E25: Launching a Startup in a 90-Year Old Company – Janet Wischnia

by | Nov 24, 2020

Succession
Stories
Podcast

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Janet Wischnia is an Owner and former CEO of her family’s 90-year old company, Thomaston Mills. In 2019, they launched an e-commerce startup called American Blossom Linens. The new venture brought the “Made In USA” commercial linens company back to their direct-to-consumer roots. And they were well positioned to deal with the market changes a year later brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a great story about innovation in a mature business to keep investing in the long-term. Be sure to take advantage of a special offer for Succession Stories listeners that Janet shares at the end of the episode.

Learn more about:

  • Janet’s family business and succession stories across three generations
  • Working through leadership transition challenges
  • How the company’s values influenced their decisions during the pandemic
  • Shifting business strategy and taking risks
  • How stepping back gave Janet a different perspective on the company’s future
  • Fueling 400% growth in one year by bootstrapping, being agile, and learning
  • Her mantra of persistence and kindness

Show Links:

americanblossomlinens.com

Connect with the host, Laurie Barkman on LinkedIn

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Episode Transcript

Laurie Barkman:

Welcome to Succession Stories, insights for next generation entrepreneurs. I’m Laurie Barkman. I’ve spent my career bringing an entrepreneurial approach to mature companies struggling with change as an outside executive of a third generation, 120 year old company, I was part of a long-term succession plan.

Now I work with entrepreneurs, privately held companies, and family businesses to develop innovations that create enterprise value and transition plans to achieve their long-term goals. On this podcast, listen in as I talk with entrepreneurs who are driving innovation and culture change. I speak with owners who successfully transitioned their company and others who experienced disappointment along the way.

Guests also include experts in multi-generational businesses and entrepreneurship. If you are a next generation entrepreneur looking for inspiration to grow and thrive, or an owner who can’t figure out the best way to transition their closely held company, this podcast is for you.

Let’s accelerate your business value. Visit SmallDotBig.com to get your complimentary ValueBuilder Score and work with Laurie Barkman to discover where to invest your time for the biggest return.

Laurie Barkman:

Janet Wischnia is an Owner and former CEO of her family’s 90 year old company, Thomaston Mills. In 2019, they launched an e-commerce startup called American Blossom Linens. The new venture brought the “Made In USA” commercial linens company back to their direct-to-consumer roots. And they were well positioned to deal with the market changes a year later brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a great story about innovation in a mature business to keep investing in the long-term. Be sure to take advantage of a special offer for Succession Stories listeners that Janet shares at the end of the episode.

Laurie Barkman:

Janet Wischnia is an Owner and former CEO of her family’s 90 year-old company, Thomaston Mills. In 2019, they launched an e-commerce startup called American Blossom Linens. The new venture brought the “Made In USA” commercial linens company back to their direct-to-consumer roots. And they were well positioned to deal with the market changes a year later brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a great story about innovation in a mature business to keep investing in the long-term. Be sure to take advantage of a special offer for Succession Stories listeners that Janet shares at the end of the episode.

Laurie Barkman:

Janet, welcome to Succession Stories. I’m really excited you’re here today because you’re the kind of entrepreneur I’ve been longing to talk to. You’re third generation of your family’s business, and you have innovated and done a startup at a very mature point in that company’s history. Almost 90 years in, you’ve created an innovative new business. I’m so glad to talk to you about that today.

Janet Wischnia:

Thank you very much. I’m so happy to be here. I’m looking forward to this. I think it’s going to be fun.

Laurie Barkman:

It is going to be fun. So let’s start with your family business. If you could just give us a history of the company and who some of the key players were in getting everything started and growing it through the generations.

