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An Interview with Cindy Heath

Last week we took a brief look into the origins of Title Wave Books, revised, with testimony from founder Cindy Heath. This week we’ve decided to share our full interview with Heath to show what inspires us.

Title Wave Books: Give us a brief history of TW—the date you stared the store, the date you sold it, and any other pertinent dates on the timeline in between.

Cindy Heath: We opened Title Wave in its original location, 7415 Menaul NE, in October of 1994. It began in one space of a small five strip center where we had about 1,500 square feet. Fast forward another few years, and we were running out of room. The city loved our business and we had the chance to buy so many great books we just needed more room! We then moved further east on Menaul to 7913, now the home of Salon Helena and the former location of the old Hollywood Beauty School. The new location gave us plenty of room for books, classes, and office space.

TWB: How did you balance motherhood, home schooling, and being a business owner?

Heath: By the time I started the school, my youngest son was 13, and started working at the bookstore. The next two sons were 16 and 17 and had already completed their GED. At various times all four of my sons worked at the bookstore.

TWB: What advice would you give to us as fledgling book store owners who are also juggling motherhood and business?

Heath: Don’t sweat the small stuff! One of the biggest lessons I learned while homeschooling is that if learning is a natural part of your life, it is likely your kids will follow in your steps. All five of my children have been entrepreneurs and claim it’s in their genes.

TWB: What were some of your greatest successes and accomplishments with TW?

Heath: By the time we sold the store to the Farrels in 2004, we had over 150,000 books in the store and I remember the sheer pleasure of walking through the aisles after closing, inhaling the lovely smell of books.

TWB: Can you tell us what you learned from mistakes and struggles during your TW years?

Heath: I was truly blessed to have the example of my brother’s success in Alaska and his generosity in sharing business lessons prevented me from making too many mistakes. One of his mantras to business owners was, ‘invest in what makes you money,’ and I always followed that advice. We bootstrapped bookshelves and invested as much as possible into growth—having the chance to buy the entire inventories of several unfortunate bookstores that closed. I suggest every small business owner become thoroughly knowledgeable about accounting (best book: ‘Accounting for the Numberphobic’). Also, you can never know too much about marketing. I used all the tips from ‘Guerrilla Marketing’ and continue to study marketing to this day.

TWB: Tell us some of your favorite books!

Heath: Oh my gosh! It’s hard to know where to start. I read a wide variety of non-fiction, depending on current needs and interests. Last year, I discovered the books by Brene Brown and continue to be challenged and encouraged by all of them. I’ve always been intensely curious, and whatever catches my interest, I will read. My business requires constantly learning new marketing and business skills, so that’s a regular read. I work for one of my son’s software company and have been learning a lot about User Experience and Interaction, writing about the possibility of the singularity, and encouraging empathy in software development. In fiction, I favor detective novels that are not ‘too violent,’ such as Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke, and Michael Connelly. I read sci-fi from time to time and I am open to suggestions from friends and whatever looks good at the time. Life’s too short to read books I don’t like, so if a book doesn’t grab me in the first chapter I have no problem putting it down.

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