I remember back in 2012, only about 5 years in business, I decided that I wanted to move my business from a small office in my then home, to a storefront. I had big dreams of a brick and mortar space in a hip part of town. I wanted to have some retail of unique furnishings, a showroom to showcase products from my favorite vendors, and of course a studio space for my vast sample library, and a place to meet and greet clients.
I set out on this adventure with about $30,000 that I had saved, and dreams to get an SBA loan through my bank.
I secured what I thought was an ideal location in Chelsea Market in Montrose. This is a great part of town with amazing restaurants, professional offices, theaters, museums, million dollar homes, and shopping.
I began my carefully planned build-out of a great layout with multiple vignettes, shelving, racks, display cases, and it was really an exciting time for my business. I eventually got the bad news that the loan had fallen through after all, and with no funding I decided to move into the newly built-out space unfurnished. No beautiful vignettes like I had imagined. No amazing layers of wallpaper, furniture and accessories. It was empty. I was in a new part of town, and I had no real clientele there. For 5 years I operated in Katy and built a good client base there, but Montrose was like being a fish out of water to me.
I tried to make it work for about a year, and eventually had to walk away from my hard work and investment. You can read more about that space HERE
Instead of giving up entirely, I decided to scale down my dream a bit. It was time to regroup and formulate a better plan.
As luck would have it, I was on my way to the courthouse in Old Katy to pay a speeding ticket (only 10 miles over the limit :-) ) when I saw a for sale or lease sign on this charming victorian style bungalow home in Old Katy. I decided to call the number on the sign. The lady who answered told me she is just around the corner from the house and could meet me in about 10 minutes.
I walked into the house and fell in love immediately. It was quaint and cute, really high ceilings, original wood floors stained black, trim casings around doors and windows and tons of windows, but it needed a lot of work! The puke green paint in the dining room was only the tip of the iceberg. I decided to take a chance on it, and signed the lease within a day or two.
I had gone from the disappointed of losing my shirt on the space in Montrose, to excitement for the new historical 1905 house that was now going to be my office.
I did a lot of the work myself with the help of some of my trusted trades people, and slowly turned it into a quaint little space. I had my office space, the living room space you see above, which is where I greeted my clients, a dining room space where I did my presentations, a small kitchen and a large room in the back (that was added in the 1960's) where I kept my samples. There was also another out-building on the property that I used for storage
That space worked for a long time, but I was ready to go after the original dream again - the showroom with retail.
After a bit of market research, I determined that retail would not exactly thrive in this new location. But being the person that I am, I decided that I would give it a try on a smaller scale than the original vision. Just to test it for myself
I carved out a small part of the showroom for selling products, but most of it was studio and work space
After a couple of years, I realized that I was right about retail. I had no desire to be a brick and mortar store.
As the company grew, I realized that our biggest need was to be able to receive and warehouse the products we sold for the projects we work on. We procure a lot of furnishings every day, and currently we partner with a receiver to receive, inspect, storage and white-glove deliver the furnishings to our project sites. They have been great to work with, but I realized that this is something that I wanted to have more control over. It is a very detailed process and we want to make it as efficient as possible
So right before covid hit in early 2020, I began my search for a new location - this time with a warehouse, office space and no retail. My lease was coming to an end so it was the perfect timing......or was it?
I had the signed lease in hand to send to the new landlord when we got the news about lockdowns all over the world. I decided that it wasn't the time for such a huge undertaking, with so much that was unknown at the time, and so I wrote a nice note to the landlord that I was backing out of the deal for now. He was very understanding
A couple weeks at home during the lockdowns had me thinking about what I really wanted. At the core of everything I do, building a legacy for my children is the one thing that drove me to moving forward and progressing. I started wondering what kind of legacy I am leaving to my kids if I did not try to own real estate. I mean, I had my home, so that counted, but why not own my business real estate as well? Why pay lease for something that I would never own?
So I began my research into buying my new location versus leasing.
I have worked my tail off for a number of years. I have not taken a vacation in about 5 years except for our trip to Paris in 2019, and that was more of a work trip, and with all that hard work, I managed to save up some money that I was willing to invest in owning a new space.
I didn't even know that these things existed until I began my research. I had no idea that office/condos and office/warehouses were a thing, and I certainly didn't realize that I could get one in a prime location versus some hidden-away industrial complex.
My main goal for the new space was to have space that I could grow into. As much as I love our current space, we had outgrown it the first year. A warehouse was an absolute must. although ideally I wanted a 4' loading dock, or at least a 2' loading dock, but that was some kind of unicorn that I eventually gave up on......... for now.
This space will have a large garage door for receiving goods, but trucks will need to have a lift gate. I guess baby steps - one day, it could be a much bigger location with all the bells and whistles, but for now, I am excited about what we are doing.
I have never been more excited about a big blank empty shell - which is exactly what I am purchasing. It is a 3500 square foot shell with 23' ceilings. The developer does an optional build-out, but it wasn't sufficient for my vision, so I plan to do my own build out.
I plan to keep about 1800-2000 sf of it as warehouse space and the rest will be offices covering two stories. The main offices/studio and showcase will be on the lower level, and the upper level will have a couple more offices that I may lease out, and a large classroom where I plan to conduct design classes for consumers, and design business classes for the designers I mentor. I will provide more details on the actual plans in future posts
The development is just getting started. They are just pouring slab for the first building, and I am in the process of creating the architectural plan for the interior build-out and discussing it with my general contractor.
I say it all the time that it is a very exciting undertaking, but it is also a bit scary. Feeling a bit scared is not lack of faith as some would think. In fact, it takes an incredible amount of faith to do all that I have done with building my dream since the inception of Casa Vilora Interiors in 2007.
I have been blessed beyond measure - first, by God answering my prayers and showing me what my real purpose was on this earth. It took me a long time to understand how God's purpose for my life - being an interior designer and design business mentor, was advancing His Kingdom. Now that I know without a shadow of a doubt, nothing can take me away from that purpose.
Secondly, I have been blessed with the spirit of discernment - being able to know when to move, being humble enough to see opportunities when others don't and not waiting for them to be handed to me, being empowered by my own talent and work ethic and not play the victim, EVER!
I take risks all the time, but understand that I don't have control over anything else but my own thoughts and actions. I always try to line up all my ducks in a row before I take on a new adventure like this, but sometimes your ducks may fall out of the row - knowing your next move is important. Knowing what lessons to take from it is empowering. Just like my Montrose fiasco did not destroy me, nothing else can. I learned some valuable lessons from that, and I would not trade that experience for anything else.
I will always recognize and acknowledge the blessings that I have received from my amazing clients who trust me with their homes and their lifestyles, this industry that has embraced me and allowed me to thrive, and the many mentees who have trusted me with their dreams of building a strong business.
Even though there are so many things in our world today that cast doubts about this move, I am going for it. There is still a lot out of my control, but I will see it through, and even if I have to adjust my sail mid voyage, I am ready.
I plan to launch a Youtube campaign about the development of the new space, a possible rebranding and just details on the big move and I would love for you to follow a long and keep me encouraged.
I am looking for some great brands to partner with as well, so if you are a brand who wants to get involved with this new venture, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know there's a lot of work ahead. You can connect with me on Youtube HERE. I haven't posted a video in a while, so please forgive me for slacking off there. Haha. Also follow my stories on Instagram to keep up to date with the daily progress.
Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on our next big move
Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!