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Home(town) Decor

While she was off in Chicago, Green Bay grew up--and became the perfect spot for her business.

When Stephanie Bruss moved from Chicago back to her hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin, she wasn't exactly sure how well a community best known for cheese-hat-wearing football fans would react to DOTI (Designs Of The Interior), her home decorating franchise. Luckily, she found Green Bay was hungry for what she had to offer.

"I was thinking of the area as it used to be. I hadn't realized how much it had grown," says Bruss, 35. "There are five Fortune 500 companies located in Green Bay, and a lot of industries here are recession-proof."

In 1999, Bruss opened her first 800-square-foot DOTI studio in a brand- new building. Two weeks later, she leased additional space behind hers, using that for her studio and turning the front space into a store. She attributes her fast-track success to old-fashioned supply and demand. "This is a smaller community, and there just isn't a lot out there as far as home accessories, so it's worked out really well," she says.

At the end of December, Bruss will be moving again, this time into a 3,400-square-foot space that will serve both as studio and store. She hopes the move will cement her reputation in Green Bay. "My goal is to be one of the premier home furnishings and design services in our area," she says. "When people think of quality and service, I want our name to be the first thing they mention."

This story appears in the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »