Chango & Co: Finding Joy in Social Media Marketing

Episode 7 February 17, 2023 00:52:30
Chango & Co: Finding Joy in Social Media Marketing
The Interior Collective
Chango & Co: Finding Joy in Social Media Marketing

Feb 17 2023 | 00:52:30


Show Notes

Chango & Co: Finding Joy in Social Media Marketing 


Episode Details.

Love it, hate it, or maybe a little intimidated by it, the role of social media in the interior design industry cannot be ignored. While some designers landed their first big project through their extensive Instagram following, others may find the fickle algorithm, the constant demands of the platform, and the thought of showing up on camera less than appealing. If you don’t aspire to expand from interior designer to lifestyle influencer, is it still worth the effort to show up on social media? And if so, how? 


Today’s guest, Susana Simonpietri, Creative Director and Founder of Chango & Co., has over 286k followers and was one of the first interior designers to see Instagram’s marketing potential when the platform first launched. Despite overseeing a wildly successful interior design studio made up of a team of almost 20 individuals, Susana still runs Chango & Co.’s Instagram entirely on her own! Today, she is generously sharing how her studio shows up in such an authentic, successful, and sustainable way on Instagram, and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. 

In this episode, Susana and I discuss:


Thanks for listening to this episode of The Interior Collective. You can listen to our episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or access all the show notes on our website.


You can follow along with Chango & Co. on Instagram, Pinterest, and discover more of their work on their website.



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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Love it, hate it. Or maybe a little intimidated by it. The role of social media in interior design cannot be ignored. While some designers landed their first big project through their extensive Instagram following, others may find the fickle algorithm and the constant demands of the platform and the thought of showing up on camera less than appealing. If you don't aspire to expand from interior design to full on lifestyle influencer, is it even worth the effort to show up on social media? And if so, how do you do it? Today we are digging into it all, leaving no platform or process unturned Speaker 0 00:00:39 When it comes to understanding social media's marketing potential for interior design studios, we could not think of a better person to share her experience with than Susanna Simone Pieri, creative director and founder of Chango and Co. With over 286,000 followers today, Susanna was one of the first interior designers to see Instagram's marketing potential when the platform first launched. Over the years, Susana has organically grown and extremely engaged in loyal community, turning that platform into one of the strongest leads for client inquiries, landing projects for nice people who trust your creative vision and the results speak for themselves. One, look at the Chango and co Instagram grid and you can't help but feel a surge of happiness and an almost irresistible desire to transport yourself into one of her projects. Stick around for a little while and you will understand the studio's vision, personality, and exactly what the experience would be like to work with them. Speaker 0 00:01:36 Spoiler alert. Alert, it is creative, enjoyable, and probably punctuated with a few good surprises and a lot of laughs with a presence this good, you'd think there's a full marketing team dedicated to Chango and CO's social media. But in reality, it is a one woman show. Despite overseeing a wildly successful interior design studio made up of a team of 20 plus individuals, Susan still runs Chango and CO's Instagram entirely on her own, usually from her bed when she first wakes up in the morning. And note she doesn't have a second degree in marketing, although fun fact, she does have one in comparative literature. Get excited because Susana has generously agreed to share how her studio shows up in such an authentic, successful, and sustainable way on Instagram. And we have a lot to ground cover. You guys are going to love this episode because Susanna just untaught me everything I have learned over the years and I have this refreshed sense of how I wanna approach Instagram moving forward. And I hope you do too. Hello and welcome, Susanna. I am so grateful to have you here today. Speaker 2 00:02:46 Aw, thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here and I'm excited to participate in this. I was very flatter that you asked me to join. I still don't know why, but we're gonna find out. <laugh>, this should be fun. Speaker 0 00:02:58 I am excited to talk about social media, particularly Instagram because I know everyone listening and myself included it. It's been a, a tough ride lately over the last year and a half, two years or so, and you've just mastered it so gracefully and so eloquently, yet still in a playful way. And so I'm just excited to dig into your secrets and kind of your journey on Instagram and how it has helped shaped your incredible interior design business. So let's dig in. Back in the day you started Chango and Co in 2009, which was a full year in some change before Instagram had even launched. I think it took a while before brands and companies realized they could really use it as a marketing tool. So I'm curious if you started in 2009, how long before you got on Instagram as a brand? Speaker 2 00:03:52 So I actually was looking at some of your questions yesterday and I realized that I didn't know the answer to that. So I had to go back to my Instagram account and scroll way down to find the first post. And I realized it was like at some point in 2014. Oh wow. So it had been a while since we started the firm, but I, like I said earlier, I'm not a very technologically savvy person despite the fact that people think I am because I'm doing this. So I probably didn't even know what Instagram was, didn't have an account for myself personally, either. I, I resisted social media for as long as I possibly could until I realized I had to use it for my business and, and then I jumped on it. But I actually remember when the, when the <laugh>, when the beginning of the, of the account happened, I had come to a trip in High Point and when I was there, there were all these like blog designers that were at High Point and people were like, oh yeah, we know them from Instagram. And I was like, what is Instagram? Or who are these people? <laugh> basically got it. I remember landing in New York and I was like, let's download Instagram and start an account. <laugh> Speaker 0 00:04:56 Gotta check this out. Well now I guess that's like eight years later since you started the account, you've got over 285,000 followers. So Instagram is obviously an extremely successful platform for your brand. And I know as someone who came into Instagram a little bit later than that, that that was kind of Instagram's heyday like you got on while it was still really blowing up. So I don't want anyone to listen to feel like, oh