around the office asking people if theyhad again aging myself anything to facts.

No, it wasn't the facts.What they called it a fact simile because
we didn't even like abbreviate. Therewas the telex machine there we go,
and so I was obsessed with thistelex machine where you could take a piece
of paper and send it like overto France or Brazil or wherever she was
working. It was kind of likeneat. So I'd just run around the
office and see what people needed todo. So I just I watched her

progression like it was as something asa child that I just kind of like,
it doesn't matter, like there's there'spossibility just everywhere. Yeah, so
she was always scaling. She wasscaled, right, Yeah, she was
exactly trendy word there, scaling.Yeah, we like to use trendy words.
So I want to once again removethis dating of yourself because I'm in

the insurance world and we're still facingthere, you go, We're still facing.
That's true. I get that question, and I know and then sometimes
I'm like when I'm working with myinsurance company or something like that. They're
like, oh, we need thatfact over and I'm like, I know,
what can I just like scale likePDF and they're like, no,
it needs to be a fact.So like I'm running out to the UPS

store or something. Yeah, itkills me. I started Denton with the
idea of starting this digital insurance company, and it immediately started off the wrong
foot. On that was as soonas I went to go get my LLC
and I'm like, I'm doing thisall online, doing all online, and
I get to the end I can'tcomplete the LLC on line, and I'm
like what is going on? AndI'm like, I will figure this out

online. This is this is anonline agency. I'm doing it all online.
And it starts saying I got afact and mail and everything, and
I'm like, this is ridiculous.There's no way that this is true.
Yeah. So I call and theysay, well, what do you started
as an insurance company? Yep,you got a fact or mail And I'm
like, are you crazy? Iknow, And so I ended up having
to mail it. The facts didn'twork. That's a whole other story.

But I just well, that's gonnabe the rest of it. So yeah,
so it doesn't end there, butI want to go back to your
mom and yeah, so this wholescaling, so you you watch this progression,
this other thing that you brought up, and I think it's so important
for people to realize is your momhad you there. And so there's so
much that plays into your story thatwe were going to keep digging into that

I feel like comes from these personal, firsthand experiences that you have, right,
yeah, yeah, no, it'sand you know, I have three
kids now and they're all teenagers.One is off at the SF School in
Syracuse and the other two are inhigh school, are twins, and I

didn't really think, you know,I work out of my house. My
whole company. It's a national company, but we do it all out of
my home, and they're not veryinterested in it. Like once in a
while they'll like, you know,poke in. Sometimes my oldest helps me
with my social media. But youknow, I was like, oh,

how come, how come I therewas such an interest with me and my
mom taking me somewhere and they don't. Maybe it's the phones, I don't
know, but it does play intoit. And I thought it was going
on deaf ears and then Emma,who's my oldest She's applying for an internship

at the White House because you know, we shoot small in my house.
And she's like, Mom, stoptalking about that, because what if I
don't get it. I'm like,it does matter, You're trying, right,
But she sent me the essay andit was like all about like how
my mom built this company from nothing. And I watched her. So there

is like this thing and I watchedmy mom and my mom would bring me
into the office, So yeah,I knew how to office, right,
So I knew how to build thecompany. I knew the who reports to
who, and what you needed toget done, the responsibilities. It was

all something that I just witnessed.My dad we even brought me into his
work too. He worked in Hewas a graphic artist, and so he
would bring me into their office andthey would do advertising for PBS was one
of their accounts, and the NewYork Philharmonic and all of that stuff,

and so I would watch them dothe posters and kind of help out there
too. So yeah, my parentsalways bringing me into the office on their
my days off from school. Yeah, it's it's incredible how these experiences that
we don't that you said, likeyou said that we think fall on deaf
ears. Yeah, actually is resonatingwith them. Like for you going with

your mom, your mom was probablywondering, she's played with that darn Fax
machine again. Yeah, she's notlearning anything. But meanwhile, you were
learning, you were watching, andI've I've realized that as I've learned from
people like yourself sharing that kind ofstory with me and reading it in books
of different people, and like Isaid, different guests coming in and talking

about their experience and going to theworkplace with their parents or friend or whatever
it was. And so for me, I try to bring the girls,
my girls in as much as Ican as well into the business. So
I've started doing these videos, theselives on Instagram. And yesterday I closed
all the doors. I said tothe girls, Hey, I'm doing a
video. I'm you know, don'tyou know, don't disturb me kind of

thing. And I did the videoand it was wonderful and all that,
and then this morning I was goingto do it again and I was about
to close the doors and I hearthem playing in the background, and I
hear them and I'm like, youknow what, one it's good for my
audience to hear that there's kids here. Yeah, they're part of my life.
They're i mean, the company's namedafter them, right, So they're
part of my life. And they'renot disruptive, so it's not like it's

you're going to be distracted by theirnoise. And then two, by having
the door open, they hear me, and they hear me speaking to everyone
and sharing what I'm sharing, andso they're experiencing it. And what's interesting
is like that was my thought whenbefore I closed the door. And then
I did my video and ten minuteslater, I'm just wrapping up and everything,
and I and my daughter Denise walksby and she goes, okay,

so you're done with your video oryou're posting it now. And I'm like
what why? She goes, well, you're going to post it now,
right, And I'm like, yeah, how do you know that? You're
eight? Like so it's so funnybecause I never told her that that's what
I'm going to do with it.She just knew, which is very interesting.

His experiences go, all, right, so we can't let Eleanor Roosevelt
escape from our grass be. Wehave to we have to go there it's
one of those things that I justyeah, it's just part of so so
share a little bit if you can, any knowledge that you have of it.
Of like, how did your grandfatherbecome friends with Eleanor Roosevelt Because your

grandfather's in Belgium, Eleanor Roosevelt inthe States as far as I know,
I mean obviously married to the president, and so they traveled, I'm sure.
And you said your grandfather's a bigwig there in Belgium. So yeah,
he's a lawyer, Okay, alawyer okay, and a prominent lawyer.
So he was the the chairman ofthe International Lawyers Association, So he

would some sort of connection there interms of the politics and travel and every
yeah, exactly. So he starthe was appointed to the UN to be
an ambassador for Belgium, so that'show he met her. And she was
starting an organization that she needed hisexpertise in because it was going to be

an international organization. Do you rememberwhat organizations? Yes? I do,
So it was uni SEF and sohe was one of the he helped her
find find start UNISEF. So it'sincredible. Yeah. So my family,

my family has the Nobel Peace prizefrom it. Oh my goodness, Yeah,
that is so cool. Yeah,and I'm so then I'm sure because
you have the knowledge of this,or you got to hear stories from him
or from your mom about this relationship, or passed away when I was I
was young, so my memory ofhim is very small, right. But

my grandmother, she was she wasa force to be reckoned with, and
she just she was. I lovedher so much, and she would come
to the United States or I'd goto Brussels and stay with her, and
so I knew the stories from there. But even like, you know,

that's kind of when I started.When I say the eleanor Roosevelt story,
it's kind of like because it's notthis big thing in my family. So
it's just like it almost just likesaying, you know, well, you
know, my first first cat's namewas Bando, you know what I mean.
Like, it's just kind of likeit was never made to be this
thing, but it is an interestingstory. Well, it becomes normalized,

