Today we’d like to introduce you to Genora Boykins and Sharon Owens.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
We worked at the same company for many years and in 1999 we started talking about becoming entrepreneurs and began thinking about the different types of businesses that would allow us to do something that we would enjoy either in retirement or in the event of a corporate downsizing. We purchased the land where we are located in 1999. During a time when there was a lot of talk around the city about the lack of hotel space in the Downtown area to attract big conventions. We knew that a hotel was out, so we decided on a small bed and breakfast in the Midtown area (which was in the midst of a transformation at the time.) We believed that Midtown would be a good fit for our new business venture. We spent the next 10 years learning about the bed and breakfast industry (since we had no prior hospitality experience) and watching the transformation in Midtown. During that time, we also developed a business plan, got an architect to create a design for the building, obtained a feasibility study and searched for the necessary capital to do the project. We finally started construction in 2009 and opened for business at the end of 2010. We attended many industry conferences over the years and talked to countless B&B owners to get advice. Once we opened for business we focused on providing an “escape in the city” and a relaxing experience for our guests. We work hard to make our guests feel welcomed and special and we have been blessed to consistently receive wonderful reviews and guest comments. We know that each guest is unique and they can be the best form of advertising when they tell other about their experience.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It hasn’t always been easy, but overall is has been fun and a positive experience. As with most start-up businesses, it takes time to get your name out there and to attract guests.
It’s hard to budget for marketing and advertising so you have to try and make wise decisions with limited resources. With so many websites and online travel agencies, sometimes it’s hard to decide what is the best, plus we have to compete with the larger hotels for guests and that can be a challenge during certain times of the year. The biggest challenge by far is to maintain a consistent occupancy level, but that’s the same issue faced by all in the hospitality business.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about La Maison in Midtown, an urban bed and breakfast – what should we know?
We provide an “escape in the city” for our guests from near and far. Whether someone local is checking in for a weekend getaway or staycation or an anniversary or birthday celebration or whether they are coming from the UK or Australia, or Japan, we do all that we can to make everyone feel right at home and we want them to feel that they are the most important guest to us. We are most proud that we have an excellent reputation and that our guests reviews and comments let us know that we have achieved our goal of providing them with a uniquely, personal experience. We know that the personal touches and the time that we spend with our guests is something that they may not get if they stay at a large hotel, so they appreciate our kindness and attentiveness.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We have had countless supporters. First, our husbands who have been our biggest cheerleaders, supporters, and advocates. Next, our investors who believed in our vision when it was only an architectural rendering and words about a future plan written on a piece of paper. Our family members, close friends, Pastors, and colleagues who cheered us on, prayed for us, and encouraged us to not give up on our dream. Finally, we had a wonderful mentor, Monique Greenwood of Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns. She provided insight about the B&B industry, words of wisdom and advice that was invaluable to us over the years. All of this support was particularly helpful since it took so many years to make La Maison a reality.
- Room prices range from $169 for a Queen Room, $189 -$229 for a King Room, $329 for a Suite.
- Website: www.lamaisonmidtown.com
- Phone: 713-529-3600 or 1-877-529-8885
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Giannelli Photography