A home is more than a house to Chelsee Sowder and Natasha Stanley.
It’s where people gather with their families at the end of the day – where they feel safe and comfortable. To them, their home is their nest.
In March 2018, Sowder and Stanley opened Nest Interiors LLC in Ozark to offer a wide range of trending home decor, as well as design and home staging services.
“Our goal is to bring high-quality items at a super affordable cost,” Sowder says. “I want someone to be able to come in and redecorate their mantle and still be able to buy groceries that week.”
Home decor, such as picture frames, tabletop decor, candles and cups, are typically priced between $15 and $20, she says. Pillows, lamps and wall decor range from $40 to $100, while accent tables, benches and chairs are priced between $100 and $500. Higher priced items include dining tables at $450 to $1,200.
Home decor was the bulk of the business partners’ first year in retail, generating 80% of the company’s $250,000 revenue. Home staging spurred 15% of the revenue, and the remainder was from design services. Sowder says the company is on pace to triple sales in 2019, with revenue categories breaking into thirds.
In Ozark, on 17th Street, Nest Interiors is on track to move into a new office off the town’s historic square during the first week of August. The 1,500-square-foot space at 101 W. Church St. was a $30,000 investment to lease and infill, Sowder says. The company is in the process of liquidating its current inventory to make room for new items.
Sowder and Stanley have offered staging services since before they opened their first store and were operating out of a pop-up shop location. But Sowder says it’s become more popular in the last 18 months.
They’ve staged homes in Ozark, Springfield, Nixa and Republic – anything from a starter home priced at $100,000 to a home listed for over $500,000. The company currently has 20 staged homes on the market.
“A home could be on the market for months and we stage it, and then they have it under contract in under 24 hours,” Stanley says. “On average, our stuff doesn’t last longer than a week or two on the market, even if it’s sat there three to four months prior to that.”
They’re typically hired by real estate agents or builders, but homeowners have started to show interest, Sowder says, noting the influence of HGTV.
The company uses its current inventory to stage a house. If vacant, the company charges $850 to provide living room and dining room furniture, as well as kitchen and bathroom decor for 30 days.
Clients can add on rooms that need staging, such as a bedroom for $200, an office for $150 and a second living area for $350.
Occupied homes that need a little sprucing can be decorated for $500 with additional decor. Once a home is sold, buyers are able to purchase the staged items at a lower cost than in the store, Sowder says.
Homes that are staged from the beginning of the selling process spend 86% less time on the market, according to a 2018 report from the Real Estate Staging Association, a group aimed to create industry standards and professionalism for the staging industry. Un-staged homes were on the market for an average of 107 days, with staged homes being sold after 18 days, according to the report.
Kyle Dowell, realtor at The Dowell Group Real Estate, says he worked with Nest Interiors to stage a $500,000 home in the Millwood subdivision. He says the house was under contract in less than 30 days on the market.
“For a higher-end house like that, once you get over the half million mark, typically they sit on the market for a while because they have a smaller buyer pool,” Dowell says. “It was a great house to begin with, but I think the staging of it definitely showcased the attributes of the house.”
The duo also designs homes from the ground up for various undisclosed builders. Recently, they completed 14 designs in one week. And they’re picking out more than decor.
“We are doing everything from changing the elevation of a home to choosing cabinet colors and finishes,” Sowder says.
Design is now in the company’s name – the dba is Nest Interiors and Design – and such projects range from $1,500 to $5,000 and as high as $20,000.
Sowder and Stanley started selling random decor in 2015 when they set up booths at places like Relics Antique Mall as a hobby on the weekends. That turned into monthly pop-up shops in 2017, when they formed their first LLC.
At the time, refurbished-shabby chic was the trend. That meant they were combing through estate sales and thrift stores to find products they could repurpose and sell.
The duo took the trend with them to their first storefront in March 2018, and they now employ 10 part-time staff members on-call to assist with the store and staging services. The trend has shifted to a farmhouse-aesthetic, which has since been replaced by a modern and industrial look.
Sowder says Springfield is a little slow to pick up on the design trends.
“I want to say the trend’s going to be an even more contemporary-industrial feel, but how long it takes our market to get there is the true question. We’re seeing emerald green cabinets with quartz countertops and furniture with gold detailing … but will that hit Springfield? I don’t think so,” she says.
She’s predicting their clientele will stay content with the current modern-industrial look.
That’s one of the reasons Stanley and Sowder decided to create their own line of furniture, which has been in production for the last six months.
The heirloom-styled pieces are expected to arrive in mid-August and will follow a modern farmhouse look she says won’t be going out of style soon.
“We wanted to have a nice solid piece of furniture that could transform style to style or trend to trend and still be passed down to your grandkids,” she says.
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