Susie Dawahare Coiner is a self-motivated entrepreneur with a unique set of skills to share. Susie began her professional career at an early age, working in retail under the tutelage of third generation management in a family owned retail chain.
After completion of college, Ms. Coiner pursued further retail experience working for Ann Taylor in California and The Apparel Mart in Atlanta, GA. In 1993, she took an active management role in the family business.
She left that position and started a business of her own in 2006, Domino Consulting, LLC, now called Susie in the Black. Through her company, her clients have capitalised on her expertise in sales, customer service, product placement, and promotion. In 2011 she teamed up with longtime friend and colleague and returned to her passion of retail.
bbQ & More is an experiential retail gift shop like no other. The business model is at the core of her belief, customers are the king and products are the queen. With the success of the gift shop in 2018, Susie revamped and renamed her consulting business to include business, event and life coaching, Susie in the Black is now a branch of bbQ & More.
In 1995 Susie co-founded Paducah’s first ever Barbecue On The River, she has over a quarter of a century of experience in festival management Today, she serves as President of the organisation and still takes an active role in the day-to-day planning of Western Kentucky’s largest festival with over 50,000 attendees and millions of dollars raised for charities through its life. Ms. Coiner has served on numerous boards including Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, the Spouse Abuse Centre, Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Paducah Area Tennis, Paducah Main Street, and Lourdes Advisory Board. She has received The Making a Difference Award from WPSD Local 6, The Summit Award presented by The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, The NAACP Community Involvement Award, and is a Kentucky Colonel as well as Duchess of Paducah, among several other awards and recognition.
“Whatever you do, always do your best; set goals, have a mentor and seek challenges; become a role model for those that come behind you, always have good in your heart, and never give up” – my parents.
In addition, Ms. Coiner has been active in USTA Tennis, The Little Garden Club, and is a member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church. She attended Pine Manor College in Boston, Massachusetts and obtained a BS degree from the University of Kentucky. Ms. Coiner is married to attorney Andrew Coiner. However, Susie is quick to tell you all of these milestones pale in comparison to her greatest accomplishment, her daughter, Lilly Jean.
Hey Susie, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hi you all, I am an empowered entrepreneur with extensive experience in event organisation and business logistics. I am the owner and operator of 2 successful businesses, bbQ & more, a unique gift boutique, and Susie in the Black, an innovative and modern approach to business, event, and life coaching. Another accomplishment is being the co-founder of the annual Barbecue On The River Charitable Festival in Paducah, Ky, where I serve as President of the organisation which has provided a platform for millions of dollars to be raised for charities for a quarter of a century. However, the privilege of being a mother to my amazing daughter is my greatest introduction.
Since venturing as a self-motivated entrepreneur, can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
At the age of 12, I started working on the floor of my family’s retail clothing stores; setting the floor, working alongside the visual merchandising team and doing data entry. I was also witnessing the importance of being involved in the community through the role of my parents and the joyful effects of being an extraordinary entertainer shown to me by my mother. I am one of those people who are hands on!
Growing up in the South and spending my summers on the east coast offered me insights on how to communicate and interact with a wide range of people. I can catch bait, bait the hook, catch the bluefish, clean the fish, cook the fish, beautifully present the fish and definitely enjoy the fish while being just as comfortable dining in a 5-star restaurant!
After college, I moved to Atlanta, Ga where I worked in various showrooms at the Atlanta apparel mart and I gained experience working for another company traveling setting up selling parties for a cookware company. While I learned a ton, I knew this gig was not for me long term.
I then took an opportunity to move to San Francisco and San Jose. While in San Francisco I worked with some of those same showrooms as I did in Atlanta. The work was good just not steady so I went back to my wheelhouse and began a career with Ann Taylor in San Jose, Ca.
After spending 2 years on the West coast I was recruited back to Kentucky to my family business. In 1993 I set up camp which was to be for a short time in Paducah, KY. Ha, I am still here and I am extremely proud of my accomplishments to date and I am over the moon excited about my future! All these experiences combined with comprehensive training and reading have set me up for success, I am just so grateful.
How and Why did you launch Susie In The Black?
The how and the why to launch Susie in the Black was as natural as the sun rising in the east. It just fit! Finally, our world is appreciating and seeing the positive results of coaching in business, event and life culture.
For example, a company who shows value to its employees are going to get a heck of a lot more productivity out them. Enter a coach to talk with an employee for one hour. Allow that employee to reveal their short and long-term goals. Then allow the coach to offer a few ways for the employee to reach those goals. The first play to share with the employee is to be the best damn producer in your area. So now the tide is changing the “big” bosses aren’t afraid of helping employees get to THEIR next level they are embracing it because they see first hand the shift in productivity.
That is simply the way it works.
