I am old-school when it comes to creating relationships…I believe in face to face meetings, making/receiving first impressions, possibly even hand shakes to decide whether I want to do business with the person or not. I know there will be many people who are rolling their eyes being in the age of just “googling” everything.
So, imagine my horror when I realized that I did not have a single person in my over 1000 contacts in my iPhone to help one of my clients on their home staging work- I had to get serious, google it.
Working with Lux Furniture Rentals and getting to know its owner, Julie O has been a great experience: prompt email responses, clear instructions on the contracts, and also, don’t get me started on their most helpful assistant, Loredena, and how she guided the owner and I through the staging work.
Below are the questions I was dying to know from Julie O, the staging design expert, who wants to dominate the home staging industry with her “go big or go home” way.
How/what made you to start your business? A bit about your background
A little bit about my educational background is that I come from a fashion business background. After years of working in the fashion industry, I decided I wanted to take a break and see what else was out there.
About 12 years ago, I started working at one of Toronto’s first rental houses which is where I was introduced to the home staging industry and learned the ins and outs about home staging. I was able to work with many of the “original” home stagers in the GTA and learn what people wanted and needed from a furniture rental house. This is where my love and passion for home staging began. I then started my own home staging company and also worked for a jewellery company as a merchandise trainer for a few years. My hubby, Andre, always beat around the bush about how awesome it would be for me to open up a furniture rental house for years but I always brushed it off because of the huge investment it would cost and out of my own fear of failure.
I had so many problems with existing furniture rental houses with product offerings and customer service as a stager that I started to really get frustrated and toyed with the idea of opening my own furniture rental house to help eliminate these frustrations. I also never found myself “lonely” as a staging solopreneur and craving support from other stagers who understood what us stagers went through. 2 kids later and ready to take on a new adventure, I decided to finally certify myself as a professional home stager which is where I met Christine Rae, from Certified Canadian Staging Professionals. After taking her 3 day course and getting to know Christine, she really inspired me to just do it!
To follow my dream and open up a furniture rental house in Toronto that welcomes stagers, gives stagers and agents what they need, give stagers a comfortable environment to learn in, work in and socialize in, and really be out there helping to grow the staging industry as a whole. My husband and I downsized and invested all the money we had into Lux and that’s how it all started! My motto is go big or go home right?
How did you get your business off the ground?
Even before we officially opened in April 2015, we had stagers placing orders and supporting us right from the get-go. Because of my staging background, my network of contacts really helped my business take off running which was amazing and I appreciated all the support. It was such a great feeling! Hiring an amazing assistant, Loredana, was also huge in helping getting our business off the ground right off the bat. We are very lucky to have her! She has been a huge part of our success!
What is the biggest inside tip you can share for the people thinking of staging their homes?
Staging is now an essential part of marketing your home properly to get top dollar! It is one of the of the largest investments you have, so it only makes sense to do the only thing you can do to generate your highest ROI; Make your home show in its best possible light through staging! The way we live and the way we sell are two very different things.
Staging brings a substantial value to the table that everyone needs to implement in order to ensure you sell for the most you can.
Your design philosophy?
My design philosophy when it comes to staging is to always create function, flow and beauty in every single room in a house. Back in the day, staging was very very minimal and basic. There was very little color and absolutely no personality. Now, the staging industry has evolved and we are seeing staged homes that are full of life and have a bit more of an interior decorating design to them.
What’s your “life outside of your office look like?
LOL! My life outside of the office is insane! I honestly think that a work life balance is very important in life but I have not been able to master that yet. LOL! My life outside of the office involves juggling my 2 beautiful daughters, marriage, my love for fitness, my love for travel and the outdoors, my friends and my family. Basically my life outside of the office looks like any other mother entrepreneur out there J. Its busy but awesome!