The start of 2019 signaled a new beginning for Ellecor Design and Gifts.
Following eight months of renovations, the interior design company in January opened the door to its new home – a 1,600-square-foot bungalow in the Rountree neighborhood. Ellecor co-owners Haden and Brady Long purchased the 1924-built home for $212,000 in May 2018, going under contract the day they first visited. The married couple invested roughly $100,000 on renovations and added a ramp to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Brady Long served as project manager through his construction company, Adalyn Design & Project Management LLC.
It was money well spent, they say, as the house serves as a second chapter to their business. The first chapter began in early 2014 at Farmers Park. Ellecor was the first retailer in the mixed-use development.
By year three of a five-year lease, Haden Long, who is the lead interior designer for the four-employee business, says she began considering a move. It wasn’t because they were dissatisfied with Farmers Park. It was largely because the 2,300-square-foot space just didn’t work with the direction the business was moving. She says it quickly became much more focused on interior design clients’ special orders versus in-store retail sales.
“We thought when we opened the store we would be more retail oriented because it was a retail store. Then the design is what really took off,” she says.
By the end of the first year, design work represented 80% of sales, and rest was retail sales of furniture and home decor. Today, around 90% is driven by design plans.
“It just wasn’t the setup we needed anymore,” she says. “We didn’t need to have to carry all that inventory to fill up all that space.”
Quick to profit
The Longs are familiar with Rountree. They live a couple blocks away from Ellecor’s 623 S. Pickwick Ave. home.
Furniture and home decor inventory fills but doesn’t clutter the space, which gets daily foot traffic from customers. It’s not at the level of Farmers Park, which drew hundreds of visitors on Saturdays when the farmers market first launched in the development.
“Starting a business and instantly having 300-500 people walking through your doors on a Saturday is just great,” Brady Long says.
The couple financed opening the shop through a $200,000 loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Sales quickly exceeded expectations.
“Within the first four months, we were profitable,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting us to be profitable in the first year.”
In year two, Ellecor doubled in sales.
“It’s not grown at that rate since then, but we’ve had consistent growth,” he says, declining to disclose annual revenue.
The couple estimate sales have tripled since its first year of operation, with 2019 revenue tracking to be slightly above last year. He says holiday-related sales in the last couple months of the year will determine if that expectation stands.
Home sweet home
To help with the growing business, a second interior designer, Sierra Penas, was hired in 2017. Penas primarily designs for remodeling projects, while Haden Long handles most new home construction design work. Long estimates she spends about 60% of her workload on new construction projects, helping clients select flooring, cabinets, lighting, trim and furniture, among other home design options. About 85% of Ellecor’s projects are within 30 miles of Springfield.
Near the end of each year, Long’s project list takes on a decidedly seasonal slant.
“In November, I spend about 60% of my time decorating Christmas trees,” she says. “I put it up, but I don’t take it down.”
When it came time to decorate the house on Pickwick, Brady Long says they talked with several companies they’ve worked with on projects, such as Cabinet Concepts by Design and Signature Granite LLC, to provide samples of their work for the space. Discounts from the vendors saved the couple around $50,000 in house renovations.
Cabinet Concepts co-owner Shelley Wehner says her company supplied some of the cabinetry for Ellecor in its kitchen and office area. The cabinets provide customers with samples of different looks in a home’s space, Hayden Long says, rather than having to visualize them if shopping online or in a retail space.
Wehner says her company has collaborated on projects with Long for at least four years. Estimating the two companies have worked together on approximately 15-20 projects in the Springfield and Branson area, Wehner says cabinet costs for them have run the gamut from $5,000-$100,000.
“We do a little bit of everything with her,” Wehner says. “It’s been a good mix of work.”
Adalyn Design & Project Management does some of the remodeling projects through Ellecor, but Brady Long says all of the new construction design work is handled by outside builders.
Both names of the Longs’ companies have a family connection. Adalyn Design is named after their youngest daughter, while Ellecor is a combination of Elliot, their oldest daughter, and decor.
While the daughters are too young to work in the business, Reign, the family’s newest canine member, is a fixture at the store.
Although the dog might not convince customers to purchase design services, Brady Long says he’s glad his wife has help at the office, as she never turns down jobs.
“She can handle this whole business by herself. She did,” he says, noting she worked alone for the first year. “She’s the brains of the operation. I don’t claim to make any decisions with regards to how to make anything pretty. That’s for sure.”
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