While Robin Shively encountered the usual small business challenges like attracting customers and managing cash flow as she set out to grow her new business, Corners Frameshop & Gallery, in the downtown Ferguson Citywalk, she was also confronted with the impossible to anticipate and daunting challenge arising from the civil unrest occurring during her first year in business. Growth, which had been at a reasonable incline, became suddenly stagnant. “There were very few to no new customers coming into the area,” says Shively.

And yet, with the help of SCORE and her years of experience, she forged ahead with her custom frame shop and art consultancy. “I have been framing for over 30 years, she says. “I am an active member of the international Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) and currently serve as President of the Mid America PPFA Chapter Board.”

With her expertise on her side, Shively has overcome the unforeseen challenges of the Ferguson unrest and is now concentrating on growing Corners Frameshop by providing quality work and remaining innovative while also helping to rebuild Ferguson’s business community. “We use all conservation-quality materials to preserve and protect, as well as enhance our customers’ art and memorabilia,” she says. “Corners Gallery showcases and sells works by local artists and craftsmen. We also hold monthly First Friday Gallery Night events.”

Company name: Corners Frameshop & Gallery (cornersframeshop.com)

Year company started?

I opened a framing business in Texas in 1993, sold it and moved back to the St. Louis area in 1994. In 1996, I started a framing business, working out of a home studio until I opened this storefront in November, 2013.

Why did you seek mentoring from SCORE? 

I knew that I needed to react using sound, positive strategies to correct the negative impact on my business, nurturing the growth needed for sustainability.

Did you attend a workshop (local or online)? Which one(s)? How did those sessions help you? 

I attended “Building Blocks for Growing Your Business” classes offered to businesses located in Ferguson, Dellwood and Jennings by North County, Incorporated in partnership with the Regional Business Council, US Bank and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Upon completion, I was one of several businesses selected to participate in a business growth incentive, the “Big Idea Pitch”.  It was an opportunity to develop a sound business plan for an idea to grow and sustain my business and present it to a panel of judges.

Did you seek a mentor to address a specific problem?

Mentoring was a major component of the Big Idea process.  My “Big Idea” was to grow my business by attracting more commercial customers.  My mentor reinforced the importance to build a commercial business because it brings new business and revenue into Ferguson, which will aid in the economic recovery of the community. As a community volunteer and member of the Ferguson Special Business District (Citywalk) Advisory Board, I recognize the importance of a strong economic recovery.  I also have a vested personal interest.  My husband and I recently bought a house in Ferguson and are relocating to the Old Ferguson East neighborhood.  

How often did you/do you meet with your mentor? 

We met face to face at least once weekly, and contacted each other via email or phone several times between meetings.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

Research intensively and put together a comprehensive business plan.

What would you tell a business owner who’s thinking of meeting a SCORE mentor for the first time? 

Do it!  SCORE mentors are a tremendous resource with an extensive font of business experience and knowledge.  I feel very fortunate to have worked with Carl Trautman and he continues to contact me with ideas to grow my business.

“For a quote on your next commercial frame, contact Robin at cornersframing@gmail.com or 314-229-0325. Please help rebuild Ferguson.” - See more at: http://www.sbmon.com/Articles/Article/987/SCORE-Helps-Local-Entrepreneur...

How SCORE Helped: 

While Robin Shively encountered the usual small business challenges like attracting customers and managing cash flow as she set out to grow her new business...