They always went above and beyond for family, but now in their new business they are going above and beyond for clients. Crissy Robinson and Serena Bechtel both have art history backgrounds. Crissy received her masters in art administration and began a career at Sotheby’s. Serena used her masters from Cooper Hewitt to develop a career in antiques appraisal.
After she had her first child, Crissy and her family moved to Connecticut and she got involved in various charities including the Antiquarius Historical Society. Serena left her career as well. “At one point I went back to work, but the 9 – 5 hours and the commute didn’t work for the flexibility I needed with the kids.” Between the two women, they have six children ranging from 13 – 21.
As their kids got older and more independent, both women were looking for a business that worked with their talents and schedules. They met at an all-day coaching session for women looking to find their “next thing.” “We didn’t have the intention to work together but we realized we had similar backgrounds, wanted the same kind of flexibility and had the same skills.”
They discovered that both Crissy and Serena had been involved in cleaning out and organizing homes for a friend and a family member. Serena had found it emotionally difficult to help her mother clean out their family home of 46 years and realized, “We needed an independent person to guide us.” Crissy says, “Our goal is to make clients feel comfortable, heard and happy as they transition their living situation.”
“There are other companies out there, but we realized that we could offer the relationship-based, personalized service that many people want.” Their first client was a woman going through a divorce and downsizing from a very large home to a smaller place. “We did everything – packed, organized, threw out or donated unwanted items. We unpacked for her and got her set up in her new home. It was an invaluable service at such a difficult time in her life.”
The two women took a business class at the Women’s Business Development Council, to get themselves organized, set up a business plan and register their new company. Chrissy and Serena realized that they went above and beyond what was required, and decide to name their new company, Above and Beyond because they provide services that suit a client’s needs.
Crissy’s daughter helped with the branding, graphic design, and social media set up. She even built their web site. This process of developing their brand helped them think about what differentiates them from others, “When you hire us, you get us. We’ll do whatever we can to help you.” They are busy, but in order to continue to grow their business, they plan to spread the word to friends, family, real estate agents and others who may have clients who need their services.
Crissy and Serena feel so empowered by the fact that they have started a business that they love and one that gives them the flexibility they want. Crissy says, “My kids were always saying ‘you need to do something.’ I knew it too and when I began this journey, it felt great. It gives me strength and confidence.” Serena says, “I wasn’t sure I could do it on my own, so having a partner makes it so much easier. I feel so empowered.”
Find a partner who has the same goals as you do for a business.