The story behind Bridget’s Room is enough to bring owner and founder, Bridget Gerhardt, to tears still to this day. Bridget wasn’t sure about her future in North Dakota at first, but the story of how things seemed to fall into place and allowed her to fulfill her dreams is one that has completely changed her life.
With a Bachelor’s of Science degree from North Dakota State University, Fargo, Bridget moved home to Bismarck, North Dakota after her mom’s recent diagnosis of breast cancer. In 2002, with great concern for finding opportunities to fit her personality and fulfill her dreams in North Dakota, Bridget decided to do something she had always wanted to do: open her own business. From cleaning, to painting, to stripping wallpaper, to anything else just to get into homes, Bridget operated Bridget’s Room, and interior design and décor business, out of her home for 7 years.
In 2010, Bridget received notice from the City of Bismarck that her and her husband, Nathan, needed to move the business out of their home. Because they had just built a new house and showroom to work out of a year prior, Bridget and Nathan had little to no financial means to invest in another new location and an even shorter amount of time to come up with a plan to do it. “Our plan was to live in the home for three more years, see where it takes us, and go from there,” Bridget admitted. “We panicked…” It wasn’t until someone suggested the Small Business Administration 504 loan program to Nathan that Bridget’s Room found a way to continue to thrive. By working in conjunction with Dakota Certified Development Corporation and Dakota Community Bank in Bismarck, Bridget’s Room developed a unique financing package with a loan that allowed the business to maintain enough cash flow to continue operation throughout the expansion.
Because of the 504 loan and its fixed, below-market interest rate, Bridget was able to find and purchase a new location, hire four new full-time employees, carry more products, and offer more services. In fact, these are just a few of the many things that makes Bridget’s Room a unique and high-quality business. “We offer something different and a higher level of service,” Bridget adds. Customers often cannot believe the unique and varying products Bridget’s Room carries, and because they also offer flooring and custom tiles, countertops, and window treatments, Bridget’s Room has become a one-stop shop for all building, remodeling, and designing needs. “It’s not just about decorating as most people see it,” Bridget explains. “It’s about starting with a good foundation. We talk to our clients about what their true vision is and work to bring it out. We customize to the actual client, not the masses.”
Bridget’s Room has been in the Parade of Homes and voted “Best in Show”, as well as had many interviews and articles in Bismarck magazines. But most of that, Bridget humbly stated, is thanks to her employees: her office manager, Kelsey, and her two design consultants, Jayden and Darcie.
“We get a lot of recognition for what we do, but often times it is my employees in the background that really do make our success.”
Bridget’s favorite part about her job and owning her own business is watching her clients and employees fulfill a dream. As someone who describes herself as one who thinks and feels with a different attitude towards business, watching the creation of something from nothing is very rewarding for her and she encourages others to fulfill what is on their heart as well. “Business is a gamble. Do everything you can to see if you can possibly live that dream and, if it doesn’t work, you will always have something to fall back on. Sometimes it’s not even really falling back…it’s moving forward.”
Perhaps one of the most rewarding things for Bridget throughout the journey of her and her business is the fact that she is now able to give back to her church and her community. Each year, in memory of her mom, Bridget’s Room donates to the Bismarck Cancer Center. “The expansion gave us the opportunity to add a long-term value to our business. It allowed us to give and do more, and me to personally give, do, and see more of my family,” Bridget says gratefully.
With clientele based primarily out of the Bismarck/Mandan area today, Bridget’s Room has continued to thrive. This success is what still leaves Bridget deeply moved as she claims she does not know what she would do in Bismarck without Bridget’s Room today. “Real dreams do come true,” Bridget said through tears. “I wanted to figure out how to love living in North Dakota and so that’s what I did.”