Czech Feather & Down Company
Her business is down, it’s always been down ─ and feathers. “Cookie” Vanous is the president of Czech Feather & Down Company in the historic Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is keeping alive a business established in 1885 that produces handcrafted feather and down pillows, comforters, feather beds and furniture cushions.
Czech Feather & Down Co. has been handed down through the family from generation to generation and is steeped in the traditional methods of pillow and comforter making.
Prior to September 11, 2001, Cookie’s business was growing at a steady pace, but afterwards there was much less tourism and sales were down. However, today, Czech Feather & Down is producing sales greater than before and Cookie estimates they will increase at a faster rate. She produced a short video that is shown at both Amana locations, and she keeps her web site up-to-date. She is now advertising on TV and demonstrating her products at festivals in Amana.
In spring 2005, Cookie contacted Cedar Rapids SCORE for marketing advice and began meeting with John Ruth. John is a former CEO of the Amana Society. In this role, he expanded marketing of the many Amana branded products they produce, including beer, beef, high quality furniture, wine, woolens and other goods and services.
John met with Cookie on several occasions and suggested that she cross-market with the Amana furniture store and the woolen mill. He introduced her to the Amana Society leadership at a meeting in Amana in summer 2005. They reacted very positively to the idea. Cross-marketing has helped all three operations gain additional exposure for their products.
Working with John Ruth means that Cookie will be putting together a more comprehensive marketing plan that will increase sales and fill her staffing needs. She credits John and SCORE with opening her eyes to other possibilities. Cookie says that SCORE is the best business organization she has seen that provides business counseling and training. She looks forward to a long-term mentoring relationship. She has become a strong ambassador for SCORE.