Spotlight On The Woman Behind The Business: Susan Winter
I am always seeking inspiration from people who do things completely different than me, because I love the opportunity to learn. What’s so great about women in business, is that we all have a real sense of who we are, what we want to get out of life and where we want it to take us. I recently sat down with one of my customers, Susan Winter, to share her story of being a woman in business.
Q&A with Susan Winter
Q: You left the corporate world to start your own business, ARTistic Storage, what is it exactly that you do?
A: I offer mobile storage/shelving to house Private Art Collection Storage – Museum Collections Storage – Gallery Paintings – Archives for Corporations. My sexy elevator talk is think “California closets for Museums,” but really it has nothing to do with California Closets.
Q: When you were just a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: There is no way I could have dreamt up what I do now as a kid, I grew up with a heavy case of dyslexia and went through college in a handicapped service because of it. Thank goodness I learned I excelled in other capacities, and focused in that area of my career.
Q: What was your first job?
A: Window displays – buying – fashion shows for United Colors of Benetton large franchise, it truly let my creative side out. My boss and mentor is one of my best friends to this day. We got to travel Italy, meet the Benetton family and see the Villa and factory in Treviso Italy.
Q: How did you come up with your idea for your business?
A: I truly wanted to love what I do for a living. I am invited to see collections that no one gets to ever see in the back vaulted areas. I let my visual creative side out again, as I have to measure the space, assess the collections, draw it on CAD, and once it is installed and have gained 50% to 75% more space, I get a BIG HUG from my clients! Win Win!
Q: What is one of your favorite customers so far, and why?
A: I would say History Colorado Center. This layout was approximately 10,000 sq ft of different kinds of collections. I went through all of their collection with the head of each department to make sure we had every elevation custom to each collection. We built the shelving 16’H to maximize their space. It took a year and a half to ship and install this project. It is beautiful, and ARTistic Storage’s customer is thrilled with the product.
Q: When you first were thinking about starting your own business was there someone you turned to for advice?
A: I am very thankful to all the people I have learned from and turned to for advice over the past 10 years. I still look for advice from people I respect in business.
Q: How did you get started?
A: By believing, envisioning and staying committed to my one loved museum market, when it had never been done before. There were some skeptics that did not see what I saw as possibility, but it did not blur my vision.
Q: What was your goal or mission at the outset?
A: Every job will gain much needed space for collections that in their current state, are not being housed properly. To put it simply, double the space while taking the best care of irreplaceable collections.
Q: How do you handle being a woman in a male dominated field?
A: Almost 90% of the field that I’m in, mobile storage, is men. In the beginning, I really had to learn and understand how to pour concrete, give weight loads to architects, work with installers who are configuring different spaces and so on. I go into each day not thinking that I’m a woman in a man’s world, but do tend to approach situations on the soft and caring side which has worked out very well for me. When people sit down with me, you can genuinely tell that I care and that’s so important. And, I always go into meetings knowing I have something to offer, my knowledge.
Q: What does happiness mean to you?
A: Being loved. The more love you give, the more love surrounds you. It is simple and it gives great happiness to one’s life.
Q: What nourishes your soul?
A: Being on the water – whether it be boating with friends and family on a warm summer day in my Ski Nautique that sounds like a Harley-Davison, paddle boarding with my beloved 5 pound all black Chihuahua named Mighty, swimming, sailing or waterskiing on water that is like glass.
Q: What do you most admire about yourself?
A: I have great strength that I have had to pull from when life has given me challenges. Friends have said I am very “strong” but that I do it “softly” that is quite the juxtaposition, but I will take it!
Q: What’s your “super power”?
A: Manifesting wonderful things to bring to my life. Where I excel the most is visual. Honestly, manifesting to me is envisioning exactly what you want to bring to your life and knowing it will come.
Q: How do you describe your style?
A: Classic with a Twist!
Q: What are you most thankful for?
A: I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people who have enriched my life. Humans are meant to share.
Q: Describe your greatest accomplishment.
A: Dreaming it up, and seeing the dream come to life.
Q: What did you learn from your biggest failure?
A: One can ALWAYS make lemonade out of lemons if you stay positive.
Q: If you could start all over, what lessons have you learned? And, what would you do differently?
A: I truly believe things “lessons” happen for a reason in life. We can always learn from them and become stronger/softer, so truly I would not do anything differently in my life. In life, we have to take the highs with the lows, that IS life.
Q: Best career advice?
A: If you believe you know it all, one will become stagnate. So always stay open and listen and learn more than speaking.
Q: How do you find balance between work and home?
A: I believe it is extremely important to have a work life balance. I once closed my biggest job yet while skiing in Aspen Co. It was a great day!
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in business?
A: Truly figure out what you have a passion for, and work to your strengths. It will never seem like work that way, and you will stand out and shine.
Q: If you were going on a weekend trip where would you go and what’s the one thing you always take with you?
A: The summer home on the lake in Eagle River WI, and I always pack too many great shoes even though we will be in the woods!
Q: Is there a book that you would recommend that every young woman should read?
A: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss