Vicky Serany: Southern Studio
Today in the Lounge Nick sits down with Vicky Serany, founder, and principal of the interior design firm Southern Studio. They chat about the beauty of living in North Carolina, how Vicky has had tremendous success with her firm, and the pros and cons of business practices like outsourcing, management, and social media marketing.
Vicky hails from the beautiful city of Cary, North Carolina. Not only is Cary her favorite place she’s lived, but Vicky also loves to vacation at her family’s small beach cottage in the north of the state — that is when she’s not exploring the world with her husband. She loves the beach and says her favorite childhood memories are of crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay with her family. Her favorite fashion accessory? Earrings, but more practically, glasses, and she’s partial to a Key Lime Martini in the summer after a day at the beach. Vicky knew that interior design was an interest around the second grade, when her mother let her pick out the color of carpet she’d have in her bedroom. Later, she visited a model home and felt a surge of creative energy. After volleying a few different careers and struggling to find her passion, Vicky went back to school for design at Meredith College while raising her kids — and built such a successful firm that she never had to finish classes!
The Firm: Southern Studio
Vicky built her firm in the midst of the Great Recession, and she actually credits the tough stretch for making her think deeply about various business models. From the beginning, she knew she had a passion for residential design and found that she loved the construction side of the business — from exterior to plumbing, electrical, tile, and cabinets. But what she loved most, and still does, are the connections made while working with clients to design their dream homes. That guiding philosophy has been incredibly helpful: she says that business grew by about forty percent annually for six years! Now, Southern Studio has a team of eight full-time staffers to tackle management, studio administration, design, HR, and some bookkeeping, as well as an incredibly helpful intern. The firm outsources as much as possible for finances, bookkeeping, and warehousing, as well as much of their of PR and marketing. Vicky says that this frees her team to be able to focus more on their strengths rather than management and administration.
Challenges and Moving Forward
Vicky wears a lot of hats as the head of her firm but says that her least favorite part of the job is saying “no” to clients that she knows will not be a good fit their firm. Instead, she’s instituted a screening process that her clients go through, including a rigorous interview, to ensure that they are the right fit, and the rest is a joy. She also has a fascinating definition of marketing: the connection of people. However, she’s still developing social media strategies to get that message across. Lastly, Vicky shares some sage advice: interior design is a game, and everyone plays it differently. Nobody has a handbook, and everyone is just figuring out how to do new projects. In the end, that’s what we love about interior design: we have the freedom to be creative, make mistakes, and move forward.
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