Janet Wischnia:

Sure. So the business was started in 1931. My grandfather at the age of 18 came over from Russia during the Progroms with his brothers and sisters. And he came over and he got married. He had worked in the textile business when he was in Russia. So that was something he knew. So he got a job working for a linen store in Philadelphia when he came, and then eventually decided to get married and decided to open his own retail linen store. It was in the center of Philadelphia on a street called South Street, which has become a very popular kind of destination area now. It’s completely different now than it was then. But he opened a store there and he grew the store. My grandmother worked there and when my father was born and his two brothers were born, they also worked there. Just like any family business, the kids would live above the store and then work in the store. And so my father grew up in the business and then my father and his two brothers went to college. They went to University of Pennsylvania at the time, I think it was $1500 to go there. Very, very different than today.

Laurie Barkman:

So what year was that when was the company founded?

Janet Wischnia:

It was 1931. It was originally called Jaffe’s Art Linens. So it was just a retail store where they sold bedspreads and blankets and sheets for people’s homes. And so my father went to college and went to the Wharton School and so did his brothers, and they graduated and they immediately started working in the business. They got married and started to have families and decided that working in retail was very difficult when you had a family. It was a 24×7 job seven days a week. They did everything from the procuring, to the ordering, to the selling, and then they would deliver. They would leave at night. Then they would drive around Philadelphia and deliver packages to the people that ordered. And they decided that it was difficult to have a family and continue on with that.

Janet Wischnia:

And they wanted to grow the business. They had before that opened a second store in another section of Philadelphia as well. So they had two stores at that time. But they all started talking and brainstorming and decided they wanted to give a shot at changing the business. So the idea that they came up with was selling the same kind of products, linens to institutions like the government, like hospitals, like hotels. So while my, I guess my grandfather and one of my uncles ran the store, my father, and one of the other uncles, started developing this business. They started working, they started mainly on working with government contracts. So you can imagine that the cities, the states, the federal government, buy a lot of linens for prisons, for hospitals, for the military. So they started by working on these government bids and slowly, slowly, they started winning some of them.

Janet Wischnia:

And eventually that business became a bigger business than the retail business. So they ended up closing the second retail store and turning the first retail store into an office where they just grew this business. So they kept bidding on more things, doing more contracts, developing relationships with different suppliers and it was growing. And eventually they decided to add another product line. They added office furniture and school furniture as well. And it grew and grew over the years. And eventually we started selling so much bedding that we decided to manufacture our own. So we began small by working with the current supplier and they were doing contract manufacturing for us. And then we grew bigger and we bought a plant and it grew bigger, and we bought a bigger plant and it grew even bigger. And we in the year 2001, one of our suppliers went bankrupt and we bought a facility that they had as part of their business.

Janet Wischnia:

So keep in mind that in the eighties and nineties, one of the things that happened was the textile industry started migrating overseas. So basically the vast majority of the US textile industry went over to China and to India, for the most part, and other Asian countries. It was devastating for a lot of the companies, which were mostly in the South, but some were in New England as well which was pretty devastating. A lot of the manufacturing facilities closed and moved their production overseas.

Laurie Barkman:

A lot of jobs were lost.

Janet Wischnia:

A lot of jobs. Something like 500,000 jobs, maybe more, were lost at that time. But we were pretty set on staying here and having a manufacturing presence here. It was very important to us. It was something we were taught that we really wanted to employ people here. So by that time, obviously in 2001, I was already in the business. I graduated also University of Pennsylvania in 1981, and I pretty much immediately came into the business, but we can talk about that as a sort of separate story.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, yeah. We’ll definitely come back to that. I definitely want to hear about your experience. There’s a couple of things I want to circle back on in your family’s history. So these three brothers worked together for years and years.

Janet Wischnia:

Years. In fact, my father just passed away two months ago.

Laurie Barkman:

Oh, I’m so sorry.

Janet Wischnia:

He was four weeks shy of 95.

Laurie Barkman:

I’m so sorry for your loss. And wow, what a long full life.

Janet Wischnia:

Yes but he worked up until about six weeks up until he got too ill to be able to go to work.

