Why this Texas Home Stager has joined the SAR Staging Training Team

Home Stager with Home Star Staging

I'm proud to announce I've joined the team at Staging and Redesign (SAR) as a course instructor for the Texas Market for the 3-day, 5-day and online SAR home staging training courses!Staging & Redesign Logo

Now I want to share with you how I came to this decision and why I chose to join the team of professionals at SAR as a course instructor.

I want to assure you this decision did not come lightly.

It took several months of emails and discussion, 5 days away and a round trip plane ticket at my expense to visit South Carolina this month to audit the SAR program in person to see if it was indeed something I could align myself with and feel confident in offering this to would be home stagers or those already in business but wanting more.  I do not take lightly anything that involves my endorsement or brand being associated with it if I'm not 100% sure that I can truthfully share the information and believe in the product.  I've spent too much time, energy and hard work not to investigate something I would be potentially endorsing.  My reputation is important to me.

A little back story... I met Melissa Marro, CEO and President of First Impressions Home Staging and Redesign and the SAR Training Course creator at the January 2010 RESA Conference in Las Vegas.  However before that  I was well aware of Melissa, her professionalism and experience as a home stager through the various blogging and social network sites we both frequent, most notably Active Rain. We'd spoken a few times over the years and regularly commented on our blogs however it wasn't until we met in January 2010 did the real live connection begin.

In the last several months Melissa freely shared her vision for a home staging training course that was poised to be different than others offered currently.  I was initially skeptical and have long felt that although I took a training course myself and fully believe in them and the value they can offer if done correctly, there have been too many stagers and would be hopefuls in our industry who have invested their time, money  and energy into various programs only to be out of business within a year or two, some even less.  

The two main questions I had:

  1. Why do we need another home staging training company when so many students are unfortunately NOT succeeding in their businesses once they get out into the "real world of home staging"? 
  2. How could I comfortably support or endorse another course and expect students to pay a couple to several thousand dollars of their hard earned dollars into something I really didn't know was needed?

And then I went to South Carolina October 14th, 2010 to see for myself.

As a small business owner I left my business and my family to spend 5 days to see if the SAR course was indeed a course I could align myself with and comfortably offer and teach to others.   But from what Melissa had already shared freely with me - no strings attached - I knew I had to be there and see for myself exactly what her program would offer in a way that set itself apart from the rest.   I was under a  "no obligation to commit" invitation to come check out the program and see what I thought at Melissa's request.  THAT I found refreshing.

And I was not disappointed.

SAR LogoFrom day one of arriving at the course instructor training week I could sense the difference. 

Not only were the other home stagers in attendance respected, successful professionals in their markets, but they all have a passion for the industry as not only instructors but home stagers themselves!  All SAR TRAINERS ARE WORKING HOME STAGERS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE MARKETS. We have combined experiences of over 30 years in the industry.  We are all also RESA Approved Instructors.

We spent whatever down time we had talkinIsle of Palm, SCg about the industry! (And it wasn't much downtime let me tell you, Melissa is nothing short of a work horse...if you can spend 5 days within 200 yards of a beach and only see it ONCE for about 20 minutes... then don't expect a vacation when Melissa's in charge... and I say that with much gratitude because I would have loved to curl up with my Kindle* on a lounge chair at the beach but I'd have never been much of a student & my time would have been for naught...) Sometimes we talked until the wee hours of the morning only to start up again the next day bright and early.  We never lost interest in the subject! In fact the excitement only intensified as we dug in.

Once we started the instructor course training sessions I could really see the difference

Melissa handed each of us a *Kindle fully loaded with the 300 + page course training manual. An innovative, green and user friendly device that puts the course in line with technology that students can learn from, grow with and use today, tomorrow and the future.  

The*Kindle is standard with the 3 and 5 day course offerings respectively. No more bulky bound notebooks, this is portable on demand knowledge at your fingertips. Have Kindle will travel, in car, on plane, while waiting, while sunbathing... And that was just the beginning.  For the 5 day course vacant property staging portion and further business building tools course another unique offering and state of the art feature is the ASUS T101MT Touch Screen Tablet PC which is included in each student's tuition.   A flash drive is provided in each course of templates, documents and the tools for business that stagers will need to get going. 

Please visit SAR online for more details on the course offerings and the schedule of classes.

While the SAR course does get into the logistics and technicalities of "how to stage" the real meat of the course has more to do with the business of home staging

While I do believe you can teach almost anyone willing to stage a home over time and with practices and principals in place how to stage, the actual business side of running a home staging company is unique to our industry and has evolved over the years and continues to do so.  We must continue to evolve. Who better to learn this from than a real home stager working in your market?  The SAR program was created by a successful home stager, currently operating  one of the most profitable industry leading staging companies in the US and has developed a program around that model to offer new stagers the opportunity to create their own success story. 

Many of us, even those of us who have taken home staging courses in the past, had to "invent the wheel" so to speak when it came to developing our business and marketing plans.  And naturally so. 

