Peta Swarbrick chats to Canberra business owner, Karen (Kaz) Porter of Solace Creations about her award-winning journey…

Unlike other window companies, we are a retailer.  We have a design studio and work with the client to match their purchase with their lifestyle and home. We offer the full service of design, supply and installation. 

I love helping people to have a more comfortable home and I love adding value to their property with double glazing. It is rewarding to see an older home have a facelift and to see the joy on people’s faces after they have lived in a well-insulated home. Another benefit is that they save money on their energy costs.
I was married to a builder and we were building energy efficient homes. There was a gap in the market for energy efficient windows in 2005 so I started sourcing them from Melbourne and became their agent. When we broke up in 2012, I left with Solace Creations and he left with his building company. Since then I have educated the market on why they should have double glazing in their homes.
Not everyone is suited to each other and not everyone likes what we do.
We are ok with that as we do have a lot of people that love what we do and benefit from this. I often get turned down by a client and we sometimes turn down a client. If we won everything we quoted on, we would have a massive turn over and more than likely would need a massive business to cope with it. 

Sales is really about forming relationships with people. If you can connect with the people in front of you and show your value then they are more than likely will buy from you. Your customers are the reason why you exist and they need to be treated like gold. Your staff help you to do what you do well and also need to be valued and looked after.

When it comes to my staff, I seek out loyalty and belief. Without these two values, they won’t invest themselves in the business and they won’t be able to see the vision that you are showing them. They need to feel an integral part of the business and understand why the business exists and what role they have to play in its future.
As for the most memorable moment, I’ve experienced in business, winning the Telstra Micro Business Award in 2014 and becoming Canberra Business Woman of the Year in 2015 would have to be it. The awards provided external approval of myself and my business, and became a springboard for my next growth. Every day is memorable for me in many ways as we grow and learn more about our clients, our market and ourselves.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Learn the fundamental basics of running a business. There is so much involved in building a successful business and without this understanding, you will struggle. A mentor will be able to coach you on these aspects. There are also courses that ACT Government provide on business basics.