Laurie Barkman:

He was proud for his company and what they built, I’m very sure of it. To work till that age, that’s amazing. Did he have a good relationship with his brothers?

Janet Wischnia:

Oh yes. They were very tight. They did everything together. They were best friends. They were business partners. They were brothers. They did everything together. And so it migrated to the families as well. Their wives were close friends, the cousins all got together and we still have good relationships.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s so nice. Because a lot of times on this show, we talk about when family relationships go estranged. It’s so nice to hear that your family stayed close and the brothers had a great working relationship. And I think that’s going to spill over into the values that will come out more as you talk about the company. Sounds like a number one value is Made in America. And that was so important. They immigrated here, they built a new life here. They built something from the ground up and they wanted to grow it here and they did that, and that’s a really incredible thing. The other thing I just wanted to mention. I know you mentioned in 2001, you bought this company, it was a supplier. Was that Thomaston Mills?

Janet Wischnia:

Yes

Laurie Barkman:

One of the things I noticed on your website for Thomaston Mills is the phrase, “Invest in the long-term.”

Janet Wischnia:

Yes.

Laurie Barkman:

And I thought, wow, that’s another key core value that your company has. Alot of family businesses have where they really do have a long-term view. And it sure sounds like that for you.

Janet Wischnia:

Yes, absolutely.

Laurie Barkman:

The other thing that you mentioned was the transitions of product lines and markets. When the company first opened, it was let’s call it B2C consumer oriented. And then when the second generation decided to grow, they focused more on the B2B side and the commercial side.

Janet Wischnia:

Correct.

Laurie Barkman:

And I think that’s going to be very interesting here as we talk about your experience. You came into the company after school. Did you always know that was going to be your work future? Was that a foregone conclusion that of course Janet is going to join the company.

Janet Wischnia:

It was except during my teenage years. I basically started working I have to say when I was about four years old. I’m the oldest of three daughters. So my father, the one who just passed away, he was 95. He was the CEO of the company for many, many years. He had three daughters, so I was the oldest of three daughters. Since I was about four years old, business was his life. He wasn’t really interested in sports. He really didn’t have any outside hobbies. Business was his life. He loved it. And so he would talk about it all the time. When I was a little kid, he’d be working all the time. He would come home from work and he would sit at his desk in his bedroom at the time.

Janet Wischnia:

And I would be sitting watching TV and I would sit next to him and he would tell me about what he was doing. And he would have me help with what he’s doing as well. So eventually he would have me, you know, he would be working on doing paying bills or something like that. He would give me all the bills and I would put them in the envelopes. So that was kind of the beginning of it. And then over time, as I got older and could do more, when I was in elementary school and middle school during summer vacation and winter vacation, I would go to work with him and I would help. I would do filing and I’d meet the people and he take me out to lunch and it was fun.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s so awesome.

Janet Wischnia:

And then as I got older, when I was in high school, I started actually doing real work there. I would help in customer service. I’d be like an intern doing various things.

Laurie Barkman:

What about your sisters? Your sisters too?

Janet Wischnia:

My sisters did it a little, but I did it more, I guess. Because I was the oldest.


Laurie Barkman:

He was grooming you.

Janet Wischnia:

He was grooming me. I had a little business more than they did. So they each did had different areas that they enjoyed working in.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s great that he brought you in and he was really mentoring you from the start.

Janet Wischnia:

From the start. Yeah. But I went to college and I guess I went through a little bit of rebellion and I decided I did not want to go to the Wharton School and did not want to study business. Instead, I was going to study anthropology, which I loved and which I learned a lot from. I learned how to be analytical and how to write things like that. And then I went through college and I got to my senior year and I was, well, now that I’m going to have an anthropology degree, what am I going to do with this? How am I going to support myself? And at the time, I was already dating my husband and he said, you really are good at business. You really have a talent for it. You really should give it a try. So by that time it was the end of senior year and I really didn’t have any other opportunities. So I said, okay. And that was kind of the beginning of it. I took a week vacation after college and then I went right to work and I did find out that I really liked it. And I pretty much stayed since then. And now I’m 61.

