Erin Davis lives in the Portland area with her husband and young son in a home that she completely re-designed and remodeled. It helps that Erin is the owner and lead designer at Mosaik Design & Remodeling. Most of Erin’s design inspiration comes from nature and from thought leaders in a variety of design professions.
When she’s not wrapped up in the world of design, Erin and her husband enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle of camping, hiking, gardening and organic gourmet cooking.
What is your company?
Mosaik Design & Remodeling, a full-service residential remodeling and design firm based in Portland, OR.
How did you come up with the idea?
After many years in the remodeling business, I wanted to create a company that uniquely represented who we are and what we do. Our name represents many “pieces” working together to create a more integrated and purposeful “whole” or mosaic.
Whether we are creating and building projects with our team of craftsmen or working on the business with our strategic professionals, it always involves this approach.
Where did you find your first customer?
I was the owner of another design/build firm and was able to bring my over clients from there—many of whom are still active clients today.
How did you determine your target market?
We never really set out to target a certain person, income level or area per se.
We just continued to build beautiful remodeling projects and offer superior customer service and the clients kept coming. So in a way, our clients helped us build and refine our brand, and therefore, our target market.
What are you currently doing to reach them?
We have a newsletter and referral program to target our previous clients and vendors which we have found is a great way to stay in touch. We also have a comprehensive social media and content creation program where we actively engage people with our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Houzz.com.
We also have a publicist who always finds ways to promote us in local and national publications, blogs, interviews etc. But even with all of this, I think our website is our single most important tool because it gives our potential clients a good idea of our brand in a concise, beautiful way.
How much did you start up with?
We began with a $75k loan to remodel our showroom and use for working capital. This was not enough, so in the end it took 2 years to complete the remodel.
I should have listened to my father who said “borrow twice what you think you will need,” because when all was said and done, the total was about $150k. Father knows best.
Did you bring on investors, get loans, or grow naturally?
Loans at first, but mostly organic growth through referrals and repeat clients.
What’s the best advice someone has given you?
“Swallow the biggest frog first.” When I was a realtor, my broker gave me this piece of advice and I have never forgotten it. Always tackle the largest issue at hand before everything else. This way you have the energy at the outset to deal with it and everything after that is easy in comparison. This allows you to be the one in control of the situation—it is very empowering.
What are your keys to staying productive?
Just keep at it. I am list maker and a goal setter, which helps keep me organized and on track. Also, in the remodeling industry it is about creating clever solutions for people and going the extra mile in order to achieve an over the top result.
One of my favorite quotes is “The ability to see order in chaos is call creativity.” I believe this can be applied to just about anything and can make productivity inspiring.
When you started, what was one thing you wish you knew?
I wish I knew how much dichotomy was involved. It is the very best and very worst job all wrapped up into one. Being solely responsible for the success of a business is a lot to carry, however, when you reach a certain amount of success, there is no better feeling in the world.
What resources or books do you refer to regularly?
I read a lot of trade magazines to stay current with the remodeling industry and design trends. I also find many of the reality TV shows involving creativity inspiring (Project Runway, Top Chef, Design Star etc). Creative inspiration for me comes in many forms.
Has your company experienced any close calls or lucky moments?
Yes many times, especially in the last 6 years. This industry is akin to a roller coaster and every time we go down, there is always an opportunity or really fabulous project that seems to lift us back up again. It’s maddening and exciting all at the same time.
What does success mean to you?
For me it’s not really about money or notoriety—although these are certainly important. It’s about doing my best and going the extra mile in whatever I do. I am always striving to make things better for people whether it’s a more beautiful home, coming up with a solution to a problem, or preparing healthy home cooked meals for my family.
When people sense you are earnest, friendly, and professional, they trust you and this is absolutely required in our business. I sleep pretty well at night.
Where would you like to see your business 5 years from now?
A bit larger with 1-2 employees max. I have always wanted to stay small so we can focus primarily on quality and stand-out service. This way we can have greater control over the end result while maintaining that close connection to our clients.
How can people find you online?