How often do you get to meet a woman who owned and operated her first business, a corner convenience store, at just 18 years old? If you’ve ever stepped foot inside the beautiful space that is Prestige Kitchens, Home Decor and Floral Studio there’s a strong possibility that you have and didn’t even know it.
Joanne Parnham has always been a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. This is especially true when it comes to her family’s businesses. In 1985, Joanne, along with her husband and father-in-law, started Woodlands. It wasn’t long before she came up with the idea to move and expand the family’s other business, Prestige Kitchens, which had been operating out of the Parnham family home since 1973, and the expansions didn’t stop there.
It became clear to Joanne that there was a market in Summerside for beautiful home decor, as customers continually tried to purchase the props from the display kitchens. In 2011, Prestige Home Decor opened its doors, with the floral studio opening shortly after, followed by a new seasonal location in Cavendish.
Let’s be clear, though: none of these expansions would have happened without doing a lot of market research and planning first. Looking not only at what is on trend but also what is available locally and regionally, Joanne and her team make sure they are constantly checking in with their customers. Because, Joanne says, at the end of the day, “your customers are a huge part of things and the relationship that you/your staff have with them. If you don’t have the customers, you obviously don’t have a business.”
So, how do you build a team like the Prestige family? “The staff are so important,” stresses Joanne. “Having the staff that we do allows me to shift my focus from the sales floor to other aspects of the business. Due to having the right people, I only spend 20 per cent of my time on the floor doing sales; in the beginning, it was closer to 80 per cent”. Most of her team have come to her by word-of-mouth: “A resume isn’t everything. Your reputation and experiences often speak louder.”
Today, the Prestige family employs 27 people in the retail and manufacturing divisions with stores in Summerside, Charlottetown and Cavendish. And it truly is a family business – Joanne’s sister, Shelley Jackson, runs Prestige Kitchens in Charlottetown and her brother, Michael Jackson, runs Prestige Floral in Summerside.
Who says you shouldn’t work with family? Clearly, it’s not an issue for Joanne Parnham.
“If you have an idea and you really think it’s going to work, just go ahead and do it. What have you got to lose?”