#103: Best Friends Create the Luxury Experience with Steph Gonsier of Draper House Design Company

Podcast Episodes (MB) (14)
How many of you work with your bestie? 

It’s not usually advised to go into business together since entrepreneurship can bring out ALL things.  

But the ladies at Draper House Design Company have managed to pull it off!  

Today we have Steph Gonsier talking to us about working with your bestie, creating business that is functional and sustainable, collaborating like a boss, raising some strong willed kiddos and of course, dominating tic tok. 

Like the episode?  Please tell us! 
DM Steph or me on IG.  

Better yet, please leave an honest rating and review on your favorite podcast app.  They mean the world to me and I’ll be able to shout YOU out on the podcast. 

In 2009, with three kids under five, Melissa Rose started her business out of her 800 square foot basement teaching the art of dance to students of all ages while the kiddos napped or played in the pack and play.  With her passion, resilience, and nose down she created a business that has become "The Highlight of Your Week" for her tribe, her team and her community.  

Along with running a successful brick and mortar business, Melissa is also a visibility coach for brick and mortar businesses, Melissa guides other boss ladies to a flourishing brick and mortar business that provides for their own tribe - creating a legacy for themselves, their family and their community.  She has a podcast, “Brick and Mortar Visibility” that she dedicates to sharing tips, tools and strategies she’s learned in her brick and mortar business to help others in theirs.

Melissa is a super mama of five kiddos, enjoys long hikes or playing in her garden.  At the end of the day you can find her snuggling with a self development book with an ice cold beer.

CONNECT with Melissa:

