Like so many business owners across the country during the early weeks of the pandemic, Kristy Steele was facing uncertainty.
Rent for her home decor store, Mango’s Decor, in Red Bank, Tennessee was getting higher and higher while her business was growing beyond its available space. After wrestling for months over whether or not to purchase a building of her own, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns left Kristy wondering about the future of her beloved business
“I was looking at buildings, and I kept thinking, ‘I don’t have the down payment, this is a lot of money and I can’t find anything,'” says Kristy.
Fortunately, Kristy was resourceful, and she quickly got to work on a solution.
A Furniture Family Tradition
Kristy’s family has a long history of working in the home furnishings industry.
Her grandfather worked for years as a buyer for a large retail chain of furniture stores in the Nashville area. After working his way up the corporate ladder to a managerial position, Kristy said her grandfather went out on his own and bought multiple La-Z-Boy stores in and around Nashville.
After graduating from college, Kristy’s father joined the furnishing industry as well, first as a sales rep for a different furniture company and later with his father’s La-Z-boy stores in Nashville. It it wasn’t long before he, too, caught the entrepreneurial bug and opened his own furniture stores in Brentwood.
Kristy’s father spent years growing his furniture business before retiring and starting a new project with Kristy and her sister. In 1999, the family ventured into the import business, beginning with lamps and later furniture and accessories. Like so many of the earlier successful businesses in her family, sales took off. Kristy and her sister still work with the business to this day.
A Business of Her Own
In 2014, Kristy continued the family tradition of entrepreneurship when she opened the doors to Mango’s Decor.
Her first location began with a one-year lease for a warehouse on Cherokee Boulevard in downtown Red Bank. Realizing the business had a real possibility for growth, Kristy says she moved Mango’s down the road two blocks to a better location with a real storefront.
After a while in the new location, Kristy began to wonder if it was time to invest in a building of her own. The home decor style Kristy has created for the Mango’s Decor brand provides a unique option to those looking to keep their home furnishings current while still creating a unique, personalized environment.
“Our plan is to have the magazine look without the magazine price,” Kristy says. “We want to keep it affordable without killing your pocketbook.
Kristy knew more space was needed to truly show how transformative her products could be for a home. That’s when she reached out to her local representative with SouthEast Bank.
A Partner Investing in You
Kristy began working with Chad Adams, a senior Vice-President and commercial banking advisor in Chattanooga, and found ways to make her dream of owning her own building for her business a reality.
“Chad was really good about giving me a lot of different options of how we could do it,” Kristy says. “He provided me with resources on what I could afford and how we could do this… he was always there to answer my questions and led me through the whole process.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, Chad and his team at SouthEast Bank were able to secure a loan for Mango’s Decor’s new location, which opened in January 2021. This not only provided Kristy with some much-needed security but also opened doors for her to present her store in a new way to increase sales
“By working with SouthEast Bank, I was able to get a loan where I could buy a building that doubled my space,” Kristy says. “Our sales have really increased. Over the last couple of months, we’ve sold double what we normally make.”
Today, you can find Kristy and her new location for Mango’s Decor at 2112 Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank, as well as their second location at 309 S. Northshore Drive in Knoxville.