DREAM BIG Small Business Award Finalist: BoConcept New York
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Seven regional finalists are competing to be named the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam's Club®. The winner, to be announced on May 22 during America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the Chamber.
The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award pays tribute to businesses that excel in the areas of staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and strategy. The finalists were selected from 75 Blue Ribbon Award winners.
FreeEnterprise.com interviewed each of the finalists to learn more about what makes them special. Below is our chat with BoConcept New York.
BoConcept New York, New York, New York - a franchise of eight stores selling sleek urban furniture at affordable prices.
You’ve grown to be one of the most successful and fastest-growing BoConcept franchises in the world. What is it like to work with a franchise?
Shaokao Cheng, co-owner—Honestly, for the first 24 months we were scared.
Niki Cheng, co-owner—We were frustrated. The franchise was new, and it was also not just new, but it was not very familiar with American culture. It was sort of the blind leading the blind because we had no experience in running a business or being in retail.
Shaokao—But what’s fantastic about BoConcept is it’s a young franchise, and we learn a lot from each other. The company is not rigid by any means. It’s a great franchise, if you believe it’s the business you want to be in, and if you believe it’s a change agent for you and for the people who work for you.
You host an average of 50 events a year for the community. Tell us about that.
Shaokao—We like to support the charities that we’re devoted to and also the charities that our friends are devoted to. One of our big charity events was for the Lance Armstrong Foundation with one of our favorite designers, Toy, who had his fashion show at our store.
Niki—It was followed by a performance by Patti LaBelle. That generated $200,000. It was our most successful event ever.
Shaokoa—We like to support up-and-coming designers, people who are on the cusp of their careers where we feel like a little bit of help and support will make a difference.
What are some interesting ways you reward employees?
Niki—We go to Denmark every year to view the new collection. We go with managers from each store, and we also take our top salespeople with us. It’s about being together and having fun. We are like the New York Mafia when we get to Denmark.