It became normal. It becomes normaliswhich which is which is good to an
extent, right, because I mean, we don't want to put two people
on too much of a pedestal towhere we lose our own self respect or
dignity. But it is Eleanor Roosevelt, and she is a significant part,
not just as a person of let'ssay, let's put it in context of

today. She's not just an influencer, right, she she is a significant
part of history. And she wasn'teven like a first lady. I mean
like she's like she was like thepresident. Yeah, I mean like,
yeah, this woman knew what todo. Yeah. That. So it's
it's very incredible to have that aspart of your story, and it only

leads me to ask the question ofthe impact that had on you, because
as we go into your story,you share that you didn't have entrepreneurs in
your life or in your family.That is, you are like one of
the first in your family, andso many people shared what they thought you
should be doing or what you shoulddo, and whether they were family or

friends or whatever, it is.Right. But where I'm going with this
is, I mean to be ayoung a young girl and wherever you lived
at the time, Yonkers, butwherever you were traveling through, right,
and to have this knowledge that EleanorRoosevelt is part of your family to some
extent, right, right, I'mjust interested in how what that impact might

have been, maybe subconsciously for you. I think the impact was negative,
quite frankly, at least if we'retalking about me being a little kid,
because I grew up in Yonkers andyou know, it's not growing up in
Scarsdale, right, It's it's quitedifferent. And my parents chose it specifically.

They did it intentionally because they justfelt that there was a diversity there
that they wanted their kids to growup with. But at the same time,
I was flying to Belgium every summer, you know, I was,
I was, I was. Myuncle had a place in the Swiss Alps,

you know, so there was thiswhole kind of exposure thing that none
of the you know, my peerswere experiencing, and I wasn't there in
the summers to hang out with them, and I would get picked on when
you know, there was part yeah, so there was kind of like,
you know, I remember, Istill can almost dictate to this day a

prink call that I got from oneof my classmates pretending to be a friend
that I made in Belgium, butshe wouldn't pronounce Belgium rate, so she
you know, she said Belgium,and of course in Belgium they don't even
say Belgium, so you know,it was just you know, but like

and I figured out who it was, and you know, because I guess
when I went back to school,she was like, so, how is
Belgium? And I was like,oh, that was you. But you
know, there was just kind oflike, I don't know, I did
live a good privileged life in away in a community where there wasn't as
much privilege, and so you stoodout some extent. I mean again,

I can relate to your story.And I wasn't going to share this part
but because I don't want to,but I can relate to it because I
remember growing up in my mother sowe were from French heritage. My mother's
from Haiti, but from heritage,and I remember growing up and my mother
talking about family lineage in being relatedto Josephine Bonaparte, and so I'm a

little kid and I'm telling people I'mrelated to Josephine Bullaparte and people and they're
making fun of me, and soI remember that feeling that you're talking about,
and I couldn't connect the dots,like when somebody would ask me specifically
how, and I was like,I don't know. I just know that
my mother said that, like mygreat grandmother's first cousins with her, and
that's what I know. I don'tknow how to prove that to you.

I don't know anything else, nordoes it matter to me, quite honestly,
but it's kind of neat, right. We all have to be related
to somebody, right, These famouspeople aren't related, you know, they're
not by themselves in this world.And again to your point of like traveling,
I remember, like we travel aswell. So I've been to Brussels.
When I was a kid. Myparents made it a point to go

backpacking through all of Europe. Wetook all the trains and everything, and
so we were like a couple ofdays here, a couple of days there,
and Belgium and Brussels was one ofthem. And I remember I don't
remember Belgium specifically because I was tooyoung, but I remember traveling there.
And I remember coming back to schooland there was a a school essay or
something, and I wrote about mytravels through all of Europe, and the

teacher actually called my parents and said, Michael's making up stories. And my
parents said, well, what storyis he making up? And he said,
well, I remember him, misterAmplo, he said, he said,
well, Michael's telling everybody and actuallyended up writing it in a like
an essay or I forget what itwas that he traveled through all of Europe
and that's just not true. Andmy parents were like, well it is,

and you know whatever. But therepercussions, like so that conversation that
happened with my parents and mister Amplowere between them, but in the classroom
when he called me out, thatwas between me and my peers and what
was I to do? Right?But anyway, it's not about that.
I do feel that it still hada positive impact on our lives, and

I go to this overachiever mentality ofpart of like why I feel like I
need to prove myself sometimes is becauseof these people that put me down.
Right. I remember that that Iremember, like I remember his name right,
And I remember telling my grandmother whenshe was thinking about college for me,
and being like, yeah, I'mgoing to show them yes, right.

And so I go back to yourstory of like, yeah, it
might have had a negative impact thatchildhood, but where did it bring you
to when you're in college and you'retaking all these courses and the confidence that
you had to do it. Yeah, it definitely brought out the fighter mentality.
I guess you would say the confidencecame much much, much, much

later, but yeah, there wasI guess it does build up this kind
of fire, right. I meanlike when you're the kid at the sleepover
that they're writing me L word andyou know l on, you know,
growing the mustache on kind of yeah, you get this kind of like,
well, I'm not going to bethat person, right, I'm better than

they think that I am or something. Yet there's definitely something and not letting
a GPA just define you. Ilove this quote you wrote in my intake
form here which you said, ifI'm going to be a fashion designer,
I will need to know how tocontrol that business. And you know,
all of those courses kind of cameinto there and the word control like you

needing to know that you can actuallydo it. Yeah, so important.
Shifting gears a little bit outside ofthat because we definitely kind of really dug
into something like backstory there, right, It wasn't that that was meaty for
everyone. There you go, You'rewelcome, no or is there. We're
gonna lighten it up a little bitbecause you went on to work in other
in now the fashion industry, andplease pronounce the name for me of Okay,

so that wasn't fashion, so welld O n g H I A
I had done so yeah, sothat wasn't so. I I graduated from
from college with my degree and itwas the mid nineties and we were in

a reston and it was extremely hardto get a job that and I moved
down to Florida for a little bit, so there's that too. But so
I took a I flew back upto New York and I took a position