Social networking, online marketing and staging business development plans were relatively unheard of when I first started back in 2006. Active Rain had just come on the scene in June of 2006 and I started blogging on the site in February of 2007. The home stagers on AR at the time are who I consider pioneers in the online revolution in internet marketing for home staging- the early adopters if you will, namely Craig Schiller the founder of Stage it Forward and a group I currently moderate one week a month. 

Much discussion was brought up in the early days, some not so "sugar coated" into the realm of home staging training and its place in the industry.  It was actually my first foray into the discussion that frankly needed to be had.  But it also opened my eyes to the fact that business training and models of success were sorely lacking in our industry because too many home stagers were not staying in business in many major and not so major markets.  While California and the East Coast in some spots have a variety of successful home staging businesses, the same could not be said for the remainder of the country.  Month after month I'd read of another stager having to go back "to get a real job". I see it in my own market.  Generally 6 months to a year once a new website goes up, I rarely see it after that time. 

Why can't home staging alone be a "real paying job"??

A problem I see is that if you get into home staging believing that you'll only be staging homes and the work will just come to you, then you've been sorely misled.  There are so many other things that need to be done before you ever actually get a job that most people give up trying. (if they're not already giving it away for free or incredibly reduced prices and then experience burn out and disillusionment) . And who can blame them?  More doors are shut in our faces than open and a consistent pattern of that can make anyone want to go home, jump in bed, pull the covers over our heads and say NO MORE!

But Home Staging is a BUSINESS folks and until we start treating it and teaching it as such and not just a well paid hobby that HGTV says is fun or a someone says you should be making 6 figures in your first year only to realize you'd be happy clearing $6 in profit in 2 years, then we ourselves continue to keep our industry SMALL.

This is what SAR is offering.  Business tools and marketing strategies to help you develop, start and grow your home staging business into a model for success.  Strategies for success!  

SAR wants our students to succeed because what SAR is offering is the tools to get you where you want and need to go.  But it is work and will take work on your part once you've been given the tools.  Just like a hammer can't make a house without the carpenter's skilled hands, a stager can't stage profitably without the tools to run a successful business.

Now why on earth do I want to teach potential "competitors" in my market how to be successful stagers??  THAT is a good question!  

My philosophy is the more successful business models for home stagers we create, the MORE BUSINESS AND LEGITIMACY THE HOME STAGING INDUSTRY WILL HAVE.  

SAR has created a valuable, current program with real world, vital tools for home stagers who are serious about starting a home staging business and not just wanting part time work or a hobby. 

And if that's what you want, a part time job or hobby that's fine and recognize that!

But then the SAR program probably isn't for you.

One of my favorite quotes was said by a fellow stager here on Active Rain, Michelle Minch, "rising tides raise all boats" and it rings so true to me.  To be empowered with the tools you need to get your business off to a good start, to not grow frustrated with disillusionment of spinning wheels with no movement forward, and to be successful in the home staging industry only makes it easier for you and the rest of the industry to grow along with you. 

SAR wants to raise those tides!

Our real competitor is ignorance folks. Ignorance on the part of home sellers, Realtors, investors and builders, those who do not understand the value home stagers bring to the home selling table.  We must first learn to value ourselves and be confident in our ability as business owners and enter the market with a model for success. 

If you're serious about a home staging business as a career than I can personally tell you that the SAR training program is one to seriously consider when doing your home work on staging training companies. 

SAR has my endorsement and I am excited to bring the SAR program to the Texas market in 2011.



RESA Pro LogoHome Star Staging logo

Home Star Staging is a qualified, insured home staging company and we are always here for you North Texas!

  • Pre-listing property consultations
  • Post list "trouble shootingproperty consultations - no matter how long a home has been on the market there are always ways to improve the chance of sale
  • Owner occupied property staging (utilizing owner supplied furniture & accessories or including some of our own inventory)
  • Vacant & investment property staging (Full and partial rental furniture packages, accessories and staging services)
  • Is your office interested in hosting a home staging class or presentation? Just ask!
  • Contact Karen at 496-964-0516 or Karen@homestarstaging.com



Posted by

Home Staging Dallas - Karen Otto

Comments (26)

Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Kathy, I so appreciate your thoughts & kind words after reading this post. It was a heartfelt decision based on information and knowledge I gained through the months of talking with Melissa and actually auditing the course.  I even learned some new things myself which is important. We all need to continually hone our craft and business acumen. I never stop learning!

Oct 27, 2010 02:03 AM
Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

Karen....Kudos to you.  Melissa should be proud to have someone as hardworking as you.  Be blessed in your quest for success!

Oct 27, 2010 02:23 AM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Larry thanks much for the kind words and blessings!

Oct 27, 2010 02:56 AM
Anna Dovger
Add Value Home Staging LLC, 281-704-6607 - The Woodlands, TX
Home Staging -The Woodlands, TX

Karen, Melissa has great management skills. I am sure your team will benefit whole industry. At the same time it is a step up for you as an instructor. I wish a great success and many happy graduates.

