Hi! I'm Janice Dortch, owner and operator of Hickory Ridge Designs, Inc. I decided to open an embroidery business in the fall of 2001 after I couldn't find a job. I had recently taken an early retirement from the State of Michigan after working for 23 years as a systems analyst and headed south to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia to join my new husband and former high school sweetheart. Timing was perfect, our kids were grown and it was time for new adventures
Needless to say starting and running a business is definitely an adventure. Each day is exciting and I learn new things. I have finally mastered the embroidery machine, which in the beginning I frequently referred to as "The Beast", as it ate more garments than producing nice ones. I learned the hard way that commercial embroidery machines are not the same as the home embroidery machines, for one instructions are not included.
I started out running this business from my home, which lasted for only 6 months when cabin fever struck so I decided to move into the city's new business incubator. A year later I moved to my own store and stayed for 2 1/2 years.
In December of 2005, I decided it was time to close shop and come back home and focus on this website as my web sales were much more profitable than my local sales, besides I'd no longer have to pay rent!
Well the online idea worked and the business grew. By the end of 2012, I had outgrown my home. Initially I just worked in the dining room, but when I had spread to the den, kitchen and living room I knew it was time to move out. So I found a little office space that I dubbed “The Rat Hole” and purchased two more embroidery machines.
A year later my husband, Rick, quit his job and joined me. Again we started to run out of space. The final straw was in April 2014 when the air conditioner failed again and my computer overheated. I had enough, told my husband we were finding a new place to work or the house was going up for sale this weekend! Now I need to explain, my husband designed and built our house in 1986, it’s his baby, the kids are all gone, there are no relatives in the area and we now both work independently and online so there is no reason we need to stay in here, we can go anywhere, but he loves his house!
So that weekend we went on a mission. I had already been working on a list of available spaces for months, but all were in very bad shape and needed much repair and the rent was outrageous. We were down to looking at the last place on the list. I knew putting the house up for sale was the next move, but when we turned around to walk back to the car my husband noticed a huge sign on the building across the parking lot “Office Space for Rent”. The building was nice so we peeked in the windows, it was clean unlike anything we had seen so far. We figured it’d cost a fortune so I didn’t get my hopes up.
When Monday came, we met up with the owner. To our amazement the rent much cheaper than I had anticipated mainly because there is no parking for customers which was perfect for us since all our customers are online anyways. It was an old photography studio with a ton of space, plenty of space for packing and shipping, another big space to work on embroidery, plus several offices with doors. We no longer had to work in the same room and trip over each other. It was perfect!
Today our office space is our second home and we have no plans of moving ever again.
Thanks for stopping by!