Laurie Barkman:

And so you’ve been in the company about 40 years or so. When you became CEO, I want to talk about the succession. Your dad was CEO for years and years. And then what was the succession plan like? Was it known, did the company know? Did you know that one day he was going to ask you to step up?

Janet Wischnia:

I would say yes. I am not the CEO now. One of my cousins is, and we could talk about that. But I was for a number of years.

Laurie Barkman:

And how long till you worked in the company that you became CEO. So I guess about 30 years?

Janet Wischnia:

I think it was 2005. 25 years.

Laurie Barkman:

Was that a situation in the transition where, when you finally got the baton so to speak, what was that transition like with your father?

Janet Wischnia:

There was some rocky moments.

Laurie Barkman:

Why was that?

Janet Wischnia:

Well, my father, like most CEOs, I would say my father was very strong and very commanding and very loving what he did. And it was very hard for him to give up doing what he was doing. And although we saw eye to eye on most things, we didn’t see eye to eye on everything. And it was hard for him to kind of let me take the lead. It took a while for us to get used to this.

Laurie Barkman:

How did you ultimately work that out? Was it just the two of you would sit in a room and hash it out or did you have other executives help influence change?

Janet Wischnia:

I would say there were other people helping influence because I think other people saw that it was difficult to get things done this way. It took some time, but then he sort of came around to it.

Laurie Barkman:

Was your mother involved?

Janet Wischnia:

Well, my mother was sick by that time. So that might’ve also kind of influenced it a bit. My mother was already sick by that time, I think.

Laurie Barkman:

So for him to be going a hundred miles an hour and so involved to having someone else making decisions and then in the chair, so to speak. What did he end up doing? Did he end up going to more of a chairman role?

Janet Wischnia:

Yes, that’s what he did. It was a chairman role. And there were certain things that he loved. Procurement and negotiation, so he stuck with that end of things. He still had a part of his job was overseeing a lot of that procurement and negotiations. So that kept him busy and involved.

Laurie Barkman:

Busy and involved, but not necessarily in the big day-to-day. From a governance standpoint, just curious, does your company, or at the time of all of these changes, was there an advisory board or an independent board of directors that helped with this?

Janet Wischnia:

No we did not have an independent…we had a lawyer and an accountant who we were very close to so they were advising us about things. But we did not have an official advisory board.

Laurie Barkman:

Okay, great. All right. Well transitioning a little bit here to talk about the company and your creation of a new company, a new entity. You’ve, caught us up to Thomaston Mills and that acquisition and adding another factory and really growing the business to business linens lines to hotels, and government, and government entities. And now we’re going to fast forward. Tell me about American Blossom Linens which was the startup.

Janet Wischnia:

My daughter got married, she had kids, and I think I decided I wanted to step down from the day-to-day CEO role and do something different. So we had also had, I had mentioned to you before we had a furniture area, which I can’t remember the year we sold it now. I want to say it was 2015, 2014. And before my mother passed away, I can’t remember the year anymore, but we had a furniture area and we decided to sell that business. So we sold that business and we just ended up back in the textile business. And I decided a few years after that I wanted to step down and be maybe a little more involved with my grandkids and my kids and to do something a little different. So it took a little bit of time, but as the current administration came into power and there was a lot more publicity about Made in America.

Janet Wischnia:

And it got me thinking, and then the whole growth of the whole direct to consumer. It got me thinking, we had a lot of really wonderful products that we sold hotels, and maybe we could take one of those things and give a try direct to consumer. Go back to our roots and see what it would happen. So we developed, we took one of our hotel products, but we made some changes to it and we decided to make it with 100% organic cotton because obviously there’s a whole lot more interest in the environment now. We added some features to make it a higher end product. We made the sheets bigger, we made the elastic a bit thicker. We did packaging that has no plastic in it.

