Being a woman in a manufacturing business is…

a gift.

Kelly, daughter of Gordon, (Gordon started the business back in 1986) is president/shade builder/installer/designer and our fearless steward of shading!

I asked Kelly a few questions:

Q: You went to college for film, correct? How do you think that schooling has benefited your career at ESS?

Kelly: “Yep! I went to Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communication for a film degree and it was an incredibly demanding program. The excellence expected from the professor’s taught me to hold my work to a higher standard than I ever had before. Though I do not use my specific degree here at ESS; the discipline and rigor with which I approached my studies are skills that benefit me every day.”

Q: When did you start working for the company? Was there any ‘child labor’ infringement? *wink*

“I have been a part of the company since my folks opened up shop in 1986. Instead of getting grounded, my sisters and I had to come to the shop and put weights in shades or file or clean. Once I had a license, I had the privilege of driving many hundreds of shades to Cornell University on Winter and Summer Breaks. I started working, in earnest in 2003, and positively(and probably much to my dad’s surprise) FELL IN LOVE with the business!”

Q: Did you ever see yourself becoming president of the company?

“In the beginning, absolutely not. But about 10 or 11 years ago, I realized just how much I love this company. Even on the really hard days, my passion for this company never falters. I cannot fathom doing anything else. Once that realization hit, I became incredibly eager to learn about every aspect of the business, so that when I did become president, I would be one that the rest of our team could feel confident in.”

What makes Kelly an extraordinary leader is she is here to WORK.

Whether that be designing complicated window treatments, answering phones when we’re reaaaaaally popular, to building shades and yes…to boxin’ em up & shippin’ them out.

She does it ALL. A new shipment of tube just came in? On go the gloves and she’s there until the last is stacked neatly away.

As her team member, she never ceases to inspire me. It might sound cliché, but it’s 2000% true, Kelly is a magical unicorn of a human being. Everyone who knows her, would agree with me.

Personal note: I’m not great with numbers/spreadsheets. My creative brain isn’t built for that. When I first started here, she asked me to do a very specific pricing grid. I gave it my best, sent it over to her…and after she reviewed it, she came to me (didn’t ask me to come to her -that’s important) and said some VERY encouraging words, “We found what is not on your superhighway…let’s get you back on your track.” 

How friggin awesome is she?

We are a small, family business. Family first is felt throughout the company. Kelly shares…

“Every night when I put my kiddos to bed, I ask them the best part of their day, their most challenging bit and what they’re thankful for. The things they’re thankful for, vary from friends to family to trees and often ESS (I mean, we ARE a family business!). And I am in full agreement with them. I am so thankful for this company and I find joy in it just about every day.” – Kelly

Granted, it’s not all roses and sunshine.

Running a small business is challenging, even without supply chain issues, staffing shortages and volatile market conditions.

As Kelly beautifully put it, “Even when things are super tough, we never lose the love- the love for the company or for our family….it’s all a constant work in progress and for me that’s been the biggest lesson – no matter what, we have to move forward in life however perfectly imperfect that may be.”

That’s it, isn’t it? Never lose the💗