gosh, how do I ever even get there? So there's a lot of other social media platforms available and I'm wondering if you have any insight as to what other social media platforms you think interior designers should be showing up for and investing their time in. So things like Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, have you considered any of those and what have been successful for you? Speaker 2 00:05:47 Yeah, I actually wanna say first that I don't think that designers should be discouraged or anyone with a brand should be discouraged from getting on Instagram because I think there's still space for everyone. I actually are our, the majority of our growth has been very recent. It, it has been like a slow growth and I didn't put as much time into Instagram way back when I started it. And we see a very increased growth that happens on a weekly basis. So it's still like growing and I think after you reach a certain point, it grows a little bit more naturally. Mm-hmm. But, but yeah, it's, it mostly happened like I would say the last two years has been when it really exploded. Maybe a little more time than that. But that, just to say that people I think should just get on there and be themselves and do their thing. Speaker 2 00:06:28 And we can get more on that a little bit, talk about that more later. But yeah, I think they should do that. We also really, really highly depend on Pinterest. Yeah, Pinterest is a huge avenue for us. We post all of our projects there. We started wa watermarking our projects. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> our images there a while ago just because they would, you know, they go everywhere on, on Pinterest and sometimes they lose the, where the image comes from, which I think happens less on Instagram. So we started watermarking our images and now we, we see how far those watermarked images actually get, which is very interesting. But a lot of our clients come in through Instagram, but a lot of them come through people building their boards on Pinterests and then they just end up with like hundreds of images of your work that come through other avenues and then all of a sudden they're like, I feel like these images might be from the same person. Speaker 2 00:07:17 And then suddenly they find out that they are and then they get to you that way, which is very interesting. So I definitely encourage people to do the interesting. We are not on TikTok, although I have been told recently that I need to get on that and we might be working on it. I have not mastered the algorithm of TikTok. It thinks that I like very strange things because I may have clicked on one or two weird things and now I've decided I don't even wanna open it up cuz it's freaking me out. <laugh>. So that's where I'm at with TikTok and every, anything else I haven't used, I know that like YouTube is a huge thing. Like we have clients that we're doing, you know, collaborations with who are huge on YouTube, but I haven't even, I mean we have video, we've done a lot of video content in the last couple of years and I think it's on YouTube, but I I think it's on YouTube. Yes. <laugh>, <laugh>, somebody put it on YouTube. Clearly I don't, I I don't use it. Speaker 0 00:08:10 <laugh>, I'll talk to you offline cuz we gotta get your projects on YouTube. So <laugh> you keep referring to We, and we'll talk about your team in a little bit, but I think it's really important to point out that you personally are still managing your social media, even with nearly 20 people on your team. How do you find the time when you're running the business and juggling your responsibilities as creative director to also make time for Instagram? Speaker 2 00:08:34 So I made it a priority. You know, I, I realized we did a, a little bit of a deep dive a couple of years ago and realized that so many of our clients were coming through Instagram. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I mean, both potential projects and projects that are never gonna happen, which also we can get into required a whole other department in my office, which was interesting. But we, I just decided that I was gonna make time for it because it, it was going to be a huge part of our business. It was a very lucrative part of our business. That said, as the years have passed, I, I used to put all of like a lot of time into Instagram and I would do it off hours because I had to be in my office and I had to be with my team. So I would just wake up in the morning and my phone was in front of my face first thing. Speaker 2 00:09:17 And there I was on Instagram answering and doing and whatever. And then like, you know, later I had kids and that became harder to do. But I would still like the little bit of time that I had, I would get on Instagram and and and deal with that. Right now we've switched, switched it up and I'm very happy about that because it's taken a lot of anxiety out of my life to, I still am the person that posts every day and I'm still the person that does the stories. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because I think that there's like a sense of gen, like it's genuine, it's coming from a real place and then we have someone who's helping to answer things and who deals with engagement. I just could not, I mean it's just too much. Speaker 0 00:09:53 It's just too much. Yeah, totally. So you're still posting every day. We at Idco are big fans of batch scheduling and we try to get, you know, two to four weeks planned ahead of time while leaving room for sort of more off the cuff things that are exciting that come up that we didn't have planned. Do you, you use anything to schedule out your social or are you literally like looking through your own images, picking your favorite and coming up with a caption every single day? Speaker 2 00:10:23 So that's a very interesting question because we've gone back and forth mm-hmm. <affirmative> and for a little while there, like I just was advised that I should have a team of people working on our social and helping me with scheduling and all of that. And especially like right after, I remember, I think the whole thing started when I had my first kit. I have two now and the oldest one is five. So when I had Ali, I think they were like, we should probably get you on a schedule so you can have proper maternity leave. I did not take it. I was back in the office within three days and I basically, you know, we, we laid out like a plan of like here's the images and here's going to be the, and that worked for a couple of weeks, but it just was not, it didn't feel right to me. Speaker 2 00:11:03 So I actually walked away from that. And now what I do is like, I do kind of batch it in a way that I just save on my phone. All the images that I think are like the things that I wanna talk about next. You know, even if it's like, I mean it's much easier when we have new projects and it's like, here's the new project and here's how I'm going to sort of put that on the grid. And then other times it's like, let me dig into older projects and how do I talk about these, you know? And then I come up with the text every single day I just think about it and I'm like, this is what's happening or I'm feeling this way or you know, whatever