Melissa: Hey there everybody. Welcome back to another episode of brick and mortar visibility podcast. So good to be here. My name is Melissa Rose. I am your host. And today we have a lovely guest on the show. Before we dive in, how are you doing? How are you doing? We are a few weeks into the new year. Hopefully you are good. Hopefully those goals are getting steps made so that they can actually happen. Have you done that? Have you gone through and written out what you need to do each day to make those goals a success? I'm a big fan of that. Just going through everything I'm gona let my hair down here a little bit and just be really real. I listened to a lot of podcasts because I'm a podcaster. So of course I love to listen to other people's podcasts and everybody has their unique own way of doing it. And do you feel guilty in this where you're like, oh, I should do it that way. And then you're like, oh, and so, so you do it and then you hear somebody else do their version and you know, oh, okay. I need to do it all over. And then you hear somebody else do their version and, oh, that's a good one too. And then you feel like you have to do that. That's kind of how I've been the past few weeks. Just try and everybody's different thing. And ultimately coming down to the same answer. Right. So figuring out what I want, my 20 22 to feel like and be like going forward and really being intentional and being in alignment. And that is my word this year, alignment align and making sure everything, I do lines up with that word and where I want to be and feel and end 20 22. So I hope you are on track to do that. I am a super excited for you to meet my guest today. Today is Steph Gonsier. She is from the Draper house design company and Stillwater, Minnesota. And you guys, they're a young business and I'm super excited to have them because they have done some big things in just a couple of years. They are good friends that partnered together to do this business. So she's going to share a little bit about that and the nitty gritty of working with a good friend and how that can work. She's going to share some really fun ways to work with them. Because interior design does not have to be this luxury item and she's going to share about their struggles and what they've overcome and all the great things. So I'm excited for you to meet and learn from our guests today. StephGonsier enjoy.
Steph Gonsier thank you so much for being here on the brick and mortar visibility podcast. How are you?
Steph: I am good thank you for having me.
Melissa: Well, thanks for being here. Thanks for being here. Happy Tuesday. You guys were in for treat. Steph owns the Draper house design company, and she is an interior designer who does all the fun things. So I'm not going to say any more stuff. Tell us who you are, what you do and who you serve.
Steph: Awesome. Hi everyone. I am Steph Gonsier with Draper house design. We know that life happens so our tagline is designed for your life to happen when you want your space to be reflective of the humans living in it. So you do not have to sacrifice beauty for function, and we can absolutely help. We truly do mean that we want to design your home for your life to happen. And I think during the pandemic, everyone learned a little bit that life does happen and we need to cater our environments around that at times. The type of services that we have is we have anything from new construction homes, to home refreshes, to, simple design packages, design selection packages, if you're building or remodeling. We are, a fully woman owned full service interior design company. We serve all of downtown Stillwater, the St. Croix valley and the greater twin cities.
Melissa: Awesome. Awesome. I love it. So who is your ideal client?
Steph: So our ideal client is anyone who is looking to freshen up their space to make their home, tell a little bit more about themselves without having to sacrifice or settle, your creativity and the story that you want to tell within your home. Right now our dream clients, are boutique commercial clients, and then also anyone who just needs help with some DIY guidance. We do offer consultations, to help with any DIY projects or just simple consultation stuff to pick out a sofa.
Melissa: So like for my office, like come in, I need help with my office cause I want to have a writing space. I want to have a workspace. I want to have a place where I go live on camera. I go to you to help me figure that out within my office space.
Steph: So we all have those fun, 3d renderings that you would see on HGTV shows. We have all of those architectural software. So we would then space plan your space. And we put in all of the product that you would want to purchase and you can see it in 3d. You can see it, the actual color. It's the actual wallpaper. It's your actual sofa. We do that for our clients, really with all of our packages, because we do feel like that it's very important for you to see what you're having done so you do like your investment.
Melissa: And you want to love where you are. And you said, even with kids, you can create a functional home area that looks amazing, but it's still You know, dependent with kiddos and all that.
Yes. We now call that as so, as we're referring to Steph is also a mama. Tell us a little bit about your family.
Steph: So I married to my partner, Chris, my husband, Chris, and, we have two toddlers. Adela is five, she'll be five at the end, end of the month. And Wesley will be three at the end of the month. So they are full of energy. Very strong-willed love them dearly and they're very creative.
Melissa: Yes. I love it. I have 5 kiddos and yes, very strong-willed children. Right? We want to raise leaders. It's just hard to raise leaders.
Steph: And I heard that this next generation is called the alpha generation. I'm a millennial. My kids are then the alpha generation. It makes sense and I'm terrified. They're wonderful. And they will, they will do what needs to be done. They will be the next CEOs of the world and it's going to be great, but it's terrifying to raise that.
Melissa: Before we press record you were talking about a fun project that you're working on right now.
