Every business has a story. We want to share yours.
The International Association of Home Staging Professionals is proud to highlight business owners and companies in an around the business of Home Staging, Real Estate, Design, and Short-term Rental, though our IAHSP Articles Features.
Our goal is to highlight and explore the various business models and services that are offered throughout our ecosystem and community, giving both the public and our membership the ability to learn more about the businesses and services available through our vast network of service providers and businesses.
Let's dive right into our latest IAHSP Article.
Q. Thanks for taking the time to sit with us to share your story with our readers. Can you start out by sharing a little bit about you and your company?
I have been a creative professional for all of my career... graphic designer, art director, creative director and brand manager. Now as owner of Coastal Stagedesigns, I’m able to put my creative side to work with my business side to bring Home Staging to a part of the country that had little or no home staging resources.
Q. Everyone has a story about how they got started, what was the inspiration or the catalyst for you starting your business?
In 2016, my corporate job gave me the option to either relocate to headquarters in New Jersey or take a package. I had been working full time remote from my home in Panama City Beach, Florida for several years and chose to stay. I was then faced with how to reinvent myself within a resort community where there was virtually no corporate presence. Initially, I got my real estate license, but on my first day with my new broker, I asked about how to pursue staging. Within a few months I got my ASP RE to start staging my own listings. Then in October of 2018, I took the full ASP course and opened my company. Then one week later, on October 10, Hurricane Michael devastated my beloved community and at that time, no one cared about how nicely staged a home was. They just wanted a roof over their heads. I spent the next several months helping local residents find homes, sell their damaged home and move on with life. But out of the devastation rose an opportunity to give those homes new life and to sell at the highest price. The company took off working with investors who were flipping houses and with homeowners who were ready to move on after repairing their homes.
Q. What services do you offer? And why did you choose to offer those particular services?
Though I have provided occupied staging for my own real estate customers, my core business is vacant staging... it's where my passion is. However, as I mentioned, I live in a resort area with probably as many short-term rental units as full-time residences. Out-of-state investors were seeing the staged properties and asking to purchase the contents for setting up as a rental. Savvy investors were also looking for help with updating their units or furnishing vacant units. Earlier this year I introduced "Curated Furnishing Packages." We provide turnkey furnishings to those investors to set up the properties to attract renters at the highest rate and to gain 5-star ratings.
Q. Did you ever have a project or customer, where everything was going wrong or the project was challenging? Can you share about that time, and how did you find a solution, or over-come the challenge?
An out-of-state investor who knew the value of staging called one day from my Google listing to have me look at a property he had bought to fix up and flip. It had been on the market for a couple of months with little or no activity. When I arrived there was a dumpster sitting in the front yard, the yard was knee high in grass and weeds, there was no real estate sign anywhere and the inside was a mess. I worked with him to clean up the yard and do some landscaping and had the inside cleared out and cleaned. I got it staged and immediately the listing agent was getting calls after we finally got him to put up a sign. But he was still falling down on the job, not following up with buyer's agents or the owner. Eventually the owner asked me to take on the listing. I don't normally do anything to compete with the listing agent, but in this instance, I felt the agent had done such a poor job of representing the seller that I agreed to take it on. Partnering with other agents from my office, we did some clever marketing and within two weeks we were under contract. And the buyers bought the furnishings to set up as an Airbnb. I have since done other projects with the investor and I feel I have a long-term repeat client.
Q. Running a business is not always easy. What have you learned about yourself and your business, since launching your company?
I can't do it alone. But finding the right people I can trust isn't easy. I have had to put the effort into finding the right people so that I can let go and depend on them to do what is needed. There have been a number of false starts with folks who just didn't work out, but I have been incredibly lucky to pull together a team that allows me to focus on the parts of the business that are more critical.
Q. We've all had either an employee or a customer that makes what we are doing worth it all. Can you share with us a story about an employee, vendor or customer that really impacted you and touched your heart?
I don't know where I would be today without my warehouse manager, Aaron. My business is relatively small compared to some of my IAHSP friends, so I don't have the luxury of having full-time employees. Struggling with either hiring movers for each installation or having my own staff, Aaron came along at just the right time. He also runs his own landscape business, but always makes time with his employees to take care of stagings and destagings. We have come to "share a brain," being able to make decisions without even having to speak it. His wife also helps from time to time with projects. They have become that kind of family that we all create around ourselves.
Q. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice on how to manage or grow your business, what advice would you give yourself?
Be open to anything. Opportunities present themselves in the most unusual way. Have the foresight to see those positive opportunities and act on them.
Q. If a potential client were reading this article right now, what would you tell them about you, your team or your business that would convince them to choose your company?
Coastal Stagedesigns is a multi-award-winning company with the experience to make your home sell faster and for more money. And our statistics prove it. Check out our website for reviews and a portfolio of work. We take pride in the attention to detail that we bring to each and every project.
Q. What is one fact about you or your business that most people might not know?
In addition to home staging services, we also offer “Curated Furnishing Packages.” With these services, we design a unique, but affordable furnishing package for short term rentals. With Panama City Beach being located on the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a huge need to update older houses and condos to appeal to today’s short-term rental market. Today’s families are more sophisticated and are looking for a vacation spot that fulfills their expectations of a luxury holiday. We provide these services usually in less than 3 weeks with unique and stylish furniture and accessories.
Q. Where do you see your business going in the next 5 or 10 years?
Grow! Grow! Grow! We are ever expanding and I see a full-time staff for both the staging part of the business as well as the furnishing arm.
Q. It was so great sitting with you to learn more about you and your company. How can people find out more about you and your business?
Visit our website at coastalstagedesigns.com, interact with me at facebook.com/carl.dismukes7 or facebook.com/coastalstagedesigns. And call me any time at 850-896-1900.
Q. Thank you so much for sharing your story with IASHP Articles!
Thanks for talking with me, Joseph! It has been a pleasure.