it is that's going on. I just say it. Speaker 0 00:11:39 I think that that is such a key element to what makes your feed so incredibly engaging. And it's something I have personally struggled with because my team has grown and I'm like, this is what I should hand off to someone else. And then, then I can't help but feel like when I'm writing a caption in the moment and I get something up that that's like the most easily connected post that I get the most engagement and people feel like the most related to me when I do that. And so I love that you're sharing that you don't have a big system and that it really is, you're kind of keeping it old school Instagram and you're sticking to that and it's clearly what's really worked for you Speaker 2 00:12:18 And it doesn't require thinking about it too much as long as, I mean I've worked really hard on being the best person that I can be. So I never have to worry that I'm gonna say something that I'm gonna regret. You know? So it's like every day I wake up I'm like, okay, what do I wanna say to the world? And sometimes it's just me sending good energy to people and sometimes it's me saying like, I'm very frustrated because this just happened to me and is anybody with me? And then you get a lot of support. And so I think that in that sense it's been really nice for me as a person cuz it's kept me very connected to the community that I've created over the years. And it's, um, you know, sometimes you get so into your work and you are so focused on what you're doing that you ver you disconnect yourself. You know, you're like, you don't, you don't even get to see friends. So I consider all the people that I talk to on a daily basis on Instagram, kind of friends Speaker 0 00:13:04 <laugh> 100% <laugh>. So I know that so many designers listening, they kind of get what I call posting paralysis and they get, they freak out because they don't have the perfect witty caption or they don't have something so powerful to say. Talk to us a little bit more about how you're totally okay with that. And it doesn't have to be perfect and that is what you're posting in the day. Speaker 2 00:13:28 I mean, I was listening to, I listened to a lot of audiobooks, but I also, I I have spent the last maybe 15 years listening mostly to autobiography and you just reminded me of a scene from the Will Smith autobiography where he's like having her be Hancock and he's like, no paralysis through analysis <laugh>. And he's screaming at him drunk at a party. That's kinda it. No paralysis through analysis. You just go, you know, you have to say what it is that you're thinking and sometimes the best part about it is that you are not gonna necessarily have the best caption. Like you're not gonna ha let somebody else do that, throw that in the ring and let other people, like the more you leave open-ended things, the more beauty you get, you know, from people. So it's okay. Speaker 0 00:14:09 Totally going off script. So bear with me. But you have an incredible bank of projects and images to pull from, which I know especially newer designers might not have all of those dreamy projects in there. How do you feel about sharing the same image more than once over the course of X amount of time? Speaker 2 00:14:29 I don't have a problem with that. I think if it fits the emotion that I'm going through that day or whatever it is that I wanna say, it's totally fine. I think it's interesting now on Instagram they have prompted, and I have no idea what this is called, but like you save a couple of images at the top, you know what I'm talking about? Speaker 0 00:14:43 Oh yeah. It gets pinned to your profile. Speaker 2 00:14:45 Yeah, exactly. So that I find to be very helpful because then your better images are up there already. Or like your, your most popular recent images are up there anyway and you're like, well I don't have to repeat myself too often. Right. So in that way that's good, but I don't, I don't think there's anything wrong with doing that. I also, one of your things that you had mentioned that you wanted to talk about was like potentially like the process of like posting images of other designers mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which I think is interesting. Like one of the things that I remember, it was a decision I made from the moment I started the Instagram account. Like, because I went into it in my head, one of the only things that differentiated me from younger bloggers was the fact that I had been doing this for a really long time. Speaker 2 00:15:24 Mm-hmm. You know, and I was like, well I actually have a bank of stuff. I've been documenting my work really well for a really long time. So I made a decision from very early on that I wasn't going to post anybody else's work and it was just gonna be our own work. And I, I kept that and I, I think a lot of designers still do that and I think when you're young, you should totally do that. I, I love the fact that people p people do, I mean as long as obviously they provide good, like a proper credit. Right. It's wonderful and it's a great way to build your account. But yeah, Speaker 0 00:15:53 I love that. Have you tried using car cells when you're posting multiple pictures in one and use the swipe feature? And do you feel like those posts perform better than your static images? Speaker 2 00:16:03 That's a good question. I don't think I've paid enough attention to that, but I have done it. I just, I in, by the back of my head, I'm always thinking like I'm kind of burning through a bunch of images in one post and it's that dumb, you know, because you're like, I have like 40 images to share of this or like 20 images to share of this product. Now here I am putting a bunch in one, but I have done it in the past, especially when it relates to like, if it depends on the photographer that you use to shoot something, but some photographs, photographers will give you a lot of detailed shots. Yeah. So then you're like, here's a brand and then here's like zooming into the space a little bit more. So I tend to do it with those more than anything else. Speaker 0 00:16:38 Yeah, I think that's a, a really good point to use those detail shots that don't perform well as the primary image, but to be able to use them. Cuz otherwise you've paid for them and they kind of just sit in the back burner. So using them in a carousel is a great way to use it. Speaker 2 00:16:52 And you know, I hadn't even thought about it, but now that you mention it, when I do save to my post, like, you know, when I save images just for inspiration, I noticed that I save a lot of images that come from carousel like that. Oh. So I think it's, there's something that entices you about, like, even if it's only one image of that car, and I remember this because I remember pinning, like putting them in my, my image type images and thinking like, oh, but that's weird that there's all these other images in here. And that's the one that drove me to it. But it's usually, I think that there's like a little bit of a se seduction that happens because there's more context to that image that you just saved. Speaker 0 00:17:26 Totally. Speaker 2 00:17:27 So there's like an allure. Speaker 0 00:17:29 I think it's also an