Couple’s campaign for blind cord safety

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A couple from Gloucestershire whose baby daughter died after becoming trapped in the cord of a window blind have started a campaign to get certain types of cord banned in the UK.

Amanda O’Halloran and Chris Parslow believe that safety measures do not go far enough after their 17-month-old, Sophia, died in June.

The British Blinds and Shutter Association has its own awareness campaign, called Make It Safe, and says it is fully committed, along with its members, to help eliminate the risk associated with looped cords, chains and tapes used on window blinds.

Madeleine Ware reports.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24321541

http://www.makeitsafe.org.uk

Couple’s campaign for blind cord safety

A couple from Gloucestershire whose baby daughter died after becoming trapped in the cord of a window blind have started a campaign to get certain types of cord banned in the UK.

Amanda O’Halloran and Chris Parslow believe that safety measures do not go far enough after their 17-month-old, Sophia, died in June.

The British Blinds and Shutter Association has its own awareness campaign, called Make It Safe, and says it is fully committed, along with its members, to help eliminate the risk associated with looped cords, chains and tapes used on window blinds.

Madeleine Ware reports.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24321541

BLINDS.COM CEO JAY STEINFELD TO SERVE AS KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THE UNLEASHWD INNOVATION SUMMIT OCT. 29

Jay Steinfeld did not want to change the way people purchased blinds.

He had no passion for window coverings. He did not even have a business plan.

Wait, he had a plan–to succeed in business–just not a plan to sell more blinds, better and faster than before. That plan came later. When the CEO of Blinds.com, which will sell more than $100 million worth of blinds this year, started he was just a guy looking for work.

After losing his job, Steinfeld used his wife’s experience owing a blinds shop to enter into the window coverings business. Thinking he could succeed as a small business owner, Steinfeld opened his own shop. As soon it opened, Steinfeld defined himself as a success, even before the first customer placed an order.

Educated as an accountant, Steinfeld understands the numbers. The numbers, like the blinds are not his passion. Perfection is, even without achieving it.

“Experiment and experiment without fear of failure,” he says.

The process drives him. Make it better. Try something new. Improve and try again. Aiming for better rather that a strict margin of profit, Steinfeld saw his business grow by 30 percent in the last year. Neither his recent success nor the millions of dollars of blinds sold and hundreds of jobs created would have occurred without taking that first risk. After opening a retail blinds ship, Steinfeld soon took another.

Steinfeld launched Blinds.com in 1993 when O.J. Simpson was best known as a former running back. America Online was not a household name and the words “Internet” and “Domain Name” might as well have been in Klingon. For an investment of $1,500, Blinds.com started as an online newsletter of sorts, which was as just another of Steinfeld’s many experiments. The first incarnation of Blinds.com was a one-page piece of Internet real estate that served as an advertisement for Steinfeld’s blinds business.

Blinds.com folded out in steps, and the next was ecommerce. Steinfeld did not know that the Internet would become the INTERNET when he started. It was just an experiment. Building up an online presence was part luck, but it was mostly part of Steinfeld’s core value of always improving.

“We are really a direct marketing company not a blinds company,” Steinfeld says. “We keep testing how can we make this a little bit better. It’s like Thomas Edison experimenting with his filament.”

Being first on the scene provided Blinds.com with an advantage, but being the first online guaranteed nothing. Remember Pets.com? The pet supply retailer raised $300 million, purchased a commercial spot during the Super Bowl and enjoyed a sock puppet mascot so famous that it made an appearance on Good Morning America. Pets.com burned through that money fast and quickly went away.

Blinds.com arrived before an online audience existed. It was online before Google and Amazon. But it did not survive because of the luck and foresight of arriving first. It survived the dot.com bust because Steinfeld remained customer focused instead of chasing investor dollars. Steinfeld’s blinds business still had physical stores, and he slowly built his website’s offerings.

It wasn’t until 2001 that he went 100 percent online. It was another bold experiment, but it turned out to be the correct move. For Steinfeld, going exclusively to ecommerce meant the ongoing process of listening to the voice of the customer—people wanted to shop online more, but he also differentiated his business by striving to maintain the personal touch.

Steinfeld keeps a picture of a Good Humor Ice Cream Truck in his office, and it is not only because of his sweet tooth.

“So I ask you… are you taking time to ensure you and your business are like the ice cream man?” Steinfeld asked in a blog post. “How close are you to your customers? Do you know what’s selling, whether your customers are happy, and if not, then why not? Maybe it’s time to change into that white suit and hat.”

This approach has kept Steinfeld level-headed, hungry and perhaps even a tad bit insecure. Even as Blinds.com sold millions of dollars and then tens of millions of window coverings, Steinfeld fretted over the small things- the details that that his customers cared about. After his company sold more than $50 million in a year, he worried less about building a successful business.

“It became more along the lines of we are doing pretty well now, but how can we do better?” Steinfeld says. “I absolutely did not see this level of success it has been a metamorphoses to me. I had no vision.”

Yet, in his success he developed a vision for his own future. This includes helping his employees achieve their goals by maintaining one of the best places to work in the Houston. It will also explain why he will speak atUnleashWD.

About UnleashWD
UnleashWD is the only conference dedicated to bringing innovation to the wholesale distribution industry. UnleashWD features eighteen storytellers from outside the wholesale distribution industry. Modeled after TED’s short-session format, UnleashWD’s speakers share how to add business value through inspiring presentations on topics such as innovation, leadership, business model design, and corporate culture.

For the last twenty-five years, UnleashWD Founder Beveridge has worked with more than 3,000 firms as a leadership consultant, facilitating how wholesale distributors and manufacturers can increase market share through examining and improving their relationship with customers. For more information please visit: http://www.unleashwd.com.

Creating A Safer Home Environment For Your Children

Having small children in your home means appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure they grow up in a safe environment. While childproofing different areas of your home such as cabinets and electrical sockets, don’t forget to review your window coverings. Access to windows and dangling window covering cords can pose a safety hazard to curious children and even small pets.

“Although nothing replaces the watchful eye of a loving parent, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the risk of injury around windows,” said Tracy Christman, window coverings expert and Vice President of Vendor Alliance at Budget Blinds. “Window safety is often overlooked and it’s important for parents to be fully aware of all the potential dangers.”

Tracy offers the following useful tips to help parents get started:

1. Arrange furniture away from windows. Always set up furniture—such as cribs, chairs and toy chests—away from window areas so that they cannot be used to access window treatment cords. In addition to installing window screens, placing furniture away from the window area also minimizes the risk of the child accidentally falling out of an open window.

2. Choose cordless window coverings. The Window Covering Safety Council recommends cordless window treatments in homes where children are present. Shutters and roller shades are inherently cordless and come in a wide variety of playful colors for your children’s rooms. You can also select cordless cellular shades that provide insulation to help keep your kids warm in the winter.

3. Add safety features to existing window covering cords. It’s sometimes easier to add safety features to existing window covering cords than to purchase new treatments altogether. Options include breakaway tassels that are designed to break apart under minimal stress, and cord cleats, which allow you to safely tie cords up and away from your toddler’s reach.

A growing trend in the window coverings industry is motorization. Motorized window coverings provide convenience since they can be opened and closed using a handheld remote and also increase safety by eliminating the need for cords. Virtually any window covering can be motorized.