Growing up in Magnolia, Ark., Katie McWeeney was taught the value of a strong work ethic. At 14 she got her first job--the detail-oriented task of painting custom handbags for an online boutique. Meanwhile, in Decatur, Ala., Abe Powell also began working at age 14, when he obtained his first business license to detail cars out of his parents' driveway.
Across the street lived
Powell's mentor, who owns one of the world's largest wheel manufacturing companies. His mentor provided Powell the opportunity to work on a variety of automotives, including aircraft. That, plus helping his father change his oil and rebuilding his own car while in high school, all cemented a lifelong passion for the auto industry. As an adult, Powell would attend an automotive trade school, where he learned about the ideal automotive industry practices, focusing on surfaces and paint.
McWeeney and Powell met in Memphis in 2011 when
McWeeney was pursuing her MFA at the Memphis College of Art and Powell was performing as a drummer in multiple bands while working random jobs. A year later, realizing
Powell's dissatisfaction with his part-time jobs, McWeeney asked what job would make him the happiest. Powell's response? "Starting my own business." The next week the pair took their small amount of savings and purchased a generator, water tank and pressure washer, and fine line detail was born.
"fine line detail is not just a job to us, but a daily investment in our dream. We are both extremely dedicated to our work and truly get fulfillment out of being self-employed," says McWeeney.
Powell and McWeeney also find that self-employment provides the flexibility they both crave. The daily operations of fine line detail dispatch out of their Midtown home. After the crew departs each morning,
McWeeney heads to her nearby studio to work on her mixed-media art along with consulting work in events, marketing, organization and design. Customer service and organizing the workflow are her focuses in regards to fine line detail.
McWeeney's personal mantra is that clean, organized and well-designed spaces lead to mental clarity.
"Having your car detailed is not just an investment in resale value, but also an investment in providing yourself with a positive outlook every time you get into your car. As a nurturing spirit, I love being able to provide others with that ease of mind."
As for Powell, fine line detail gives him the opportunity to embrace detailing as artistry. His favorite jobs are the most time consuming--the ones that allow him to exercise his surface-refinishing knowledge. Like a carpenter, paint restoration demands a lot of technical skill and finesse.
"Founding the business together was the best way Abe and I could define the differences in our individual personality traits, and embrace them to work together implicitly. Abe is very critical and focused on quality of work; I am very organized and focused on seamless workflow. Essentially, FLD
is our ultimate collaboration," explains McWeeney.
Currently McWeeney and Powell have two employees, with plans to hire a second crew and obtain a shop by the end of 2015. Each week they detail anywhere from three to 70 automobiles, as each week and each client's needs are different.
"One week we can spend two days on a full, ready-to-sell restoration package, or we could do 10 autos on the top deck of Parking Can Be Fun
every Wednesday at our reserved parking spot. All of our appointments are based on the needs of the client, not an expected quota," says McWeeney.
As to what sets them apart from the competition, McWeeney says, "We are not your typical 'turn and burn' car wash. We consider fine line detail a 'boutique-style' business; we are much more focused on quality than quantity."
Having grown up in small towns, the duo understand the value of word of mouth referrals. "Because we are a local business, we want our clients to know and trust us. If you call to schedule an appointment, we want you to know who you are talking to--not just another employee of a corporation, but a friend willing to lend a helping hand."
Giving back to the Memphis community is a primary goal for fine line detail. In 2014 they served as a community sponsor of the Levitt Shell along with donating multiple packages to their favorite local non-profits for fundraising. The pair hopes to expand on all of these community-focused efforts as they aim to grow in 2015.