So I encourage companies to treat their employees to a coaching session, it’s worth the cost for the benefit of retention alone. It’s extremely expensive to train new employees, right? Another reason why I launched Susie in The Black, is the fact I already did this daily! Whether helping; a new startup come up with pricing, understanding social media, logistics and the like, an agency wanting to host a fundraiser and looking for ideas, tips and the like, a company wanting help launching a product, a customer looking to overcome some personal obstacles, when I tell you I was already engaged in solving these problems and I absolutely love the reward of inner fulfilment!
Yet another reason as stated by one of my mentors Jeff Bezos is this “The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’. So I hired a coach and here you go.
What is a day in the life of you like?
This is very literal, the first thing I do every morning is reach for my phone and read my daily scripture, I send prayers and good energy to my daughter, husband, and entire family and friends. This puts my mindset in a place to stay with good intent all day!
I gulp 20 Oz of water. I put my feet on the ground and give thanks. Pour myself some coffee write in my journal, read some helpful tips then I start my day! Time permitting I do as much exercise as possible. My goal is to walk 2-5 miles a day, outside!
Once I get to my shop/office, I check to make sure all customers needs are being met that have a standing order. Then I do a few things that consist of checking my social media postings on all businesses, work on advertising approaches, look at analytics, network with brand partners with intent whilst taking care of each and every customer. I usually call my daughter and husband on the way home before I sign off for the night with a prayer and a “thank you” to the universe and all its glory.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos
Can you talk us through the concept of bbQ & More?
Our mission is for our customers to, give them the best gift, host the best gatherings and have the most fun.
This is a true story.
Susie Coiner and David Boggs opened bbQ & more, a unique boutique in 2011 as a brick and mortar gift shop in Historic Downtown Paducah, KY. Susie was brought up in a Kentucky based family-owned department store chain. Her passion for retail along with her creative spirit led her to put both talents together in this venture. David started his retail career at the age of 14 in Myrtle Beach, SC. With over 60 years of retail experience between them, they felt the time was right to open their own shop, as they had already worked together for 20+ years in coordinating an award-winning BBQ festival, Barbecue on the River.
But really this is what happened…
A successful competitive BBQ team asked Susie and David for help in selling their newly bottle BBQ Sauce and Rub. Light Bulb appeared as Susie and David were both in a transition period and a close friend of theirs suggested putting their natural talents together to open a gift shop. Two weeks later Susie, David and their friend headed to the gift market in Dallas, TX for inspiration. Inspiration was found but now for the name. As they were sitting on the tarmac waiting for their return to Paducah, David said, “I’ve got it! bbQ & more, a unique boutique.”That name summed their vision up in a snap.
Our gift shop has a working Kitchen, our cash wrap has an oven and a stove. We actually taste and sample our gourmet foods and cookware products. Our store is interactive you can try out the knife that cuts ice, the chirpy wine pourer that looks like a bird and chirps, you see what a Nora Fleming full tablescape looks like, you can sample the BBQ sauces and rub before you buy them. Our products must meet our approval, more importantly, our customer’s approval. We sample products daily, no offense to my mentor but Amazon can’t do that.
We have products from $3.00 to $300.00! Our products have value, they are stylish, hip and delicious. We offer complimentary show-stopping gift wrapping. My mom came up with our tagline,
You are currently sourcing products for your subscription boxes. We love how you are choosing to stay in step in your market space, even though you are a small business, however, would you say that this is cost effective? Does it affect your profit margins?
All businesses face cost challenges. Luckily we have supportive brand partners. 90% of the products in our fun boxes are tagged and sold to us at a better price. The products are thoughtfully chosen and all work well together to give the customer the best value and the most amazing experience.
Name 3 ways you compete with other subscription-based models on uniqueness?
Subscriptions boxes are one of the best ways to shop, period. They offer consumers unique experiences curated around products and themes, introduce new brands, and make receiving just plain fun. We are adjusting the name to read simply as they are FUN BOXES! We aim to delight our customers.
The three things that set our business apart from possibly being one of the only brick and mortar store currently selling subscription boxes.
- You can purchase just one of our boxes. Meaning if you want to just purchase a single box before committing to the subscription, no worries with us, we know you will love it.
- Our boxes solve the problem of gifting a truly cool functional gift.
- We offer the customer the opportunity to build their own box, similar to build a bear, this is so fun for our customers.
Who does the team involve behind you at bbQ & More?
As a small business David and I are at the forefront of our business daily. We have several contract services such as; social media, monogram team, website development, reward program and the like. We have several sales team members as well.
Where can you see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
I see myself loving life. On a business note, I see the gift shop expanding by brands and becoming a destination where customers can spend a good 2 hours shopping while being entertained and having fun. The gift shop will be a true brick and click shop. My goal is to break the glass ceiling that a small gift shop in a small town CAN be a large profitable company.