at Bloomingdale's where they had a managementtraining program and basically they taught you aspects
of management, so stuff I didn'teven know from college or investment banking,
like the forecasting and you know,how to compare this year to last year

and what are your numbers like?And I was put into the towel department,
much to my dismay, because Ireally wanted to be in one of
the fashion departments, but they stuckme in the towel department. And I
know it was torture because when fora number of reasons, but like people
were constantly picking up the towels andunfolding them, so like I was a

manager scrambling around at fifty ninth Street, Manhattan, constantly folding towels and then
tucked in the back of the toweldepartment is where the executive offices are for
Bloomingdale's National, So you had,you know, all of the head hauntos
for Bloomingdale's coming through my department allthe time, so it had to look

pristine while people are yanking towels everywhere, and then they would shout. They'd
be like, Kathleen, what's yournumbers today versus last year? And you'd
have to be like, oh,I'm up sixty percent or like you had
to know off the top of yourhead. So like it was just kind
of this thing. So the towelsthrew me into interiors and I just I

really hated Bloomingdales. I quit becauseif there was one more if I had
to go through one more one daysale with people were fighting, like literally
fist fights over towels because they wasit was nuts and I just couldn't take
it anymore. But I needed ajob. So in New York Times,

there was a an advertisement for administrativeassistant an interior design, and I said,
I don't know anything about interior design, but it says design, so
why not. I sent my resumeand it just so happens that they liked

what they saw. Sherry Dongia,who is just amusing person. She studied
fashion, so I think there waskind of, you know, a connection
there. And I interviewed for thejob and it was actually really funny.
So I'm getting all shot all theseinterviewed questions, you know, from I

was down two people. She wasgiving me all these you know, like
what are the standard interview questions?And then finally when she was done,
the other person interviewing me says,all right, I got one question for
you. And I was like okay, and she's like, what's your favorite
radio station? And I was likeuh and I think I said like w

n W or something, and shewas like, that's mine too. You
have the job. So I waslike okay. So so I got I
brought brought brought into the world ofinterior design, which I had no clue
about. You know, growing upin Yonkers, you get your your furniture
from Semens, right or you know, but this this this idea that you

have an interior designer that's going todesign your house and the sofa that you
want and again, this is theearly nineties, is going to cost you
fifteen thousand dollars and that's the sofaand don't even worry about the fabric because
we haven't even tacked that on yet. And I was like, what the

heck is this? Like I hadno idea that there was this wealth coach
or wealth. Yeah, you wouldthink, yes, I knew people bought
Versaci, and I knew people boughtChristian Dior and that was expensive and I
couldn't afford it, But I didn'tthink about furniture and wall covering and drapery

fabric and all of this stuff.And let me tell you, the fabric
is so much more fun and interiordesign, I feel, than it is
in fashion because it's more permanent andso there's it's not a throwaway thing,
and today we have so much throwawayfashion. It's something you have to live
with, right, you know,And even how the and I got so

I'm getting so excited right now,even like the construction of a sofa,
like you know, like okay,you could like we started. They we
had at Ucation series. We wouldcut up a sofa. You'd cut up
a sofa from let's say Semens again, which doesn't exist anymore, I don't
think, or a sofa from Donghia, and just the amount of craftsmanship that

went into the sofa. And theywould say, you know, if you
bought I'm doing a big advertisement forDongai right now, if you all right,
if you bought you know, oneof their sofas, it would last
you like an antique piece of furniturerather than you know, oh, and
we're not allowed to say couch.I was gonna ask. I heard you
say sofa so much. I waswondering about couch. Yeah, no,

couch. No. Even my kidswere like they're trained, They're like,
there's somebody, what's with The twinswere little and somebody said to them,
I'll take a seat on the couch. And they looked over and they're like,
do you mean the sofa? It'sfunny. So I mean, there's
just this whole world that I justhad no idea about. You know,
I had the fashion magazines growing up. I didn't have ar textual digest or

any of this stuff, right,So it was this amazing thing. And
I called it my aunt who actuallydid work in an interior design and I
said, Janet, I said,I have this this job offer. I
don't know whether to take it ornot. It's an interior designers for this

company called Dongish. She goes,are you kidding me? And I'm like
why. She's like, that's oneof the best firms. She goes,
how did you land a position there? She's like, take it, take
it, take it. Yeah,So I took the job. That's incredible.
Did you ever hear of collaborations bydesign a? I think it's like
a networking type of event down inthe city. I'll get you the information

on it. But I attended anevent and it's all these interior designers and
everything. So I was just thelittle off off topic there. I'm also
interested in the word couch and sofas. Couch like a slang word for sofa.
Is that what it is? Yeah, it's just a beast in my
word. Look at you, theface that I'm getting. It's like,
don't you ever say that word inmy presence? Oh my god, Well

you know what I feel like.So it's like so snooty though, right,
isn't it. But like, butit's your industry, it is.
It has to do with that.And where I was going to with this
this experience that you had there wasit was funny, like when I was
reading it, you said I didn'thave one mentor there, and I was
like, whoa, how did shework at this place and she doesn't have

one mentor? Like that's weird.That doesn't happen, right, And then
you said everyone everyone was a mentor. Yeah, and it's like it's still
a family that I carry with meto this day. You know, the
company was sold to an Italian company. Now it was purchased again by one

of the biggest they're just titans inthe industry. So it's it's that universe
that I started with doesn't exist anymore. But wow, we're all still super
close, like everybody. I mean, it's a whole thing. I remember

company I worked for a little bitlater. We all support each other and
everything. And I remember my bossat this other company says, you know,
you people from Dongaye. I thinkyou're so cool and you got each
other's back, and I just wantto let you know that there's more to
this industry than just you Dongaya people, and I was like, okay,

but no, I mean, actuallyit's true. I mean, like my
best friends, everybody, like youknow, just the amount of stuff that
I've learned. We're all still superconnected and super close to this day.
What do you think was the bondingfactor there for you? It just was
one of those things where somebody sprinkledfairy dust, like that's really just there.

I can't explain it, like workingin a flow, really just picking
up each other's Yeah, I mean, yeah, there was things that you
know, but yeah, no,it was just it was it was everybody
had each other's back for the mostpart, and everybody was brilliant, everybody
was talented, everybody was nice forthe most part. And yeah, it

just was this this click of everything. So you got your start at this
like amazing company according to your aunt, right and and everybody else and everyone
history, But you also had opportunities, so so many, so many of
us. We we get these opportunitiespresented to us and we just don't know
what to do with them. Andyou know, there's the quote out there

is that you know it has todo with preparation and all this other stuff.
Right, I'm not going to diginto the quote because where I'm going
with this is you had an opportunitypresented to you and you didn't even know
it was an opportunity, but itled to such great things for you.
Yeah, and I'm talking about thecrumpled up piece of paper, right,
so please share that story into howyou turned out opportunity into so much more.