Janet Wischnia:

And it took about a year, I guess, to develop the product. We decided to give a try at launching this business. So we launched in 2019 and it grew. Keep in mind that I knew nothing, nothing about the retail business. I knew a lot about B2B. I knew about B2B advertising and sales, but I knew nothing about B2C and, really neither did anybody in our company. We all learned. For example, the gentleman that built the website, our IT director. He knows a lot about enterprise systems. We have an Oracle enterprise system to run our B2B business, but he really didn’t know anything about building a website. And he took it upon himself to learn about how to build a website, along with people that work with him. And so we all were learning. It was fun because we were all learning new things. I learned about designing the website. I learned about advertising. It was funny because we went live with the website at the beginning of January in 2019, and I thought, oh, we’re going to turn the website on. And we’re just going to get orders flooding in. No, it doesn’t work like that.

Laurie Barkman:

No! I love how you said you were going to take a step back and from the day-to-day and then you created a whole new e-commerce entity, which I’m guessing did not get you out of the day to day at all. Sounds like you were very much in it.

Janet Wischnia:

Yeah, I was in it. That’s just my personality. I guess I didn’t realize at the time when I made that decision, how much in it I was going to have to be. But it’s all fine because I love it. I have a lot of help, a lot of help. So it does allow me to take off time here and there to be with my grandchildren and do things in that area of my life.

Laurie Barkman:

Of course. And also from a team perspective, I’m just so interested to know how this came about. Because there’s a lot of mature companies out there, especially now with the pandemic and everything’s changing. And some companies had to pivot to digital execution very, very quickly. I think in hindsight and if I could use the phrase hindsight in 2020, of course, here we are. But this all happened in 2019. So you were a year plus ahead of where everyone now is sort of scrambling. And so you kind of got lucky there. For the discussion of the process, you said it took about a year for product development, but what did you do from a customer discovery standpoint? Looked like you did a competitive analysis to understand the products, but how about understanding the market and customer, the customer needs, or customer desire for this to give the audience a sense of what goes into creating a new product, or a new service, or going into a new market. This is not typically something you do overnight, right. And you guys had the benefit of time. Tell us about how it worked for you.

Janet Wischnia:

Well, we did a lot of research. We asked people questions. I think one of the things you do when you develop a product, you want to do something you’re going to like. I said, well, what would I like as a mature female living today? So we did do a little bit of market research. We did pay somebody to help us with a little bit of market research, but not, we didn’t spend a lot of money on that. And again, because we were trying to bootstrap it. It was a startup, we were really bootstrapping it. We did all that and we just talked to friends to find out what people would like and not like. At some point you just have to kind of throw it out there and see what happens.

Janet Wischnia:

Finding customers was something I really didn’t know how to do. But I have learned along the way. I have availed myself. We have some marketing consultants that are helping us. It took some time to find the right ones, but we have some, and that’s really helped us. I think 2019 was good. It was a learning time. I try to figure out what works and what didn’t work and do more of what works. You throw a little out there, you find out what happens if it works, you keep going. If it doesn’t work, you try something different.

Laurie Barkman:

That sounds just like startup CEOs. They say the same thing. It’s iterative and nimble. You’re agile, you’re learning as you go. And because you were bootstrapping, you didn’t put a ton of resources. Sounds like you’re using the existing team now, maybe taking 20% of their time in a week or something like that.

Janet Wischnia:

Yep that’s exactly what we did.

Laurie Barkman:

So did eventually you create a separate entity and there’s a separate team focused on it. How do it today?

Janet Wischnia:

Still not yet. Our main business before was hospitality and healthcare. So you can imagine when the coronavirus hit what happened to the hospitality side of things. It was not good. We sell to hotels. Hotels were closed. The healthcare side was good, but the hospitality side was not. So at the time, around March, we rearranged people to do different things. The government side was also doing okay. So we took people and put them in different positions so that we could take advantage of what was doing well. Just another little aside, at the end of 2018 we bought another plant called a finishing plant. And the finishing plant is what does the dying and bleaching for fabric and this finishing plant that we bought had the capability to make a certain kind of fabric that would be good for water resistant fabric used to make patient gowns.

