Baby Love

One couple's desire to welcome their new child inspires their small-business dreams.

By Sara Wilson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In 2000, Art and Laura Dague, now 44 and 48, respectively, were at a loss as they prepared for the arrival of their adopted child from Russia. They wanted to find quality children's furniture, but the lack of stores providing this basic need surprised them. Years later, when they were going into business together, they realized that a franchise specializing in children's and baby furniture and baby accessories was what Jacksonville, Florida--a city with young families--needed. So in February 2004, after months of research, the Dagues opened a USA Baby Child Space franchise.

Their store features more than 30 roomscapes, giving customers visuals of different furniture arrangements. It also gives Laura, who once owned a graphic design firm, the chance to add her personal touch to the store. Meanwhile, Art, previously the head of investor relations for an internet health-care company, has applied his marketing and management skills to the business by getting its name out and ensuring low employee turnover.

However, the Dagues had to get used to the challenges of a retail business, such as establishing credit with 80 to 100 vendors and knowing when to order inventory. "What's predictable about this business is the unpredictability," says Art.

While unpredictability keeps things interesting, emotions keep the business alive. "It's such an exciting time in someone's life," says Laura. "[I love] to share in the happiness of new parents." With 2005 sales projected to reach $1.2 million to $1.5 million, the Dagues' goal now is to schedule one family day per week so they, too, can just enjoy being parents.

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