Bainbridge Island, WA — Like many who come to the industry from other career paths, Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS, CLIPP, made the switch from an established career in order to more closely suit her life and values. With a master’s degree in finance and a career as an equity analyst, McCabe found that “it was really interesting work, but it didn’t match my parenting style because of the travel required. And it was also kind of lonely – you would meet with a client and then you’d meet with them eight weeks, 10 weeks later and that was it. There was very little social interaction, and I was like, I think I want to be with people.”
McCabe found that other parents at her children’s school frequently asked her advice on pantry organization and kitchen equipment, so she donated consultation services on these subjects to a school fundraiser. “The first person who bought [the service] at the auction was watching me organize their kitchen, and he said, ‘Would you redesign my kitchen for me?’”
For McCabe, who had already done her share of home remodeling, this was the start of a new career path. “Being the education junkie that I am, I looked for how to get certified because I have all kinds of certifications and credentials from my former career. And so I landed with the National Kitchen and Bath Association and I got certified as an AKBD.”
Since the launch of her design business, McCabe, in cooperation with husband and business partner Clive Pardy, CSBA, has garnered awards and recognition from numerous organizations and publications, including Best of Houzz, the Kitsap Building Association, Westsound Home & Garden, Best of Bainbridge, Excellence in Remodeling and, of course, Kitchen & Bath Design News.
A commitment to sustainability
A Kitchen That Works is based out of Bainbridge Island, WA, an island that McCabe characterizes as “suburbia without sidewalks. You’ll see more trees in a day than you will people here.” With so much natural beauty at her fingertips, it’s little wonder that McCabe has become known for her dedication to sustainability in both her business practices and her projects. “I don’t want to add fodder to the landfill,” she explains.
McCabe puts a great deal of effort and attention into ensuring that her projects produce as little waste as possible. In addition to properly disposing of all possible recyclables – including Styrofoam, which she collects in a shed and personally drives to a recycling center on the mainland every couple of months – McCabe ensures that all salvageable materials are carefully preserved and donated to a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, for whom her company is a Preferred Provider.
McCabe has served as a contributing Subject Matter Expert for the US Green Building Council’s GreenHomeGuide.com and is a member of the Kitsap Chapter of the NW Ecobuilding Guild, and she has devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to volunteering and community outreach.
Time and patience
The success of McCabe’s client relationships has always, in large part, depended on patience and a willingness to be generous with her time. “I get a lot of phone calls from people who are not in our geographic area and I return the phone calls even though I know I’ll never work with them, because I want my phone call returned when I call a business. So I can’t hold other people to that standard if I don’t hold myself to that standard,” she believes.
When she does onboard a new client, McCabe’s getting-to-know-you process begins with a 30-minute phone call in which she creates an initial picture for herself of what the client’s wants and needs are. Interestingly, sometimes McCabe is already familiar with the property in question. “I’ve lived in this community for so long, I’ve been at the house sometimes multiple times,” she says. The phone call is followed by a lengthy in-person meeting. “We sit down for anywhere from two to eight hours,” she says, adding, “I usually feed them because they shouldn’t be making decisions with low blood sugar.”
This patient, thorough approach to client relationships has provided McCabe with plenty of return business and references. “I just genuinely care about people and I want them to have what they need,” she explains. “And I want them to have what they want – within reason.” ▪