A Legacy in the Making
Cindy Hall became Sherrill Furniture’s Vice President of Merchandising and Product Development after being Creative Director at The Uttermost Company and holding a variety of titles at Hooker Furniture, including positions in IT, Customer Service, Operations, and Merchandising
In 2011 and 2012, Cindy was the recipient of the Pinnacle Award for Mélange Accent pieces and became a Certified Professional Coach in 2017 to grow as a mentor and leader.
Cindy believes in the power of “team” and giving others the tools they need to succeed. Understandably, her career has been marked by building strong teams empowered to learn, try new things, make mistakes, and continue to grow. Outside of her love for product merchandising and development, she loves unlocking potential in others and elevating overlooked perspectives in organizations.
Abby Lane at Redhead Design said, “She has always gone out of her way to look out for women in the industry, helping them forge a path of success.”
Over the years, Cindy has had the opportunity and privilege of mentoring other women who have become successful Product Development managers in the furniture industry. She counts this as the most rewarding part of leadership.
When we were excited to chat with Cindy about:
- The beginning of her career
- What keeps her in the furniture industry
- Her passion for mentoring women
- The advice she’d give to young women in the workplace
We think you’ll be equally as eager to read about her experience and the wisdom she shared with us!
WithIt: How did you get started in the furniture industry?
Cindy Hall: I actually started at Hooker Furniture in 1987 and worked at night doing backup tapes the old-fashioned way with big ginormous tapes. I did that at night while I was going to the community college, and that’s how I got into the furniture business. (I thought I was going to be a computer programmer.)
I did that for 18 months part-time. Then I needed a full-time job, so I left to go get a full-time job but ended up back a couple of years later in customer service at Hooker.
WithIt: Have you ever worked outside the furniture industry?
Cindy: When I left Hooker Furniture, I got an opportunity to be the CEO of a luxury plumbing company. When you think luxury plumbing people’s response is, “You mean like toilets?” And, yes, that’s correct. The toilets were the $10,000 toilets that feature heated seats and a bidet and all that. It was more kitchen and bath. It was still in the home, but a different aspect than what I do now.
I learned so much in doing that because it was creative, but not in the same way. While I was CEO, I was part of reconstructing the company, moving it from Maryland to Virginia, creating a new website, and hosting a conference for 450 people. Plus, I learned about a complete product line of faucets, tubs, and luxury plumbing goods for the home.
I missed being with the furniture people though, so I decided I was going to come back to the industry. At the time I didn’t know how, but I reached out to Matt Cooper from Uttermost anyway. He had been on the board at Hooker in the early 2000s, so I knew him from there. I ended up joining Uttermost as their creative director for about a year and that got me back in the industry. There I learned even more about the industry because they furnish homes from floor to ceiling. We’re talking about lighting, furniture, rugs, and everything in between.
WithIt: What is it about your work that keeps you in the home and furnishings industry?
Cindy: It’s ever-changing and the people are everything. I think relationships are the reason why I came back to the industry.
I look back over my career and it’s all been about relationships. I mean, it’s the relationships with the vendors. It’s the relationships with the designers. I’m still working with designers that I worked with 20 years ago. I really enjoy relationship-building!
I can come up with as many pretty things as I can, but without the people, it doesn’t do us any good.
WithIt: What are you most proud of in your career?
Cindy: One of my favorite things to do is to mentor and help women see their full potential. I’m working with a young woman now, and I see the potential in her. She doesn’t see it yet. I communicate, “You know you can be doing what I’m doing if you really want to.” Still, she has a hard time seeing the potential in herself.
Somebody brought me along and helped me get to where I am in my career. I didn’t just all of a sudden “poof” into the position I am today. It’s a process, you know?
One of my most favorite hires was a young lady who had shown interest in furniture while working with me on an internship. When she was still in school and close to graduation, I told my bosses, “We have to hire her. Because if not, she’s going to go to another company.”
So we hired her. She doesn’t work with us anymore, but she’s doing incredibly well. And, of course, we’re still friends, and I am still her mentor. I’m so proud of her and her accomplishments.
Like I said, the furniture is secondary to that for me personally.
WithIt: What advice would you give to young women entering the workplace?
Cindy: Be available. Be available to open yourself up to not just one thing, but many possibilities
I think sometimes women don’t feel like they’re powerful enough in themselves to be or think that they can be more than they are. I was the one that when nobody wanted to do something, like a job that nobody wanted, I was the first person who said, “I’ll do it.” I didn’t have a clue how to do it, but I’d do it. I’d figure it out. That gives you power. Did I like everything that I did? No, but it led me to something that I love.
In the meantime, I learned from a lot of really incredible leaders. I think that’s the reason why the mentoring side of it’s important for me. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am. A lot of times women don’t have that. They don’t have that person.
There were times I thought, “I’m not worth this.” But my mentors would tell me, “You’ve worked really hard. You are worth it. You are worth the extra work. You’re worth doing all the extra stuff.”
That’s the value of having someone cheering you on and opening doors for you along the way.
Cindy’s history in the furniture industry, get-after-it attitude, and willingness to learn serve as an example we should all seek to follow. Her commitment to and passion for mentoring challenges us to seek those ahead and behind us in the industry. May we also be found learning and teaching at the various stages of our careers.
Whether you’re new to the industry or a pro like Cindy, we hope you will be encouraged by the legacy she’s creating. If you’re considering WithIt membership for your professional journey, find out more about WithIt’s mission here or make the decision to join today.