Yeah. So I Dongia. It'sa it's a residential brand, so
it goes into people's homes on thetop one percent of the population, but
it goes into homes. And wewould get in the fax machine these pages
and pages and pages of and itwould be like a request for three yards

left, three yards of fabric,right, but it would be like fifteen
pages and it would come from let'ssay four seasons, and I would bring
it because I was an administrative assistant. I would bring it to my boss
and she would take a piece ofpaper and she'd scribble just like this fabric
is X amount of dollars a yardand you know, payment upfront or something,

and she'd go, okay, faxus back and I'd be looking at
this formal document, you know,saying, oh, you know, request
for quotation and testing and all ofthis in a turn, and then I'd
be looking at this little piece ofpaper and I'd be like, okay,
wait, one doesn't equal the other. And I asked my boss. I

said, question, you know,why are you just sending this back when
there's this whole, you know,formal request. And she said, we
never get those projects. She goes, our prices are too high. We're
never going to get it, soit's not worth my time. But I
just do it just in case.And I said, okay. I said,

well, do you mind if Ijust start replying, because if all
you're doing is scratching down the priceand all of this stuff, like,
I'd like to take that off ofyour plate. And she was like,
yeah, run with it. It'slike, as long as it doesn't affect
what you need to do, you'remore than welcome to take it over.
And pretty quickly, I think itwasn't about a year. Four seasons was

the number one account of the company. And it was just because I was
returning in kind, you know,like here's a formal document, and I
started diving then, well, whatdoes this test mean? You know,
how important is this for this application? So it's it's and there's this whole

kind of science to it that Ijust started picking up and learning, and
Dongia became one of the first highend residential companies to start diving full into
the hospitality market, which is themarket where I live and breathe to this

day, which is basically hotels.Yeah. Yeah, that's that's so cool.
And and you know, it goesback to this whole I'm gonna use
the word overachiever, but it's reallyjust this inner desire to do more for
you of It's like, here's anopportunity, and I don't know that many
of us would even see it asan opportunity. It was just this thing
where you said, I'll take onthis project. Why not let me see

if I could do it better ordo it differently. Right, I don't
even think I was thinking about itthen. It was just like this curiosity.
I feel like with me, it'salways like I'll tackle something that doesn't
make sense, Like, so thatdidn't make sense, Yeah, so let
me make sense of this and thensee what happens. It's not so much

a drive, it's just trying tomake sense of things. Yeah. Yeah,
well there's a drive, but Imean that that's but that's really the
entrepreneur is we're inquisitive. Yeah,we're a problem solver. We're seeing something
differently and we're saying, well,why not do it that way? We
don't know if it's going to succeedor not, right, I mean,
that's part of the entrepreneurship is wedon't know if it's going to succeed or

not. And I want to tryingto figure that right, right, And
I want to bring that to thebusiness world too, to our to our
aspiring c suite executives out there,and that it's the same thing when you
think about management, when you thinkabout your experience at Bloomingdale's or management courses,
they're also just experimenting and problem solvingand it evolves and changes and it's
and it's up to you to makethat change. And you can do that

in a corporation something there's a lotmore restrictions there. But raise your hands,
right and and look for something alittle bit different. Now, if
you can't raise your hand, youcould do a side hustle, which somebody
else here has done. Right,So while you're working and I don't know,
I don't think it was at Donga, right, yeah, you're working
on another company, and that's whenyou started working on floor thirteen. And

please let's get to this name right, because I didn't understand the name either
at first. And also I wantto make a little note mental note for
both of us here to speak aboutyour business card, because you also have
a kind of like a little lifehack on your business. You don't know,
you don't know what I'm talking about. Okay, you little life hack
on people's business cards. We'll getinto that in a second, but let's
go to floor thirteen, the sidehustle and the name. Yeah, So

from Donggia, I started working ata lot more other companies. And while
Dongaia they sold, like I said, sofas and fabric and lighting. So
I started working with the design teamat Dongaia to alter things for the hospitality

industry because not only were their budgetssmaller, right, so they can't afford
a two hundred dollars a yard silk. They can't use silk because silk wouldn't
pass the codes because there's flammability codesfor upholstery you have to have. You

know, they're call it double rubs. And if you think about like even
a banquette booth. The amount oftimes people get up and down from it,
that's a rub. Each one isa rub. So the fabric hast
to last, you know, fiftythousand at least rubs and hospitality. Because
people are getting up and down,up and down, up and down,

it gets a lot more aware.So anyway, there's this whole entire thing,
and you can't use silk. Sonow we have to get this silk
fabric that specified for all the guestrooms at the four Seasons, and we
need to make it into a polyester, and how are we going to do
that? So and we started doingthat with lighting, we started doing it
with the furniture, or we startedgoing to China, you know, all

of that stuff. So, butmy forte really was with fabric. Of
course, that was what I alwaysknew. I didn't know about you all
listing of you know, lights,I knew about fabric. So I started
working for other fabric companies, andI got better and better at it,
and I started knowing more and moremills and more people in the industry,

and it just kind of expanded.And then I ended up selling working for
a company as a national that soldI'll just say, a decorative product that
wasn't fabric, And all of asudden, out of nowhere, people started

approaching me from other fabric companies,and they were like smaller ones, and
they're like, hey, we cannever afford to have you on our staff,
but we're having problems with our stuffgetting knocked off, and we really
want these hotel jobs and we don'twant people copying or fabrics, so can
you start sourcing this out for us? And they're like, since you're not

doing fabrics anywhere, we don't thinkit's a big deal. And I was
like, yeah, oh, Iguess I could do that. Sure,
And so I was like and thenI thought about it. I was like,
well, I really don't want themto know who my mills or my
sources are. I feel like I'veworked hard at those contacts and those things,

so I guess I'll need to starta company. And I remember I
was in a car accident and Iwas asking my accident. I was like,
do you know anything about starting companies? Because I gotta do this thing,
and he was like, yeah,sure I could do you you know,
he goes, I'll roll it intoyour thing, and so he was
like, you got to come upwith a name, and I was like,

okay, so I've always had athing with a number thirteen. I
don't know why the numbers. It'snot like in my birthday or anything.
I just thought it was funny thatpeople get freaked out by a number,
you know. And Dan Marino,I'm a Dolphin fan, and he was
number thirteen, and I'm like,well that number worked out for him.

