The idea that eventually became the Brick Path Studio began with Deede Gram in late 2000. As she began to train herself and gather information for her new business, Ms. Gram met with Donna Marsh, the director of the TN Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) in Chattanooga, who counseled her during her business formation period. In August 2001, Ms. Gram signed a lease for office space in the Business Development Center (BDC), and officially established the Brick Path Studio.
During her first years of business, Ms. Gram limited her scope of services to making custom slipcovers and pillows, and began to grow her business through using contract employees to keep up with the increasing volume of work. In the fall of 2002, Ms Gram was one of the founding members of the Women in Business Forum (WIBF), a joint program of the BrightBridge Womens Business Center (BBIWBC), the TSBDC, and the BDC. She has been an active member of the WIBF since its creation. It was during the first months of the WIBF that Ms. Gram was introduced to the BBIWBC and its services. In the summer of 2003, she hired her first full time employee, who is still with the company, and she also employs three (3) part time employees.
The Brick Path Studio had a wonderful year in 2005, adding window treatments to their line of business and graduating from the BDC into private office space in downtown Chattanooga, near the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo. In preparation for her graduation, Ms. Gram began meeting with the director of the WBC, Sandi Brock, on revising her business plan to apply for a business line of credit, which she received prior to the move. A big plus, says Ms. Gram, is that her first real employee, Lori Coleman, has become much more involved in the business side of the Brick Path Studio, which has been of great value to Ms. Gram.
Since moving from the BDC, Ms. Gram has continued her involvement with the WIBF, and maintained client contact with both the TSBDC and the BBIWBC. The Brick Path Studio has doubled its gross annual sales and is currently in a rapid growth period. Its scope of services has been expanded to include a full service drapery workroom from which Ms. Gram and her staff can create virtually any sewn home dcor product. Additionally, 4 fabric lines, 2 drapery hardware lines and down pillow forms are available for retail sale.
Ms. Gram is currently searching for a commercial house to purchase to accommodate the rapid growth of the business and another full time employee.