Linda Jadwin has dedicated her career to helping others start and run businesses. Among her extensive experience, she’s run three women’s business centers, a construction company, and a housing-export company. But it took one pesky kitchen cabinet to push Linda into going into business for herself.
“It was right next to my stove, and it was driving me bonkers. I just wanted it removed,” said the Tacoma native.
The problem? She couldn’t find anyone in Tacoma to do it. By the time she thought to reach out to the students in the cabinetry program at Bates Technical College — students who ultimately completed the job — she realized there was an opportunity in the market. In December 2018, she and her partner, Victor Valdez, opened Kitchen Tune-Up Tacoma, a franchise that does one- to five-day kitchen updates.
Kitchen Tune-Up, which has franchise locations across the country, focuses on painting, refacing and replacing cabinet doors, and installing new countertops, but Jadwin’s business also can do a full remodel. The company trains franchisees to run the business, and how to find skilled subcontractors to complete projects. This format resonated with Jadwin, who has a knack for networking.
From her new role as business owner, she wants to continue helping other women take the leap to work for themselves. She chatted with us from her East Tacoma home about her latest venture — and on how others can get started.
SSB: How did you discover Kitchen Tune-Up?
LJ: I worked for Business Alliance Inc., which is a brokerage firm for franchises. I taught people how to run their own (franchise) business, and I was doing weekly webinars for all the different brands we had in our portfolio. I kept coming back to Kitchen Tune-Up. I talked with Heidi (Morrissey), who is the president of the company, and I thought, “Great; it’s woman-run, family-owned.” I looked at their numbers from a loan officer perspective … and liked what I saw. I thought, “You know, I’m really tired of making money for other people. And I think I’m going to take my retirement fund and instead of looking at it go down, down, down, I’m just going to invest it and make it go up, up, up.” I coached a lot of people and watched a lot of different businesses grow. But it was still scary to do it myself. But deep down I knew I had to.
Since 2007, women-owned businesses have increased by 58 percent. What do you think is driving this growth?
I think many women have decided to own a business because they can create the work-life balance they want for their families. Women who build on their strength have increased self-worth and are strong, positive role models for their children. We are smart, we are powerful, we deserve and will run a community-based company.
What kind of businesses did you help launch through the women’s business centers?
I created training programs to give a firm foundation to start a business. My favorite was helping a pheasant farmer. We came up with everything she could do with pheasants. We worked with Terry (Waller) out at the Olive Branch Cafe & Tea Room (in Tacoma). She’s a great woman in business. Embellish Multispace Salon (in Tacoma) was a client.
Tell me about the kind of advice that you provide to women business-owner hopefuls.
There’s lots of networking opportunities out there, but be that connector, as well. I don’t know how to do a countertop to save my life. But I met a really nice guy named Travis, and he and his wife, Tammy, do fantastic work. I’m helping promote them (through Kitchen Tune-Up). Help other people grow because we’re all trying, but if we all do it together, we’re all going to make Tacoma fantastic.
Where can women business owners find resources?
There is Washington Center for Women in Business in Lacey and other free resources you can use; the Small Business Association website has a plethora. They can connect a business with bankers, lawyers, with accountants. That’s a great starting point. They can help you write a business plan plus help you find financing. There’s Tacoma Executives Association. There’s the Alliance of Women Owned Businesses. You can always do your chamber of commerce, but there are still quite a few women-specific groups here in the South Sound.
What are the biggest challenges women face in starting their own business?
Obtaining financing is always going to be the hardest. It can be hard to find work-life balance when you first begin. I did this after my kids were grown, so kudos to those that have little ones that still make the leap. Take time for yourself. I think that’s one of the biggest things. Give yourself a day off, let yourself make mistakes, go forward.
Any other advice you’d give a rookie?
Call me! Really. Take advantage of the resources that are already out there. And don’t forget franchising. Many people feel they have to do it on their own. I saw a lot of people lose their life savings, because they needed to have (additional) expertise in parts of their business. Franchises have the pillars created for you. You get the freedom to tweak it to your market. It’s being in business for yourself, but not by yourself. There’s so much support available.