America’s SBDC Iowa is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Salvaged Designs, Oskaloosa
Jennifer Thomas-Maxwell of Salvaged Designs in Oskaloosa, Iowa has an incredible business. Inspired by her children and her own childhood of being in a family that owned and operated a garbage business. When Jennifer left graphic design to become a stay-at-home mom, the budget needed to be stretched. Jennifer still wanted her children to have magical Christmases, so she would stockpile things and buy certain aspects of presents and then turn them into a magical gift later.
Jennifer started her business from her home in 2004 and then transitioned to a storefront in 2016. November, 11th is her fifth year anniversary of having a storefront. She has been constantly creating and pushing goals for herself throughout the five years. Even throughout the pandemic, Salvaged Designs was growing. This year alone, Jennifer and her business have already beat last years’ sales and 4th quarter hasn’t even happened yet.
Jennifer has goals for her business and the community that she is hoping to implement fairly soon. In the back of her storefront, she has a classroom set up in hopes to be able to provide classes to teach others to reuse and repurpose pieces they already own. Her business has been so busy, she has yet to get the classes started. Another goal Jennifer is hoping to implement is partnering with the high school in Oskaloosa. She is hoping to get students into her business so they can learn and also be empowered to do things on their own. This will not only benefit the high school students and Salvaged Designs, but will benefit the Oskaloosa community as a whole.
Giving back is just part of who Jennifer is. She cannot help herself but help people to get to the next level. People come to her frequently and she is able to give them advice that is unique to each person. She says “Owning a small business is well worth it, there will be a struggle but be open to sharing your struggles. Sharing them may help someone else.” Jennifer thinks networking is huge and being a mentor to others even after you have been successful is important. She is a member of the exchange group in Oskaloosa. The group members meet and are able to share both their wins and struggles with each other. In doing this they are able to help each other, sharing their experiences, and helping to make each other better.
Jennifer was given an amazing opportunity to open a location in the mall in Oskaloosa. She only committed to a two-month lease, but she burnt herself out creatively. In the first month, she made more than she thought she would in the two months combined. At that point, Jennifer knew she needed help. So she reached out to SBDC. Jennifer knows she can turn to SBDC whenever she needs some help, she is able to ask questions and also refer people to SBDC. Jennifer knows there is help there and she has people in her corner ready to jump into action.
Learn more about Salvaged Designs on their website: https://www.salvageddesigns.org/about