Simple Elegance TX… Where did it begin?
The Simple Elegance TX Story & Founder, Mary Scalli
It’s been a Journey….
Hills and Valleys…
But throughout each part of the journey, I have learned so many things….
Growing up, my dad was a small-town veterinarian. The business was in our basement and my brother and I were involved in the business from very young ages, answering business phones, counting the cash drawer at the end of the day, filing, holding animals, mowing the lawn and weeding the gardens, cleaning cages, the house, the office etc. Our lives existed around the business. At mealtimes, our conversations were not only about what happened in our lives but what happened in the office and how we needed to assist our parents. I knew from a young age that I wanted my own business someday. I thought that business would be a Bed and Breakfast. Set my career goals on Hotel School and went off to Michigan State University. Spent 5 years working for Westin Hotels & Resorts and climbing the corporate ladder via moving from hotel to hotel. Then I left Los Angeles and the Century Plaza Hotel for Woodstock, VT. ￼I was off to work for the Woodstock Inn, a beautiful inn in the quintessential town of Woodstock, VT
Before Simple Elegance
After city life for the past 5 years in 4 different major cities across the country, I was not prepared for small town living again. I loved serving the many quests and never worked harder in my life. However, I missed city life and back to Boston I went, to a life in retail. It was a vacation from hotel life, and once again I climbed the corporate ladder to a District Manager. Truly a dream job for me. Life is made up of great highs and lows in one’s life. Shortly after being promoted to District Manager, my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first and only child – truly a high. At the time, my husband was sailing for a major oil company and gone for many months at the time. I was a District Manager with a major women’s retailer and there was our precious baby. Something had to change. Never in my life had I even thought of being a stay at home mom. But with my husband out of the country and an infant at home, it was the only choice I had. Life is filled with big decisions and lots of little ones. Sometimes the big decisions feel like they are going to kill you, but then come all the little decisions.
It was an amazing experience to be home raising our son, but I was not used to just being home. My life became filled with volunteering and building friendships via my son’s little friends and their moms. Today those relationships remain extremely special to me. However, God still knew I had dreams and hadn’t forgotten them. When our son entered kindergarten, one of my best friends asked me to be a partner in her window treatment business. Yes, God hadn’t forgotten my dream to own a business. I learned so much and loved working with my best friend for 5 years. But once again there would be a change that became evident to me when my husband asked me to join him for lunch one Monday. He had been offered an opportunity in Houston, TX that we couldn’t say no to, but that would mean the end of our business, Simple Elegance Cape Cod with my best friend.
Simple Elegance Begins
Off to Houston, TX our small family went. As I sit here 11 years later, I am amazed at everything that has happened. My husband had said to me, you will open the business again in Texas. I did a year after we arrived in Houston, Simple Elegance TX. Then I expanded and began offering Professional Home Staging to our Interior Design Business. We have had the opportunity to serve so many amazing people with so many different stories. The business has had many hills and valleys. This past month, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of filing our corporate paperwork with the state of Texas. The business started officially the fall of 2010 as a window treatment business. Our first project went totally wrong as we began finding vendors who we could trust and not trust. I remember opening a fortune cookie and it said, “Your greatest successes will come from your biggest failures.” I held onto that fortune cookie forever.
In 2013 we began offering home staging services. 2014, we staged 20 houses. 2019, we staged 176 houses with 58 interior decorating projects. 2015 we moved from 5 storage units to a 2500 square foot warehouse/showroom. In July 2017 we added a 2nd 1900 square foot warehouse and then Hurricane Harvey hit in August. God was gracious to us. We had 45 houses staged throughout Houston and only 3 houses were affected by flooding. $50,000 worth of inventory that was lost in those homes and our insurance did not cover flooding at the time. Our warehouses were dry though – truly a blessing as the ones just below our furniture warehouse were all flooded. That’s how close the flooding was to us. We were able to serve many in our community during this time by assisting with distributing needed supplies and mucking out flooded homes.
Below is a sample of the house that we had the worst loss in it with before Harvey pictures and after Harvey.
Business did finally come back 6 months later, and the following year was amazing. 2019 started out with crazy business. At the end of the first 6 months of the year, we were up 70% over the previous year. Then the second half of the year hit, and we ended the year just slightly above 2018. 2020 began again with a big bang right through the first week of March. Then the corona virus pandemic hit. Business slowed to a startling halt once again. However, God has been with us through this time as our leases were up on our warehouses, and we needed a quiet time to move again into another warehouse. For those of you who have ever moved a home staging business, it’s like moving 40 houses at one time. Plus, there is the building and the taking down of all the industrial racking and packing up accessories like you cannot imagine; 100’s of pillows, dishes, glassware, lamps, art, bedding, and more.
Houston was in a stay at home situation except for essential business. HAR.com had negotiated real estate industry as essential in Houston. Unfortunately for many other states, this was not the case for other stagers across the country. We successfully got moved into our new location while still in construction for our build out of the accessory warehouse and showroom. We are getting settled and we are looking like a professional staging business again. However, business is slow due to the virus. This is normally our busy time when we bring in income to keep our employees employed. The government has provided a stimulus plan for small businesses that would help us through this devastating time. We were blessed by the Cares Act/PPP and EIDL finally in early May. The bank account has been short and yet we are positive that we will get through this valley as we have others.
Owning a business is not for the soft at heart. There are amazing opportunities. I will call those the Hills. Then there are extreme times of scarcity, I’ll call those the Valleys. Through each situation, I will say God has been faithful to us but it’s not without sleepless nights and a few glasses of chardonnay! I praise God for an amazing and loyal team that all have hearts to serve our community and those that God brings before us to bless. I have been reading the book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. It is a book on marriage but has so many points in it that refer to life and business. One chapter is called, “I Almost Quit.” He shares a story about himself who early in his writing career almost quit because of the mounting bills in his family. 20 years later and after the encouragement of his mother-in-law to keep writing, he has blessed us with over 20 books on marriage and relationships. Another story he shared was about a wife who gave up on her marriage in the hard time of the marriage. Today, she is remarried, working a menial job and married to a Non-Christian husband. However, if she had not quit on her first husband, she would be married to an amazing Godly husband that needed some time to become the man who God knew he would become. We are not quitting at Simple Elegance. We are here to serve through the Hills and Valleys. Thank you, Houston, for allowing Simple Elegance to be a part of your lives