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Lush Banners

Viona Zhong

Founder & CEO

Lush Banners

Richmond, TX

 

Situation:  Lush Banners was founded in Sydney, Australia in 2009.  Founder & CEO Viona Zhong had spent several years working as a marketing professional and attending trade shows worldwide.  While attending these trade shows she recognized an opportunity to start her own ecommerce business offering custom displays at a higher quality and affordable price.  In 2009, she launched a website selling retractable banners and flags and in the first 6 months was surprised to see that all the big orders were coming from the United States.  Encouraged by large demand, Viona made the decision to move operations to Texas.  But there was one major issue, Viona had never been to the United States and had no idea how to operate a business in the United States.          

 

Solution:  Viona explains, ‘I encountered tremendous difficulties never having been in the U.S. before and the legal system was totally new to me.  I used to work in Shanghai and studied & lived in Sydney for years, so I was familiar with Australia and Asia but not the United States.  The legal system, HR, and insurance requirements were all different.  I reached out to SCORE and that’s when I met my mentors and things started to fall into place.’  She goes on to state, ‘The best thing about SCORE is they have all kinds of executives that know about everything.  It is a great, great program.  I recommend SBA and SCORE to everyone I meet.  They can save an entrepreneur so much time and money and can give you their real-world experiences and the hard realities that come with owning a business.’  Along with the help from SCORE, Viona was accepted into the 2016 Emerging Leaders Program.  It was at this time that Lush Banners was poised for growth and looking to buy a building and hire additional employees.  She connected with a banker during the program and secured a commercial loan to purchase her building in Richmond, Texas.  Viona simply states, ‘it was the best thing that happened to me in 2016.’

 

Impact/Outcome:  Today, Lush Banners operates 3 eCommerce websites and  2 operation centers in 5 countries specializing in the design and supply of promotional displays, trade show exhibits, large format graphics, and event solutions.  Average growth rate from the company’s inception has been 20-40% per year and they have grown to 4 full-time employees and 10 part-time freelancers internationally.  They serve over 10,000 loyal customers from Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, churches, hospitals, university, non-profits, and other small businesses.  Despite all the hard-work and success, Viona remains committed to not only building a great business but also by inspiring her employees.  Viona states, ‘We’re creating a business employees love to work for by providing an honest work environment, plenty of growth opportunities, the best benefits and a revenue share plan.  Loyal employees are a blessing!’  Over the past 10 years Viona has also realized that it is important to have a healthy work-life balance as ‘entrepreneurship is a difficult lifestyle, and a lot of pressure.’ She is a member of EO Houston, the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Harpers, and is a volunteer for the Rice University Entrepreneur Program.  She also has a passion to help more women and minorities achieve success in entrepreneurship.     

 

Company Name: 
Lush Banners
Location: 
Houston, TX
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