Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Grace Porter. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Grace, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Alright, so you had your idea and then what happened? Can you walk us through the story of how you went from just an idea to executing on the idea
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. However, I never knew what business I actually wanted to start. Until one day, a friend I had recently met came over to my home and was in awe over my decorating skills. She took some videos to post on her Instagram story and then told me people were going crazy over my home. I knew I had a passion for interior decor and design but my honest thought was, “who doesn’t?” It was a passion of mine. It was a hobby I knew I could turn into a business, but how?! My friend encouraged me to step up my content on social media. She told me this would be the platform to get me started. Well that is exactly what I did! I got my first client and took my friends and followers on the journey with me! I started posting my shopping trips, my set up days, and my before and after pictures. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive of my new business adventure. They started to book with me or would refer me to friends and family. The next thing I knew, social media was generating all of my leads for me! The best advice I can give to anyone debating starting a business is go for it, because if you do not, the answer is already no. The best part of the story is the friend (Mariya Bentz) who pushed me to start my business has become my best friend! She has been my biggest supporter and has only encouraged and supported me along the way.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I am a family person. My husband and my children are my priority. Before starting my business I was a stay at home mother for 4 years. This is why being my own boss best suits my lifestyle because I understand what my schedule needs to look like in order to balance my home life. I love that I am able to create my own schedule and deadlines. When a client books with me I first set up a consultation so I can understand the client’s needs for the project. If the client is only needing furniture and decorating, we pick a set up day, and I start the planning/shopping process to prepare for the set up day. Most of my clients want to be completely surprised until everything is done. I would say my “set up day reveals” is what makes me really stand out. I am bringing a service to my clients that they usually only see on HGTV, but this time their life is the show. Booking with me is not just a service, it is an experience. I also do not have time to accept a lot of clients at once so this allows me to build personal relationships with my clients. They are able shoot me a text or give me a call at any time. As a designer what makes me unique is I do not have just “one” style. I love and design all styles and this allows me to work with everyone! I have clients who want traditional all the way to eclectic. Some clients want neutrals while others want color. My goal for my clients is to bring their style to life.
Can you open up about how you funded your business?
Every business is different and requires different needs. My financial experience will work for some business owners and will not work as well for others. My business advice is to try and start your business with as little overhead as possible. As the money starts to come in, then go and invest in some of the items you are needing/wanting to buy. Start your marketing off with social media vs a fancy website. You can also have the clients make deposits or pay up front. You can grow your presence in the community just by shaking hands and dropping of business cards. As more leads come in and the money starts to add up you will be able to invest back into your business. This allows you to test out your new business and see if this is going to really work or not. I know a lot of people who invest a lot up front, cannot pay their bills, and then have to give up their business because they invested in the overhead before the business was ready to pay for it. Running a business can be hard in the beginning and if you are not able to reward yourself with money then you will likely find yourself discouraged. So set your business up in the beginning to be profitable, set money to the side, and then you will have the money to reinvest into your business.
Can you share one of your favorite marketing or sales stories?
A great way to make money in my industry is staging homes for realtors. However, you need to have your name out there and furniture inventory in order to get started. I will never forget when my best friend, Mariya Bentz, mentioned my name in a random Facebook group to a realtor in Mid-town Atlanta. This realtor was needing a home staged as soon as possible for a 1.2 million dollar townhome. The clients had a significantly large budget as well. There was no way I could say no to this opportunity, The realtor sent me pictures of the home and I instantly was able to envision what the home was needing. The homeowners reviewed 3 other businesses and chose to work with me, and my quote was even the highest one out of everyone! So here I was being selected to stage this home even though I had zero inventory and believe in high profit projects. So how did I do it!? I was able to use my OWN furniture and extra decorations around my home. I was able to buy cheaper furniture that looked high in and was able to successfully complete the project. I had to hire my parents to help me move it all in. We went 4 weeks missing a sofa out of my personal living room and I even rented a desk from a past client as well. The homeowners were very pleased with the results and even said, “we should have hired you to decorate our home when we first moved in!” The home was under contract within 48 hours! This project was also very profitable for as well. I could have been too scared to take on this challenge, but instead I chose to challenge myself and made it happen. I was so proud of this job and I was secretly so proud of myself for not being scared to take on this new kind of work. That project has helped generate new leads for my business as well.
- Instagram: @graceporter_designs
- Other: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Family photo: Loveleigh Co Photography