Secrets of Success 2021: Woman seizes window of opportunity, builds Budget Blinds into thriving business

Budget Blinds in Vacaville has been in business since 2006. (Courtesy photo)

By Katy St. Clair

VACAVILLE — Fortune favors the brave, as they say, and starting a small business on your own certainly takes courage. Or a hamburger.

“I was coming out of the Jack In The Box drive-thru . . .,” laughs Budget Blinds owner Toni Parkhurst, who described how she got into the window treatment business. She saw a “help wanted” sign in a nearby blinds company window and thought, “Hmm, that could be fun.”

She did indeed enjoy it for more than 17 years, moving up through the company and becoming vice president of sales. Then she had a big life change – divorce – and with children to consider, she said she really had to think about where to go from there. Her job required her to travel, for example, which wasn’t easy as a single mom.

“I had to start hustlin’,” she said.

Parkhurst channeled that same inner voice that spoke to her at the drive-thru and decided to start her own blinds business. She began running her company out of her garage some 15 years ago. She’d do sales all day, she said, and then deal with the rest of the business at night. Weekends were spent putting flyers on doorsteps.

Her sacrifices have paid off: Budget Blinds recently moved into a larger showroom to house her successful venture. Parkhurst bought the franchise in 2007 and now has 15 employees, including five design consultants, half of which are family. She was born and raised in Fairfield and moved to Vacaville in high school. She’s been here ever since.

One key to her success is her personality, which is not only outgoing but she is a self-described “perfectionist,” and also the people she employs. The minute you enter the showroom you are greeted not only with friendly hellos from the staff, but an adorable Maltese named Kooper. He will expect you to throw the ball he brings you, of course, his little paws happily skittering across the shiny floor in pursuit of it.

Blinds, like clothes or slang, go in and out of fashion. Asked what’s “in” right now, Parkhurst says woven-wood shades are all the rage. They are made of fibers such as bamboo and are in neutral shades, perfect for the California modern aesthetic.

Luxury never goes out of style, so a bulk of Budget Blinds’ business is installing mechanized shades. Just a push of a button or remote and you too can control the amount of sunlight that streams in. It’s not just blinds that they deal in, though. Parkhurst’s business handles just about anything to do with windows, from drapes to tinting.

Loyal customer Jackie Haven has worked with Budget Blinds for years and says above all, she appreciates Parkhurst’s business ethic.

“It’s her integrity,” Haven says. “I’m in sales as well. I work for a local auto group. I trust her.”

Haven adds that she’s also always liked the employees at Budget Blinds.

Another key to the business’s success is its guarantee. Everything they sell can be replaced once, free of charge. Even if you spilled a carafe of Cabernet on the drapes or the dog ate the Roman shade (no offense, Kooper), Budget Blinds will happily replace it.

Parkhurst says she will go to any measure to please her customers.

“What do we need to do to make you happy?” is a common refrain, she said.

In 10 or so years, Parkhurst hopes to pass the business along to her children. But for now, she cherishes every day as a self-made woman.

“As a team, we have a lot of fun together here,” she said. “Sometimes too much fun.”

Budget Blinds hosted a holiday open house Dec. 9, as well as a seasonal Toys for Tots drive.

Budget Blinds

• Address: 57 Commerce Place, Suite D, Vacaville
• Phone: 707-447-2494
• Website: https://budgetblinds.com/fairfield/