We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Holmes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stephanie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
When it comes to the big decisions in my personal life and my career, I have always trusted my gut instinct. Each life-changing event that has happened in my professional career as well as personal existence has presented itself at just the right time. To an outsider, it may feel like a risky move, but to me, something inside tells me it is the right move. I do my research on what my gut tells me, but it hasn’t led me astray yet!

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I have two businesses. Integral Thread which is hand-knotted rug company in the Denver Design Center and Ai STUDiO which is a multi-line furnishing, cabinetry and flooring showroom, also in the Denver Design Center. I own Integral Thread solely and Ai STUDiO, I have an amazing business partner and best friend Michele Peerbolt who runs it with me.

Our rugs are made by incredible artisans and weavers from around the world. They are truly works of art and heirloom quality. I am proud of the unique product that we provide, the amazing weavers that we get the honor of working with, and my team. We approach customer service with empathy and kindness and go above and beyond to assist our clients. We conduct our business practices and our personal lives with honesty, humility, and integrity. Community is at the core of what we do, so each month we strive to do something charitable together and give back to those in need.

As I mentioned previously, I moved from Chicago to Denver to marry my husband and start the rug business. I left my steady stream of interior design clients to a life of outside sales in hopes of opening a showroom and creating a new successful business out here. To support that, I continued interior design at the same time. I flew back and forth to Chicago multiple times a month to keep up with the interior clients all while balancing the rug sales and showroom. There were early morning 5 am flights and returning the same day at 11 PM so I wouldn’t have to close the showroom. There late nights, weekends and hours and hours of work. I did that for two and half years, up until the due date of my first son to make sure I could keep a steady income while the business took off. It was hard, it was stressful, but I luckily love what I do and the people I do it with and get to do it for. I learned to listen to my instincts. I learned that as an entrepreneur, there will always be doubt and worry, even when you have success. I learned there is always a reason and many times, even though you are anxious to move forward with certain ideas and plans, you must have patience and wait for the right time. I learned that my gut will tell me when the time is right. I learned that you can’t do any of it without the immense support of your family and friends.

But I think most of all, I have learned, that I don’t subscribe to the “its just business” philosophy. and that is something that makes my company different. Most people that go into business, do it to make money and have success. In discovering my WHY, I realized that my WHY in life and work is to help people. Now I don’t have a charity, I have a luxury rug business, but I use that business to help humanity and people in any way that I can. We are constantly giving to charities through drives, donations, and fundraising here in the US or in our weaving communities abroad. I could keep those profits for the company, but I want to do more. I try to give my employees all the benefits I can even though it can be difficult as a small company. We spend time at work talking about our personal lives because I want to make sure they know they are supported. We mix business and personal on a level that I don’t think most businesses do. We encourage family time and work life balance because it is important to me that my employees are happy and healthy. It is important to me that they know Family is always first. It is part of our creed, and I practice what I preach. And though most business advisors would disagree with my approach, when I make decisions for the company, I make them with my team in mind as individuals, not just what is best for the bottomline. I think as a boss, I give back to my employees on personal level that not all companies would do, but that is part of personal creed and I wouldn’t be living my WHY if I didn’t do so.

I think mostly I want people to know that yes, we have amazing, beautiful rugs that we would love to sell you, help you design and place in your home, but also we are kind people trying to good in the world while also running a business. I think that empathy and caring comes through in our product and customer service, and we hope we get that opportunity to show everyone. We are fun to work with, easy to work with and here to help. And we are more than just in a business. We are heart, love and community and we are honored that we get to part of this Colorado Community.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would start with a hike, and then a brewery tour on one day. There are so many good breweries in the Denver area that is hard to choose which ones to hit. Joyride in Edgewater is one of my favorite local spots. You get a great view of the city and Sloan’s Lake and there is always a good food truck.

I came from Chicago so restaurants are my jam. I would try to take them to some of my favorites; Luca, Urban Farmer, Bistro Vendome, and if only Ophelias was still open we could take in some amazing live music while we brunched and had dinner. Snooze for brunch, Forest Room Five and the The Family Jones Spirit House for scenery and cocktails. Highlands Cork and Coffee is one my favorite little places. Who doesn’t love a place you can get amazing food, coffee and wine!

The new Meow Wolf museum is pretty incredible and you can get lost in there for hours. Kindness Yoga is one of my favorite yoga studios.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I feel like the list could be a mile long of people that have supported me and got me to the point that I am. My parents have always been there to encourage me. They never limited what our achievements or career paths should be. They left those discoveries and decision up to us, but were there along the way to always support.

I met my husband in Denver while out on a girls trip and we started a long distance relationship immediately. My initial business was in Illinois and completely interior design based. After we met and my instant love for Colorado (and him), I decided I needed to find a way to start a business out here. I was consulting with a rug company at the time and decided that perhaps the rugs could be a good business in Denver. I started with a suitcase full of samples and outside sales. My husband would pick me up from the airport and lug my suitcases around, let me borrow his car, and did nothing but encourage me. As I grew and opened the showroom, he would help with rug deliveries and trials to the mountains, lugging 100 pound rugs to my clients’ houses, so I wouldn’t have to hire out extra labor. He has quite literally put in the work, never complaining, just there to encourage me in my success. There are always rough and scary times as an entrepreneur, but he never let me doubt the potential of the business or myself, even when it may have been scary for him.

My sister Stacie moved out to Denver to help me with the showroom when I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I called her up, told her she was going to be an Aunt and that I needed a showroom manager. She was out in Colorado within two months. She has helped me grow and expand the business and she is my right-hand woman. I don’t know how I would do life without her. She is a rock for me on the business side as well as personal life. The help and support that she gives to the business, my kids and me as a sister are irreplaceable.

My best friend Andrea has helped me with all of my creative marketing and graphic design needs since I first started my interior design business in Chicago 13 years ago. My logos, my business cards, you name it. And all while she is a major boss lady, working and raising two beautiful children. She will stop her busy life to help me out. She is immensely talented and because we are best friends, she somehow knows exactly what is in my head visually that I can’t execute. I owe her so much for support and her pro-bono work she has done for me over the years ūüėČ

And lastly to all of my family (including my amazing older sister Cory who has been a role model for me my entire life) and friends, they all have offered countless hours of advice, mentoring and love. I have droned on for hours about my business, my struggles, my triumphs and they are always there to listen and do whatever they can to help me grow.

Website: www.integralthreadstudio.com

Instagram: integralthread

Facebook: integralthread

Image Credits
Katy Jo Caringer and Carolyn Jaime

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