Kansas City Interior Design Company Owner Named MO Small Business Person of the Year

Kansas City District Office  - March 2019

u s small business administration

Kansas City Interior Design Company Owner Named MO Small Business Person of the Year

MO SBPOY

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2019 Missouri Small Business Person of the Year is Mrs. Carol Espinosa, the principal and owner of Freedom Interiors, LLC in Kansas City, Missouri.  

Carol Espinosa founded Freedom Interiors in 2011 to help fulfill her natural desire to grow and improve personally as well as professionally and give others an opportunity to do the same. While working as a project manager for seven years, Carol was constantly looking for process improvements in her job. Owning her own business enabled Carol to express her desire to institute processes that lead to excellence in delivery and predictable success for both the customer and the company.

There were numerous challenges in starting Freedom, many of which still exist.  Some of the key issues include access to capital, finding and attracting good talent and managing cash flow. One of the biggest obstacles from the business model perspective was starting in an industry that has been very well established in the Kansas City area, where most potential customers already had a relationship with a different provider” said Carol. Staff allocation and initially bidding lower to succeed in government contracting were additional obstacles.

Being part of the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program allowed Freedom to get in front of different government agencies and have a better chance to develop and maintain strong relationships with potential customers. In addition to receiving training and counseling from the Missouri Small Business Development Center, the SBA-backed 504 small business loan helped Freedom to leave a 500 sq. ft. incubator space to fill a 7,000 sq. ft. showroom in 2017. Freedom’s working showroom features state of the art technology, such as Live Design and virtual reality, to assist with design and product selection for corporate, education and government customers. The showroom also serves as a Future-Ready Classroom lab, which allows K-12 and higher-Ed clients to experience the latest in education furnishings and technology as they plan for changes in curriculum and classroom design to accommodate different generations and ways of learning.

In the last eight years, Freedom has grown from one employee and zero sales in the first year to a team of twelve with $6.8 Million in revenue in 2018. Freedom’s long-term goal is 25/25/25 – $25 million in revenue, with 25 employees, by the year 2025. The company is on track for 2019 with multiple opportunities to expand products and services in the near future. The most exciting aspect of the company’s evolution, however, is the development of people and talent, and the personal growth that each team member is experiencing as the company expands. Freedom’s growth up to now would not have been possible without the help, knowledge, experience and input of various SBA resources, partners and mentors.

Freedom Interiors also supports the Kansas City literacy program, Lead to Read with staff volunteering each week to read to urban core students; KC Pet Project, a no-kill animal shelter that provided Carol with her on-site company mascot – her dog, Ginger; and Connections to Success in their mission to break the generational poverty cycle. She most recently donated design services, furniture and installation of a training room to them.

Freedom Interiors is an exceptional example of how to create a successful small business,” said the SBA Kansas City District Director, Jon Malcolm Richards. “Carol Espinosa engaged the counseling resources of the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UMKC and the financing leverage of our Certified Development Company to leverage her own talent and drive into this remarkable success story. She is a credit to entrepreneurs everywhere,” said Mr. Richards.

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