Meet Shiva Etessam, Owner of Abbey Design Center

Shiva, owner of Abbey Design Center, began the company in 1989 with her husband. The company has grown to 32 employees and they have 2 showrooms in Sterling and Leesburg, Virginia. Shiva and her family immigrated to the United States in 1986 from Iran. They had owned restaurants in their home county and sold them and moved to the United States. Now as the owner of Abbey Design Center, Shiva acts as a successful entrepreneur who runs a company that strives towards customer satisfaction.

My husband and I started a flooring company with two of his friends in 1987 and within a few years we purchased the business entirely. We knew from the start that we were entrepreneurial thinkers, and working for someone else really wasn’t an option for us.


What makes your company unique?

Our company is unique because we exceed our customer’s expectations and go above and beyond to make sure they are satisfied with our work and we keep them as customers for years to come. I believe a company is truly as great as the people who embody the mission of their organization. At Abbey Design Center, we truly work as a team to make our customers happy. Our employees are passionate about what they do and it shows in the quality of our work. The positive word of mouth advertising that we get from our loyal customers is something that can not be replaced with any other source of marketing or advertising.


Given your business expertise and the nature of what you do, what advice (whether general or you offer to the residents of your neighborhood?)

Fairfax and Loudoun Counties continual designation as the RICHEST County in the nation makes local real estate a big investment. I would suggest investing in your home, keeping it up to date and well maintained. Remodeled homes with updated finishes sell more quickly and for a higher value. Even if you are not planning to sell your home in the near future, remodeling your home allows you to live in comfort and style of years to come!


How did you decide on this industry (events that led up to where you are now, where you went to school, etc.)?

My husband and I knew early on we are going to open a business and we had few ideas. In the first few months of being in the U.S. (specifically Alexandria) we traveled to New York City to visit my sister-in-law and her family. One day we visited her husband at his work place – a retail flooring store in the heart of Brooklyn. The environment and business model felt right to us. We had our brother-in-law, the general manager, to help guide us through the process. When we came back to Virginia we started looking for the perfect location for our store while doing research into the market, the business and the industry.

I live on Seneca road in Great Falls, Virginia and I have lived here since 1998.  I grew up Tehran-Iran


Tell us about your family…

My Father was a high school principal for more than 30 years and my mother was a home maker. I am the middle child of 5 kids. With my mother having 8 siblings combined with 7 more siblings on my Father’s side, we had a large extended family with plenty of cousins. I grew up in a middle class family, with lots of love, in a modest neighborhood in Tehran. Married in June of 1982 and having 2 handsome grown sons. My youngest son, Amir, lives in DC and is in IT Management. My oldest son, Ali, is an attorney and Vice President of our company, Abbey Commercial Flooring.


What are you your hobbies/interests? Volunteer work?

Our “Excellence In Academics” program for Loudoun and Fairfax County students provides beautiful new flooring to the top winning students. I also oversee a yearly “feeding of the homeless” program in Tehran-Iran and have done so for many years. As the owner of Abbey Design Center, I enjoy giving back to causes that are closet to me. I love painting in my free time, and I also love to read a good book. I’d keep up with current movies if I had the time. Ideally I’d love to go to the theater once or twice a week. I love the big screen and the popcorn!

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