Former accountant Dee Johnson turned her chandelier designs into a thriving business.
But it didn’t happen based on a master plan. It all started with a chandelier-making project for her own home.
Johnson was looking at decorations for her home when she came across a beautiful $5,000 chandelier. Since it wasn’t in her budget, she decided to create her own luxury chandelier. She showed pictures to her co-workers in the accounting department and the feedback was positive. They encouraged her to showcase her designs online. Within a couple of weeks, she had orders flowing in. Now, Johnson has built a six-figure business making chandeliers for others.
“I bootstrapped this business from the ground up,” says Johnson. “I used my savings and sold a car to get started.”
“A couple of years later, I received an SBA loan. Anybody that knows anything about those loans knows that it can be difficult to acquire when you are a business owner. Funding, in general, is difficult for business owners. I received a QuickBooks Capital loan early in the process which provided a good cushion for cash flow and expense management.”
The Making of a Luxury Chandelier Business
Johnson is the founder of Au Courant Interiors — a manufacturer of luxury chandeliers, interior furniture, and accessories. Founded in 2013, Johnson had to pivot from her role as an accountant to full-time entrepreneur when demand for her chandeliers increased. Her unique handcrafted designs grew from one order to approximately ten orders per month within a few years.
“Our concentration is on the craftsmanship,” says Johnson. “The pieces are an investment for our customers.”
Johnson has always been an entrepreneur. She started a commercial cleaning service at 19. Then, she dived into the home staging business. When she relocated to South Carolina, she arrived without a network of family or professionals and returned to her work in Accounting. But in the back of her mind, she knew that one of her ventures would take off and lead her to a dream business.
“I consider myself an entrepreneur first. Then, the creativity comes in. I get the best of both worlds [with Au Courant Interiors]. I get to manage the business from the entrepreneurial side and use all of my financial knowledge to do that. Then, I also get the benefit to be creative. It’s a great balance.”
QuickBooks Helps Accountant Pivot Chandelier Business During Pandemic
The pandemic was a shift for many businesses — including Au Courant Interiors. Dee was forced to pivot her business to meet customer demands.
“We had issues with our supply chain and funding,” says Johnson. “But I used QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Capital to help me get through it. I applied for a QuickBooks Capital loan one day and the next day it was deposited. To me, it was a great process when you compare it to all the hoops you have to go through to get funding from a traditional bank. We didn’t have to pull my credit to do that. It was more about the health of my business.”
In a matter of weeks, Johnson was able to produce all of her designs in-house. She created 400 new designs and partnered with Wayfair to import and export her chandeliers.