Steph: Yeah. So we are working on a fun, boutique commercial project right now. So boutique commercial would be, more of a smaller business or just a business that is not franchised out. So they have a lot of more fun creativity, that they are able to do because you're not dealing with franchise branding. So this is an it company, downtown Minneapolis, and they are, bringing in kind of a Minnesota feel they're calling it a north woods meets the north loop. And so it's really fun to see how they're all bringing in their creativity, even from like their corporate offices and other offices around the U S but they're bringing in all of the fun creative designs from those offices and making this like Northwoods cool Minneapolis north loop, design. And it's really fun cause they're bringing in like all of the nature and the woodwork into an it company. So I think one of the things we love about these projects is when people have all these different things or niches in their life and they can bring it together and we can tell that story for you.
Melissa: Yeah. Love that. I can't wait to see the pictures.
Okay. So how old is your business again?
Steph: We are still a baby. We are in our second year of operation.
Melissa: All right. So I'm sure you've had a lot of opportunity to learn and grow and obstacles to overcome. What is one moment in this journey so far that you realize I can do anything?
Steph: I think, when we took on the financial risk of renting out and leasing out studio space, when our financial advisor probably wouldn't have advise that for us, but we knew that we either were going to plateau or we needed to take the risk and jump in and move on. And thankfully we, we trusted our guts and, we, rented our studio space and I do not regret any of it. It has been the scariest thing having like legally binded to something and you're so new in this industry. It's been a very good risk and I'm very happy that we took it.
Melissa: Yeah, very cool. And that happens with brick and mortars where we plateau, we maxed out our space and then we were like, what do we have to do? Well, we have to invest back into the business by getting either more space or moving to a place that provides more opportunity for us. And that's always a scary thing because it's safe. We can stay here and stay safe, but. If we want to grow more, we have to take that risk. And so, yeah, it is a very empowering and I had a similar story when I was able to secure my line of credit to do my, build up for my property that I rent. It was very empowering to do that and just feeling like, okay, I did that. I can do this. I got this. You have a unique story with your business and the fact that you are partnering with a good friend. I would like to dive into that a little bit, because most people would say, absolutely not. Do not go in business with your friend. I have worked with friends as, , contractors within my business and it has gone well, it has sometimes not gone well, so I would love to hear your experience and how you do this logistically.
Steph: I think our communication is key and the fact that we are able to look each other in the eye and say, Hey, I'm taking my friend hat off. I am now your business partner, and I'm going to speak to you in that manner. So please don't take offense to what I'm saying. We both do a really good job at just not taking offense and being able to speak bluntly and honestly, to each other has been huge. We've always had that within our friendship though so that wasn't anything that we needed to bring in or work on. I think it's something that actually carried us through to this point.
Melissa: Did you write things out in the beginning, like a contract that's who was doing, what and how things were going to go? How did it work? I know everybody's going to be different.
Steph: We did a little bit. So our roles in Draper house are very different. We are not both interior designers. Jordan is the principal designer and I'm the managing director. So I handle all of the business side. So were not working with each other all day, every day. We don't see each other every day. We're not even in communication every day. But we're kind of just the two managers that come together at the end of the day. Debrief, talk about strategy, talk about how we're moving forward. We talk about our pain points. But no, we didn't necessarily have a contract written up, but, our operating agreement kind of served as, how the roles were going to be defined under the two ownerships.
Melissa: I think that is key is that you both aren't in the same vein. Like you both have very separate roles within the business, so that way you can function, so I think that's a key point. When you're going into business really defining the rules of who is doing what, and not just for friends, but even as you bring on team members, you want to work with people you like, and you're all going to eventually be friends together. You may not hang out like on a weekend together, but you gotta work together and you gotta be kind and friendly to each other. So having those roles really clear on who's doing what, As somebody who coaches businesses and bringing on team members, that's one pain point people experience is just not being really clear in the roles and what defines that role and what makes that role a win. So, well done with that because it has, yeah, it's, it's fun to work with you friends.
Steph: It's really fun. It's a little too much fun. Yeah. We joke that we're elder millennials. And so we've just, we've just conquered Tik TOK, I think. So it's so fun just be like, okay, Fridays are Tik Toc day Jordan, and it's just us old millennials trying to be young and spruce up our online presence.
Melissa: too funny. I love it. I love it. Okay. So as a business owner, you are juggling, you know, not only running the business and being in the business, and kids and life and everything else, nitty gritty. What is one challenge right now that you are facing, going into 2020?
