Square Deal and the Status Quo: Jess & Jamie Talk Shop about Running a Women-Owned Business
A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”- Gina Carey
On top of some pretty impressive accolades—100 years in business, family-run since day one, and headquarters in the same location for over a century—Square Deal Mattress Factory is also a women-owned business. Sisters Jess and Jamie are the current owners after several family generational owners before them. Together, they’re championing the idea of women in leadership with compassion, expertise, and an eye for the future.
This month, we sat down with our boss babes to get their thoughts on all things women-owned business. Enjoy!
SD: Business is in your blood! Have you always been interested in carrying on the family legacy?
Jamie: We really feel it’s a big accomplishment to be a family-owned business for FOUR (our kids make five) generations. The trade has been passed down from the founder, our great-grandfather Ennis, to his daughter (our grandmother Lois), then onto our father Richard, and finally us. It’s truly a special business and one we’ve been excited to join since we were young.
SD: You’re in an interesting position as co-owners and sisters. What’s that experience like?
Jess: We’re like Irish twins! At only 13 months apart, we’ve always been extremely close and —
Jamie: —basically finish each others’ sentences!
Jess: Ha, exactly. We’re fortunate to usually know what the other is feeling and how she’d approach a situation. Not to say that we don’t push each other’s buttons from time to time, but we definitely enjoy working together.
Jamie: We’re also really careful to stay in our lanes and ensure everybody shines where they’re most talented and skilled.
SD: Sounds like smart operating practices. Can you share a bit more on some of our other priorities in leading a women-owned business?
Jess: ”Be the change you want to see in the world” has really become a mantra for us. The mattress industry has traditionally been more of a male-dominated space, so we’re intentionally about respectfully chipping away at the status quo. Women in general have come so far in the last 60 years, and we’re both proud and humbled to be a part of the tribe of women-owned businesses.
Jamie: As part of challenging the status quo, we also believe our households are a partnership. As hard-working moms, we value the ability to have a flexible schedule and to support our families and our employees when they need to spend time with their children.
SD: What qualities have you honed over the years to be able to lead a company with these kinds of values?
Jess: I think it goes back to that mantra—we really want to see other women succeed in owning businesses, and we hope we can inspire them to feel confident in their own right. They don’t need to be anybody’s sidekick. Hard work, empathy, and honesty have always been at the heart of how we work with our employees, customers, vendors, and partners.
SD: 2020 has brought some unique challenges. What keeps you going during tough times (like COVID-19)?
Jess: Fortunately, we bring a century of quality and expert knowledge to the field, so we’re well-versed in adapting to change and diversifying the business. We’re much more than mattresses these days! Being 100 years in operations means you know because you’ve tried, failed and tried again in order to be successful.
Jamie: Since March, we’ve pivoted to increase wholesale business and move more of our products online. We’ve reworked some of our offerings and even collaborated with unique partners like bed-in-a-box companies. Most importantly, we’ve put significant time and resources into connecting more personally with our customers and their needs.
SD: Okay, last question. Any advice for other women out there interested in starting their own business?
Jess: Look for a mentor with experience and trustworthiness. Our dad, the previous owner, is still much involved in the company and is often a sounding board for us.
Jamie: I’d also say focus on honesty. It’s the best thing to do in business.