Okay, I mean he didn't getto a Super Bowl, but whatever.
But you know, it was just, you know, it's just like this
stupid thing. And then I alwaysyou know, and then I always thought
how it was funny how people uselike if working in the Chrysler building,
there's no thirteenth floor, and I'vealways noticed that, you know. I

worked on Park Avenue three ninety ninePark there was thirteenth floor, and it
was just always something I thought wasso funny, right, because the fourteenth
floor is the thirteenth floor, Soif you're on the fourteenth floor, you're
on the thirteenth floor, and justbecause you're calling it the fourteenth floor doesn't
make a difference. So why arewe getting all superstitious on this and that

kind of rebranding? So the fourteenthfloor is rebranded to be and the thirteenth
floor becomes hidden. So I waslike, well, if I'm working for
X Y Z company and they're notthere there, I'm sourcing something out for
them, They're not going to knowthe mill. They're going to have to
pay me a check. But whenthey get the fabric, they're going to

call it X Y and Z Companiesfabric. So I was like, well,
I'm getting rebranded just like the thirteenthfloor of a building. So I
just went with four thirteen textiles.That's so cool. Yeah, that is
so cool. When I was readingthe people think I do flooring now,
and I'm like, no, Idon't have flugs. We don't have flooring.

It's so hard when you come upwith a name and you have this
like great story and and then peoplethink something else, like yeah, like
with dent and people think I dealwith dentistry. Oh that's what we get.
We got a lot of dentist inquiries, and I'm like, God,
should I've changed? But it's namedafter Denise and Tenley, you know,
Like but anyway, back to floorthirteen. It is so cool. Like

and then when I was reading that, and I was reading about hotels and
the thirteenth floor, like i'd heardthat. I just wonder, I don't
I didn't do any research on thisbefore this podcast, but I'm like,
do they still do that? Oris there really no thirteenth floor? And
then I was thinking that is crazy. It is crazy, and you know,
there's some that do it and thereare some that don't know. I

think it depends on the building.What kind of superstition they have that's so
wild? So I guess the EmpireState Building doesn't have a thirteenth floor,
right, it doesn't. Wow.They're like, we're not taking that chance,
which made me think about actually withthis whole thirteenth floor thing, it
was also making me think about likethese how we I forget the term for

it, but but essentially by thinkingthat something bad's going to happen, something
bad happens right by thinking. Soit's like the first person who put the
thirteenth floor and they're like, wellthat place is going to burn down,
and next thing you know, it'sgot an electric fire, right right.
It's like, so you always gotto be careful of these things. The
other thing I promised our audience hereis that you have a little hack for

business cards. And I thought thatwas interesting too, because everybody has a
different way of their little style ontheir business card, or at least you
hope there's a style, right,like not just cut and dry. But
you had you had mentioned something Iforget if it was in your bio or
in another interview that you had doneabout people's business cards. Well, yeah,
I mean they're kind of how manypiles do you have on your desk

of this business cards? Right?And it's one of those things that people
look at and then it goes tothe side. And when I was doing
my business cards, you know,you had this second side, and you
know I see sometimes people like they'llput their logo on one side and then

you flip it and then it hasthe information. But I was like,
well, if I'm trying to projectsomething of what my company is about and
who I am, then that secondspot isn't just my logo, right,
because what does that really say?No, it's advertising. It's a place
to put a photograph because you onlyreally have somebody's attention with a business card

for fifteen seconds, you know,short amount of time, So I put
my product on there. You're payingso that you could stand out a little
bit. And that's so like peoplewe come come back from networking events and
we have a stack of business cardsand it's which business card are you're going
to get back to? Right?Yeah? And some of them you're going

to get back to because you hada really great connection, and that's wonderful,
right, because really the connection shouldreally stay out. But some of
them you look at and you go, who was this person? I don't
remember meeting them or whatever. Andif the business card doesn't say much,
right, you kind of move itto the side. Maybe you follow up,
maybe you don't. Whatever it is. And now I'm going to tie
it back into clothing what we weretalking about earlier. When you're at a

business event and how you're dressed,portrays you have the dent tent on the
T shirt or you know, getsanyone the hat or you know whatever it
guess Tom exactly. And then butit translates to the business card, like
there's all these little things about yourbrand. So you can't let any detail
really go to waste, because you'vegot to stand out. Whether you're in

a big industry or a small industry, you have competition, right, or
you have a perspective. Client wantsto remember you. How are you going
to be memorable? And it's likeall of these little things. It's all
these little touches. Whether you knowit's in your email, it's your business
card, it's how you're dressed.It's just all these little things are things

that go into somebody's head and theyremember, yeah, and you don't know
which one is going to land withthem. I was just speaking with with
one of my sales people about thisbecause he was talking about leaving voicemail matters,
and I said, you're right,in the grand scheme of things,
it doesn't matter, right. Noone's gonna listen to your two to three
minute sales pitch in a voicemail.But if you say your name, your

company's name, briefly what you do, and a callback number, they're going
to hear it. They're gonna listento it, they're gonna delete it,
they're gonna not pay attention to it, they're not going to call you back.
Don't expect any of that. Butthat's one yep, that's one touch,
one touch. It's all about thetouch. One touch. Your T
shirt, brand, your hat,your your way, your dress is two
business cards so it all kind ofplays together. Yeah. I love how

you tied all that together. Thankyou for doing that. That was that
was really great. See I listenedto your podcast because I know how like
you always they're like, all right, I'm going to go back to that
original to go back I know,yea. And but to me, that
brings into your score, right,your mean by score is not your personal

score as to who you are,which is a ten. But you also
work at or volunteer at SCORE.Volunteer thank you at SCORE, which is
part of the Business Administration, helpingsmall businesses become something right, become who
they are. And they played arole in flour thirteen. Yeah. So

when I started this company, Iwas simultaneously let go from the other company
just we didn't mesh or leave itthere. But I was like, oh
no, what am I gonna do? Like And I remember I was the
company was in Yonkers, but Iwas living up here in fish Gill,

and I remember driving on the Taconicin tears because I have three little kids
at home. I was just letgo from this company for standing my ground,
and some would say, like,why did you do that? Of
course you're going to get fired youknow, and it was an ethical thing,

but I just kind of didn't knowwhat I was going to do,
and you know, my marriage wasfalling apart at the time. I got
divorced shortly later, and New YorkState sent me a letter and it said,

okay, well we're sorry. Youknow you're going to be on unemployment.
Thank you, but we have thisprogram called SEEP. I'm going to
butcher the at what it stands for, but it's like self employment assistance program.
I think I got it right.And basically what it is is this

program with New York State if youfit into this weird algorithm, god knows
what it is, where when youhit unemployment they see something where they're like,
okay, this person could become anentrepreneur, and they offer you this
package where you can receive unemployment simultaneouslyof earning an income in a business.

