Mark’s Local Interactions #3
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Judith at her new location on Prince William Street.
I could sum up my chat with Judith in one word.
If you know Judith at all, you know that people are her thing.
As some of you may know, Judith was adopted. Her parents were missionaries, and they instilled in her a deep sense of gratitude. And for this Saint John entrepreneur, gratitude is the name of the game.
In my chat with Judith, not a comment was said that didn’t include a mention of someone who has helped her in her life and her business – her parents, her team, the tradespeople who turned TUCK Studio into such a gorgeous place, her mentors, her friends, her customers, and of course, her husband Robert.
I asked Judith how she got started in design. It turns out that it began at a very young age when every Saturday morning she would lock her door and rearrange her room. She would then invite her parents in and present them with a scoring card – were the stuffed animals lined up properly, did they like the new placement of the bedspread.
Judith has always loved the idea of making a comfortable place. From a very early age, Judith “really had a true understanding of the beauty and the comfort of what it is to be in a home”.
Judith and Robert now live in a stunning home in Saint john, but that wasn’t always the case. Over the years, Judith has lived in 33 apartments in the uptown area of Saint John. Of course, being Judith, she would decorate, get bored, and then look for another apartment. It actually got to a point where landlords were asking Judith to move into their buildings and pay for the materials so she could do her magic.
Eventually, Judith decided to make a living using her natural talent, and in 2008, “Punch Inside” was born. She quickly became frustrated with not being able to show her clients physical objects or materials. Out of that frustration, and with knowledge that there was a niche market for people who wanted comfortable good design and decor objects, she started TUCK in the lower level of her home almost 4 years ago.
Judith spent much of TUCK’s early years “building customer relations and trust, doing a lot of Social Media, photographing the projects they had worked on, and gaining the confidence in the community”. That hard work, which she still continues to do today, has paid off big time. In fact, her business grew so fast that she outgrew her space and made the decision to move her business uptown to her current location on Prince William Street.
I asked Judith about her mentors. She very quickly gave all the credit to her parents, who gave her the confidence to do anything that she set her mind to. They also taught her the importance of surrounding herself with right people, which she has done – not only people who understand business and the importance of community involvement, but people who are good friends – people who are gracious, supporting and loving.
To give you an idea of Judith’s gracious outlook on life and business, she has this to say … “I am only just a very small sum of all of the bigger parts, and I think in business, the minute you lose sight of that, you are dead in the water. You can’t have an ego around your business – you can’t have a sense of security – you always have to have to be giving gratitude and thanks to other people, because without them, there is no TUCK, there is no interior design business. All the projects I have been involved in, they all come down to giving credit back to others”.
Customer service is key in Judith’s business – so much so that she tells her team that making the client feel welcome and appreciated is much more important than making a sale. Her entire mandate at TUCK is “everyone feels loved”. Caring about her customers, in fact, takes up more time than sales. It’s a culture that is held to a high standard at TUCK, so much so that Judith will only partner with people that give the same amount of customer gratitude that TUCK does.
Judith also points out that while people see her as “Judith Mackin, in charge of TUCK and the interior design business”, she considers her husband Robert the brains of the operation. Judith is a self-admitted workaholic, starting her day at 4AM, working all day and going to bed late at night. But, she says, “Robert grounds me. He gives me great advice, he is smart, loving and supportive”.
Curious about the name of her store, I asked Judith about it. “As a child, as early as I can remember, my parents sent me to summer camp. And, every day after lunch we’d all line up at the ‘canteen’ or otherwise known as the ‘Tuck Shop’ and we’d get our ‘treat’ for the day. Summer camp was beautiful memories for me. I wanted the experience of shopping at our store to be like that experience – having a little coin or two in your hands and going to pick out a treat. As with everything in my life, Tuck is a tribute to my parents – a reminder of the great memories they created for me.”
I asked Judith about her work-life balance, and, as is the situation for most entrepreneurs, the work never really stops. But because she loves what she does so much, it doesn’t really feel like work. Even in her spare time she is studying and researching, reading up on design and what’s going on in the world. She does, however, love to travel, and when she and Robert do take vacation time, focuses all her energy on the two of them and the time they are spending together.
As our conversation continued, I learned even more about Judith’s strong work ethic, which, again, she attributes to her Mom and Dad. “I look at the city, I look at the possibilities, and I look at the opportunities, and I just think, ‘you sleep when you’re dead’”.
I also asked Judith what the favourite part of her business was. Her answer came as no surprise … “The people. I truly love every single person that comes into the store … I genuinely love people, and when I see people come through the store and they are genuinely enthusiastic about this and are happy that this is in the city, that’s something that when you are building a business in your mind you can’t measure … you can’t even begin to imagine how those smiles and that happiness, even people just being thankful that the store is here, that is worth more than anything in sales to me.”.
It’s no wonder Judith is as successful as she is. Her drive, her love for Saint John, and her love for people are evident in everything she does.
If you haven’t done so yet, drop into TUCK and visit Judith and her team at 122 Prince William Street in Saint John, New Brunswick.
I guarantee you’ll love the experience!
Mark Pridham is the owner of The Pridham Group, a digital agency based in Saint John, New Brunswick.
A lifelong resident of Saint John, Mark is passionate about supporting and promoting local businesses.