Our blog series “5 Questions With…” takes a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of our small business customers. Our next installment is below!
Name: Rebecca Lonergan
Location: Aptos, CA
Products/Services: Online modern tile store
Years in Business: 12 Years
1) Tell us about your business – what do you do and how did you get started?
Modwalls® was founded by my husband David Bousfield and me in 2005. We couldn’t find the colorful modern tile that we wanted for our own home remodeling projects, so we decided to design our own. We created the tile in colors and designs we loved and, with our backgrounds in Silicon Valley high-tech companies, we created an online tile store so that we could offer our products worldwide.
My role is CEO and Creative Director. I create the designs and colors of our tile and also manage all of our marketing activities.
2) You’ve got a strong following on Facebook and Twitter – how did you build that following and how do you manage it as a branding initiative?
Our social media followings have been built by customer word of mouth. I think it is important to show the personality of your business in social media. This includes images and/or stories of your team and how they help to get the products out to the customers. We also present information on subjects related to proper use or installation of our products. One big idea that works very well is to present finished installations in our customers’ home or businesses. This fosters a community between our customers. Just being yourself is the real key. You be you and like-minded people will respond and become either customers, or brand advocates, or both.
Aside from Facebook and Twitter, we are now growing on Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz. Our branding initiative going forward is to provide more content to our followers which is related to the entire design/build process along with tile. We will also continue following and learning from the talented architects, designers, and builders with whom we have the opportunity to work.
3) How did you find out about OnDeck and how have you used OnDeck’s financing to grow your business?
We learned of OnDeck online and through the mail. When we were seeking funding to help us expand, we were looking for a lender that understood small businesses’ need for capital to help fund innovation and growth. We chose OnDeck for their seamless approval process, ease of loan payback, and their outstanding customer service.
We’ve used OnDeck’s funding in two ways:
First, to produce our new collection of American-made ceramic tile designs called Kiln™. Our signature Kiln™ tile shapes are Chevrons and Triangles called Wedges. These new modern field tile designs are available in 75 matte and glossy colors and several unique shapes and sizes. Retail and trade customers alike are specifying them on residential, commercial, and hospitality projects so that makes us very happy.
Our Kiln™ collection has grown in the past two years from zero to 18% of the business and it continues to grow as we add new designs. Both retail and trade customers are excited about using these fun shapes and colors.
Secondly, we’ve used the funding to successfully source a North American factory for our Lush® glass subway tile line. Now that we are no longer importing that collection, we can offer more sizes, colors, and more customization with a short turnaround time. This allows us to broaden our selection, as well as have glass subway tile which meets Made in America requirements.
4) Tell us about a memorable business win you recently experienced. How did it come about?
We had the good fortune to partner with one of my favorite artists, Rex Ray, to develop a collection of glass and ceramic tile designs using Rex’s mid-century inspired artwork. The line include glass subway Type™ tile, Ceramic photo collage Ether™ floor tile and ceramic Rox™ wall and floor tile. All of these tiles are hand made in the USA.
The Rox version of these uniquely mod tile designs was recently specified by the design firm that helps the Coca Cola corporation keep their interiors fun and on brand. They chose our Rex Ray Rox™ in white for a feature wall at the Coca Cola HQ. With Rox’s unique shape and “effervescence,” they emulate bubbles. We are waiting to see the completed project.
5) What’s one piece of advice you’d give a new business owner?
Make every customer feel as if they’re your only customer. You could be selling anything, but if the service isn’t there, you won’t be successful.