Hi! Whitney here, the owner of Nested Spaces. We talk about design trends, projects we’ve been working on, and an occasional business update on the blog. But we’re doing something different this time!
I often get emails, DMs, or calls about how I started Nested Spaces and how to begin a career as a stager or designer. So, I want to tell you a little about how Nested Spaces came to be.
Find Your Passion
I started in the corporate world right out of college (Miami of Ohio!) with a primary focus on marketing and communications sprinkled with project management, sales, and operations. For ten years, I worked in the corporate world and then I took a leap of faith into my passion for design and making a house feel like home. I realized this shortly after moving to Indianapolis. I was traveling to the west coast for work, my husband traveled and we had two small kids. It didn’t feel like the right fit at the time, and I had always dreamed or hoped of starting my own business.
My family was involved in real estate for 20 years and began staging properties in the early 2000s before staging became a thing. We helped stage homes with new paint, neutral bedding, floral arrangements, etc. The properties that were listed and staged always sold more quickly and for higher dollar amounts than those that weren’t.
Get Educated and Take a Risk
So, my love of design turned into a staging and design business. In 2016, Nested Spaces began rather uneventfully. I took Audra Slinkey’s Home Staging Resource course, began building a website, left my corporate job, and invested $10,000 of our savings into a dream and a prayer. To further educate myself, I spoke to local realtors in my area, stopped by agents’ offices, and open houses and became an affiliate member of MIBOR. I also joined RESA and was the vice president of RESA Indy in 2019 and state president of RESA Indy in 2020.
Family (and others) said, “You can start that business, but I don’t think you’ll make a dime.” But I continued on. There were also people who encouraged me and so I hung onto those words the most.
In the process of starting this business, this passion of mine, I learned that it takes time to build a business from scratch. And while some businesses start out fast, mine was rather slow, intentional, and cautious. The lane that I was carving out for my business was intentional and different and, well, I believe good things take time. I also prayed about this business and felt God was calling me to take things one step at a time.
My first stage was in August 2015, which I did for free. I used some of the realtor’s furniture and some of mine. The house sold for full asking price within the first weekend. From there, I did other small projects. I decided that yes, I would continue to pursue this passion of mine. I also dropped by agents’ offices with brochures, I met agents for coffee, and I offered to do staging presentations at offices and sponsor breakfast as a way to build my network and the business.
Since 2016, we have grown. 2020 was our first profitable year! I paid myself actual dollars this past year. In the past, I have struggled to make payroll and worried if there would be enough cash to pay my employees. The business has some debt, but we paid most of it off in 2020. (If you are looking for a business book for entrepreneurs, Profit First is my favorite. It helped me organize cash flow and have the business serve me and not the other way around.) I am currently reading his latest book called Run Like Clockwork.
Remember that each entrepreneur has a different path. It is tough to compare yourself to others, and please try not to fall into that trap of checking what your competition is doing. Be friends with your competitors. Find the business owner you click with and have lunch with them. Every interaction you have is a learning experience.
You are WORTHY
Most of all, though, believe that you are worthy of your dream. Even on the hard days. Even when a client calls and tells you, “no” or you get negative feedback, typically the good outweighs the bad. So, I challenge you on the hard days to think about the wins you’ve had-they certainly outweigh the losses. Keep your purpose and mission top of mind as well. This business is a reflection of you. It’s an energetic exchange or vibration of your energy. So, believe in yourself. Find a mentor. Find an accountability partner. Give yourself grace.
Give it Five Years
I will say that I believe the five-year mark as a business is a good indicator of your progress. You can review financials, make growth projections, make decisions, pay your employees, and even give them bonuses. Most of all: Have fun. Enjoy the adventure of trying something new. Smile. Laugh. Even when you mess up. And be sure you take lunch breaks, deep breaths, and stay inspired.