Sunday, October 19, 2014

{within works | Houzz and Reality TV}

Photo from Within Studio Interior Design firm website

Tucson designer finds national acclaim via Houzz website, app

photography by dominic arizona bonuccelli
Florencia DeRoussel, founder of Within Studio/photography by dominic arizona bonuccelli
It’s often said advertising is key to a successful business. In that case, Within Interior Design Studio found it on national television with the use of a website.
Just how the commercial and residential interior design firm based out of Tucson got this opportunity began when 35-year old interior designer and principal of Within Studio Florencia DeRoussel put the studio’s information on the website Houzz.
“Houzz is a great resource for designers and non-designers to go and find inspiration. You know, for example, to design a kitchen or a bathroom,” DeRoussel said.
Her reason for going to Houzz was simply to get the studio’s name out on the web.
“When I first started using Houzz, it was mainly for the purpose of having somebody else out there hosting my pictures and my work. It’s one more way a person who doesn’t know that we exist or is looking for a designer can be guided to our website via Houzz,” DeRoussel said.
Even though DeRoussel had a simple profile in the beginning, the effects of using Houzz as a platform soon became apparent.
“I noticed that shortly after I put my information on there that I actually got a few calls from people that were looking for interior designers, which I was shocked because I only had a few projects up whereas other designers had tons of them,” DeRoussel said.
Not only is Houzz a website, but it also functions as an app with similar features. While Houzz didn’t drastically change the business of Within Studio, it did provide a pathway to appearing on two reality television shows.
“One thing that did change now that I think of it was our involvement in reality TV. Because of Houzz, two producers found us and we did a show for the food network called ‘Food Court Wars’ and then we just finished taping one for ‘Fix It and Finish It’ which is a residential remodel show,” DeRoussel said.
The fact that social media is so closely connected with daily lives adds to no surprise that it only took producers of “Fix It and Finish It” a couple of clicks to see DeRoussel and her team’s potential.
“They were looking for interior designers and they came across my information on Houzz and then that directed them to my website.” DeRoussel said.
Within a week or so after DeRoussel agreed to meet for an interview with one of the producers, the team was on location where they were going to film the winning residents.
“Fix It and Finish It” not only provided the opportunity for Within Studio to show viewers their skills and ability in interior designing, but also gave the team a unique experience in reality television.
“It was like taking one of our clients and putting it on fast-forward. It was actually something that would have taken two weeks to plan and maybe we had to do it in a week or a few days,” DeRoussel said.
What’s surprising is that a website/app like Houzz could have the ability to propel a small local business like Within Studio to a national level.
“We were getting interviews, we were actually sanding tables and hanging art and were physically involved which was really fun so I think were going to get more exposure that way,” DeRoussel said.
It was clear to DeRoussel that Houzz provided her with a way to advertise that would be difficult to find elsewhere, so much so that she would recommend it to local designers.
“Some smaller designers like myself can’t afford to pay to be on the front page of Google,” DeRoussel said.
As for a business that used social media from the start with their only way of marketing, DeRoussel knows just how crucial it is for surviving and growing.
“I honestly don’t know how a business can exist without social media. If you want to get the word out, it’s the fastest way,” DeRoussel said.
It’s clear that all businesses need to acknowledge the impact and power social media has; especially considering the majority of the new generation obtains their news from apps like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
“So if I could give advice to anyone I would say that these graphic designers and social media experts are worth their weight in gold. They’re worth the investment. You can’t just do it alone,” DeRoussel said.
"Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple." Willy Wonka