Happy 2017, gorgeous!
We're super excited to kick off the year with an interview from Heather Visnesky, one of our inspiring Rock It! members. Heather is an absolute gem. She's the kind of woman that you always want in your corner and on your team. She's funny, whip smart, and has a creative eye like no other. In fact, she's the kind of woman we dreamed about when we started Propelle all those years ago.
Heather was gracious enough to peel back the curtain on her business and share more about how she got started, what makes her excited, where she struggles the most, and even where she sees herself and her business going. Spoiler alert: it's going to be fabulous (and stylish and crazy organized).
And if you want to hang out with Heather on the regular, you may want to consider joining the Rock It! Community.
Talk to us about Abode. What is it, how did you get started, and what do you love most about your work.
Abode is a home staging and styling company that I started in 2014. I was searching for a new career after working as a freelance writer. My children were both going to be in school full-time, and the world was kind of my oyster. We happened to be listing our house for sale, and my realtor and friend, Marissa Fogel, approached me about home staging as a possible career idea. I was really intrigued, and after preparing our own house, it sold in 18 hours.
I did the research and realized that it was completely within my ability to start my own business. So, with the help of a Kiva Zip crowdfunded loan, I got started. My first client contacted me the day after I was fully funded, and I've been slowly growing from there. I have recently begun the process of becoming certified as a KonMari Organizer, which included going to San Francisco to train with Marie Kondo and her team. I'm really excited by the possibilities of synthesizing all of these offerings to a variety of clients.
There is so much to love. I love collaborating with clients and other entrepreneurs, I love the creative process of putting together a design plan, and I love seeing the finished product of my work. I absolutely love when my clients are delighted!
Was owning your own business always something you wanted to do, or did you find your way here by chance?
I think it was a little bit of always wanting my own business, with a side of arriving at this particular business by chance. I have never been someone who had one life calling. Before I started Abode, I had difficulty seeing myself in one job. There were a variety of possible careers that I could see myself pursuing and genuinely enjoying. Though, almost all the roads I could have taken would have likely led to entrepreneurship.
You've also recently started a podcast called Houses and Hills. What's that about and what inspired you to start it?
Houses and Hills is a collaboration with Dani Gundlach, the founder of Inhabit Real Estate Collective. Dani approached me about creating a podcast in part as a marketing tool to create quality content directed at Pittsburghers, while also putting our names and brands into the public consciousness. Our podcast focuses on Pittsburgh makers, shapers, collaborators, and innovators talking about their life and work. It's a conversation, really, talking about what brought guests to Pittsburgh (or kept them here), their neighborhoods, what they love about Pittsburgh, and what they are working on to make Pittsburgh great. It's been so fun and interesting. I am a talker, so I love that I have a vehicle to talk to so many different people doing awesome things here in our city.
As a home stager and a KonMari Consultant, what are some of your favorite tips for organization?
First and foremost, I think it's important to really take a look at what you are holding onto. The KonMari Method encourages us to really look at everything we own, touch it, and ask ourselves if it brings us joy. It's not so much about getting rid of everything you own, but more about choosing to keep only the things that really make you happy. Once we get the hang of recognizing what brings us joy, the process can be really pleasurable! It's much easier to organize the things that we really want in our lives.
KonMari also has specific folding and storage techniques to help maximize the storage space you have, while making it easy to see your things. Adorable boxes and drawer dividers are also part of it. I love this method because it takes a holistic approach to organizing, connecting our intuition with our possessions. I feel that once you open up physical space in your home, it opens up a lot of mental space as well.
All of this ties in nicely to what I do as a home stager because I'm constantly trying to present a curated image to potential buyers that is simple, clean, and organized.
What has been the biggest struggle for you as you have been growing your business?
I feel like I have so many ideas! And not enough experience to execute all of them yet. I think this past year really taught me that I need to hire other professionals to help me with the parts of running a business that I don't enjoy or aren't my strengths. I have gotten bogged down in the past with the day-to-day, preventing me from growing in the way I know that I can.
My goal for 2017 is to focus on making my business not only more profitable, but also more focused, and bringing on more help to make that happen.
What has been the biggest blessing?
I have met so many amazing, truly authentic people since I started my business. Women, especially. I am so inspired every day by the entrepreneurs I meet and get to work with. I feel like there is such a sense of collaboration and abundance in the communities I've found, and I love being a part of that.
Famous last words... What advice would you give to other women as they go down the path of entrepreneurship?
Well, my personal mantra is Manifest That Shit.
I've used it to find my community, my clients, my house, and my dog. What that boils down to is this: believe that you can do it, visualize yourself doing it, and then do the work to make it happen. It's equal parts inspiration, woo-woo, and perseverance!