Christine Ellis, WBE, and owner of Facet International Marketing has been in business for over 30 years. Throughout this time, she has experienced both economic stability and turbulence, and time and time again has persevered.
Facet began as a boutique marketing consultancy and built its reputation researching and developing strategic marketing plans for the automotive and manufacturing clients of the large exhibit houses in Detroit.
“Through these connections, I observed that displays and exhibits in North America were still being designed and built out of wood and steel rather than the much more sustainable and cost-effective option of modular rental systems manufactured in aluminum. It was clear that there was a huge gap in the market. I decided this was our opportunity to demonstrate that amazing exhibits and environments could be designed and built at a lower cost and with far less waste and impact on the planet.”
A keen environmentalist and someone who readily admits to being excited about composting kitchen waste and finding new ways to avoid using harmful chemicals, Christine believes that business and the environment should not be mutually exclusive. “Every business owner should consider the environmental impact of every decision made”.
Over the years, Facet has become a trusted supplier to international Trade Consulates and Industry Organizations “Building trust is one of our core principles, along with honesty, responsibility and respect. Facet is a ‘profits with principles’ business and because of this, customers and suppliers around the world have become loyal followers and friends”.
Under Christine’s leadership, Facet is working towards net zero waste, something unheard of in the exhibit industry. Facet repurposes trade show graphics and recycles and donates what might be useful to others. Over the last three years, Facet has been designing a range of reusable covers for furniture, accessories, and flooring, to replace the use of plastic, shrink wrap, foam, and tape. Single-use plastic is a major threat to the planet. Plastic is a durable material made from fossil fuels that does not go away. Christine is currently working with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center to develop a new e-commerce web site for the Facet baguette™ range of reusable protective covers for event properties.
However, it has not always been easy sailing. Christine’s company has weathered many storms over the years from economic downturns and trade and tariff restrictions to even difficult legal battles fighting for good causes. “All these setbacks help build resilience so that no matter what happens, I continue to look for new ways to succeed and not a way out. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “Women are like teabags, you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.”
“In March 2020 when the pandemic hit, the unthinkable happened: every single contract canceled. I applied for every possible grant available, all employees were furloughed, and I reduced our overhead expenses to the bare minimum. The conference room was rented out to a local engineer building robots for the disabled, and the design studio turned into a ‘home away from home’ for two families. I also rented our trade show panels to a private school to use as temporary classrooms and in December built outdoor enclosures for the local restaurants. I did what I could with what I had, to retain our key employees, our customers, and pay our bills.”
With the return of the schools, Facet had a design studio sitting empty. Christine recognized a local need for affordable shared working space, and this aligned with Facet’s need for in-house graphic design support. The idea evolved into the Facet Design Studio. The space is being offered at a cost-effective rate, to help cover the building overhead. “This is a win-win-win situation,” explains Christine. “Entrepreneurial designers will have an affordable space to collaborate and share their design ideas as well as work on their own projects. Facet will gain access to skilled designers ready to add their creative flair to new exhibits and displays”.
As Christine explains, there were several keys to her business’s success before the pandemic and her pivot post-pandemic. First, leaders must keep an open mind and be willing to collaborate, share resources, and flex with market evolution. Second, it is crucial to question industry norms. Simply because something has been done the same way consistently over several years or even decades, should not be a barrier to evolution and improvement. Lastly, when making business decisions, we need to consider not just the income statement, but all the stakeholders that may be affected by our actions. As Christine puts it, “We are all on this planet together, and what we do today will have an impact tomorrow. We must be aware of the repercussions our actions may have. We must take action to prevent any damage we may cause to each other and the environment.”
If you would like to learn more about Facet International Marketing visit https://www.facetcompany.com/. For details on the new co-working space, The Facet Design Studio, reach out to Christine Ellis at email@example.com