November 2006

Accessories Network - Where Rooms go to Play Dress-Up

Author: Linda Hopkins

Virginia Heinsch is not afraid to go out on a limb. Whether it is a change of residence, a career shift or a merchandise choice, she’s willing to take her chances. Eleven years ago, after vacationing here, Heinsch and her husband, Don, took a life-altering leap of faith. They sold their house in New York, ditched their jobs and traded it all for the Low Country lifestyle.

Virginia Heinsch, owner of Accessories Network

“I didn’t come here with any set plan,” said Heinsch. But her 16-year background in training and development with Southland Corporation (the career she left behind) helped pave the way to a successful new venture.

After meeting a group of interior designers, Heinsch began buying home accessories for them. Although she has no formal design training, she credits her mother for instilling her love of art, developing her keen eye and nurturing her natural ability. “My mother had a wonderful way with color and texture. I always admired how she put things together,” said Heinsch.

In 1995, Heinsch struck out on her own. “We had nothing but a concrete floor and a few contacts with reps,” she said. But Accessories Network was an immediate hit. As word got out, the business grew, and Heinsche had to secure a larger space. She is currently expanding again, moving this month to a new location at 31-A Mathews Drive (next to Sofas & More).

What Heinsch didn’t learn from her mother, she has learned from her customers. Although she has carried some large furnishings, she’s discovered that it’s the small things that count. “My customers want lamps, accent tables, art, mirrors and the small, interesting pieces that pull a room together,” she said. “I spend a lot of time looking for new markets, constantly striving to come up with a more unique product,” she continued.

Her new space will afford her the luxury of displaying more merchandise and making the shopping experience more pleasant. Even so, prepare for sensory overload. One of Heinsch’s regular customers advises shoppers to make three passes through the store on every visit. Look up; look down; look all around.

And even when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. Heinsch makes a point to re-merchandise often, bringing in new items daily and changing displays weekly. While the store is arranged according to style, Heinsche also likes to cross-merchandise for a distinctive look.

Another key to her success is her talented and dedicated staff. “This is where my training experience came in,” Heinsche explained. “I make sure each person is a good team fit, so I have very little turnover.”

While she enjoys the quest for beautiful home accessories, for Heinsche, the joy of the job is the people she meets. “I have the most wonderful customers who have done nothing but enrich my life,” she said.

In their leisure time, Heinsche and her husband enjoy the beach. They both love nature and spending time outdoors. Heinsch also takes time for community involvement. She contributes generously to the Hilton Head Humane Association and is an active Rotarian. “It gives me balance in my life,” she said, “and it’s a way for me to give back to this community which has given me so much.”

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