I recently sat down with my Mimi, Mary Cordill, the owner and founder of English Traditions. I asked her questions regarding her experience in this business and what it feels like to celebrate 25 years of English Traditions. Her story is extremely inspirational to me as it teaches a lesson of perseverance and keeping faith in yourself, even in the hardest of times. Her responses to these questions are below.
Why did you do it?
“I have always loved antiques. Living in Connecticut, I encountered many pieces of antique pine furniture and I soon realized I could buy and sell these pieces while making money on them. I absolutely loved the ‘look’ and I was ‘hooked’. I took a leap of faith, opened this shop, and the rest is history!”
What were your ideas at the time?
“I was a little bit scared to start out, but rent was nothing like the cost of a shop in Connecticut, so I went for it. I have always loved setting up, arranging things, and making displays (probably my teaching days and making bulletin boards interactive) so I thought it would be fun to be able to do that for a purpose.”
What was your heart telling you?
“I am a pretty positive thinker and I felt pretty confident that this business in Cincinnati was worth a try. I did some research here and felt that there was not a lot of representation of English Pine around. We were moving about every four years and I had been a teacher, a real estate broker, but my heart was in antiques, especially Antique English Pine. “
Who helped you start?
“The man whom I worked for in Connecticut contacted me and asked me if I would want to share a container from England with him-- he knew it was in my blood! I had been many times to England, buying while living in Connecticut. I was given the ‘smalls’ end of the business (breadboard, candlesticks, etc.) There I went.”
What was the biggest obstacle starting?
“My biggest problem was pulling together the funds to buy that first container. I loved the look of pine and felt others would too if it was displayed correctly. I had enough experience in Connecticut and a pretty good idea of what would sell.”
What was your goal?
“My children were both almost out of the house and I had too much energy. I really wanted to start something on my own. My goal was to create a lifetime vocation opportunity doing something I truly loved-- antique pine furniture and the ability to travel Europe. I was a Kansas girl and I wanted an adventure. I wanted to ‘go across the pond.’”
Why did you choose O’Bryonville?
“O’Bryonville was just coming into its own and rents were affordable, so I felt comfortable that I would be able to pay the rent. Connecticut was very expensive, so this looked like a real possibility. I also believed in the eclectic feeling of O’Bryonville with its shops and location, sitting in between two very nice neighborhoods. Location, location, location (old real estate knowledge)!”
What has been the most fun?
“The most fun thing so far has been bringing something unique to the USA and having the success to sell it. 135 containers over 25 years represents a lot of trips to England, France, and I never once did I not want to go. I have loved going to find the unusual, understanding the history, and meeting wonderful people along the way. I love to reflect on a wonderful life, with ups and downs, survival, and working with my son, Casey.”