Professional home staging is both an art and a science. A talented home stager is able to not only maximize a property’s best features, but also minimize its flaws. Staged 2 Sell Solutions Inc. was founded by Monica Stanciu, a real estate stager specializing in vacant or lived in properties, interior decorating and furniture rental.
The best analogy to describe home staging, she says, would be to compare a property to product packaging: the better the packaging, the more likely it is that it will sell. And given that the company has helped in selling over $400 million worth of real estate since it was founded in 2007 – it would seem that her analogy is an accurate one.
Today, in the second instalment of our Business Owner of the Week series, Monica shares her entrepreneurial success story with us.
How did you come up with your business idea?
As a chemical engineer by profession and a marketing specialist by trade, if someone had asked me seven years ago about my future career path I would never have guessed that it laid in the home-staging industry. It all started when we sold our first home; it was the ugliest townhouse, but it was all we could afford at the time. But with a bit of paint, some decluttering and some elbow grease — we made it look nice, and it ended up selling at the first open house for a record price in that neighbourhood. A few years later, we sold our second home in the first day of showings for way more that we thought we could get. Friends started asking me to help sell their homes, and one day someone suggested that I should charge for the service. I had no idea that what I was doing was actually called home staging until I stumbled across an ad for staging training offered by the Canadian Staging Professionals. I got my certification in 2007.
What makes your business unique?
There are a lot of home stagers around, but what make us unique is the quality of staging inventory we use in our projects, the fact that we deliver projects on time and on budget, and our resourcefulness and creativity — we often repurpose existing furniture in order to keep the fees as low as possible. We have clients who couldn’t believe that by just moving pieces from one room to another, we were able to define the functionality of each space and deliver the ‘wow’ factor that lures buyers in. Over the years, we’ve gained some international recognition and I’ve mentored over 50 graduates — most of whom now own their own successful staging businesses.
How did you raise money to start your business?
I started with $3000 and our vacation money, and invested all of it into marketing and a few staging accessories. I was lucky that my husband was able to support our family during my first year of business. After I started to get clients, I invested everything back into my business and increased my inventory. Renting out staging accessories is another revenue stream that adds to our bottom line.
What do you love about being a small business owner?
When I started, I thought that having more free time would be the biggest bonus of owning my own business. Now, although I work many days more than eight hours a day, I have the flexibility to choose the hours I want to work or when I want to be home with my family. I can afford to take a full month off over the summer and travel overseas or go skiing for two weeks in the winter while my business is still bringing money in. But when I do work, I work hard. What I love the most is that I get to help people make more money on their investments and make a nice living out of it — it’s very rewarding.
What lessons have you learned?
To be persistent, patient and try to do things differently. Stay on top of industry developments, continue educating yourself and develop a marketing and business plan and stick to it.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
I want to develop my second staging team to allow me to focus more on developing my business and brand to attract more clients.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone who wants to start their own business, what would it be?
If you have a dream, follow through. It is very easy to be discouraged at the beginning, but the more you work on your business, the more successful you will become. I might be old- fashioned, but I truly believe that more work equals more success.
To visit Monica’s company website, click here