Alex Morris realized her passion for design and the opportunity to be creative early on in her life. She enjoyed going to specialty stores and looking at all the vignettes and accessories. From wood working, clever ways to re-purpose materials, and beautiful decor, she always dreamed about having a house that leaves you breathless when you walk in the door. Having things staged in a way that pleases the eye has always been something she’s enjoyed. “I’ve always loved space planning and re-arranging furniture to give the room new life. Until a few years ago I never realized that this industry was my calling!”
Alex went to college at the University of Oregon and graduated in 2014 with a BA in Music. Before Alex decided to attend Heritage, she was in sales for a local catering company and never felt fulfilled. Alex decided to do some brainstorming to figure out what the next steps would be in her career. “I’ve always been a creative. I started thinking about what I want out of a job and how I could make a difference and feel satisfied afterwards.” One creative field that came to her mind was interior design and a simple google search led her to Heritage. “I was so impressed with the website and the reviews – I had to meet with Stephanie! I knew I wanted to do this for myself – I felt empowered and wanted to accomplish something amazing!”
After meeting with Stephanie it was apparent that Heritage was the perfect fit for her. “I met with the CEO, Stephanie, and immediately fell in love with the space, location, and how much love and energy Stephanie had put into the school. I immediately felt welcomed and at home. I was so excited!”
Due to finances, Alex had to decide whether to leave her full-time paying job to go to school, or risk continuing to work in a career she wasn’t passionate about. “I expressed my concerns to Stephanie about needing at least a part-time job if I did the full-time program, and within 24 hours she sent me an email saying there was an opportunity at a local furniture store.” It was a weekend receptionist position at Parker Furniture in Beaverton. Alex applied that day, got an interview, and was employed at Parker Furniture within 3 days. “It seemed like the stars had aligned.”
“Heritage was such an uplifting environment to be in, not only with the instructors and guest speakers, but with my colleagues as well. The intimate setting creates so much room for collaboration and problem solving.” Alex felt that Heritage was exactly what she needed to gain a thorough understanding of what it takes to be a designer.
In 2017, a few years after graduating from Heritage, Alex founded Meadowlark Interiors. At the time, she was also working part-time for Heritage School of Interior Design, so she was able to gradually grow her company through word of mouth and hard work.
We recently interviewed Alex to learn more about how she started and grew her home staging and design business!
How did you get your business started?
For me, it was all about networking and building relationships. My husband’s best friend is a real estate photographer and his parents own a real estate company – a perfect connection! My first project came about when a family friend was looking for staging services. Once I got the call from her, I had to figure how to get the job done without going in the red financially.
I spent the next 8 hours sourcing all the furniture and giving myself allowances for art and decor. Since I had no inventory at the time, I needed to purchase everything, which can definitely add up! I rented most of the big pieces and had them delivered, while simultaneously making multiple trips to Target and HomeGoods for accessories. My husband, Nolan, helped me into the late hours of the night to make sure everything was perfect.
Looking back, I laugh at the awkward amount of decor and visible holes that could have been filled better, but we did it. Our first job!
How you has your business grown?
Nolan and I moved to Southern Oregon in July 2018 with no idea what the real estate market was like. I started rebuilding my network right away, while also improving my online presence. I spent the first several months building relationships with real estate agents and created a strong connection with two of them!
Once I created these relationships, we started getting noticed around town! Since Ashland is such a small town, word spread quickly and we started getting calls left and right. After 1 year of living in Southern Oregon, we moved our inventory out of our garage and into storage units! 1.5 years after that, we moved our inventory again into a 1,050 warehouse! This was one of the proudest moments of my career so far. I had no fear about affording the rent because we had so much design and staging jobs coming in. Getting a warehouse also opened up some opportunities to purchase wholesale, which was another learning curve but worth it.
One of our core values is having a debt free business model. We don’t take staging jobs that we can’t afford. If we are low on inventory and the proposal won’t cover the items we need to purchase, we pass on the job. Also, being positive and kind to every one of our clients has helped us to grow our business. If we don’t know the answer to something, we go find it! That’s what clients love about working with Meadowlark Interiors.
What do you enjoy most about being a designer and business owner?
Being a business owner is terrifying, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I have always loved connecting with people and making them feel confident in what they are doing. Our design clients feel safe and heard when working with us. I get just as excited as they do when we find the perfect piece and the design comes together. I love the feeling when you walk into a room that is nicely designed and functional. It feels like a breath of fresh air – simply the best!
One of the best pieces of advice I can give to others is that you don’t have to do it all! Find tradespeople who you like and work well with to help you. Having movers, showrooms, and friends that can help you with those first few jobs really helps to build the foundation of your business. My favorite part of being a business owner is looking back and seeing the progress I’ve made in the last 3 years. We started with nothing and now we have a thriving business! If I’m being honest, I never thought we would have gotten here and feel so much pride in our progress.
To learn more about Alex and her business Meadowlark Interiors visit her website and Instagram!