How I Became An Interior Stylist & How You Can Too
I actually started out just doing Property Styling – styling homes for sale over 5 years ago. Not many people knew what a Property Stylist was and businesses were few and far between. In fact there is only a handful of us left after 5 years and still going.
I kind of accidentally “fell” into property styling through a suggestion from my best friend Chrissy. Together we had 8 kids and were busy mums and at the time I was running a boutique children’s market and store locally. I has a husband who travelled overseas on a regular basis and 3 young kids – I mean I had a lot of time on my hands so to speak!
Anyway long story short, Chrissy was a total pro at styling and renovating and when she saw what we (I) had done to our home which we bought off her and her husband…. she said “why don’t you do Property Styling?”. I had just closed down the market and store for the workload and family commitments and was taking a break after working for myself for as long as I could remember. After 6 weeks I was bored and we were having a chai and the discussion came up. My first thought and questions was “What’s That?”. I had always been a renovator so styling wasn’t new to me but this was something else.
And so the process began and I started researching. Now as I said back then there were not many stylists (unlike today) and so I approached the 2 biggest stylists and told them I was thinking of starting up, boldly straight up let them know I wanted to look at becoming a Property Stylists and offered to work for them both for FREE – yes FREE. Firstly to see if it was truly something I wanted to do and secondly to see exactly what was involved. It is a misconception that Property Styling and Interior Styling or interior decorating is all about shopping days, chopping pillows and swooning around rooms adding little bits of love here and there – BIG MISCONCEPTION, more on that later…
So I worked for these 2 lovely ladies and it was a reality check let me tell you. Absolutely knackered. BUT, I loved it and instantly knew it was what I wanted to do. So next I started setting it all up. The website, the name, the branding etc and hoping people would be ringing and asking me to “style my home in Brisbane” and then…,
What Stopped Me In My Tracks To Starting A Property Styling Business
Chrissy got sick – my beautiful friend got breast cancer and she had 5 beautiful children ranging from 1-12 years. So I stopped was I was doing and did what any friend would, stepped up and helped her and her family in anyway I could. I put the business idea on hold and forgot about it for a while. Devastatingly, after 3 years beautiful Chrissy died after a brave battle and we all lived in a world of disbelief and rallied around her family. She died on her youngest 4th Birthday, what more can you say..
I am dedicating this blog post to her because it is Chrissy that pushed me to this idea of becoming a Property stylist and how that push lead me to Interior Styling and Decorating.
What Happened Next
6 months after Chrissy’s passing I got a call from a local Agent, they knew my background, knew what I was going to do and knew what had happened with Chrissy. They simply said ok time to start and gave me a job – talk about jump in the deep end and gosh was this job a learning curve for someone who was new to Property Styling. Here is the very first property I styled (argg looking back) but you have to start somewhere.
I do have a sense of space planning, styling and scale etc as well of a good sense of what goes together to make a space look like a home – it’s something that is inbuilt in me and most stylists. It can be learnt but you have to have a degree of a sense of style to do this job end of story. You can choose to specialise in say bohemia furniture or maybe a client asks you for an interior designer in Brisbane if you go down the route of studying interior design. Whatever you do be clear on your vision and what you want to offer. Don’t be one of those business that is to open to everything from the average cost of a kitchen renovation (no such thing) when someone asks or do you offer window furnishing in Brisbane! do what you love and are good at if there is a demand for it. Even if you are up for say being a renovation designer in Brisbane – it does not matter. Do not follow the masses and what everyone else is doing.
So I jumped in and did the job giving it my everything AND the house sold for well above asking so it was a success. Sigh – RELIEF. More jobs followed and then from photos and social media I got my name out there – nothing but hard work and investing in good my SEO. There is no point in having a website if people cannot find it. Most of all I invested in my level of customer service. I was bought up and taught by my beautiful dad – that service is everything. This was my Point of difference and what I focus on to this day. Customer service is everything.
A number of my client were so stunned when they saw their homes transformed for sale (and sold very quickly because I did my job and made the emotional connection with the buyer) that when they moved into their new house – they approached me to “style my home” which involved design, purchase and style their new home. And so my style interiors and interior styling came out of requests and its 90% of my work now. I have moved away from Property Styling except for homes over $1M or current/past clients. It is where my true passion lies and luckily for me an absolute blessing and booming side of my business when Covid 19 hit. Everyone was at home, not spending money on travel or going out. Spending $ on their homes where they were 99% of the time. Clients wanted to be able to day my interior stylist – yep they did. My business evolved and so did I – you have to move with the times. If you don’t you wont survive.
