In the fall of 2014, Lisa Piatt welcomed her first child into the world and took a break from teaching high school art to spend her son’s first year at home with him. A year later, she discovered a unique business opportunity, establishing an Experimac store to sell, buy, repair and trade used and pre-owned Apple® products and considered the possibility of a whole new future for herself and her family. While going from art teacher to entrepreneur might seem an incredibly divergent career choice, Piatt, whose first career was in the graphic design where she used Macs for her work, found that teaching had powerfully prepared her for this next endeavor.
“I learned more about life from teaching than any other job I have had,” says Piatt, 32, who lives in Huntersville with her husband and now 2-year-old son. “It teaches you management of people, tasks and curriculum. It teaches you deadlines. You are managing your classroom, and your students show the outcome of it. Taking that model into retail, I am managing our staff in a way that they feel successful so our customers can be successful and happy.”
Opened in Huntersville in July 2016, Experimac is not Apple-certified, which means there are no restrictions on how old a product is that they choose to repair or sell. For Piatt, whose prior careers taught her the quality and value of Apple® products, this was incredibly attractive for investing in the franchise. When she visited another Experimac store in the Ballantyne area, she was sold on the concept.
“I’ve always worked on Macs, and I just know how great they are,” she says. “To see a computer that was just a few years old cost hundreds less and will last for years is really good. Going into that store and seeing the price point of the products and knowing the value of them, that was the moment when it clicked for me.”
Now Piatt uses the technical skills she gained in graphic design and the people skills she gained in teaching to benefit her customers while enjoying how being a small business owner can positively impact the community and her family. She has also enjoyed creating systems that allow her team to do its work effectively. Already, Piatt is enjoying the problem solving her business provides to her customers and seeing how their offerings impact students.
“In teaching, all you are doing all day long is helping students with projects or personal problems. Being a little piece of somebody’s past to get them to their future was probably the most rewarding part,” recalls Piatt. “This summer, we had a bunch of people come buy computers for back to school, and knowing they were getting a computer that would last them through college and beyond and what they need was really cool.”