You start so normally with unemployment.Second you start earning income, they cut
you off. This was like,you got six months to get your stuff
together, but we're going to notonly pay you the unemployment, we're going
to send you to training so youhave all these steps that you need to

do in order to continue with thisprogram. And one of the things that
I needed to do was I neededto get a mentor. And one of
the organizations that they recommended was SCORE, which was known for volunteers who are
retired from you know, different sectorsof corporate America or entrepreneurship that would mentor

you in your business. So Isigned on with these two wonderful gentlemen who
didn't quite understand what I was doing, but gave me really good advice and
they really they really helped me thinkthat this was something I could do,
you know, whether it was goingover my business plan that I was writing

and all this stuff that I hadno idea about, like because business plan,
like they didn't teach me that,like you know, there was like
still all these things that I neededto learn and you know what accounting software,
you know, and all this stuffto like, you know, because
I decided, of course to goahead with four thirteen, and I did

have to ask New York State fora special exception because I said, well,
I kind of already started a company, but at the time there was
no income. I said, soI haven't there's it's there, it's started.
And they said, well, technically, okay, since you didn't make
any money, We'll let it go. So I had these two guides for

four thirteen and I had to takethese webinars and all these I don't think
they were webinars. Back then therewas some in person, but only ten
years ago there was webinars, soI'm going to say twelve. So anyway,
and they they stayed with me fora few years. I would always

contact them when I had a problem. They set me on the path to
get financing for the company. Andso it's been you know, so I
guess it was. I've been doingit eighteen months now. I decided eighteen
months ago. I decided that Iwant and to be a part of SCORE
to help entrepreneurs that are starting,or even entrepreneurs that you you could call

them like, you know, it'sjust like, hey, I have this
problem, you know, and we'retrained to a point, you know,
but you know, we hold hands, we don't, you know, if
you're an entrepreneur, you got todo it yourself. But at least there's
like there's this voice and there's there'ssomebody you know that could be accountability.
And I'm just loving it, likeI really love doing it. It's it's

just a lot of fun. Andeverybody that I'm mentoring is just I love
their ideas and their spark, andit's just it's just it fills me.
It's it's a good thing. That'sso cool. Yeah, you said it
too. With with entrepreneurship, thereis no answer to the questions that we

have right there sometimes is right,there's sometimes there's just yep, just go
to there, fill out this form, or go to that website or you
know, but it's really on us. It's really on the person. And
again, just relate it back toour business world of the corporation, the
corporate world of anybody trying to getinto the c suite, it's the same
thing. It's on you. There'sno blueprint to how this happens. There's

somewhat, there's somewhat, there's apath, but it's on you to take
action, to do the work,to do it. So you can ask
them the questions and they can kindof direct you and point you, but
you gotta do it right. Yeah. And the other thing that you said
about these mentors, which I thinkis so important for people to hear,
is that they helped you believe inyourself. Yeah, you said that was

you know, they helped me seethat I can do it right, and
you know that self belief is solike important and everything we do. Yeah,
yeah, and along the way.So if I started flour thirteen just
over ten years ago, and notonly was score, but like there's been
like you know, coaches or whateverelse that kind of like, you know,

I think when I started flour thirteenand again, like I said,
I I was coming out of divorce. I had, you know, or
just getting divorced. I had thethree kids, and I really went into
the kind of like almost an isolationthing right where I was like I started
this out of my house, butI would just sit at my desk,
you know, and I would youknow, a kind of it started kind

of like being almost like a viciouscircle where I was like what the hell
am I doing here? You knowwhat I mean? And having those people
like reaching out, whether it's throughScore or different mentors, all these people
going, wow, this is reallycool what you're doing, Like have you
looked at this? And have youlooked at that? And just like forcing

myself out there, like even withthe chamber, like forcing myself into the
chamber, forcing myself into these othergroups you know, I'm on the Town
of Fish Skills owning board, youknow, putting myself in there, putting
myself into all these situations. Butthere's all these support people that you could
find, you know, just don'tsit behind your desk. That was one
of the worst things that I did. Yeah, So pushing through that on

comfort, Yeah, totally. Andit's true because I've experienced that with you
actually in that when I met youat the Chamber and I said, so,
you know, what do you whodo you want to meet and what
do you want to work with?And You're like, well, actually we're
kind of like all set we workwith hotels and everything. And I'm like,
well, why are you here yougo to meet people? Yeah exactly.

It's like that's cool. Yeah,No, I mean like yeah,
because everybody, everybody is in thisis doing it. You know. At
the Chamber. Yeah, you haveentrepreneurs, but you also have people that
you know, are working up thecorporate ladder and so it's just it's a
good energy just to kind of yeararound. Yeah, yeah, it is.
It is a really great energy tobe around because people are there and

they're they're networking in different ways,and I know that there's so many conversations
about the right way to network,and honestly, it's it's really just get
out there and be there, right. I mean, we want to try
to help. Of course, theyoung networkers were just trying to put a
business card and give you their sales, pitch at at one of these mixers

and help them realize that you don'tneed to do that. This might not
be the place for it, butmaybe you do need to do that.
You need to do it to learn. I do that. It's what gets
you to that next level. It'swhat taps somebody on the shoulder, like
you that might turn to that personand say, hey, you got five
minutes. It's just chat real quick. But it's so hard to start doing
that. Like I would sit againat my desk petrified. So like I

would sign up to like, oh, yeah, I'm going to go to
that event, you know, andthen it would be like an hour before
that event, and like I wouldjust freeze and I'd be like, Nope,
I'm not going. You know,I got to cook dinner for the
kids, and no, And itwould I would make excuses and I wouldn't
go, and I really had toforce myself. I know, you said

you were going through a divorce,and so I could imagine that there was
a lot way on your mind.But what was the other fears that were
happening that we're stopping or preventing youfrom stepping out and going to these events
or different things. I think itwas just being bullied as a kid.
You know, you go back toall of that, right, so when
you're kind of like, you know, even people who you thought were friends
that would just you know, endup not and all of that stuff.