interesting little hack because when someone is looking at a carousel in their feed and the first image comes up, that same carousel will show up in their feed again, even if they scrolled past it and it skips to the second image. So it's almost like you're getting two sets of eyeballs on the same post, even if someone didn't engage. So it's kind of like you get a second chance to get a good engagement. Speaker 2 00:17:54 Oh, I didn't know that. I'm gonna try that more then Speaker 0 00:17:57 <laugh>, it's, it's an interesting hack that I've seen. And you'll notice as you start to scroll through and you see a carousel, you'll often start being shown the second image first, which I think is really interesting. So let's talk about analytics. And I'm guessing that you don't put too much weight on it and I feel like that's really easy to say when you already have a big following and you know, you've already gone through all those years of kind of bootstrapping it. But do you look at your stats and your analytics on Instagram? And if so, what are you specifically looking at and how do you pivot your strategy because of it? Speaker 2 00:18:31 I do look at them once in a while. I don't, I don't try to base my posts or my business around that stuff. I don't take it that seriously. I, in fact, I think that part of the reason why our account has grown the way it does is because there's a lack of seriousness to the whole thing, which is refreshing to people. But I I, I do look at them in that I, I wanna make sure that like, I wanna listen to people and sometimes the best way to listen to people is by looking at stuff like that. So I look at them just to see what posts have performed better, where, why, what times and stuff like that. But like in a very broad sense. And I also look at them to try to understand like what is it that people are re reacting best to? Speaker 2 00:19:13 Because sometimes the spaces that are my favorite aren't everybody else's favorite. And another thing that happens that's very interesting is that a lot of times when you're doing work that is progressive, it takes people a long time to understand that and to get used to it. So sometimes we'll do a project and it's three years later is when people fall in love with it. So it's very interesting to watch that and like see those pictures come up back up and say, okay, let's see how people re react to this now. And all of a sudden they become very popular. So it's, it's an interesting thing and it's also really interesting to watch it for like, how much time should I spend? We spend a lot of time on money on photo shoots because documenting your work is such an important part of, I mean, if you didn't document that, you would have no content for Instagram. So I'm for social media, so it tells me like, is this shot performing better than that? Are people kind of tired of looking at bets from this angle? Like let's shoot, sometimes we experiment. I'm like, let's shoot this from this weird angle or like, let's not shoot the the space wide like this and let's shoot it. You know, and it, and it gives me a lot of feedback on what people re react the best to. Speaker 0 00:20:24 One of the first impressions prospective clients have of your brand is your website. If you don't have a strong online presence to show off your work though you're losing out on potential clients. ICO Studio offers a selection of limited edition website templates designed specifically for interior designers just like you. If you're looking for a more hands-off experience, you can add on implementation and professional copywriting and we'll have your new website up and running within a few short weeks visit to choose your favorite before it sells out. What about the number of followers? How often are you looking at, you know, we had this many follows and this many unfollows and what did we post that day to get those unfollows? Do you look at that at all or are you really just focused on the creative aspect of it? Speaker 2 00:21:10 I don't really look at unfollows. I don't want to, I mean, I know that anytime I make a post that is political in any way, I get a lot of unfollows and I'm like, that's okay and then, but then, you know, but I try not to do that very often, but sometimes you have to. But I look at the followers a lot, I look at it, I look at the growth because I wanna, I, it it, it basically gives me an insight on like what am I posting right now? And like have I kind of gotten into a weird spot and you know, like what are my hashtags? I'm like all of that stuff. So yes, I do look at it. Speaker 0 00:21:41 You've mentioned you've, you do look at it and you analyze it a lot. Could you share any tips for things that you feel like a caption based on this or an image shot like this usually is successful? Do you have any that are kind of like back pocket tricks? Speaker 2 00:21:57 Don't shoot horizontals unless you wanna use them for your website. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, it's so, it's so sad because horizontals are amazing but we've all got, I mean when I started working in design, like everybody always wanted to shoot horizontal and now nobody wants to take horizontal shots, they just don't perform as well. So I try, I look at spaces and I'm constantly thinking of that vertical image and we have seen that. So I mean we are pretty known at this point for our kids' rooms, which is interesting. And they do tend to perform really, really well. People have a huge soft spot for them. Even if you have like the best adult space in the house, like the kids' rooms just tend to be the best. They just, they fly, Speaker 0 00:22:34 Which is so interesting. And I think Susanna, I think it's very unique to you and your eye because historically speaking, anybody I talk to kids' rooms tank, they bomb, they bomb, they bomb. So I love that you have carved out that little niche and you just make such whimsical, wonderfully elevated, playful, joyful spaces that people love to consume because I love to see them. But I do think that that's interesting that nurseries seem to tank no matter what. But I know on your account they do really well. So that's fantastic. Speaker 2 00:23:05 They do. I mean I think I, I just, I'm designing kids' rooms. I, I actually give a lot of importance to our kids' rooms. I take them very seriously. Like I try to think about, it's a big responsibility, you know, you're designing this room for a child and I remember my rooms as a kid having a huge influence on who I was going to become as a person. So I'm like, this is a, you have to take this stuff seriously. You know, like you're gonna form a part of the personality of this little person that potentially could grow up to be who knows who you know. So yeah, Speaker 0 00:23:35 It's such a fleeting moment in time. That space for them is only gonna be that space for them for so many years. So that is a really important part of the design process. Amazing. Well let's talk about engagement because I think it's a key piece to the Instagram puzzle and it's really changed over the years. Back in the day it was like you comment on other people's posts, they come back and comment on your posts and it was really collaborative in that sense. And now you don't have to necessarily be following someone to see their work because of the way the algorithm's showing reels and suggested posts. You mentioned that you're no longer the person who's doing that engagement. And I have a question and a little clarification as well. So there's inbound engagement which means that someone has commented on your post and then someone on your team goes and responds to them and answers them or starts that conversation that way. And then there's what we call outbound engagement, which is where you're spending time actively commenting on other people's posts, whether they are accounts you follow or accounts that you're hoping to get to follow you. Does your team do both types of engagement or are they really just focused on inbound engagement? Speaker 2 00:24:41 Hmm. I would say a huge part of it is the incoming comments and there is a percentage of the follower, the people that we follow. