Business spotlight – Superior Custom Blinds
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – From an early age, owner/operator Jennifer Roy-Hatfield expressed a growing passion for interior decorating, reminiscing on the joys she experienced as a junior high student helping her mother with a wall paper makeover in her family’s home. In high school her passion turned into study as she began to take courses in the Sault Area Career Center’s Interior Decorating Certificate program, under the guidance of teacher Donna Blair, who soon became a trusted mentor to Jennifer.
After completing the certificate program Jennifer continued to hone her interior decorating skills, taking a job with her former teacher who owned an interior decorating business. While working for Blair Decors with Donna, Jennifer became fascinated with the business side of things but had little aspirations as an entrepreneur at that point. Instead, she opted to expand her skills, transitioning into a role in the kitchen design industry and gaining experience in the field for a few years.
Jennifer’s passion for interior decorating never wavered, and it wasn’t long before she found herself back in an interior decorator role, this time with Ann Cook Bourque interiors. Ann was delighted to fill the role and welcomed Jennifer with open arms. Soon Ann would become a valuable mentor to Jennifer, who quickly found herself in a key role for Ann’s downtown Sault Ste. Marie business succession plans. Jennifer was reluctant to the idea at first, wondering if she was at the right stage in her career to take on the added challenge. After much discussion with Ann, Jennifer still questioned whether or not entrepreneurship was right for her. In that difficult moment Jennifer turned to her partner and confidant, Chuck Hatfield, for advice. He thoughtfully encouraged her to take the next step in her journey. “I remembered him saying, Jennifer you have the passion, you have the experience, I can help out on the business side of things,” remarked Roy-Hatfield.
After operating for over a decade as a business owner and working over 30 years in the interior decorating industry, Roy-Hatfield credits her understanding of the local market and willingness to expand services as key factors in her ability to navigate the rural small business landscape. Superior Custom Blinds, like many small businesses as of late, has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping up with trends and adjusting business practices as needed has allowed her to continue the journey and progress forward. “I always make it a point to put myself in my customers’ shoes. Finding that connection allows me to understand and better serve them,” says Roy-Hatfield. Whether that means working collaboratively through virtual consultations and measurings, or being trusted to enter customers’ homes while they are away to avoid close contact, her willingness to understand the changing needs of customers is what sets her business apart from her competitors.
Despite her customer-centric approach, there have been times where Jennifer has also had to meet new challenges head on. With most folks stuck at home early on in 2020, her business saw a steady decline in foot traffic, and her overhead costs weren’t going anywhere. While working through shipping delays due to sharp declines in the workforce, she consoled customers on items that once took 3 days to arrive, some now taking 3 weeks or more for shipping. Sticking to her roots, her passion for interior decorating and knowledge of the local market have refocused her efforts, and through creativity and honesty she has been able to educate her customers on changing business practices and new standards for doing business.
Jennifer emphasizes utilizing local supply chains and leveraging local knowledge and experience in shaping a path for businesses to thrive in the future. She is thankful to have the Sault Tribe Thrive program as a trusted resource for her small business, and is excited about developing future business to business connections and offering the same business mentorship she once enjoyed while getting her start as a small business owner.
Sault Tribe Thrive is proud to share Jennifer’s story. Superior Custom Blinds is serving the Eastern Upper & Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, specializing in Window Treatments, Custom Draperies, Blinds, and Shades. Visit Jennifer and the team at 844 E 3 Mile Rd, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan or find them online at https://www.superiorcustomblinds.com/.