Cary Grant's real name was Archibald Leach. Abraham Lincoln was once a storekeeper. We all begin somewhere. And end up somewhere else.
Stephanie Anne Kantis' end to her means is Stephanie Anne Room to Grow, a chain of stores in Houston and Dallas where she sells upscale furniture for newborns and children. But Kantis had a career before she opened her stores in 1996, at a small interior-design and furniture store in Dallas, where she worked as the shop's marketer, all the while honing her craft. It's not exactly shocking, then, that she went on to open her own furniture store.
What's surprising is just how much knowledge Kantis picked up at the job she had before that, when she was working as a sales clerk at a department store. "I really learned how a big department store [functions]," says Kantis, who worked in one of the clothing departments. "I learned about opening my own company, from the layers of management to the policy procedures to the guidelines on how to check in merchandise."
In fact, Kantis didn't stuff the employee handbook in a drawer or chuck it in the trash. She took it home, read it cover to cover and took notes. She did the same with some of the sales training manuals, too. And now she has her own employees operating by her guidelines.
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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.