2021 Design trends and 2022 design trends will come and go, but true classical styling will never change. In 2022 I am adding another arm to my business – where clients can do virtual walk throughs of their home before they purchase items so they can envisage what it will look like – the number 1 obstacle I face with all clients. They cannot see the vision from a mood board, thats why they came to you right? So I am solving a problem for them. That’s what this business is all about.
The Business End Of Being A Interior & Property Stylist.
I think that one of my strengths as an Interior & Property Stylist is that I have pretty much always worked for myself and so I know how to run a business. This is a BIG THING in any business, but can I tell you if you just think you are going to become a stylist and shop and style homes and nothing else yet be successful you are sorely misguided.
There are so many Property Styling businesses starting up and failing all the time because they simply had no idea what is truly involved. Being a Property Stylist and Interior Stylist has the business side of it that many do not see. Here are 10 things that I do on the business end of being a stylist that you may not have thought of. You will need to find time to do all this – the reason I get up at 3am..yes it’s true
- Social Media Posting & Content Creation
- Blog Writing – thats what you are reading now
- Sourcing, Ordering Of New Products – I rarely go retail shopping I do not have the time
- Answering Emails and Clients Enquiries
- Designing Spaces
- Quoting – so time consuming
- Looking after your stock if you carry any
- Website Maintenance
- Connections – be active in your community and be known
- Organising furniture hire for staging
The list goes on this is just the business end we haven’t got to the good stuff yet. I am not trying to put you off, I am trying to explain exactly what is involved when people search for home decorator Stylist/Property Stylist. The good, the bad and the downright WTF.
What Property Styling V’s Interior Styling & Decorating?
Let me be clear that Property Styling & Interior Styling are 2 very different fields. You are NOT an Interior Designer – unless you have studied for 4 years so don’t say you are. I would be pretty pissed off if I had studied for 4 years and people who have not call themselves an Interior Designer – I am not an Interior Designer and I tell clients that first phone call to make it clear. I work with one I can recommend because I simply am not able or qualified to do surfaces and spec outs. Stick with what you are good at. Define what you want to do.
In simple terms here is the key differences between the two;
- The styling of a home for sale.
- The client hires you to showcase the property and highlight it’s best features and minimise any issues.
- You can do partial styling – add items into owners existing furniture or full styling of an empty home.
- You style to sell to appeal with the biggest possible target market (potential buyers).
- Your job is to make potential buyers “fall in love” and make an emotional connection.
- The furniture layout is for photography and visual and not practical for living – all about the photo and look.
- Short term usually 6 weeks hire. You are a staging hire in Brisbane business.
- You are selling styling of a rental furniture package.
- There is a lot of physical work involved – think moving house everyday – REALITY CHECK
- The styling of a house to make it into a home for the owners living there.
- The client hires you to help them create their vision and bring it to life.
- You can opt for different services from E Design to time blocks to full service.
- The project can take anywhere form 6 weeks to 2 years depending on size and budget.
- Your job is discover, design and create their ideal home.
- You work with and source trade suppliers for your clients.
- The installation is the final piece of the puzzle – the hard yards are in the design and procurement.
- Less Physical and more design focused.
The Good, The Bad & The Beauty
Home decorating, property styling, interior styling, interior designer, interior decorator, home stager – SO MANY names. But no matter which you decide to do there is pros and cons for all. Let’s face it most people have no ideas when it comes to home decorating – harsh but true. The new trend is to turn to the experts who really know the tricks of the trade and this is where you come in.
The good side of being an Interior stylist is 100% the end result of a happy client. If you have a happy client you have them for life. I absolutely love the process of the design and selections and clients opening up their email in the mornings to see what I have created for a space and being excited. Like a kid in a candy shop. I also enjoy the sourcing of something different for each client, something non main stream and the process of it involves. Obviously the final install of the design and selections is part of the good, I mean who doesn’t like a little squeal from a happy client lol.
The bad side of the business of Interiors is the long hours, clients who think they have made good choices and are not taking your direction even though they hired you, and currently with COVID 19 the freight delays OMG do not get me started. Even though there is bad, I take it with a grain of salt.
The Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say – so true. But beauty can come in many forms to different people. The beauty in my job is fairly simple. I absolutely LOVE what I do everyday, or I simply would not do it. Move with the times.
My advice for becoming an interior stylist or interior decorator or interior designer or property stylist – whatever it is you want to do in this field is this;
- Go and offer to work for free for a day to see if it is something you would like to do
- If you want to go for it just start, don’ muck around get yourself out there, make contacts.
- Don’t wait till you have the perfect business setup – website, social etc just start or it will never happen.
- Research, research, research
- BE DIFFERENT, What Makes you different from everyone else out there.
- Most of all just be happy.