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So it's a little bit of a combination of both, but the, it's a little bit too much to do, to do both. So it's mostly what's coming in at this point. And then I handle most of the incoming personally, which it is probably not gonna be the case anymore cause I'm failing. MS is is taking care of the dms. Speaker 0 00:25:07 Yeah, Speaker 2 00:25:08 Like it, it, people don't realize after a certain amount of followers that you don't even get to see most of them, you know, they just get buried down and so, but yeah, I try, if I see them I try to respond to it <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:25:20 So what is your PO policy at Chango and Co about answering that immense flood of questions about specific paint colors or product sources? I know interior designers struggle with that cuz they want to share that information, they wanna be able to provide it to their community, but it's proprietary to the design work. So can you share how you practice that? Speaker 2 00:25:41 I used to think more that it was proprietary and then I stopped caring about it actually. Cuz every single project that we do, like it's the next one's gonna be different. So it's not like I'm trying to hold onto something and I'm fine with other people exercising with what we've done so, or like having fun with it. I try to give information as much as possible. It's just gotten to the point where we can't, and I, I actually was thinking again, we, we had gone through a moment like a couple of months where we were posting and we were tagging every single person that was on there. And then people were still com you know, writing to us like hundreds of pmms or comments saying like, but where is this from? And then we have to be like, oh it's custom or like we designed the et cetera, et cetera. Speaker 2 00:26:21 Now we're getting to the point where we're starting to talk to brands about potential collaborations for furniture design and stuff like that. So it's getting like I think we're, we're gonna get to the point where potentially some of those designs are gonna be available to purchase. But I think we're probably going to have someone from my office soon start answering to people and saying like, you know, if you need something specific you feel free to email us or like have a blanket statement that we can make so people don't get mad because sometimes people do get mad, which is really sad but <laugh> I'm sure you've seen it. They're like, I have to know. Speaker 0 00:26:53 So have you since back in the day when you first started your Instagram account, had you always been open to sharing those sources? Cuz I'm curious if that has been part of what caused your exponential growth or if you kind of got over it and started doing that later? Speaker 2 00:27:07 You know, when I started my Instagram account it was sort of still the wild wild west and everybody, like there were no rules and we didn't know what we were doing. We still don't know what we're doing but we know a little bit more. But back then it was like, I don't know, like I don't know that I wanna give anything to other people because who are they and what do they want? And like it was so strange and I think over time I just completely softened up on that because it's just so much of it that you can't, like what are you gonna do? Try to like hold on to anger, fight. No, no. I'm just like cool, take it, do do your thing. You know? And it's actually become quite flattering and beautiful over time. We're like, we have clients and friends and different people from all over the world and are like will say like, oh I've had so many clients show me your images and we've basically reproduced your room, which I hope you take as flatter. I'm like, yeah of course I take as flattering maybe 15 years ago I wouldn't have, but now I'm totally cool with it. It's cute. Speaker 0 00:28:00 Backing up to sharing those sources and being more flexible with giving that information, do you have any suggestions for designers listening who need to know how to articulate that to their clients who might be upset that those sources are being shared? Speaker 2 00:28:17 You know, I think if your clients are getting upset that your sources are being shared, then that there's a li a little bit of a weird problem there. Most of our clients at this point are so excited to work with someone that people are even asking questions like that too and that they're so excited that other people wanna have the room that you gave to them because they know that you're never gonna do it for someone else anyway. Right. And even if they try to do it on their own, it's not gonna look the same. So I think they take it as flattery too. And I, I don't think I've ever had to have that conversation with a client. Speaker 0 00:28:45 Awesome. So I think that if you can just present it as an exciting thing and you can use that clout to kind of explain how you have this celebrity room <laugh>, I think that, I think you're totally right that the homeowners just get really excited that people love their space so much. If anything, it's just making you look even better because you've created something that's so covetable that everybody's asking about those Speaker 2 00:29:09 And if they ever and if they ever say something you're can always probably just, I mean I'm a, I'm a big jokester so I would say something like, but by the time that they're finished with their, their room making it look the same as yours, you're gonna be onto the next house or something and we'll just be doing another different rooms. Don't worry about it, it's gonna be okay. Speaker 0 00:29:27 So besides potential clients and design lovers and admirers, have you used Instagram to connect with vendors, tradespeople and editors? How have you built that friendship that you said that your Instagram followers have really become Speaker 2 00:29:42 100%? Actually I, I, I use Instagram a lot to connect with people on a personal basis. I have written, I've made a point that whenever I see something that I really love and even if I'm not the one responding anymore, if I, if I see an image on my scroll, cause I'm there all the time. I write to the designer, I'm like, this is gorgeous. Wow, you did such a beautiful job. Or