Mali Braun always wanted to be an entrepreneur. She was highly driven by her desire for flexibility, autonomy, and the opportunity to bring her ideas to life. Ten years ago, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey by establishing Perfect Fit Closets, a business-to-business company specializing in custom closets and other custom storage solutions. Without external investors, Mali relied on her personal funds and operated the business from home, effectively minimizing startup costs. With her background in business development and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Mali forged partnerships with companies seeking to enhance their store displays, capitalizing on a significant industry trend in the US. “In the US, [our competitors] were being bought out by big corporations that are eliminating their closet wholesale programs. This means that their partners no longer have access to established closet distributors, so that really opened the market for us,” explains Mali.
Mali’s ability to carve out a niche in the market contributed to her success. Perfect Fit Closets has redefined the closet industry, primarily focusing on closet education and support. Their full-service, one-stop-shop approach has created an onboarding process that focuses primarily on hands-on training for sales, design and installation for all authorized partners, custom production of every order that eliminates the need for inventory, and inclusion of all required hardware and accessories, allowing the team to complete their project in one take. Mali’s company was also positioned favourably when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, as her team had worked remotely since 2013. While some partners faced challenges during this period, Perfect Fit Closets’ business model thrived as individuals redirected their disposable income toward home improvements due to reduced travel and entertainment expenses.
Despite having a successful business model, Perfect Fit Closets encountered several challenges related to deeper industry knowledge and financial education. Mali admits that locating resources to aid the company’s financial education and scaling was time-consuming. If they had been accessible earlier, they could have learned valuable lessons sooner, leading to greater success. Furthermore, understanding the nuances of the industry presented a steep learning curve. Balancing multiple responsibilities as a busy entrepreneur made it challenging to allocate enough time and effort to research competitors, customers, and the market. Fortunately, Innovation Guelph’s Rhyze Up! program provided invaluable support to overcome these difficulties.
The Rhyze Up! program profoundly impacted Perfect Fit Closets’ growth. Mali, the owner, credits the program for helping her create future plans and projections, build strategies around growing her team, and identify the ideal demographics for targeting new prospects. One of the program’s most significant contributions to Perfect Fit Closets’ success was its ability to identify problem areas and devise effective solutions. “Learning ways to pinpoint trouble areas and taking proactive steps to rectify them comes from talking to people who are smarter than you and people who have different industry experience,” Mali says. According to Mali, what distinguishes Rhyze Up! from other programs is its culture of positive and genuine individuals who consistently demonstrate a genuine desire to help.
Being a woman in the construction industry, Mali found immense value in participating in a program tailored by women for women. “Having the information … to confidently speak about my business and its projections and its growth empowers me when I am in a room full of men who may not be taking me seriously,” she explains. She also found significant value in working alongside mentors and personal coaches who had similar experiences and understood her unique challenges as a woman-identifying entrepreneur.
Mali offers several pieces of advice to fellow entrepreneurs, including the importance of slowing down, establishing a well-thought-out plan, asking the right questions, and being prepared to make decisions driven by emotions. She has come a long way since she was a little girl, dreaming of owning her own business. Today, she is focused on expanding the B2B aspect of her company and adding a dedicated marketing team and training department to the business. Her journey demonstrates tremendous progress.
Mali Braun is determined to give back to programs like Rhyze Up! that empower women entrepreneurs. Her ambition is to help them scale their businesses and access the resources that contributed to her own success. With her relentless determination and entrepreneurial spirit, she has transformed into the accomplished businesswoman she always aspired to be. Her future is undoubtedly bright, and her success will continue to grow.
Learn more about Perfect Fit Closets here: https://perfectfitclosets.com/