Partner, Scavolini by Cucina Moda, Birmingham
Employees: 8 Revenue: NA Education: University of Michigan
For Niki Serras, opening a home remodeling business in 2010 — when downtown Birmingham had a 70 percent commercial occupancy rate and the housing market at large was still recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis — was one part naïveté and one part brass tacks. “People said we were stupid, they said we were dumb, and that it would never work,” says Serras, whose partners include her sister, Alisha, and Brian Gamache, Alisha’s husband. “But we dug in our heels and made it work. We may have been naïve, but it was a blessing in disguise.” After Alisha fell in love with a Ferrari red kitchen, she convinced her husband and her sister to bring the kitchen to Michigan. “It became our calling card,” Niki says. “Once we had it installed in our store window, people couldn’t help but see it.” After partnering with Scavolini by Cucina Moda in Italy, the sisters took to event marketing. “We went to every charity fundraiser and party we could, and just started to talk to people about kitchens and bathrooms,” Niki says. As the business became successful, the group opened a location in January on the first floor of the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. With the Chicago store surpassing first-year revenue projections, and the Birmingham store having tripled its sales in four years, the partners are looking to grow in such markets as Minneapolis, Atlanta, Boston, and Denver.