A WOMAN AHEAD OF HER TIME
It began in 1981; the vision that is. Bette Lissak, a mother of three small children, knew she hadn’t quite discovered her path. Even after completion of her undergraduate degree in Math and studying English and Art History, she still craved something more and embarked on the search for her true calling. Bette knew she could have stayed home to raise her young children, but continued to follow her gut, not knowing quite where it would take her. After a shift in gears, she discovered her next stop: pursuing an MBA. It was the logical step from her prior Math training, and another step closer to her unfolding vision.
Business school not only armed Bette with an education, in which she rose to the top of her class, but also with the tools to match her drive. Business school opened doors to new connections, one being the most important.This one connection sparked an idea for her to start a wholesale business importing from India.
In her final thesis, she researched and wrote how to start a small import/export business that’s purpose was to create great design for a great price - a motto that still holds true. She was excited to channel her math and art history background and deep affinity for the world around her. Thankfully, Bette was a woman before her time, bringing her incredible vision to life. Once school was complete, she traveled to India for the first time, and with no true idea of what lay ahead, she began the journey of her life.
Twice a year, Bette traveled overseas to India and Thailand to connect the dots between factories, materials, and her designs. She ultimately created long lasting business relationships that would work toward the goal of bringing her concepts to market. Paradigm Exclusives and its business relationships built the foundation for what the brand has become today. Over ninety trips later and plenty of otherworldly stories, Bette’s true vision surfaced: Paradigm Trends.
On that very first trip, Bette curated a product line that combined Indian handcrafted elements and her own designs. Though she still hadn’t quite discovered the perfect marriage of her love of art and business, she let the momentum of the process continue to guide her. Times were quite different in 1984 than they are today. She asked herself: How will I communicate from overseas? How will I price these items and remain competitive? How will I import into the United States? What about business cards? A logo? Photography? The list went on and on. Over time, Bette put her expertise to the test, and within seven months, broke these barriers. In August 1984, she participated in her first trade show, thinking this would reveal if she was actually on to something. And it did just that. She sold $22,000 of product and knew, in this moment, her business had started.
Of course, it wasn’t easy from here on out. As a woman working in India, she learned of the vast differences in cultures, but nonetheless would not let that stand in her way. Those individuals she would soon develop working relationships with would have to accept the fact that she was a woman and had every intention to do what it took to move her brand forward. She trusted that everything would fall into place and, more than that, she wouldn’t let herself fail. In times like these she had to dig in and dig deep to uncover her next step.
Within only one year, Bette was able to discover product trends and her business mind began to capitalize on what was both successful for her and desired by her growing consumer base. Metal was one of those trends, so her focus immediately shifted to developing products produced in metal. Bette introduced silver plating to India, completely changing Paradigm’s business model, with her modern spin on antique reproductions. As a result, she delved into the metal bath business in the early 2000s.
During a trade show, a man from a major textile and bath accessories company reached out to Bette asking her to transform a candy dish into a soap dish, and this said request would produce a design that was the first metal bathroom accessory collection. As her brand continued to evolve, what began as dialogue between she and independent stores, grew to position her in front of department stores, major catalogs, and discount stores expanding Paradigm Trends exponentially.
Finally, Bette started to see success from her hard work, all the while remaining family focused as a wonderful mother and wife as her business began to blossom. She was the master of her own fate and thought every woman should have the opportunity to expand their horizons. She was proud of her interactions with the Indian market, learning what was important to factory owners, how they ticked, and the culture itself, which fostered the strong relationships built on new-found mutual respect. With the same suppliers for more than 20 years, loyalties were established and Paradigm grew stronger.
Bette has capitalized on her depth of knowledge in design and the global manufacturing business, coupled with her degree in Math and art history education, to pioneer Paradigm Trends. Roughly twenty years ago the brand became a full service bath company. This was just the beginning. The bath industry became a catalyst for expansion into bar decor, comprehensive living spaces, and furniture.
When Bette’s children, Jeanne and Seth joined Paradigm Trends in the early 2000s, Bette’s world came full circle and they embarked further on the company’s U.S. development. Jeanne and Seth brought different working backgrounds that have lifted Paradigm to a more sophisticated company, opening doors to a variety of opportunities. When they first joined forces, Paradigm Trends’ position as a hospitality business was in its infancy stages, but through their valiant efforts, the hospitality sector is Paradigm’s largest segment. Trips overseas have become a family affair. The family unit is committed to maintaining and enhancing Paradigm Trends’ traditions and will continue to position the company as a thought leader in the landscape, as a brand that began well before the home industry became a worldwide operation.
This is just the beginning. Instead of one, there were three, and Paradigm Trends continues to evolve slowly, steadily and powerfully. Bette knew naming her company ‘Paradigm’ was so fitting as it’s meaning gives her the opportunity to explore any option imaginable. The ability to support any of your desired needs from Paradigm Trends has matured with its global reach, whether in America or overseas. Through all stages of its evolution, the company’s intention remains the same: great design for a great price.