Just Keep Swimming. -Dory
When the going gets tough, a little fish’s song can inspire perseverance and I can’t think of a better song to coincide with my annual February Job Love interview! This time each year, with hearts and flowers everywhere, I like to focus on an underestimated type of love…job love!
Mrs. Annise Blackwell is the owner of Annise Blackwell, Interior Design and is also part of Coastal Cruising Carts, LLC. With her husband, Matthew Conway, they sell and rent custom golf carts and LSVs. These aren’t your grandma’s carts to get to the next hole…these are street legal cruisers that will have you riding around Charleston in style and safety!
You’re the owner of Annise Blackwell, Interior Design. Did Matt you get involved in Coastal Cruising Carts or did you see a need for your business sense?
AEB: Matthew and I connect on so many levels. We knew when we married it wasn’t just about being in love and making each other laugh. We’re both entrepreneurs with separate strengths and perspectives. Matthew saw how much I loved my houses and remodel projects and jumped in to help. His tacked for the practical operations, time management and clean implementation shouldered the big picture of my designs and ultimate goals. He never sweats the small stuff.
Around the birth of our first baby Matthew’s hobby of rebuilding golf carts occupied most of his work day. He asked me what I thought about making it a legitimate business. Insert my experience. We decided to track every expense for 6 months before any major decision. By the 8th month we’d hired attorneys to file Coastal Cruising Carts LLC and obtained necessary business licenses and banking, negotiated a commercial lease on a 4000 square foot space we could afford and started a no debt up-fit.
Four years and many growing pains later we’re gaining stride. I think success happens when you recognize your weaknesses and respect your partner’s strengths. We try to meet weekly to discuss both our businesses and make check lists. Sometimes we need to back up and remind each other of our larger goal: Why we’re choosing this entrepreneur path.
Have you always been an entrepreneur? Where did you get your start?
AEB: I knew early on that the conventional path made me feel anxious and claustrophobic. I always loved finding a path to owning the project decisions. However, deep down I knew it wasn’t just about the project. My dad built houses, collected properties and developed neighborhoods. I loved everything about being with him at work. My mum, however, found the best of both career worlds. She also has an innate, savy financial sense I’m trying to unlock in myself.
As for where I got my start: I worked for brilliant designers and gained knowledge and experience in my craft. One day I realized I needed to take that scary step out on my own if I was going to feel accomplished.
You work for yourself for multiple projects and have two small children. What’s the hardest part of that and how do you handle it?
AEB: Expectations and learning to mono-task (I read that in a mom blog somewhere) . Its taken 4 years to learn that when I am working I must focus on the project at hand. When I am with my boys I focus on being their Mommy. I still don’t get it 100%, but it helps to remind myself when I get frustrated.
Do your boys like to help with the business?
AEB: They love to see the golf carts and warehouse. They see me draw and we visit my houses. At 2 and 4 they don’t get it yet.
Do you bring some of your interior design skills to Coastal Cruising Carts?
AEB: I try! We remodeled the 4000 square foot warehouse and Matthew did stick close to my boutique showroom idea. He spends time in the details of carts and making sure they fit the lifestyle and character of their future owner. I wanted to take the car lot feel out of the golf cart and now Low Speed Vehicle shopping experience.
Just for fun- what is your spirit animal?
AEB: I think a bird of some kind for the ability to fly high and gain the bird-eye perspective. – – – -5 mins later, I couldn’t help myself. I took a spirit animal quiz. Humming Bird!
Thank you Annise and Coastal Cruising Carts, LLC for inspiring us with your hard work and job love!
Jordan Ilderton, CPA
Be sure to check them out online!
Early photo of the warehouse: Annise working with her five week old baby boy!