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Community Highlights: Meet Melinda Christman of Olive & Opal Interiors

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melinda Christman.

Hi Melinda, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Anna and I met about ten years ago through a mutual friend and immediately bonded through our shared love for home décor and styling. In 2016, we were working in two very different corporate careers, but we were both looking for more flexibility and autonomy than our current roles offered. I had spent over ten years with KC and STL’s top advertising agencies and Anna was a spreadsheet-loving former financial director. Neither of us had an interior design degree or background, but we knew wanted to start a business together and we knew that home staging was growing in St. Louis. So in January 2017, we took a leap of faith and started Olive + Opal. Initially, we ran the business as a side project while we continued with our other careers. Despite our varied backgrounds, the business took off more quickly than we expected and I left advertising to pursue my creative passion at Olive + Opal full-time in March 2018. Anna joined me full-time about a year later.

There is a great group of home staging companies in the St. Louis area and we are grateful for the support and knowledge shared by our staging peers in those first few years. It was quite a learning curve, but we continued to adapt and work hard as we found our way. Our business and our team continued to grow and we added an amazing third team member, Stephanie, in 2019. She’s been instrumental in helping us become the company we are today. We now typically stage around four projects a week and work in all different neighborhoods around St. Louis with some amazing real estate agents and families. We are getting ready to move to a new 6,000 sq ft warehouse in Brentwood and we are also hiring a fourth team member this year. We are proud to say that 2021 looks to be our best year yet and we project a 30% increase in revenue over last year.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Is the beginning of any business smooth?! We ran into so many challenges in the first few years as we found our footing. In our first year, we struggled to find a balance between full-time work, a growing side hustle and little kids. We eventually hit a point in early 2018 when we knew that we had to fully commit to the business or abandon it altogether. We were growing quickly and it wasn’t sustainable to manage alongside full-time jobs. We were terrified to leave the steady paycheck and comfort of our careers and honestly, it continued to be scary and uncertain for a couple of years. We oftentimes share with other newbie stagers that the business model works, but you really have to have faith in yourself and trust the process. We didn’t always know when we’d get the next project and it wasn’t always comfortable, but we pushed through and those sleepless nights were worth it.

We quickly realized that home staging is known for the final 10% of a project, which I would call the “styling and pillow fluffing phase.” And that part is super fun, don’t get me wrong! But in reality, so much of our efforts are focused on the logistics of the project. Do we have the right inventory for each project? Can we fit the project in the schedule? Do we have the movers coordinated to install and remove the furniture? It goes on and on. There are so many moving parts and dates and we have learned to be quick on our feet and adaptable while working in the real estate world.

We also decided early on that we wanted to own our inventory instead of renting in order deliver the high-quality aesthetic that our brand represents. The first few years were really capital intensive, requiring us to make large investments in new furniture, art, soft goods and accessories. With each new project, we had to determine if we even had enough inventory to take on the work. And if we didn’t, we had to pass up the opportunity or we had to purchase all the gaps in inventory and pray that they would arrive on time. It was stressful to say the least.

There are so many moving parts in this business and while some of the growing pains are in the past, we are always looking for ways to better serve our clients. This year, with the help of our business coach, we’ve really focused on creating efficiencies, setting big goals and launching new services. We’re so excited for what’s to come!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Olive + Opal Interiors offers home staging services in a fresh, fun and unparalleled style to sophisticated realtors, flippers and homeowners in the central St. Louis area. We take a customer-centric and conscientious approach, curating pieces from local businesses and blending classic-yet-contemporary elements that evoke interest and inspire sales. We’ve been in business since 2017 and specialize in Vacant Home Staging for homes in the St. Louis Central Corridor, between $300k-$800k. We especially love breathing new life into older homes.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
If you are an agent or a homeowner in need of staging services, we’d love to help! You can reach us via our email info@oliveandopalinteriors.com. If you aren’t selling a home, we would love if you followed us on Instagram! We share tons of inspiration and tips for homeowners, including product links to stuff we really love!

We love to support other local small businesses and especially other women-owned businesses in any way we can. We love to collaborate with other brands and are always open to ideas and new connections.

We recently launched a new Consulting Service for new home stagers to help them work through some of the challenges they may face in the first couple of years. It makes us really happy to raise up other women and help them achieve the next level of their business.

Pricing:

  • Occupied Consult, 60 minutes $200
  • Paint Consult, up to 2 hours $350
  • Vacant Staging- email for custom quote, starts at $1,500
  • Occupied Staging- email for custom quote, starts at $1,000

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Sarah Harvey

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