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Monday, January 15, 2024

The chair and the passion that sits on it!


How buying a chair on marketplace created a path to following a passion

Published on:

Monday, January 15, 2024

Ignite Business Insider shares the stories of businesses that are making an impact in their local markets. We highlight their stories in order to inspire entrepreneurial growth and to let readers learn more about businesses across the world that are growing and scaling.


Margaret Steed


Southern Home Staging

Thank you for taking the time to sit with us and share your story. Can you share a little bit about you and your company?

I have always loved the design world of architecture, furnishings, placement and just making the room speak. My husband and I started our company in 2019 with us both being in our late 50’s. I worked most of my adult life as a lease analyst and my husband in the technology field. We started Southern Home Staging in 2019 and have become very hardcore when it comes to designing the vacant house according to how it “speaks” to us. In Northwest Louisiana, the idea of staging a vacant home has had very slow beginnings but we have been fortunate with consistent bookings.

A question so many people are interested in, is how you got started. Can you share a little bit about what you were doing before this, and what that moment was like for you when you decided to start this new journey?

Working in the corporation world for 40 years, one day, I met someone to purchase an accent chair off marketplace for the new home we just bought. She was a home stager. I didn't know this was a thing other than on TV. She was moving from the area and over a few months of shadowing, researching and studying for certification, we (my husband and I) were all in! While we bought her inventory, we also learned over time that our style was constantly evolving and have over the last five years, invested heavily in creating our own style.

Let's take a little bit of a detour, and rewind the clock a little bit. What did you want to be as a kid? And how did that influence the person you are today?

During elementary school years, I wanted to be a school teacher just like all other young girls. In high school, I still did not have a career path but always drew house plans while in history class. I remember loving the art of finding a different floor plan than the one I drew before. I did not receive encouragement to follow an "idea" or a talent I didn't know I had at that point. I continued on a path of getting married, having kids and working to pay bills just as so many do. I did research interior design school at one point but couldn't afford to follow that dream. I have grown to recognize that I've always loved architecture. I am so much fonder of history today vs when I was in high school.

Have you fully let go of that childhood dream? And where do you see yourself going in the next ten years?

The childhood dream that I didn't know I had, has come full circle. While I'm not creating house plans, I do get to perform the finishing touches on several of them. I get to speak life into the empty walls or continue the story in an older home that has seen so many family memories.
In ten years I will be 71 so hopefully I can still move a sofa but prefer not to. I have gained a few design clients along the way and love helping them create "their" design. Many people don't know what their design taste is. I love helping them learn this. This I can do well into my 90's!

Now, I have found that with successful people, there is always someone pivotal as either a mentor, parent, teacher, or someone that you look to for advise, that helped set you on this path. Could you share who that person was? And what impact that had on the person you are today?

My dad started his own business when I was a teenager. This has always resonated with me. With five kids in tow, he took, what I now understand to be, a very scary step into the world of business ownership. Today, my 85 year old mother just finished painting her kitchen cabinets. She is still renovating her house. The passion passes on and never goes away no matter what else we find ourselves doing. And I don't think the apple fell far from the tree.

What was one take away that you learned from that person? And how did it translate into your business today?

Lear who you are! It doesn't matter at what point you are in life, learn who you are. My dad was true to himself. My mother is relentless. But from my mother's reserve, I've have and still am, learning to be true to my design style, to make less apologies, step outside of the box and just go with it!

When we work with businesses, we focus a lot on their "Why?". What is your "Why"? What is the driver behind your company, and why you and your team wake up each day and give it your all?

We wake up every day and give it our all because we first, are built with integrity and then probably a little OCD. The integrity is to not fail. The OCD is our attention to detail and believing that we can make a big difference in each house and how it is presented for selling.

Let's dive deeper into your products and services. You already gave an overview, but how do your products or services help your customers? And what makes them different from your competitors?

For the first few years we did a lot of bending. Realtors are demanding and need immediate action. While we make every effort to respond in kind we have also learned that this stress does not help us to be our best. We have kept our business small, resulting in very affordable pricing and personalized touches.

Let's unpack that even further. Let's pick one aspect of your business. What makes it so unique? And how does it change you or your customer's experience?

What I believe makes us unique from area staging companies is that we personalize each stage. We do not have a set living room etc. Each house receives it's personal touches even if we have to buy more items!!!

Let's dive into your customer's journey a little bit. Can you share with us, how do your customers discover you and your brand? What are their next steps? And what is the experience you would like to see your customers go on, when working with you and your brand?

Most of our business has been from referrals. Our social media says it all. We post and share along with the realtor and the rest just happens. I believe our product pictures speak for themselves. Any one interested can contact us via social media, website or phone number.

Let's rave about your customers for a minute. Can you share a story about one of your clients or customers, that either touched your heart, or made an impact with you and your team?

We were contacted by a realtor who had not used us for staging prior. She got an old listing and contacted us for staging. The house had been on the market for over six months with little activity. We staged the house and received many comments that our staging is what sold the house. We "updated" the house with staging and buyers were able to overlook some of the outdated areas. At a later time, someone I already knew mentioned that this was her grandmother's house and how much the family appreciated what we did to make the house feel so warm and inviting.

Everyone likes an inside scoop. What detail or secret about either you, or your company, is something most people might not know?

Final thoughts. What feeling or benefits would you like your customers or clients to take away when working with you and your team?

We believe each house is deserving of it's best foot forward. Even the very old and tired house will receive our undivided and detailed attention.

Last question. How can people find out more about you and your company?

Thank you so much for sitting with us and sharing your story.

Thank you for the opportunity to share who we are, what we stand for and our commitment to each house and of course it's owner.

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