One step through the front door and it’s apparent why Wren & Willow is not your average general contracting firm.
The Tacoma office is impeccably decorated, boasting a warm, friendly touch that beckons visitors to stay a while. Bentley, the resident pooch, greets you, and everything from the signature Wren & Willow cookbooks, to candy barrels, to the large, distressed-wood conference table reflects the company’s dedication to creating beauty and positive customer experiences.
“There’s no one out there that wants to live in an ugly space,” said Laureen Skrivan, Wren & Willow’s founder and president. “Everyone wants to be surrounded by beauty.”
Skrivan launched Wren & Willow Interior Design Company in 2006 after studying at New York’s Sheffield School of Interior Design. According to the firm’s website, Skrivan wanted to “help her clients make their homes beautiful,” and honor her Sicilian grandfather, who’d migrated to the United States to work as a stonemason.
Two years after opening the business, Skrivan made the bold decision to become a licensed contractor. She hired Cliff Kendell to manage the firm’s construction projects, and Wren & Willow was recognized as the 2018 Custom Homebuilder of the Year by the Master Builders Association of Pierce County.
Skrivan pursued contracting because, as a designer, she couldn’t be there to finish the job. “I had no control, but I had very high standards for how things should look in the end, and the contractors didn’t always have that same commitment,” she said.
Skrivan immersed herself into the construction industry. She joined the board of the MBA in Pierce County and was elected its first female Remodeler’s Chairman in 2010. In 2014, Skrivan also served as the organization’s first female president.
Skrivan likens the business of homebuilding to that of a psychologist. “Your home is a reflection of your personality, and that has to be created,” she said. “The colors, the materials, all of it tells a story of who you are as a customer, and that’s a big part of what we do.”
She also noted that issues with listening are the most standard customer complaint about contractors. “It was another reason I really wanted to jump into construction. I really wanted to listen,” she said. “As we’ve grown, I’ve had to make sure everyone that works for me is doing that, too.”
Skrivan’s advice to other business owners is to ask yourself why you’re in business. “It usually stems from the feeling there’s nobody else doing it as well as you can,” she said. “In my case, the bar wasn’t set as high as I thought it should be, and although I didn’t have a love for construction, I had a passion to resolve the lack of quality.”
“A woman-owned business is great, but a woman-owned construction company is unusual,” Skrivan stated, encouraging other female business owners. “I believe you can do anything you put your mind to.”