Steph: One thing that we are trying to do more of is becoming more sustainable. So that would meaning that we do not want to put items into our client's homes that are just breathing and bleeding toxins into your children, into yourself and into your home. And so we've been trying really hard this next year to focus on bringing in education to our team and to our vendors, and then finding new vendors or extra vendors that are way more sustainable.
Melissa: It's a big challenge. The consumers are just more aware of it. Right. And you can't just sell somebody something, they are always asking those underlying questions of environment and then social, like how it affects our world socially too. But it's a good thing too. We talk about on this podcast visibility. Getting our business top of mind to be the only option in town, what has been your main visibility strategy in your business.
Steph: I think partnership, collaborations, and really, joining forces with other women own businesses, because there's just something about a women owned business where there's so much support, so much cheering each other on. There's so much problem solving that goes in when you do work with another business owner, being able to, talk with them and just really, problem solve. I feel like it doesn't really matter what industry you're in. You had the same pain points . You're dealing with the same things. And one thing that we've done is the partnership collaborations, because then it helps us with, we are now, a trusted partner of another business, another local business. And so I just feel like word of mouth in our industry, referrals and word of mouth are huge. As long as I can keep cheering, other business owners on and other people on and they do the same for us, I feel like that's just been the biggest thing for.
Melissa: When you talk partner collaboration, is there an agreement, is there, a referral fee or is it just Goodwill ?
Steph: Normally it is just Goodwill. And I think it's because when we do focus on the partnership collaborations, we actually focus on building a relationship with our partner before really talking about business. And I feel like all of the business things they just come with ease, they're just discussed and they're offered and it's really, really nice. But however, we do get some referrals from other interior designers and sometimes those do we have a referral fee? Just because I feel like that's just the kind thing to do, but when we're dealing with someone that's maybe a bit out of our industry, like an insurance or an attorney. It is more just good faith. Hey, I know this person. I trust them. Check them out.
Melissa: I want everybody to hear that. Steph has been really intentional about connecting and growing relationships with other business owners locally and probably, you know, throughout the twin cities area and whatever, but just being really intentional about that because, collaboration is one of my favorite ways to grow my business, but other business owners have a huge network and as brick and mortar businesses, I think it's huge when we are just getting to know each other and getting to know each others expertise so that we can refer because we know firsthand how huge those referrals are. So really lean into that. If you are not, I know for me, yeah. It takes a lot of energy for me to get outside my office and away from my computer and going into meet those people. But it serves me so well, and I know it will serve you really well.
And you Steph have done a great job of connecting and networking with other business owners And you're just so young in business yet. So if you continue that going forward, it's just going to ripple so so big for you. So that's awesome. So well done. I think you have a really fun way for people to get started working with you. If they're interested, could you explain.
Steph: Yeah. I feel like, , interior design is viewed as more of a luxury service. So we've been trying to find ways where, it is not so much luxury, but it is more or less appealing to everyone. So one way that we find to do that as we've started a new, consultation service, and it's called our DIY guidance service. Our power hour consultation. So if you have a pain point that you cannot solve and you're stuck between anything from colors or tedious design details that you'd like a professional opinion on, we are your girls where your crew. So you come into our studio, have a cocktail or a mocktail for a 1, 2, 3 hour consultation. You bring us all of your pain points, what your idea is, and we just kind of button it all up, get all the nitty gritty details buttoned up for you. And then we can also put together different package pieces where you can place the orders on your own, or you can have us do it. We just want to offer people, a way that they can freshen up their space on their own without breaking the budget. But then you also have the expertise of an interior designer.
Melissa: I love it. Yeah. I think that's a great way. Especially even just like a one-room type thing. Like for me, my office, I would just like somebody to come in and like, okay make it work for me even better so that I can be more productive because when you're in your space and it feels awesome, you're going to be awesome. And you're going to show up in a more awesome way , to do whatever it is. Be a mom, be a business owner, whatever. So yeah, very good. Where can people best get ahold of you Steph? Where's the best place people can find you?
Steph: you can find us at our website, which is Draperhousedesign.com or on Instagram or Facebook or any of the socials. Like I said, we're fresh on tick-tock so if you want to check us out on Tik Tok please do
Melissa: Awesome we will check those out, especially on Fridays, because that's when it Tik Tok day is. We will have those linked up in the show notes. If you enjoy this podcast, please check out Steph and DM her on Instagram. Let her know what you got from the podcast. And if you are a local, go in and introduce yourself and see her space and what they are all about. I know she would love to meet you. All right, Steph thank you so much for coming on the brick and mortar visibility podcast. We still appreciate you and everybody. We will see you. Same time, same place next week. Peace. Bye bye.


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