Fort, a workshop/furniture reseller and gallery, is a journey as much as a destination when looking to acquire or trade furniture. Jacqueline Sharp, owner and founder of Fort has crafted an eco-friendly business model that gives a new life and new home to striking and hand-crafted furniture pieces.
Sharp, who studied art/design at the University of Iowa, started Fort in February 2011 with the idea to lighten landfills while preserving some great pieces. “Many of our pieces are made from scrap and reclaimed materials in addition to well-curated vintage pieces,” said Sharp.
Sharp had the core of her business plan in place in 2010, unfortunately her business partner backed out causing her serious concerns. She researched and walked into the local Women’s Business Center. “Honestly, I would not have found the courage or strength to start Fort without the help of the WBC,” said Sharp. “I didn’t know where to start on a business plan or anything about projections.” The meeting introduced her to Marsel Watts the program director of the WBC hosted by Valley Economic Development Center. Sharp had found an ally in growing her business and taking it to the next level.
“Jacqueline was a very quick study when it came to learning about advanced marketing techniques, financing and the benefits of social media,” said Watts. “We’ve been working together now for 17 months and I’ve seen tremendous progress. Plus, Jacqueline has been approved for VEDC financing, so when she’s ready she’ll have her business plan as a guide as well as financing.”
Sharp’s unique and attentive business model has guided her to early success. “The concept is that you can build your own fort by surrounding yourself with pieces you love to come home to,” said Sharp. She looks for alluring pieces that unexpectedly fit together to produce an elevated effect. In addition to Fort website fortgoods.com, the showroom is open to the public by appointment. Fort also holds regular workshops in the showroom to help customers learn how make their own home furnishings.
“Incredible possibilities have opened up for my business,” said Sharp. “I started the business thinking if I could make ends meet doing what I love that I would be happy. The more I’m around other small business owners through the WBC, the more I realize that Fort’s potential doesn’t stop there.”