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Business picks up at office furniture specialist iWork

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iWork owners Alton Trott, left, and Sherry Xu-Trott (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Running a start-up can be lonely.

Sherry Xu-Trott found that out when she opened office furniture store iWork Bda Ltd on the upstairs of the Washington Mall in Hamilton, a year ago.

“I had a rough start and some hiccups,” she said.

When she first launched, many offices in Hamilton still had staff working at home or were transitioning to a combination of in-office and remote working, so the mall itself was quieter.

“There was not a lot of foot traffic,” she said.

Another challenge was establishing her brand. In the beginning, people associated her with her former employer.

“I had to convince customers that what I was selling was totally different,” she said.

She found some potential clients slow to accept newcomers.

Sherry Xu-Trott, owner of iWork demonstrating her booth, a piece of furniture that allows people to work in silence in the midst of chaos and noise (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

There were times when she thought about giving up.

Her husband, obstetrician Alton Trott, encouraged her to keep going.

Now, things are picking up, dramatically.

iWork Bda Ltd provides office space planning and workstation design services, including free consultation.

It also offers ergonomic assessments by a certified specialist to ensure optimal working postures and ergonomic work practices.

The commercial furniture the company sources includes many commercial brands from America, Canada and Asia, designed for private offices, workstations, conference rooms, training rooms, and break rooms, but also for healthcare, educational and government offices.

“I am getting to the stage where I can expand and hire people,” she said. “I am doing more advertising to attract attention. I need more people to recognise that I am here and bringing something valuable to the market. The product I am offering is very durable and trustworthy.”

Much of the furniture for sale is pandemic inspired. For example, there is a leafy tree popping out of one of the desks on sale. The trunk is real but preserved, and the leaves are decorative. It is part of a series called Backyard, and emblematic of a changing office furniture landscape.

Another item of interest is the stand-up desk, including as an extension for office or home use, and some that are built right into the desk.

Mrs Xu-Trott also noted: “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, people want to be comfy.

“They have adapted to a new normal. That is why we offer a lot of lounge furniture and flexible seating.”

Colours are also brighter in an effort to be more motivating.

“People have to feel calm and happy before they can be their most productive at work,” she said.

She first came to Bermuda to work in banking and later found a job selling furniture. She became so good at it that she was the top furniture seller at her previous place of employment.

“I grew and the company could no longer give me what I needed,” she said. Instead of a promotion, she received a pandemic-related salary cut.

“I talked to my husband and decided to go out on my own,” she said.

One of her most unusual pieces is a red phone booth compartment that allows people to work inside it in silence, in the midst of a chaotic or noisy workspace. It is the type of thing that might be used at a conference venue, or busy airport.

“That is one of my favourite pieces,” she said.

Her passion is design and the arrangement of the showroom is all her idea.

“I love coming to work,” she said. “Every day, I have my sleeves rolled up. I do everything.”

Her advice to other people wanting to become business owners is to just do it.

“Stay focused and trust God,” she said. “Don’t let other people’s words push you back.”

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Published May 02, 2024 at 8:16 am (Updated May 03, 2024 at 8:11 am)

Business picks up at office furniture specialist iWork

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