I'll send a DM to them and say, you know, we've never met but I just saw this new product of yours and I am like completely in love with your work, you know, and I can't wait to meet you hopefully someday. So if we are ever in the same room, just come and give me a squeeze, you know, so I do it, I do definitely write to people little not love notes. <laugh> on Instagram Speaker 0 00:30:24 From sort of the PR side of things, have you established relationships with editors in the same way? Has that come like that? I know you work with the PR agency, that's who, how we got ahold of you. Do you really let them handle that or has there been some organic growth from your Instagram that way? Speaker 2 00:30:41 So in fact, we only started working the first time that we've ever worked with a PR firm is now. And we only started doing that less than a year ago. So every other publication that happened before that for the many years has been just me like, you know, pedaling <laugh>. So yeah, I've been, I've right to editors I like, not specifically like, not in a very aggressive way, but I've definitely introduced myself to them like, hey, you know, I, you know, I'm x y and I have projects and let me know if you wanna sh see them. And, and I, for many years I also, before Instagram I would send notes like you figure out who the editors of the magazines are by picking them up and you like, okay, let me see if I can guess your email or like go to the website of the, of the magazine and figure it out. Oh if that person is HW at you know, Conde na, then this person must be whatever their initials are at Conde nas. And you know, I've gotten the editors of AD to respond to me that way. It's amazing. Like you just get in there <laugh>, just do it. Speaker 0 00:31:38 So let's talk about a hot topic, the infamous algorithm, which is like such a dreaded buzzword these days I feel, and we're all doing our best to keep up with it. One of the current recommendations from the meta team is to maintain a consistent posting schedule. Do you have a specific posting schedule that you stick to every week? As in, are you posting seven days a week at 5:00 AM Eastern or is it a little more fluid than that? And have you seen any benefits or regresses from straying from it? Speaker 2 00:32:11 I have zero discipline, <laugh> zero I post, I post whenever I remember to post. And I even skip it some days unfortunately, which I try not to do, but it happens and then I'm like, ah, whatever. Maybe today I'll hit you with two posts to make up for yesterday. Zero discipline. And I don't know that it's made any difference, to be honest with you. I actually think to a certain extent, like in the last couple of weeks our account has like a lot more, but it had gone through a dip and I think that I've been kind of like completely reverent to the way I'm handling it and I think it's, it's, it's actually helping us. So there you Speaker 0 00:32:47 Go. Great. Got it. Everyone listening, there's no rules. We're providing you no tips. Just <laugh> throw it at the wall and see what sticks. Speaker 2 00:32:57 But to be honest with you, that's kinda what's what's helped I, that's the way that our account has always been to a certain extent. Like I'm just sort of very natural. It it is what it is. Like there's no posting I, you know, you're seeing exactly without any filter, you know, and, and I am that way too when I, when it comes to my organization on my posting and all of that, Speaker 0 00:33:17 I honestly, I find this so refreshing. I mean I can say that I'm the first one in line to say okay, we have to follow this rule, we have to do it this way. And I can feel that our account has plateaued because of it and I've just been taking it so seriously and it's been so stiff and I'm like, you know what, I'm gonna send the whole social team home today. And I'm like, I'm gonna write my own caption tonight so you guys get ready for some fire hitting the feed tonight cuz it's coming from me directly <laugh>. And I'm just gonna loosen up a bit because I think that that's kind of us taking the power back from Instagram and just letting it be your platform to use how you want to. Speaker 2 00:34:00 Yeah, exactly. That's something, I mean maybe, maybe Instagram is like a is a, is a Gemini and she's like, I don't really, if you like me too much I'm not gonna like you back <laugh> <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:34:10 That's so true. If you're too thirsty, I'm not interested. Okay, so let, I try to leave a few actionable tidbits. So I'm curious if you do follow or utilize hashtags at all or if you use polls or question boxes in your stories. Are there any tools that Instagram has rolled out I feel like mostly in the last two years that you are subscribing to? Or are you still just like one image caption? That's it. Speaker 2 00:34:40 So I think that one thing I've noticed is that images tend to perform better and get more exposure when you tag more people, that's for sure. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I noticed that like having the text be like us, I, first of all, I, I switched a couple of months ago or whatever may I, maybe a year ago to tagging our own work on the image, which I wasn't doing before. And I like, that's very helpful because if people are sharing the image then that's already there so you don't lose the credit. And then I tag the photographers as well and that's I think a very big thing for the image to travel better. I think that when we do in image tag, the vendors, the images tend to perform better. Although I haven't been doing that for a little while cause it's just so time consuming. But when it comes to hashtags, I still put them in there. But I have to say that I, the jury's still out on that one. I still don't know what those do. <laugh>, I, I only started doing them because I noticed a lot of other designers were like, hashtag luxury spaces, hashtag my house is the best. And I was like, well hashtag what the f let's do this. You know? So that's what I've been doing, but I, I have no idea if they're actually helping. Speaker 0 00:35:50 Excellent. Okay. Got it. This is wonderful details <laugh>. Okay, so let's talk video. I know you said you guys have started to do video over the last couple of years to to document your spaces. Have you been putting them on Instagram? Have you started doing reels and how do you feel about Instagram? Very publicly saying that they're a video content platform now and not exclusively a photo platform? Speaker 2 00:36:15 I, I think that's not going to be a thing that's gonna be a forever because I think we all love looking at images more than we do video, to be honest with you. But I think that obviously they're like trying to figure out how to compete with TikTok but I, we have invested a humongous amount of time and money and I mean really a lot of money into video content to document our projects. And I did it because I figured that this was absolutely necessary. I think not only for the, for the ability to, to get more followers and to seem more legit as a company, let's just say. But also because I realized that there's only so much that an image can communicate about a space. And I remember my mom walking