In August of 2014, my wife Janie and I were having a cocktail on our deck discussing our “retirement” when we realized that we weren‘t really ready to be retired.
I owned a family business (The Heeney Company) for more than 25 years and had worked in it my whole career. My dad started Heeney Co. in 1960 and I went to work for him after graduating from college. I have been in the home décor and seasonal accessories business my entire life. In 2012, we decided to sell Heeney, slow down a bit, spend more time with our seven grandchildren and do some volunteering. Selling the family business was one of the hardest events in my life. I always thought I would pass it down to my three beautiful, smart daughters, but they all pursued their own careers.
After Heeney, I really tried to enjoy my new lifestyle. I began working for a company that I had known and respected throughout my career, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that something was missing and I wasn’t sure what is was.
Sitting on the deck, with cocktail in hand, I told Janie that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but something didn’t feel right. After talking, we decided we needed to create a business, and with any luck, one of our 7 grand kids, would be interested in it one day. We had never started a business from scratch, but we knew we had to find something that we could be passionate about, and we loved the home décor industry, so it seemed like that was a natural fit.
We ventured into high-end home décor stores and began quizzing the salespeople about their most popular new items. That’s when we first saw the melamine designs. They looked great. They didn’t look cheap. We would have sworn it was stoneware and couldn’t believe they weren’t ceramic!
We quickly thought of Anne Hathaway, a friend for many years, who designed fine china and pottery. We had shown our products together in the same showroom back in the Heeney days. Anne has a tremendous amount of experience in home décor, specifically tabletop designs, having designed and worked for Herend China’s Present Tense division.
So I met with Anne and asked what she thought of creating a new line of melamine tableware and accessories with an emphasis on lifestyle original designs for entertaining. Anne, who is a local Atlanta artist, loved the idea! At the time, she had a retail store on Miami Circle, in Atlanta, showcasing her unique pottery designs. Within a few weeks, Anne decided to partner with us and use her creative designs in the new venture, which today is Encore Concepts, LLC.
Janie and I, along with Anne and her husband, Eric, made it official in the fall of 2014. As we expected, there are always bumps and challenges along the way, but maybe I am just a glutton for this kind of thing, because I have never been more excited at any time in my career. Smooth sailing is a great way to relax, but it is the trials and tribulations that make for an exciting story. Stay tuned for the next chapter.