When Success Isn't Enough Business is good, but it could be better. So get out of that rut and take it to the next level--here's how.
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Rachel Ashwell started out as a wardrobe and prop stylist for photographers and TV commercials in her native England, where she spent a lot of time exploring flea markets as a child. By the late 1980s, however, she was looking for a change and decided to use her eye for decorating and furnishings to start her own home furnishings company, Shabby Chic. Launched with $70,000, the company's first location, a 1,300-square-foot store in Santa Monica, California, featured washable slipcover furniture and other décor--items she snagged using her mastery of flea market bargain hunting. The launch was an instant success for Ashwell, who admits that rent, cash flow and inventory were new concepts to her at the time. "In a funny way, it was my ignorance that made me as brave as I was," says the 48-year-old entrepreneur. "Had I known all the 'what ifs' that could have happened, I probably would have never done it."
Over the next decade, Ashwell added five retail locations, inked a licensing deal with Target, attracted a celebrity clientele, wrote five how-to books and hosted her own program on the Style Network. But a few years ago, she started to feel like the company was stuck in a holding pattern. "Business was fine," she says. "But it had definitely reached a plateau [at just over $10 million in sales]."