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Time on her side: Cindy Griffin spends her days just hanging around.
Griffin runs A Woman’s Touch, a wallpaper and painting business, from her La Plata home. An Ohio native, Griffin moved to Charles County with her family in 1986 from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County. Griffin and her husband worked in Hyattsville, which she said was a hardship as her son was still in high school and the family rarely got the chance to be together.
“I had done wallpapering over the years for all my family and friends but I’d never been paid for it,” Griffin said. “So I figured I’d go ahead and give it a shot, and it just took off.”
Around the time Griffin began her business, she said, the residential developments in Waldorf were being constructed. That building boom gave Griffin the bulk of her clients for years.
“What I did was I put an ad in the paper saying, ‘I’ll give your home a woman’s touch,’ and it occurred to me that that would be a nice name,” Griffin said.
Help from her friends: Griffin’s business was a family affair for many years, with her husband assisting her with carpentry on projects until he passed away. These days, Griffin has someone she works with regularly to assist on those tasks, and she also has a mural painter available to do custom artwork in her customers’ spaces.
The business originally began as just wallpapering, but once a customer asked Griffin to paint her ceiling and trim, she found she had a knack for it and added it to the repertoire.
“The wallpapering ... is my love,” Griffin said when asked if she considered any one of the business’s offerings as a specialty. In her own home, Griffin said she frequently paints and repapers rooms to stay in practice and for her own enjoyment.
Some projects, Griffin said, are more involved than others.
“There are some homes where people want the wallpaper to come down and they want to paint,” Griffin said. “Then the walls have to be repaired. ... If they weren’t prepped properly, you have to do that. To go from wallpaper to paint is fairly labor-intensive, but it’s certainly doable.”
Griffin said she has found that most of her clients only have a handful of rooms revamped at a time. As a self-described “perfectionist,” Griffin said she has a talent for suggesting colors and designs in rooms that clients might not have originally considered.
“I like helping people find what they want, and I watch their body language. I play devil’s advocate and show them what color would look good in a particular area,” she said. “I like helping them find what will enhance their areas.”
Before the Great Recession in 2009, Griffin said it wasn’t uncommon for her to be booked as far as three months in advance. There was a stretch around that time during which period she did not see any clients for months, but business has picked back up and now Griffin said she keeps about six clients at a time, on average.
Working with people, Griffin said, is easily the best part of her job.
“I like working with them to pick the combination of color and paper that will really make a room the way they want it, whether they want it dark and cozy or light and bright,” Griffin said. “Usually I can talk to them long enough to find out what’s bothering them about a room. I’m an outsider so it’s good because I have perspective that they don’t. When I throw out crazy ideas, it gets them thinking.”
Griffin said she considers herself “very lucky” for the “good response” she’s received from her clients over the years.
“I’ve been somewhat surprised from time to time,” Griffin said. “It’s so natural to me and I just love it. They say that if you find something you love you’ll never have to work a day in your life, and I really like what I do.”
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