steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business

from little acorns

old store our first store was a tiny thing. maybe 200 square feet in the front of my salon (which was actually where we lived). we put up a gate to keep the dogs in and a curtain at night to keep out prying eyes. it was a mad affair with little or no chance of growing. but here we are. ten years later working to make our enterprise as strong and sturdy as the mighty oak. i couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities this venture has inspired. keeping it quality and keeping it real is the bottom line.   recently i spoke before several groups of undergrads about the business. as many who know me can attest, i am remarkably chatty and deliver a mountain of information at rapid speed. i'm not hard wired to sell what i do. i just do it. the magic occurs in the doing. everything else is conjecture. we don't often follow the rules. we glide down the river in our own current, and every possibility hangs on where the energy flows. duross & langel exists in a way that profoundly begs the question, why?  how is it that we are capable of something few are able to achieve? in an attempt to find context people make the obvious comparisons to lush, bath and body works, khiels, etc. however they exist as multi national chains. we are a little corner family business. how then do we still exist? therein lies the rub.  though always appreciative of perspective, we won't be conforming to conventional model behavior anytime soon. authenticity has it's advantages. and though we talk about what's coming in the near future, we hold our long term cards very close to our vest.   i started this holiday season five minutes after halloween ended. i cannot say that it's makes me proud, however the website is showing increased traffic and people are purchasing holiday goods. once upon a time i prided myself on our slow gate to the holiday rush. now... who am i to judge? everything is made, wrapped and waiting to be gifted. why should it sit in a box if people enjoy shopping early? sarah would agree that it's less stressful to allow the season to begin when our customers make their requests. for those of you like me, who would rather put it off for a while longer, please ignore the santa in the window.   in a few days i will be accepting the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's Excellence Award as Retailer of the Year on behalf of our company. they say i have 60 second to speak. hmmm. i guess i better talk fast. if i had the time, i would like to thank everyone who continues to make duross & langel a success. i would thank the chamber's selection committee. i would thank Craig Grossman and Goldman Properties for believing in us and allowing us to grow within their walls. i would thank my friend ivy olesh from PIDC who, from the day we opened our doors, has championed D+L. i would thank our friend and business banker bill stewart, and PNC for not only funding our original expansion, but for making the task of banking simple (a feat not easily accomplished as you might think). i would thank our families for their unyielding love and support, our friends and customers for giving us another year to do what we love. i would acknowledge with love and devotion my team, specifically rob, cory, chuck and jaret of the wilson concept, for showing up and being brilliant. nothing would ever happen without the team. and lastly i would thank the two people who literally stand at either side of me, my partners sarah evancho and james langel. sarah is the energy that keeps our engine running and she makes people happy even when they work at being unloveable. her talents are rare and we are lucky to have sarah. as for james, his purpose is to figure out everything i don't know. and that is quite a lot. james often claims that i get all the glory while he gets all the bills. and while that may be true, for the moment, the future has yet to be written. james is best equipt to meet the challenges of our future in finance and operations. it is a duel blessing to have him come home and take his seat at our table. in early 2015 we embark upon 3 new ventures that will add over 50 employees to our ranks. there is no way we could do this without james, sarah and the rest of our team. as for me, i started this business so i could putter around the workshop and make soaps and lotions. how incredibly blessed i am that it has all turned out so well.