SSWF – Eighth & Sound Staging and Design
Introducing Stephanie Cristofanelli with Eighth & Sound Staging and Design serving Evans, GA.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in business for a year and a half.
Are you solo or have a team?
It’s just me right now, but I couldn’t get everything done without my husband’s muscles and my friend’s willingness to help me on occasions.
Describe any specific challenges you are facing.
I think some of the hardest challenges I face in this job are the houses that require quick installs and staging new construction or renovated homes. Because I am on my own, it can be difficult planning and executing those “one week” notice stages. There have been occasions when I only have time to look at online pictures to plan the space, hoping it all comes together at install! New construction or renovation projects can sometimes bring the challenge of working around spaces that are not fully completed or clean due to a crunched timeline. I’ve learned to roll with it all, knowing that it will get done eventually!
What got you into staging in the first place?
I have always loved design, so when a dear friend asked me to open a furniture booth with her at a local antique store, I was so excited to be able to put together vignettes using re-purposed furniture. We had many adventures, some we would probably like to forget, searching, shopping and refinishing those perfect pieces. A few months into managing the booth, my friend, who also owns a real estate firm, Market House Reality, approached me about staging one of her homes. That house was the first house I staged and, honestly, it was completely thrown together, but, lo and behold, it had a contract within 9 hours of the live listing. Since then, I have worked with many wonderful agents and homeowners around the area and have developed some loyal clients as a result of those stages. Looking back at the path that led me to this job, I am still amazed at how seamlessly the pieces fell into place and I am so thankful for the opportunity to do something I truly love.
What was your previous career?
My first career was as a School Psychologist. It was one of the most rewarding and emotionally exhausting jobs I have ever had. However, once I had children, I chose to stay home with them and work with a direct sales company called, Matilda Jane Clothing. I had a very successful career with them, but after 5 years, I could no longer juggle my growing roles, so I made the hard decision to resign this past December.
What do you know now that you wished you knew on your first day of business?
I wish I had known to always pack your lunch and bring blue tape, several tape measures, a back up battery for your screw driver, and a steamer.
What has been your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it?
I think that when I started my business, I anticipated several challenges, and therefore, worked hard at making sure I was prepared for them. However, the one thing that I did not anticipate was how difficult it would be to find several people available to help me move in and move out of each house. I would like to say that I have overcome this difficulty, but I am still working on it. Meanwhile, my husband and friends have all been an amazing support and are always willing to help me lift that heavy piece of furniture that I “had” to have in that space.
What objection have you heard from a client and how did you overcome it?
One objection, in particular, that I heard from a client was concerning the cost of the project. Their vacant house had been on the market for 6 months with very few showings. The feedback was that the master bedroom was too small. However, after walking through the space, I realized the house also needed a fresh coat of neutral paint and updated lighting. After several weeks, the homeowners agreed to go with my recommendations, but at that point only wanted the master bedroom to be staged. In addition, they decided to purchase the bedroom furniture from me so that if the house sat on the market for another 6 months, they would be saving themselves some money and also own furniture they liked. Overall, I think that experience was a good reminder to be very sensitive to my clients’ needs and budget constraints.
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