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Female Founders: Betty Brandolino of Fresh Twist Studio On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Our company is all about creating an experience for others. The residential design business is very personal because we are inside our clients’ homes. We try to create an experience that hits a positive emotion for all our customers. We treat people as we would want to be treated. Our goal is to use our skills and talents to, in some way, make people’s lives more enjoyable.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Betty Brandolino, founder and creative director of Fresh Twist Studio.

Betty Brandolino is the Founder and Creative Director of Fresh Twist Studio, which was established in 2010. Conceived on the back of a cocktail napkin during date night with her husband on Rush Street downtown, Fresh Twist is a customer-oriented luxury design studio and Hunter Douglas Gallery that provides unique expertise in window treatments, interior design, styling, and architectural services to clients throughout the Midwest. Brandolino leads and nurtures her energetic, all-female team to help clients visualize, design, and build their dream homes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My early career was in the corporate world. As a single mom, I was working to support my son. Later in life, I remarried and had two more boys, which provided the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom for a few years. My love of fashion, design, and architecture was always a passion, but it wasn’t until my husband and I built our first home that I realized how much I enjoyed every moment of the process. When we finally were at the finish line, I knew I wanted to keep going. I started my business, Fresh Twist Studio, from the third floor of my new home, then shortly after, moved my operation into its first “real” office. Three years after that, my team and I opened our first studio in downtown Elmhurst, IL. We continue to grow, and just rented a 3,000-square-foot space to accommodate our office, a conference room, and additional showroom space.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

We’ve had the honor to work with some very well-known sports celebrities in the Chicago area.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is a hard question for me, because we take mistakes very seriously. Obviously, everyone makes mistakes, but it’s hard for me to see them as funny because I always want to produce the best work that I possibly can. One mistake early on that I learned from was to always read a specification sheet in its entirety prior to sourcing furniture and lighting. One time we ordered a kitchen table and chairs, and the arms of the chair did not fit under the table due to the apron being lower than specified.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband has been so supportive every step of the way during my professional journey. Starting and running a business is one of the most difficult things to do, because it requires the constant thinking, pivoting, and exploring of new ideas and concepts. Without my husband’s wisdom, coaching and support, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think for a woman to own a company, she needs to have a passion and a goal, and then work really hard. Confidence in starting a business is sometimes lacking for both men and women. There are no guarantees in life, and sometimes you just need to go for it!

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think everyone needs a mentor in the business world — I strongly believe in mentorship.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I think the biggest reason more women should become founders is because they can! We live in a country that allows the freedom for women to have equal opportunity.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I think the myth sometimes is that all you need is a good idea — but, in reality, there are so many more pieces to the puzzle. The amount of time that it takes to develop an idea, and then implement it to its full potential takes a lot of dedication.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I don’t think everyone needs to be a founder. It requires many unique attributes to create a successful company. In my opinion, it’s not just the founder that dictates the success of a company, it’s the team and support system around her. The most important thing a founder can do is find great people to join her team and invest in their success.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Work hard — nothing happens without hard work.
  2. Have passion for your job — because you are working so hard, you need to love what you do.
  3. Invest in a great team — without a team that has the same vision, a company can’t succeed.
  4. Be open to new ideas and pivoting if necessary — this is so important, especially in today’s world.
  5. Take time to celebrate — we take Friday afternoons and have “Fun Friday” at the studio. We eat, drink, and have fun together.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Our company is all about creating an experience for others. The residential design business is very personal because we are inside our clients’ homes. We try to create an experience that hits a positive emotion for all our customers. We treat people as we would want to be treated. Our goal is to use our skills and talents to, in some way, make people’s lives more enjoyable.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I believe everyone needs a strong mentor in their life. I ran many women’s mentorship groups over the years, and in my experience, investing in someone’s life with your past experiences and wisdom is life changing.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to sit down with Dianne von Furstenberg. In addition to her design and retail success, I love her commitment to empowering women.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.