Genuine Amish Excellence from the Heart
Although her career as a Human Resource Administrator in the medical field spanned nearly three decades, this Tennessee native turned entrepreneur discovered that her true passion laid elsewhere.
“I was always confident that the positive decisions I made as an HR professional had an impact on the quality of care that the healthcare organizations I represented delivered to our patients,” said Angie Carroll, Amish Excellence owner. “But like so many career professionals, I began to explore that entrepreneurial spirit that seems to exist within so many of us today.”
Angie pursued her inner calling to become a member of Knoxville area’s self-employment community when she launched Amish Excellence, offering the finest Amish, hand-crafted furniture at affordable pricing that surpasses most of her customers’ expectations.
In this issue of Everything Knoxville, we are excited to introduce to you one of East Tennessee’s newest woman entrepreneurs, Angie Carroll, and to help you, our readers, gain a fuller appreciation of just what genuine Amish Excellence furniture is.
EK: Before diving into Amish Excellence, first tell us about your self-employment journey. After nearly three decades in the human resources profession, you no doubt surprised many members of your family and friends.
Angie: My family and friends weren’t surprised at all. They wondered what took me so long to start my own business! Throughout the years, I’ve enjoyed helping friends decorate their homes, sewing window treatments and bedding, making flower arrangements, and decorative painting. I’ve also planned and decorated for several weddings and special events. Using creativity to make things pretty has always been my passion.
EK: Why did you choose Amish Excellence?
Angie: This time last year I was doing a lot of soul searching and praying about how I should spend the rest of my life. The corporate world wasn’t where I found happiness any longer, so I started looking at a number of different business options. None of them inspired me. I sought the advice of my long-time friend, Brad. He introduced me to Guy Irwin, the owner of Amish Excellence in Franklin, Tennessee. After a few visits and several conversations with Guy, I decided that opening an independently owned Amish Excellence retail location in Knoxville was the right thing for me to do.
EK: You’ve had the opportunity to visit many of the Amish craftsmen in their homes and in their workshops. Tell us a little bit about their culture and why their commitment to genuine quality successfully differentiates themselves in the furniture industry.
Angie: Yes, I have met most of our craftsmen and speak with them on a regular basis. Their culture is very different from “the English” culture, as they refer to us. These are people with strong values and firm beliefs. They communicate these values and beliefs not just through words, but through their way of life. The Amish people are not a reminder of what once was, but a clear statement of how a community of people have been successful in creating and maintain a way of life – a way that has proven over time to be right for them. They give the modern world a clear example of how a strong faith can provide in ways the modern world seems to have forgotten. The communities are prosperous and lively, rooted in faith in God, family, tradition, and hard work.
EK: Let’s dispel some rumors. Not all Amish manufactured furniture is created equal.
Angie: That’s right. The furniture available from Amish Excellence is not manufactured in a large, modern facility as with online purchases or “big box” stores. None of the builders we work with are employed in a factory. All shops are guaranteed 100% Amish ownership. These are individual families with shops on their farms where a few other family members build the furniture. We ONLY sell furniture made by Amish craftsmen with American solid hardwood. Each piece comes with a lifetime warranty against any defects in material or workmanship at no additional cost to the customer. Each piece is created when the order is placed and is not part of a large “off the shelf” inventory.
EK: Another misconception is that all Amish made furniture is Shaker or Craftsman in style. What furniture styles are available?
Angie: We do offer these styles, as the clean lines of Shaker and Craftsmen furniture continue to be very popular. Many customers are surprised to find contemporary styles and fresh, new stain colors and finishes available. Our furniture options appeal to anyone who appreciates genuine quality, value, and pieces they won’t have to replace in a few years. Our craftsmen can build furniture that will beautifully complement any home or office space.
EK: All of your Amish Excellence furniture is custom made. Why is that important to your customers?
Angie: Our customers enjoy knowing that they have a piece of furniture that is uniquely theirs. While every piece is beautiful and very well made, the choice of wood species, stain and finish, size, shape, and edge profile makes their furniture special. Our craftsmen aren’t limited by what can be mass produced in a factory. They can customize almost every aspect of the design. The natural beauty of solid hardwood contributes to the warmth, uniqueness, and character of each piece. We don’t offer any furniture that is made of computer-generated images that are laminated, veneers, MDF, pressboard, or cardboard. Additionally, our furniture is sustainable, environmentally-friendly, more durable, and long lasting. These are all important to our customers.
EK: Explain to our readers how you help them design their own custom pieces.
Angie: I try very hard to connect with my customers and understand how they intend to use the furniture. This helps me offer suggestions and designs ideas. There are a variety of furniture pieces in our showroom that shows the craftsmanship, quality, various stain colors, and fabric options. From there, we may browse through several catalogs for design inspiration. I also encourage our customers to bring in pictures of items they like. We may even sketch the design and dimensions on to graph paper. My service also includes in-home consultations that are free of charge.
EK: Perhaps the greatest surprise to your customers is that your higher quality, custom made, 100% Amish hand-crafted furniture is often less than what they would pay for a similar furniture piece in area retail furniture stores. Would you care to comment?
Angie: Yes, it’s important that our furniture be affordable for the majority of our customers. Our showroom is smaller than most furniture stores, and we don’t carry a large inventory. Being a custom furniture maker allows us to do that without a lot of expensive overhead. Because the furniture can be made at any time, some customers choose to start with a few pieces and add to it throughout the year. We’re working with a young couple now that recently purchased a bed and two nightstands, and they plan to add the triple dresser and chest next year.
EK: How can our readers learn more about Amish Excellence?
Angie: Come by the store! We’re open Monday through Saturday and always closed on Sunday. You can also visit us online at www.AmishExcellence.com.
EK: In closing, is there anything you would like to add?
Angie: I believe our service statement best sums up our priorities and the business model for Amish Excellence: Dedicated to Things that Last. God, Family, Integrity, Thrift, and Simplicity.