RUSKIN — Shake Connie Kennedy's hand and it's easy to understand how she was a former semi-pro softball pitcher with a killer grip on the ball.
Her firm greeting also provides a window for new acquaintances to see into a life that has taken her from a self-described poor childhood on a Michigan dairy farm to 35 years in the mortgage industry with Fortune 500 companies in New York, Chicago, New Mexico and Florida.
In between she authored a book on do-it-yourself home design and survived the mortgage industry crash, but not without having to live out of a storage locker and her car for 6 months upon moving to Mount Dora in 2011. Scavenging dumpsters at night to find metal that she could trade in for cash also made her stronger.
"You do what you have to do to survive," Kennedy said. "It's been very rewarding for me, my life."
At 63, Kennedy has a strong grasp on life. At an age some would consider retirement, she opened a business serving one of the area's largest retirement communities. Late last year, Kennedy launched Connie's Home Décor & Design at 3818 Sun City Center Blvd. in the Cypress Village Shopping Plaza anchored by The Home Depot.
Kennedy said it took six years to build her latest business in the South Shore area, after owning mortgage and real estate companies, and more than two years to find a suitable retail location where she can let her creative eye see into her customers' homes. If you don't need or want a complete home makeover, invite Kennedy for a consultation so she can see how best to: plan spaces, organize closets, treat windows and floors, upholster furniture or add just the right colors and fabrics for a fresh look.
Or if you just want to purchase something from her showroom, that's fine too.
"We're flexible," said Kennedy, who has bought and sold more than 300 homes and redesigned 150 plus. "If you think it will work, take it and try it. If it doesn't, bring it back."
Kennedy gladly offers some basic free advice to do it yourself types such as size matters (understand your piece to space ratio), keep collections together (critters, spoons, dolls, etc. all belong in one place) and wallpaper works great in small bathrooms. But with a background that also includes building, staging and designing luxury properties, she also can lend a hand – a strong hand.
"I know people, I can hear people," she said. "I listen to people and I give people what they want. It becomes personal, people are truly appreciative, and I feel blessed. Now I have this fabulous store."
Call (813) 545-3320 for hours and appointments or for ideas, visit connieshomedecortricities.com.
Ellenton Premium Outlets has started the new year with the opening of a new Greg Norman retail outlet store and renovated Under Armour and Brooks Brothers Factory stores.
Greg Norman retail outlet store offers golf-inspired apparel for men and women in a 2,400 square-foot space near Chico's.
Under Armour has reopened its doors near the Food Court, with 10,000 square feet of space – nearly 7,000 square feet more than beforehand.
Additionally, Brooks Brothers has relocated to a space near Michael Kors.
For updates on openings, events, and exclusive discounts visit premiumoutlets.com/outlet/ellenton.
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