Building Women Entrepreneurship29 April 2016 Written by By Don Huntington
Published in May 2016 Articles
Amber Arias started her home staging company 15 years ago and opened Visions Home Consignments store eight years later.
Amber went into business with the goal of providing an income for her family and an education for her children. She launched a staging business — preparing homes for sale by improving their cosmetic appeal for buyers. She found that staging is a good business for a woman. She said, “The bottom line is that you can stay home and raise your children while helping to provide for your family.” Then she noted the essential ingredient: “You have to be willing to invest in yourself.” She began her own career as a stay-at-home mom raising funds to provide for her children’s school expenses. Fifteen years later, she is working to help put them through college.
“The Marketing part of staging made sense to me,” Amber said. She discovered she had some abilities, which she described as “small gifts.” For example, a natural eye for design. However, Amber discovered a much more important quality ingredient for a successful staging business. Success lies in gaining practical knowledge about marketing and elements of design including such factors as creating balance, identifying trending indicators, and mastering color concepts. Amber summed up an important truth: “Success comes when you can channel a small talent into a force that will create genuine change to improve your life.”
Amber now has an ambition to share her practical hard-won principles of business success with others and to assist women in caring for themselves and their family. She hopes to attract women who, like herself, are providing for their family, staying home with the kids, and creating a business for themselves.
Amber has a reputation in the industry and is responding to a number of staging professionals who have approached her with appeals for help. Some women are trying to get started in the staging industry, others are seasoned professionals, and each of them are looking for solutions to the problem of securing appropriate inventory to meet customer demands. Amber has a get-things-done type personality, so she got started on the fast track by also starting a staging rental business. She quickly discovered how gratifying and important it proved to be to help women to get into business, stay in business, and then successfully grow their businesses.
Amber set an important principle. “The goal of the staging industry is to set the stage by creating an environment that appeals to the buyers’ desired lifestyle,” she said. This is accomplished by using specific furniture pieces, accessories, lighting — plus supplying appropriate art. The tasks of housing, moving, and managing all that inventory can be a heavy responsibility. Therefore, Amber’s business model provides not only the training to master the skills to be a successful staging business owner, but also helps supply the inventory to back it up. “We have over a million dollars of inventory, nine thousand square feet to house it, and a team of seasoned professionals to move and transport it.”
Amber makes all these pieces available to her clients. Amber said that her own experience demonstrated that success in her industry depends more on learning and application than upon innate talents. She realized the necessary skills are transferrable and developed a passion for equipping other women for success.
Amber has set out to teach other women to duplicate the success that she had enjoyed while avoiding the trial-and-error learning experiences that she had to endure. Next month, she’s hosting a three-day staging training event that will provide some hands on experience by actually doing a staging project from start to finish. The event will also provide invaluable information on such essentials as how to start your business, learn how to get staging jobs, bid the jobs, select the appropriate inventory, and the procedures for correctly installing the staging. Amber admitted that people can learn about staging in online courses, but said that face-to-face learning and networking is powerful. “I took a very expensive class 16 years ago, wasted a lot of money, and didn’t learn how to actually start and grow a staging business.” However, during the following years, she gained a practical wisdom and knowledge that she now imparts to others, teaching them to build a successful business. Amber said that at the beginning a number of staging professionals helped her learn the business. “I’m pulling the next generation of women entrepreneurship along, just as other women entrepreneurs pulled me along,” Amber said.
Amber said her mom had an entrepreneurial spirit and was continually involved in real estate-based business ventures. She set a good example of a woman succeeding in business. Even though Amber became a successful entrepreneur and derives a lot of satisfaction from her business, she said that she spent her childhood and young adult years planning to be a stay-at-home mom. When her youngest child seemed unprepared for kindergarten, Amber began a kinder-bridge program out of her house in order to give her daughter, along with a number of other children, a boost to help ensure subsequent academic success.
After her daughter started school, Amber assisted the family financial situation by engaging in several at-home and from-home businesses including a coffee drive through, candle and jewelry sales. The Internet revolution permitted her to begin managing business accounts for Chevron. When the Internet collapse put an end to that job, she still had no desire to seek a corporate position that would take her away from being available to her children.
Amber’s career began to move into high gear when she began house hunting. She said that she enjoyed such style elements as color, fashion, room design, and textures. “I had such clearly defined opinions about what constitutes an ideal home environment that my Real Estate agent told me I should think about home staging.” At that point, Amber began to have a vision for starting her next business. “My husband gave me his blessing,” she said, but then he added that I could do anything I wanted except go into debt.
Amber investigated the staging industry and then used a severance package from Chevron to pay for her staging training. She began growing the business as a self-financing “boot-strap” kind of operation, one comforter at a time. In eight years, her business grew to the point that she was using four large storage units and a warehouse. The increasing costs of storing her growing trove of beautiful objects became burdensome, plus the insulated storage units were awkward to work in and uncomfortably hot during 110° weather. She realized that opening her own home consignments store would enable her to shift inventory around and would provide an income stream by permitting her to sell excess inventory. She opened her Visions Home Consignments store in 2010 as an upscale contemporary home décor and furnishings boutique. It proved a good business move from the beginning. Besides enabling her to make money off of excess inventory, the consignment store became an outlet for other people’s upscale home decor. Before long, design professionals and new homeowners were using Visions Home Consignments as a source of high quality furniture and accessories, so she assembled a staff of design savvy women and designers to, help create beautiful spaces in our customers’ homes.
Visions Home Consignment store offers great value because, as Amber said, “Design has little to do with price.” The association of the store with her home staging business frees her from the necessity of maximizing prices in a desperate attempt to keep the doors open, which enables her to offer a great price-point for many of her products.
She’s delighted to share her path to success with other women who might be looking for a path to financial security. She is passionate about helping to encourage women’s entrepreneurial skills and add to the network of women paving the way to do the same.