into a couple of our projects when they were completed and saying like, you know, your images are beautiful but you don't really understand the space, how good the space is until you're in it because the video, you know, like when you walk through it you can see the light movement and you can see so much and you like, it's just a completely different experience. Speaker 2 00:37:12 So that ma left me with a lot of thinking and I remember at some point making the decision that we were going to go through the trouble of like putting together a video team to help us document things. And that has been a humongous pain in the ass because it is so time consuming and you have to all of a sudden figure out how to become like a newscaster. Yeah. Which is not something I wanted to do <laugh>, but here we are and, and yeah and, and like figure it out. And the next couple of videos that we have coming out, we just shot two more, but they're currently being reviewed for publication to, to more projects. We haven't released them yet, but they have video content that goes along with them and I'm starting to include our team into the video content, which I think will be really interesting to watch cause we're doing interviews that are collective so we can talk about how we came together form the design in general. So we're trying a lot of different things with video and I think it's interesting and it's been fun for me to, to sort of design that aspect of the account in that, you know, like I know already how to shoot something I know from like how to design something very clearly so that it does well as a visual element but the video part is a whole new piece of the puzzle. So it's been a pain but also fun <laugh>. I'm complaining but I'm enjoying it. Speaker 0 00:38:29 <laugh> I know you mentioned that it's such an expense to bring on a team and whatnot. Have you tried any sort of, of like phone videography as well? Do you ever bring that in and if you do, is it in stories versus feed or how do you incorporate it? Speaker 2 00:38:43 So I, I've done the real thing like a couple of times, but I'm, I build on myself and we're, we need to get better at this. Like I need definitely plan to hire people who will take care of this part cuz not something that I particularly enjoy doing, but the whole like editing portion, like our videos are like little movies, you know, they're six minute longs e each and each project will have like three of them and they walk you through and there's an interview process. So like, just the part of editing all of that together. Like obviously we work with a, a team of three people who are doing the video and we will give them our, you know, like show me all the footage and like I want this footage in here better than that. Like I think that this needs to be moved around so we're a huge part of like how they end up looking. But, but I don't wanna do it myself. Speaker 0 00:39:25 Yeah. <laugh> Speaker 2 00:39:27 Just that I don't like, I don't have the time for it. And we thought about hiring someone in-house to do it, but it's also like, is that enough of a full-time job? I don't think so right now. So maybe at some point I, you Speaker 0 00:39:38 Know, I can say from personal experience, we had this conversation last year and I was like, I think we should bring a videographer in-house full-time. And I was like, there's no way I have full-time work for videographer. He is absolutely the busiest person on our team and we figured out a way to ease up that time. So that's Speaker 2 00:39:58 Fast. Speaker 0 00:39:58 That's interesting. Oh my gosh. All of a sudden it's like, why aren't we videoing this? We gotta get Jesse and Jesse, where are you at? Can you video him? Me opening this box that just got delivered. Speaker 2 00:40:06 <laugh>. That's awesome. It's Speaker 0 00:40:07 A funny how, how suddenly we had so much work for them Speaker 2 00:40:10 And they do all the editing and everything to give you the full video. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:40:13 He does everything. Speaker 2 00:40:14 That's a good investment. I mean for us, we're getting to the point that like even within our bookkeeping internally, we're like, doesn't make any sense for us to not have this internal because you're spending in like whatever, a salary on it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> if you shoot a bunch of projects. So I think at a certain point, like I think for some of the Instagram accounts that are monetizing video, like if you're shooting yourself with clothes and you're posting and stuff like that, I haven't, I haven't gotten to the point of wanting to do that because I feel like one of the aspects of our account that has been really touching for people is how much fun I make of myself and like how real I am. And like I have vomit on my shirt today because my kid vomited on me and that's how I'm rolling and like all of that. So like I, I don't think that I'm the kind of person who would be like, look at me wearing this $2,000 sweater. It just, I just, I Speaker 0 00:41:00 Dunno. I feel like I can speak for everyone listening that we would love to see you on camera cuz you are the most charming and engaging person I've ever met. So Speaker 2 00:41:08 You're so Speaker 0 00:41:09 Sweet. Let's talk about shoot day for a project. You have completed install, you have your photographer or your videographer, whoever. Can you talk to me about who's on set and who's making decisions and who you have hired to come in for that day? Speaker 2 00:41:24 So we have a pretty big crew for our video and photo shoots usually a big project. Like for example, the average project for us is like a minimum of 6,000 thousand square feet and they go up to 20,000 square feet homes in la right? So a project like that has a three day long photo shoot, video shoot at least. And they're very long days and we have at least four or five people from my team, me, I'm there for all of it. We have a photographer with an assistant, we have two other videographers and we have a stylist and their assistant. I don't know how many people that was, but that was a lot of people, Speaker 0 00:42:01 Uh, is a lot of people. Speaker 2 00:42:02 So you can imagine Speaker 0 00:42:03 <laugh>. And so the stylist is someone you outsourced to. They're not full-time on your team. Speaker 2 00:42:08 So we, we have done a lot of our own styling for projects, but lately when the shoots are shorter or more complex, we are bringing stylists in because it just makes everything go faster. And they look at everything from a fre with a fresh eye. