Anyone would agree that good organizational skills are a fundamental qualification for starting your own business. And in 1991, Jennifer Quinn Williams did just that, opening the doors of Saint Louis Closet Co., the first locally–owned St. Louis closet company that installed custom organizing systems crafted to stand alone (floor-based) and fit the exact dimensions of a customer’s closet.
Saint Louis Closet Co. has grown from modest means. In her first semester of graduate school, while working part–time, Jennifer decided to do what she loved – organize and change people’s lives. Then, in October of 1991, she approached the Small Business Administration (SBA) to learn how to go about starting her own business.
That November, she decided to try her luck at a start–up loan. Jennifer’s tenacity paid off and she received a call from the loan officer that the SBA and the Bank had approved a loan for $35,000. What about the additional $15,000 she needed? Jennifer just forged ahead; trusting that early sales of her new closet systems would bring in the balance of money necessary to stay in operation. They did. So, at the ripe old age of 25, Jennifer had not only graduated from Saint Louis University and begun graduate school, but she also had begun to set up and operate her own business. That first year would realize $236,000 in sales, an amount that has been exceeded by over 2500% in 22 years.
Jennifer’s roots are tied to St. Louis having grown up in Kirkwood and graduating from Kirkwood High School in 1984. This hometown entrepreneur then went on to St. Louis University to earn a B.A. in Communications and Public Relations. “I really enjoy owning and operating my Business in St. Louis,” says Jennifer. “There’s a great feeling in knowing that you’re helping your community and providing your neighbors with a superior product at the same time.” “St. Louisans love to buy from locally-owned companies, not franchises.”
Jennifer’s hometown connection makes a difference, especially when it comes to the company’s charitable and civic endeavors. Jennifer’s list of involvements is already an impressive one. She’s donated to her local alma mater KHS, and Saint Louis Closet Co. has installed closets at The Magic House, Glendale Lutheran, St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Forsyth School, Our Little Haven and Friends of Wings. Jennifer is involved with and has supported Children’s Hospital, Fontbonne University, St. Louis University, Forsyth School, John Burroughs School, The Maplewood Betterment Foundation, The Kirkwood Public Library, Juvenile Diabetes, Girls on the Run, Our Little Haven, Ready Readers, The Susan G. Koman Foundation and the The Leukemia Foundation to name a few.
When Jennifer started Saint Louis Closet Co. she knew the importance of surrounding herself with quality people. “Our company’s biggest strength,” notes Jennifer, “is that of customer service. All 40 of our employees strive for excellent customer service. They continually try to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
Jennifer is proud of the product Saint Louis Closet Co. offers. “We have a unique system,” comments Jennifer. “Where many other closet companies hang closet organizers on existing walls – a practice that is not as secure or as adjustable as our product, we provide a safe, floor–based closet system built of our thermo-fused laminated (TFL) shelving that is totally adjustable from the floor to the ceiling,” says Jennifer. “You have the ability to adjust, add or subtract from your closet system at any time.” By offering a variety of thermo-fused laminate (TFL) colors, Saint Louis Closet Co. is not just limited to the closet. Murphy Beds, Laundry Rooms, Playrooms, Lockers, Craft Centers, Garages, Pantries and Home Offices are all products offered by the company.
“Almost all closet installations take less than one day, and since we manufacture our own systems in our custom closet factory,” says Jennifer, “we can turn orders around quickly. This gives us an edge over our competition.” There are no pre-made parts or sizes, so Saint Louis Closet Co. closets are TRULY custom and cut to size for your closet.
All the closet systems are designed, manufactured, and sold out of her 30,000 square foot headquarters in Maplewood with its state–of–the–art machinery, which allows the company to make its own product 100% custom.