Oct 27, 2010 03:04 AM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Thank you for your very kind words Anna, we're looking forward to bringing this to the industry!

Oct 27, 2010 03:22 AM
C. Bartch
Newark, OH

Hi Karen, I think your new adventure is awesome and I wish you the best. Good trainers are hard to find and Texas is lucky to have you!!!

Oct 27, 2010 04:35 AM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Thank you so much Cynthia! Love your new avatar too!

Oct 27, 2010 04:41 AM
Tessa Skeens
Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign - Grand Junction, CO
Staging For Realtors, Builders & Investors

There is nothing like learning from someone who has  been there and done that. There are so many facets to being in business as a home stager. I've often thought the one element lacking from truly successful home staging training is continued mentoring. It's one thing to get the concepts, its another to be able to adapt to the business you find. Wish you the best of luck Karen!

Oct 27, 2010 05:48 AM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana

Karen; boy oh boy, that girl can talk!  Seriously Karen, your support in this Industry is valuable and SAR and its future students are fortunate to have you.  You're the best!

Oct 27, 2010 07:04 AM
Michelle Drewry
Signature Real Estate Group - Henderson, NV
Realtor - Signature Real Estate Group

Wish you were in the Los Angeles area!  Congratulations and much success!

Oct 27, 2010 07:28 AM
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

Karen....much success with the new venture!  The business aspect of any small business is the hardest for many folks to grasp....I think it's why many fail.

Oct 27, 2010 08:36 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Congratulations Karen on your new venture!  It makes perfect sense for a home staging course to be taught by a professional home stager with a thriving business.  I'm sure your students will learn much from you ... and as others have said, it's the "business" side of things that many are lacking in when they make the decision to begin their home staging venture.

Oct 27, 2010 09:12 AM
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

Karen - As a long-time fan of you and your work, I have noticed you did not "endorse" any products. Your persistent, quality questions and rebuttals  while you were "auditing" the SAR course showed clearly your resolve to learn everything there was to know about what exactly was being offered and this endorsement of the program carries that much more weight because of it.

Your students are very lucky people who will assuredly become very busy and successful stagers!



Oct 27, 2010 10:37 AM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Tessa, on going continuing ed and mentoring is so important and is part of what SAR will offer as well. Thanks for your well wishes!

Ain't that the truth David! Most of us would love just to be creative and do the work however there aren't many huge staging companies people can just go work for. Most of us have to start our own businesses to succeed and need the tools to get there. You're right too that students need to willing to listen and absorb, there is a lot of info to cover!

I feel honored to hear you say that Linda and I find myself in equal company with you and the rest of the SAR team my friend!

I believe there will be a course instructor in the CA area Michelle and announcements will be made when so!

You're so right Kathy! We want to empower and help stagers succeed as it will help us all grow!

Thank you Maureen! You know the value that a course can provide if done correctly and understand how key it is that instructors also can bring value, experience and information that is useful and current to help students.  Some of the best instructors are those actually working in their chosen field and able to translate that to real world classrooms and educate it forward.

Hi Michelle, it is an honor to be in the company of my peers in this industry and through SAR bring a quality course to future students.  Thank you for your generous comments and observation of my "audit".  I take it very seriously and am thrilled to be a part of it.  It was also great to spend the time with you too!

Oct 27, 2010 12:08 PM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

Karen-I am very excited for you and for the new stagers in Texas! You are a wonderful teacher with so much to offer. SAR is blessed to have you on the team! Your philosophy and attitude is so refreshing and inspiring. Wish more people on this Earth were like you Karen!  

Oct 27, 2010 04:41 PM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Cathy, thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, it means so very much my sweet friend!

Oct 28, 2010 12:47 AM
Marianne Cherico
Interiors by Marianne Cherico - Foxboro, MA
Home Stager -Massachusetts and Rhode Island


There are stagers on AR that I follow and respect alot and you are definately one of them! Your beautifully written post really took us through the decision making process and peaked my curiosity about SAR. I am sure that you will be an incredible asset to the organization. The business of staging is an important element that is lacking in other courses. Best of luck on your new adventure!


Oct 29, 2010 12:55 AM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Marianne, wow, that means so much to hear you say that. It's always nice to know that others respect what you do and over the years it has always been my desire to help not only grow my own business but the staging industry as well.  We can all do our part in our little corners of the world and we are truly helping people move onward and forward in the selling process, but so many stagers are still at a standstill. Thank you again for your kind words and for checking SAR out!

Oct 29, 2010 01:32 AM
Valerie Sagheddu
Apostle Art Home Staging & Design - Stroudsburg, PA
~Home Staging Professional, Poconos, PA

WoW Karen!!! You got me inspired just reading this post!!! I met Melissa a few years ago at an event on the East Coast,,,she is amazing!!! I sincerely wish you the best on your new endeavor with SAR!


Nov 12, 2010 02:07 PM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Hi Valerie! Thank you so much for your well wishes it means so very much!

Nov 20, 2010 08:52 AM