Janet Wischnia:

I mean, not patient gowns, gowns for doctors to wear. So obviously in the beginning of the pandemic, that became important. So while we were also growing the B2C, we were also developing on our B2B side, this healthcare fabric. So that was kind of another thing we were doing. So we were switching people around to kind of grab at the things that we thought were going to be the good markets. So we did rearrange some people to put them in to help me a little as we saw this business growing because we’ve grown 400% this year. And I think that’s due to a couple of reasons. People are home more. So they’re thinking about products they use at home. That’s one thing. I think all of the publicity about the lack of PPE and the role that China played in that, the supply chain issues, got a lot more people thinking about where they spend their dollars. I have to tell you in April, I started getting so many emails from people I’m so glad you make it here in the USA. We’ve been trying to find products made in the USA. It just seemed to bump up. So all of that, those issues, must’ve gotten people thinking more. So I think that helped as well.

Laurie Barkman:

Well, that makes a ton sense. Your product is sustainable, organic on the supply side. Your factories are in – correct me if I’m wrong – Texas and South Carolina.

Janet Wischnia:

South Carolina and Georgia.

Laurie Barkman:

Georgia, excuse me.

Janet Wischnia:

The cotton is from Texas. The factories are in Georgia and South Carolina.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. You’re sourcing in the US and your team is in the US and you were an essential business because you were supplying. Did you go through any furloughs or have to lay off any employees?

Janet Wischnia:

Well, we took out the PPP loan. We didn’t have any furloughs anywhere. Everybody was employed. We did do some social distancing. We sent certain people to work at home so that we could spread out and our office space. And we still are doing that now a bit. The State of Pennsylvania for a while, if you were not considered an essential business, you had to be actually closed.

Laurie Barkman:

Yes and as someone who lives in Pennsylvania, that was a very difficult time for many people. And it’s still a recovery issue for many businesses. So thank you for what you guys have done to provide the gowns and hospital gear that was so needed.

Janet Wischnia:

Yeah. We did a lot of sheets for hospitals. We still are doing that.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. And that’s really important. So your experience during the pandemic, which is of course, at this time of our recording there’s a lot of implications for businesses. For yours, you saw some growth in certain areas, like you said. And then also the direct to consumer side started to take off, which is fantastic. Some of the company values that we talked about earlier probably played a role into this. Were there any in particular that as you thought about the roots of your company and what you would talk about as a leader with your employees, with your teams. What kind of themes did you talk about with them?

Janet Wischnia:

Well, it was very important that we keep everybody employed. That was really important. There was a lot of confusion in the beginning about the PPP loan. We made sure we worked through that. We had an absolutely wonderful bank. We work with M&T Bank, and they were just wonderful with helping us and all of their clients through all of that. Because I know other friends who’ve worked with other banks who just had a lot of trouble in the beginning. So that helped a lot. We talked about being agile. It is important to be agile, and change what you’re doing, and keep learning. Another big theme is persistence. Never give up. That was something that was my father’s mantra. That was what his life was, it was persistence. And all of the relatives know that. All of the employees know that. That’s definitely a very important value in our company. And I think that definitely helped us through it as well.

Laurie Barkman:

What advice would you give to other business leaders, business owners who are dealing with change?

Janet Wischnia:

Be kind to yourself. It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s uncomfortable. You know you’re going to have ups and downs. But that’s life. If you’re not constantly changing, you’re not growing. You have to be always changing. And then kindness and persistence, and also getting everybody involved, getting the team involved. I think that’s another important thing. Making sure everybody has a say in things and can speak their mind. Even if you don’t follow what they suggest, everyone has to feel comfortable that they have a say.