I kind of had this big fearof going out and putting myself out there
and you know, like, ohmy god, Like what if I go
to this event and nobody wants totalk to me. What if I'm just
standing there looking like hey, youknow, I'm here, But you know
what I mean, you don't wantto be that person. And but like

I had this just this fear oftalking to somebody going oh, why is
she talking to me? You knowwhat I mean. It was always like
that was in the back of myhead. And yeah, so I think
you had Lauria Strasski on one ofyour podcasts. So she is the Hudson
Valley Women in Business. Yes,and that's one of those that I kept

chickening out of going. And soone day she sent out something to the
group like Okay, we're having ameeting and I need some volunteers. I
need a greeter. And I said, that's it. I'm going to volunteer
be a greeter. I don't knowanybody, but at least I have a
job, right, So I wasn'tgoing to be standing in the corner,

you know, like I'm going tohave a purpose and so and that way,
I'm going to show up too,Like I have no excuses. I
need to show up. And soI went to that event and I sat
at the table and I was agreet and like, and Laurie and I
started talking and I somehow she latchedonto exactly what I was doing really quickly,

and so she would always like giveme a job. She's like,
Okay, we're having another event.Do you want a job? And I'm
like, yes, I'll do that. And that's how I just again,
and that just really just broke meout of my shell to like do everything
else. That's funny. Yeah,I mean Laurie's brilliant, but I will
say from organizing events, we're alsojust looking for volunteers. You're raising your

hand, we're grabbing you. Yeah, And if you're sitting at home behind
your desk, volunteer, like,really, just throw yourself out there.
I'm so happy you said that becauseI was going to ask you of,
like, for anybody who is nervousor petrified right now, what advice you
have and please just eab You've alreadyelaborated on these, but I want to
to just share some share back whatyou just said, which is you volunteered

for something, so there was acommitment there for you. And so by
by committing yourself to the organization,not just to committing to going, but
committing to something there of volunteering forsomething. And then the other word that
you used was purpose, that youhad a purpose to go there. So
there was an intention and it wasa purpose and you knew what you were
doing in that role of I'm goingto greet people, so I'm here to

shake hands, say hello and tellthem where to go or where to be
or whatever it is. Anything elsethat you that would help these people that
are maybe a little bit nervous orshy to get out and break through.
I think that's the biggest thing andthen find that like one person that actually
like you connect with but is outgoing. You know. I got comfortable with

a Hudson Valley women in business groupat the chamber. Freak the hell out
of me, you know, AndI did try it a few years back,
and I was that wallflower, youknow. And then I just I
had somebody that I knew that wasin the chamber and she's like, why
don't you come back? And Iwas like, I don't know, and
so she convinced me and she justshe just took me by the hand and

she made all the introductions and nowI'm very comfortable. But like you know,
sometimes you do need that kind ofthey're so there, you know that
that if you're not that person,find that person. Yeah, I like
that. Find that person. SimonSinec talks about that where he's an introvert,
but he's like, but I alwaysfind the extrovert, yes, you

know, and I go with thembecause I'll eat the cheese and crackers while
they're talking to people. But youknow, they'll introduce me and then yeah,
and then they make those connections,which is I'm an extrovert, so
I'm always happy to do that.I love doing that for people or with
people. Another thing that I justheard recently in a book that I'm reading
right now is that a lot ofthe times that we go into these networking
situations and we're nervous or even justin general of just going to a party

or whatever, a lot of timesit's because we're thinking about ourselves, and
not in a mean way of likewe're being selfish in anyway like that,
but it's because we're thinking about ourselves, of our self perception of like what
are people thinking of me? Howam I carrying myself? And which is
all good? Right? We shouldall take a good look in the mirror
and realize that. But I wouldn'tcall it advice, But well, I
guess I am calling it advice.But his advice is more of like,

ask them about themselves. Get themto open up to you and ask them
about like, so, tell meabout your business, tell me about how
you got started, tell me aboutlike why you chose this outfit or whatever
it is, right, And asthey do that, you start being able
to just be a part of theconversation and lessen your own head. And
I thought that that was really greatadvice, that to share with everyone.
So you're doing score, You're doingall these things. You're just like this

amazing entrepreneur and yet all these people. I wanted to kind of like wrap
up a little bit, but Ican't because this is so important. And
I guess maybe I saved the bestfor last year. But so many people
wherever it was in your journey,right, I don't. I can't remember
exactly where it was in your journey, but so many people use this word

should in your life. Should youshould? You should? You should?
You should? Right? And itprobably is part of what frowe you at
your desk. Yes, but youwere able to finally break through that and
you had to breakthrough on it,and I just want you to share that
with everyone. Okay, Well itactually it came from I read a book

called Million Dollars Women by Julia Pimsler, and it really kind of like it
was the introduction for me on capital. I didn't know about raising capital.

I just thought, if you're anentrepreneur, you better have saved the money,
or you better have a rich parent. I had neither, but I
still did it. But I didn'tknow that, like you know that there
was investors and like all of thisstuff, and I just read the book

and I was like, wow,that's amazing. And long story short,
I started to know Julia. Weconnected on LinkedIn and I'm like, wow,
I can't believe, like, youknow, I'm talking to this person
that you know. And she wasthe first person that said to me,
don't listen to the shutters and becauseand she in our little group that we

had, she always said one ofthe rules of the group is don't tell
anybody you should because if you're you'renot, if you haven't done it,
you can't tell somebody. You couldsay, hey, I have this idea,
Hey I have this suggestion, butshould it is such a you should
do this, like it almost meanslike you have to write, and it's

all these kind of like ways ofyou know, what you should be doing.
And so one of the things thatI kind of got stuck with was
working out of my home and havinga national company. And you know,
I have the sample department down inmy basement. We do have some warehousing

going on in the garage. It'slike a whole entire thing. And I
was like, well, when Iget to a certain level, I should
move into an office. Shooting onyourself, I shoot myself, and because
that's what everybody else has. Noneof my competition is working out of their
house, right, And so Igot the office space. I think this

is what you were alluding to,right, And got an office space with
a warehouse and the whole entire whatI should be doing for my industry.
And it was overwhelming. I mean, the rent was you know, that
was a factor. Right. Mycompany was doing well enough and it was

twenty nineteen, so you see whereI'm going with ass because then twenty twenty
hit and for a hospitality all thehotel shutdown. My whole industry screeched to
a halt, so, you know, ninety percent lesson sales. Yeah,

it was a rough two years.And so I couldn't afford the office space
anymore, and we moved everything backinto the house. And I am so
happy, Like I it's just it'swhere I'm going to say it. It's
where I should be. It's wherethe company should be. And you know,

we have a we have offsite warehouseand everything else. But it's why
I started the company. It wasI started, you know, it's why
I went on this path. Iwanted to be there for my kids.
I want. I want my freedom. Yeah, you can't put a price

on it stuff. You know,at the end of the day, that's
not the salary. The salary is. Yeah. I work from home,
go to the gym every morning.I am able to take my kids to
school when they have a meltdown overtheir hair in the morning. You know,
I'm able to go see their plays. I'm able to go to their
sports events. And that's where that'sthat's that's why I did this. I

