Written by Kaylyn Kaiser
Plaid blazer, warm smile, coffee always in hand. Brooke Cornetet stepped into the role as the owner at Greenhouse Fabrics in 2019, succeeding three generations of strong men including her father and great-grandfather. In honor of National Women’s Month, we’ve decided to ask Brooke about her experience growing up in the textile industry, her intuitive desire to lead from a young age, and the inspiration behind the Anna Elisabeth brand.
Q: What was growing up in the textile industry like?
Brooke: “Growing up in the textile industry was a blast! I am one of four kids, and we loved to go into the office with our mom and hand out fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. After we passed out the cookies, we would run out into the warehouse and push the order carts to the shipping station. If we could find a spare headset, we would pretend we were answering live calls. One of my favorite memories as a young kid was all the leather scraps we got to take home and make costumes out of!”
Q: Greenhouse Fabrics is a fourth-generation, family-owned company; what inspired you to step into the role as the owner?
Brooke: “When I came to intern at the business in college, it just felt like home but at the same time invigorating! I loved learning every aspect of the business and how they all come together to flow like a living organism. Most importantly, my family adapted and grew this business through three generations. There's a huge sense of pride stepping in to continue the challenge of running a small business. It couldn’t be a more fun industry to work in!
Q: What challenges and what advantages have you experienced in being a female business owner?
Brooke: “One of the most significant advantages is working with all of the other females in this business! The women are just so on top of it with design, small details, and having fun. The industry continues to have women growing into leadership and decision-making roles - it is fantastic! Luckily I have had very few challenges since my dad is such a big proponent of mine in taking over. Team members would go directly to him with questions, and he would redirect them, saying, "That is a question for Brooke since she is making the decisions now". It is amazing how he continues to be a sounding board but was able to help propel me into the role.”
Q: What mantra do you lead the company by / what words do you live by?
Brooke: “It’s time to make a statement” truly resonates with me. I love looking at the way things have been done, the way things are done, and figuring out how we can change them for the better. We are constantly changing things at Greenhouse, from office decor to getting rid of inefficiencies and rules that aren't beneficial to our customers and staff. One my favorite changes this year was understanding the need for more time outside of the office for family, passions, and rest. Our team now has five weeks of vacation with another three weeks of holidays!”
Q: The Anna Elisabeth brand was inspired by your great-grandmother Anna; if she were to step into the showroom at Anna Elisabeth, what do you think she would say?
Brooke: “If Anna stepped into our showroom, I believe she would be blown away by what her sacrifices paved the way to create. First and foremost, the family harmony behind this business, the love of learning, and the values she instilled in her children. Her sacrifice of leaving Sweden to come to Detroit, live an impoverished life, and still educate her six children in 3 languages and piano made all the difference.”
Q: What excites you most about our latest sample book collection featuring an entire book devoted to Crypton’s Performance Cotton?
Brooke: “The Crypton mailing is a great overall package. The Performance Cotton is an excellent collection of muted colors in small-scale designs. However, the best part is that it contains 50-70% recycled cotton in efforts to decrease waste in our industry. My other favorite in the collection is our Best Sellers book because it can be your go-to for large stock quantities; some SKUs even have over 1,000 yards.”
Q: What patterns, textures, and colors are you drawn to most?
Brooke: “I am a sucker for multicolored textures using a variety of yarns. I just love how versatile they can be and they work in any room setting. The chunkier, the better! I also love traditional jacquards with chenille yarns. They're timeless! I love to see the intricate design these looms can pull off. B2108 Antique Red always pulls me to want to touch it.”
Q: Who did you have in mind when you established the Anna Elisabeth brand? What need or problem were you trying to solve with the launch of a secondary brand?
Brooke: “We launched the Anna Elisabeth brand with the Interior Designer at the focus. Their business models and needs are constantly changing, and we wanted to readjust our model to fit them. We broadened our fabric offerings to more decorative prints, embroideries, multipurpose and drapery fabrics. We desired to offer various “wow” or “statement” design items that we wouldn’t have in the past. We also changed our sampling to offer more significant 9x9 loose memo collections. We did this to assist designers not having huge spaces, and not all love to work with books.”
Q: As a young girl, did you see yourself leading in the future? What did you want to be?
Brooke: “There was no question about it - I always wanted to lead! My #1 Clifton Strength Finder strength is Command which is extremely rare in women. I am at my best when things are changing and decisions are needed. However, at a younger age the dream was always to be a national geographic photographer. I still carry on my passion for photography but I think that eye has translated to a great tool in fabric selection!”