When the pandemic hit, there was a lot of uncertainty at a 21-year-old interior design firm. Now lack of work is the least of its issues.
Everything was smooth sailing for Trade Mark Interiors until the pandemic came along.
But the end result may be different than you think.
“We were on a good growth pattern before COVID-19,” says Tracee Murphy, CEO and principal designer of the Sarasota-based interior design firm, founded in 2000. She shut down operations for the first month of the pandemic and Murphy remembers feeling panicked.
“But then," Murphy says, "the phone started ringing.”
And it pretty much hasn't stopped, with an explosion in businesses the result. “2020 was a super busy year,” she says before adding, “2021 has been a blur.”
While Murphy declines to disclose specific revenue figures, she does say it's up 350% since 2019. In a summer 2020 interview, Murphy said the company did more than $1 million in revenue in 2019.
As for the goals the company has accomplished since 2019? “All of them,” Murphy says.
The growing team, for one, expanded by four people. “That was a huge step in our growth,” she says. The new additions include Design Director Kristin Tolbert, Interior Designer Casey Liptak, Senior Interior Designer Rachel Tokarczyk and Operations Manager Brandy Smith.
In order to keep up with demand, the company is also opening a remote office in Cleveland, where Murphy has roots. “Just because of my connections there, we decided it was a natural next step,” she says. That’s where Murphy attended college and still has family and friends in the area. In addition to Florida and Ohio, Trade Mark Interiors has recently taken on work in North Carolina, Missouri, Maryland, giving it a diverse national presence.
Connections seem to play a big part in Murphy’s business. The majority of the projects that took place this year were culminations of clients who have previously worked with Trade Mark Interiors. These types of projects are ones Murphy wants to dedicate more time to going forward.
“The original goal, pre-COVID, was we wanted to have 10 key projects each year,” she says, explaining full-scale renovations and new builds count as key projects. With the demand so high over the last two years, that goal was blown out of the water.
Trade Mark Interiors more than doubled that goal with over 20 key projects in 2020 and almost tripled that with 28 key projects in 2021. And the firm is on track to do at least the same amount in 2022. “It’s been a wild year,” she says.
While the growth in key projects has led to the company bypassing the original goal, Murphy says the 10-a-year goal remains the preferred target, primarily so she and the team can maintain high customer service and standards. “This year was bonkers,” she says. “The pace was a little too hectic. In order to maintain a smaller team, we’re focused on bigger, high quality projects.”
The quality-over-quantity mindset has been a great approach for Trade Mark — especially when it comes to employees.
“The big thing for me is the importance of the team we have in place,” she says, noting the work environment is collaborative. “It’s been such a great experience. That’s truly helped us grow and gain client trust.”
Another 2021 lesson: Murphy has learned, or re-learned, it makes all the difference in the world when you and the team love coming to work. “I believe having fun with what we’re doing has made all the difference for us,” Murphy says.
The best part? Seeing the joy on the clients’ faces after a project reveal. And that’s exactly what she’s looking forward to in the new year.
One of the projects the team had been working on was completed in July. It was a 9,000-square-foot renovation that ended with a grand reveal to the client and their family. Murphy says the clients knew it was going to be an incredible transformation, but they weren’t expecting it to that degree. The one word Murphy uses to describe this reveal in particular is “overwhelmed.”
For Murphy and the team, the experience was even better knowing they had earned the clients’ trust.
“There were so many tears,” she says, adding the team captured it all on a heartwarming video they will release in January. “They were blown away."
In 2021, many companies discovered new ways to adjust to the pandemic. These nimble entrepreneurs believe that know-how — and guts — will be a key factor for continued success in 2022. Click the links below to read more about the Business Observer's 2021 newsmakers.
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