Laurie Barkman:

I think that’s great advice. How do you think about fear? It sounds like the new venture that you took on wasn’t super risky. You didn’t take on any extra money or loans. You bootstrapped it. How did you feel about taking risk at that time? And then how would you advise leaders to kick fear to the curb?

Janet Wischnia:

Well, I definitely am fearful at times to be honest. I think everyone is I have to say I have a good support system. My husband is my rock. He definitely helps me through those times. Exercise helps me through those times. I don’t know. If you’re fearful and you don’t take a risk again, you don’t grow. What’s it all about if you’re not growing and learning. You’ve got to assess the risk. Everybody has a different comfort level with risk. Certainly we did have to put out some money for inventory. The process of manufacturing a textile item, believe it or not, it’s a long process from the buying of the cotton, to the spinning of the yarn. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Janet Wischnia:

You do have to invest, you have to put out capital for that. And certainly it was a little scary. We were buying something that we wouldn’t really be able to use in hotels. It was a very higher priced item. Even though we do sell upper echelon hotels, this was really a much higher price item. So we did have to make a capital investment and it was a little scary thinking hmm, what if I don’t sell that? But if you don’t take a chance, you never learn.

Laurie Barkman:

I think that’s right. What’s the toughest part about being a leader of a family enterprise?

Janet Wischnia:

It’s tough being a leader, period. I think the answer is the same for being a leader period as it is being family business leader. I think it’s people, and people just have different opinions, and different ideas and trying to get everyone to be on the same page. I think it’s that way, in a family business and in a non-family business too. Trying to get people moving in the right direction.

Laurie Barkman:

Definitely.

Janet Wischnia:

One of the things that my father and his brothers taught us. They wouldn’t always agree on everything either. We definitely saw that. We saw that, the employees saw that. They would disagree when they were at work, but when they left to go to lunch, they were friends and loving brothers again. So there were no grudges held, no bad feelings. Work was work, and family was family. It was two different realms. They were able to separate it and move on and they taught us that too.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s important. And I’m sure that that’s an important aspect of your leadership style. And also I would assume with your cousin now as the CEO and how and how he’s running the business. Which leads me to the next couple of questions. Just starting to wrap it up here for us today. Thank you so much for taking your time. I’m curious how people can find can find you online and find your company.

Janet Wischnia:

Our website is americanblossomlinens.com. Our, we have Instagram and Facebook and it’s @americanblossomlinens and you can find me there, and the company there.

Laurie Barkman:

I think you said you had a special discount you wanted to offer the listeners, which we super appreciate. So is there, is there a something special that they can, they can do if they’re interested in trying out some products?

Janet Wischnia:

Yes. We’d love to have them give it a try. The the code would be succession20 for 20% off your first order, just type it in to the discount box.

Laurie Barkman:

Awesome. Thank you so much for doing that. And so last question for you. I love to ask all my guests is if you have a favorite saying or mantra regarding entrepreneurship.

Janet Wischnia:

I think it’s the same answer I gave before. It’s persistence and kindness.

“Be kind to the people around you. Develop your team. Be persistent and show everyone that you’re persistent. If something doesn’t work change course.”

That’s the way I live my life, pretty much.

Laurie Barkman:

Persistence. And it’s such a powerful word right now and, and helping people get through to what’s next for them and their companies and their lives. Janet, thank you so much for being here today. It was really fun to hear about your story, the growth of your new company, and congratulations on its success. And thank you for all you’re doing.

Janet Wischnia:

Thank you so much for having me. I really had fun.

Laurie Barkman:

Innovation. Transition. Growth. Easy to say but hard to do. If you’re an entrepreneur facing these challenges, I get it. I work with businesses – from small to big – for strategic planning with your team to achieve your vision. Visit smalldotbig.com to schedule a call with me. I’d love to connect with you.

Be sure to catch the next Succession Stories episode with more insights for next generation entrepreneurs. Thanks for listening!

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