Prior to incorporating Decor Envy in July of 2016, Tiffany Sweeney worked for a construction company as a Selections Coordinator. She helped homeowners who were building houses make their selections for tile, counter-tops, plumbing fixtures and any type of material related to building their new home. She spent three years in that role. Prior to that, Sweeney did cabinetry design for a subsidiary of a large construction company. Since graduating from Indian River State College in 2004 with an Associates Degree in Applied Science in Interior Design, her entire career has revolved around residential interior design. She even dabbled in small business ownership before her latest venture.
"I had a company called Interiors Consulting Group from late 2007 through 2013," she said. "I did private interior design consulting work. I also had a small retail for consignment furniture shop and offered design services through that. Unfortunately neither business worked out. To be honest, they were unplanned, spur of the moment type businesses. I had a client, they needed a service and I thought, that with the proposed project I could open my own business. I didn't have a business plan, financial structure or anything formal in place. Through those experiences, I learned so much about running a business and dealing with customers, managing books, cash flow, employees, etc."
When it came time to open Decor Envy, Sweeney took her experience and long time dream of opening a particular type of business and combined them to form something special. Her approach with Decor Envy was completely different and much more organized than her first two attempts at starting a business.
"I wrote a business plan, made sure I had proper funding in place, hired a manager and wrote job descriptions. I wanted my new business to encompass a lot of different things including retail, design services and also a design center. I wanted a place that interior designers, interior design students, builders, architects, and others, that don't have a resource library, could utilize. I also wanted a place where interns could come and learn and gain hours towards their degree. By a stroke of luck, I found a building in downtown Vero beach, in the historic antiques district, that would accommodate my vision."
According to Sweeney, the building was perfect, so she jumped on it. It had a warehouse, a receiving bay, a showroom space, office space and totaled 5,200 square feet. The retail aspect of her business opened in August of 2017. Sweeney shared some early challenges and her overall experience with running a multifaceted small business.
"The retail business is such a subjective thing," she said. "It's a personal preference when you're looking for something specific. That makes it hard to guess what's going to be a big seller. We're also a very unique home furnishings boutique. We're the only store in this area that has our look. We're considered a 'Palm Beach Preppy' aesthetic. You'll see bold patterns and colors, but classic and traditional shapes. You're looking at a ton of color when you walk into our store. We intentionally chose not to go the direction of the beachy coastal look. I believe it's over-saturated in this area. In terms of ongoing challenges, the biggest is managing cash flow. I'd also say paper work, project management and managing client expectations. For some clients, decorating their homes is a very emotional thing. In some cases, we have to be marriage counselors and psychics. We're dealing with someone's living space. Sometimes the husband and wife differ on what they want. It's up to us to figure out a balance between the two."
Regardless of the challenges, Sweeney thoroughly enjoys what she does. The end result of her efforts is a client that is happy in their new space. That brings Sweeney a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction. She strives to deliver the utmost level of customer service and the highest quality product for the best possible price. She's worked hard at procuring pieces she's confident selling to her clients and at creating a certain level of prestige with her brand. Looking ahead, Sweeney has her sights set on expanding her presence beyond Vero Beach.
"I'm definitely focused on growing the business," she said. "I'd like to do projects outside of Vero Beach or even Florida. A lot of residents in Vero come from the Northeastern states, Canada and Midwest. If we can work with them on their Florida home, there's also an opportunity to work with them on their primary home. To help accomplish this, we're advertising in magazines that are delivered to other areas and maintain a fully-optimized website and a robust social media presence. We'd also like to add a delivery service and expand our online e-commerce business."
Sweeney's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to never give up on your dreams and to use your dream as your motivator. She also stresses the importance of laying the groundwork first, having a plan in place, being methodical with your approach, having the proper funding, working hard, and, most importantly, never giving up.