didn't do this to be anything elsebut myself. I love that. That's
wonderful. And yeah, I thinkthe the story of shooting, it's so
many of us experience that in ourlives and in our world, and I
think it's what I want to sayis people are doing it. They have

good intention. Yes they're they're shootingon you because they have good intention,
they're hoping to help you. Butto realize that I realize at least that
when someone's shooting on me. Partof my reason why I don't like it
is because you're removing my choice.And as entrepreneurs, as business leaders,

whatever you're you're trying to be toaccomplish in your life, you need choice
and it needs to be your choice. Yeah, right, and so that's
what it removes. But I thinkthat there are times where you know,
like you said, it should behome. That's the choice you made.
You made that choice, and it'sa beautiful choice. I as an entrepreneur,
I get to go to my daughter'sschool as as the center's parents in

kindergarten. I get to be partof that, and I look forward to
that because I don't know when thatopportunity will go away, when when they
get older, or maybe maybe Ihave a meeting that I can't turn down
for whatever reason. Well that Ichoose to not turn down, right,
but I can. That's the choicethat I made. So I think that

it's such an powerful message that youhave there of breaking that and for you,
and I know that you also saidthis with full compassion and empathy,
but COVID allowed for that to happenfor you, it did, and and
you know it's there's so much badthat happened, and we acknowledge that,

and you're super compassionate towards that.But you said this pause allowed for this
like reframing of our lives, right, absolutely, Yeah, I mean you
know we lost family members for sure, but man, that was just like
what there was the it's in away I needed it, but I just

wish it shouldn't come with all theother. Yeah. Yeah, well,
well we wish. There's always agood and a bad, right always always,
but focused on the good with youis so you are at score,
You're you're volunteering there, you're helpingpeople there, and you're doing so much
more in your community too. Youmentioned on on the fish Kill zoning board.

And then a Girl Scout leader Coldleader leader. Yeah. Yeah,
my twins they started with Girl Scoutswhen they are very little. I think
it's an amazing organization. I wasa Girl Scout myself, though I quit
when I reached the I had towear all the green. Maybe it was
the green, but but no,And they love it and they've stuck with

it and they're up for there.They're getting their gold awards soon. Well
they're going to have to prepare forthat. But that's the next step,
which is, you know, kindof like the Boy Scout, Eagle Scout
kind of Wow. Okay, soit's a big deal, but yeah,
we have a group of high schoolgirls that are continuing with it, and

it's just It's great because you know, I brought them to a Hudson Valley
Women in Business event, you know, and there's just like there their spark
and everything is to It's great towatch. It's great to see their ideas
how they want to serve the communitybecause there's that big aspect to it.
And yeah, I'm proud of themfor sticking with it. That's so cool.

Yeah, and you know you're betweenyour daughter, your your oldest daughter
going to the school that she's goingto and the degree that she's getting and
then applying to the White House.I love also that message that you gave
her of like even if I don'tget it, Like what if I don't
get who cares? Who cares?You wrote the essay. You tried,
so you try again next year.And then if you don't get it,

you know you have that experience,you have that that that that almost like
just to write that essay to getto potentially get this right. She she
learned a lot from it. Yeah. And the commitment with the with the
Girl Scouts, I mean that's acommitment. So these are all great things

that you're teaching your daughters. Ilove that they went to the Hudson Value
Women in Business. I was justat a Chamber event and my daughter asked
me, She goes, why whycan't they plan these things in the afternoon
so we can go? And Iwas like, that's cool. I was
like, yeah, you can't takeher to the business after it was past
their bedtime. Yeah, but yeah, they're they're a little young for that.

But I'm you know, with someof the stories that you shared and
uh, and that we're talking abouthere, is that the exposure, right,
the exposure to our youth. Youwere exposed. You were working with
your mom with the semiconductors, youwere there, and now you did it
for your daughters and you're watching themblossom from it all. So it's such
a great message to share as weas we conclude this. The other thing

that you also are part of isthe Chamber Foundation Women's Leadership Alliance. And
I'm just interested that. I justI just signed up. No, I
know, you just signed up.You don't have much to say that.
I didn't tell Darren, and Darren'ssitting next to me, but oh,
but it's a great foundation. He'slike, don't volunteering. It's so hard,
hard, right, It's a hardnot to. Yeah, because we

see the need and so I asas we finalize what I'm interested in is
this this idea of service that youhave, is you know, instilling it
in your daughters with the Girl Scoutsof being a volunteer at score And I'm
just interested in this idea of serviceand it's important and in their lives.
Well, one of the things thatI'm doing is I'm I'm trying to see

what fills is. You know,I did put my I did over extend
myself during COVID volunteering for a lotof things. But it has to kind
of like give back to me.So yeah, there's a selfish aspect to
it. Well, like you said, you get great joy out of the
men, but like it, ifit's going to be my time, then

it has to be something that itisn't beating me down, it's lifting me
up. Yeah. Yeah, that'swonderful. That's a great message that if
you're if you're going to serve,if you're going to voluvolunteer, that helps
bring you up and and and riseyou to new levels. Yeah, make
networking connections like we did at theChamber to Yeah, this has been just

a wonderful experience with you today.How can people find you? This will
all be in the show notes,of course, but how can people find
you reach out to you? Yeah? So both Facebook and Instagram is at
flour thirteen text stiles t E XT I L E S and then www

dot flour thirteen textiles dot com.Very cool. And just one last question
here, just out of curiosity,what's one of the hotels, like big
name hotels right now that your stuffis in, that your textiles are in.
We just did four phases of theAtlantis and the Bahamas, so that's
really cool. Yeah, but we'rein Hilton, Sandals, Marriotts, We're

everywhere. Yeah. I thought thatwas so cool. And we were talking
at it was the business after hoursat the uh in Pokeepsie. I forget
the name of the place anyway,and you're telling me that and I was
like, whoa, whoa, whoa, that's pretty neat. Yea, so
so cool, so cool. Thankyou so much for coming on today,
Thanks for having this was wonderful,And shout out to Darren for chauffeuring you
know awesome. Thanks, thank youfor listening to the Michael Esposito Show.

For show notes video clips and moreepisodes go to Michael Espositoinc. Dot com
backslash podcast. Thank you again toour sponsor dn ten Insurance Services helping businesses
get the right insurance for all theirinsurance needs. Visit dent ten dot io
to get a quote that's d nt N dot io and remember when you

buy an insurance policy from Denten,you're giving back on a global scale.
This episode was produced by Uncle Mikeat the iHeart Studios in pokeepsie special thanks
to Lara Rodrean for the opportunity andmy team at Michael Esposito in
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