Susie in the Black will be thriving and will be a vehicle for businesses, events, and people to reach their goals and live life in the profit zone. On the personal side, I see myself hanging on the couch and on the go traveling with my family and friends, the ideal combination.
What strategies do you have in place when looking at the expansion of bbQ & More?
The expansion comes one customer at a time. Again, customers are the core of our business. We watch the trends and we pounce on them. Our product lines are definitely growing, thankfully there are lots of amazing products out there! We have learned to align ourselves as a lifestyle brand as well, this way we can show our customers how to use and enjoy the products they buy.
Circling back to our core business model, we will intently increase our customer base by growing our reward program, advertising, outstanding customer service and the most powerful of all methods, word of mouth.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
Yes, without hesitation, technology. I definitely lean into technology, I understand the importance of it, it just takes me lots of practice to get it. We do hire most of that part of the business out, yet I still want to have a basic understanding of how it works. So if anyone reading this can help my gift shop or coaching services reach more lookalike audiences, by all means, contact me.
Have you ever had any other mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
I have several mentors. From my parents to my daughter to Mother Teresa to Jeff Bezos to Oprah to Dillan Lauren. At different times I need different guidance. I can always turn to a quote from one of these mentors to get me back in my lane.
What outlets do use to market your coaching services?
The Coaching services business is still an unknown and untapped market so educating potential clients is a huge part of my marketing approach. Once those clients see the benefit then the ball starts rolling. Personal networking, Instagram, Facebook to start.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
My network of support first comes by my faith, family and friends. I read all the time about my market space. I network as much as I can with successful people in any space.
What do you believe are the common misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?
That’s a good question! That it’s easy because you are your own boss. I think what’s missing in that statement is that every area of your business as an entrepreneur is your boss.
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
That they can be or do what they actually love to do.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
Gosh, I have had so much good advise. Build your business one customer at a time and Be as kind to the shipping manager as you are to the president of the company, the shipping manager controls more of what you need. Both pieces are from my dad.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
I am still learning it, it’s called PATIENCE.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
As in all life balance is created by faith, family, friendships, exercise, socializing and connecting with nature. My belief is that if you have a good mix of these 6 ingredients balance is sure to follow. The mix is sure to change from time to time which is perfectly fine, just keep all the ingredients in your bowl.
The highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far is building this bbQ & More from vision a real vision! Building it our way. My gut tells me the highlight is yet to come.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
I get career satisfaction from putting on events and nailing them and seeing our customers genuinely happy and proud to shop with us. The fulfillment I get with working with clients from Susie in the Black is the icing on the cake. However, what brings my soul the greatest satisfaction is to be a mother to Lilly and that trumps everything!
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of bbQ & More?
The challenges we face are similar to ones I hear from most companies regardless of the size, capital. It’s not that we don’t have access to capital it’s what is the right amount! Even though there are several formulas to answer that question, it’s still a big challenge. It’s a challenge we are up too!
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
Let me say this, I admire people that are true to themselves, that are authentic and that are of good intent. Whether I like their products are irrelevant to me, I can always learn from this type of person. It’s the type of person I strive to be.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Gosh, I read so many good articles from ‘The Mission,’ I did just re-read ‘From Good To Great.’
What does your Podcast playlist look like?
Honestly, I am working on that. A great one is ‘Painsuits And Politics.’
How do you measure your own terms of success?
That’s a tough one for me! As far as; feeling fulfilled, knowing I am a true professional in my field, creating cool new things and helping people understand that service/coaching is akin to software, I get a high mark. As far as; growing my company, reaching new economic growth at the pace I want I get a lower mark as I am impatient. The bottom line leaves me in the profit zone. I love what I do and I am good at it.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
#BEYOUROWN has given me a bit more confidence! My step is a bit stronger knowing Woman around the globe are making their mark their way! It’s such a joy to see people crafting and living their best while leaving a beautiful footprint.
Lastly, what is next for you throughout 2018 with Susie In The Black and also bbQ & More?
Susie in the Black will continue the strategy to network and educate potential clients of the benefit of a coach, long-term relationships are my goal.
As we are just beginning 4th quarter bbQ & More is laser-focused on our customers. We are prepared to deliver the best mix of products to create awesome gifts for this Christmas season, we are ready. We are trending to have our best year yet. So I invite all the readers to shop with us, come on, it’s fun.
Instagram: @bbqandmoreky @susieintheblack @bbqontheriver
bbQ & More Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bbqandmoreKY/
Susie In The Black Facebook:https://m.facebook.com/susieintheblack/
bbQ & More Website: https://www. bbqandmore.biz
Susie’s Website: https://www.susieintheblack.com/
Susie’s Blog: https://www.susieintheblack.com/blog