As the fourth generation to run their family-owned Chicago furniture store, Walter. E. Smithe—which opened in 1945—sisters Caitie, Colleen, Meghan and Maureen were introduced to the business at a young age. “I was probably in elementary school when I would come in to work in the warehouse, sweeping for a nickel,” Colleen says. “My sisters and I loved being a part of it.”
While they took breaks from the biz to make their own way after college, each came back when the right positions opened up. Today, they help oversee 10 showrooms, the warehouse and headquarters, working together (generally) perfectly. “It’s a constant toggle between work and family talk,” notes Colleen, but at the end of the day they’re focused on creating a furniture company that helps clients truly curate a home. Here, get to know this powerhouse quartet.
Designer and Stylist
What she does: “I make spaces beautiful for clients’ homes, our catalogs and showrooms, and play couples’ therapist for clients who can’t agree on a sofa.”
Favorite design style: Modern mixed with traditional.
Director of Advertising
What she does: “Come up with ideas that get people off their couch and into our stores—and put my sisters in awkward positions (see our commercials).”
Favorite design style: Monochromatic.
Director of Sales Strategy
What she does: “Whether we’re working or just hanging out, my Type A personality keeps us organized and on track.”
Favorite design style: Clean and neutral.
What she does: “I use both sides of my brain: left for all the analytical spreadsheet stuff and right for the creative vision. It’s a tough balance, but I like figuring out the retail puzzle.”
Favorite design style: Cozy and comfortable—aka hygge ethos.