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> cause they weren't part of the install and all that. So it just tends to help. And we, we really do collaborate because my team, I do have a full-time sourcing team of, of like, it's a pretty big team at this point. So they, they do part of the sourcing for the, for the styling and they work with the stylist during the photo shoot. But it's nice to have an additional group of people there. Speaker 0 00:42:43 Do you feel like hiring a stylist, whether it was someone in-house or you brought someone else in, gives you a different edge when it comes to getting editorial coverage? How, how is it different when something's gonna go in print than if you were just shooting for your portfolio? Or are you always shooting for the possibility of print and it ends up in your portfolio? Speaker 2 00:43:04 I think we always shoot with the possibility of print and it ends up in the portfolio. I think that the, if you're shooting a project that's very specifically tailored for a, like we have a product right now, we just shot it and it's very like, it's in conversations with ad so like we knew that we had to style it for them, you know, so it's, it's a very strange universe that we live in now because that is the reality that we're in. And before, like you, when I started, you would just send scouting shots to a magazine and they would send someone to shoot it and they were in charge of that expense and now you have to spend, you know, like the cost of a car to deliver something in the hopes that they're gonna do something for you by picking it up, which is kind of insane, but that's where we are. So yeah, you, you know, we always know that it's gonna end up in our portfolio. We always know that the ultimate audience, and this is a very interesting discussion that I have with the photographers whenever we're shooting and they're like, I wanna make sure that I'm giving you what you need and also them, what they might need, but also like, it's very important that you are getting what you need out of this. So it's like we're always sort of balancing it out like with time and what's what we're able to do. Speaker 0 00:44:09 Susanna, what would you say are your needs on a photo shoot? What do you prioritize for your own wants? Speaker 2 00:44:16 I used to be a lot more ambitious at photo shoots because I wanted more content. I wanted more. And now as I've gotten older and much wiser, I have realized that I, I don't need that much. I like, I need two shots of every room and that's it. Like I need for a bedroom, gimme two because after a while people don't wanna see anymore. And for main rooms that are really big, we can do a little bit more. I don't care about details so much as I used to. I rely on video for that and I want people around me to have opinions <laugh> during a photo shoot. So I actually, while I want us to move very quickly, I also want people to challenge. So I don't, I tend to like pull myself out because by the time I get to a photo shoot, usually I'm like, I'm, I'm done with the project. Speaker 2 00:44:59 I've already put all my creative input into it. I have said what I needed to say and I know how I see it, right? But so like how is it going to get taken by the, by the universe. I need like a team of people around me to help me out with that so that they can shed it, like put the best light on it. So when stylists are working, like recently we worked with a stylist for the first time and he was like, he was a little nervous, I was around and he's like, is it okay like that? I'm like, do you like it? Yes. Well let's do it. You know, <laugh> like, it's okay, I'm not gonna destroy it. I'm, I'm cool. I'm, I'm good. So Speaker 0 00:45:31 Yeah. Okay. So I know we've been chatting a long time so I have a couple key questions I wanna make sure we get to before I let you go. I think it's important for context, if you would be willing to share, how many projects a year are you all usually photographing? Speaker 2 00:45:45 So I've made a rule with myself a while ago that I try, I absolutely try not to take on on any work that I cannot photograph. I especially if I'm going to be investing a ton of time into it, it photography, when you're doing residential is the only thing that you take out of the project other than the money obviously and the experience. But like the photo is really the only pride that you're able to walk away from with. So if you're not able to photograph it, then you're sort of left, left at a loss. And as a creative it feels like a little weird death, right? You're like leaving something of yours behind. So I try not to, we are a team of 20 something now, and I think we have about right now we have about 26 projects active of all sizes, but some of them are enormous and we have maybe photographed this year, eight or nine projects I would say maybe more. So we, we have a lot <laugh> always out and they tend to come in batches. Speaker 0 00:46:40 Yeah. But it's certainly not hundreds of shoots a year. I mean eight or nine. I mean that's like a feasible, it's a ton of work, but that's to say that you have enough content with eight or nine photo shoots a year is actually really encouraging. I think now you have years and years of that content compiled, but for those who are like, how do I even get started? Eight or nine projects? I mean, that is totally doable. Speaker 2 00:47:04 I mean, and I also think that with iPhones and like, so we have such beautiful tools to take good pictures these days that like if you're starting your own account, whatever you're taking a picture of is yours right at at to a certain extent. So like if you are, and if you happen to live in a city like New York or LA or wherever you live, live, even if you're out in nature, you can feel your, your blog, your Instagram grid with like just beautiful images that you took of how do you see the world? And then write some funny caption and then hope for the best <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:47:34 So how many, what percentage of your inquiries do you feel are coming to you from social media these days? Speaker 2 00:47:41 Oh my God. That's a whole thing. It's like a hu like almost all of it actually. We get, we, we do a lot of repeat clients a lot, but other than repeat clients, it's mostly through social and mostly through Instagram. We, we probably take 2% of the work that comes to us. It's astronomical the amount of inquiries that you get, and most of them are, are still good projects. You know, a lot of them are really good viable projects for someone who's younger, which is great for us because we've been able to keep people who have left to start their own firms very busy and very active over the years. We pass along the work as much we, as we possibly can. But yeah, it's, it's, I mean, we have to even put in a team of people in our office that do just that. They just deal with all the inquiries coming in and the interviewing of clients as they come in and getting the projects to a place where we can like, sit down as a team and discuss the, like, whether we're gonna take them or not, and like really vet the projects. So if you're able to get to that point of being able to do that on Instagram, I have to say, do whatever it takes to get to it, because it's a very good place to be <laugh>. It's, it's a very good place to be. Speaker 0 00:48:49 I always like to end a show with knowing a little something special that is coming in the pipeline for you. You did mention that you're in talks with po possible products or furniture. Can you share anything that you have in store for 2023? Speaker 2 00:49:07 Well, I can't share anything yet on that end because nothing is solid, but we are so, I mean, I think in general, I feel like we're in a really good place as a firm because I have gotten to a place as a manager where I'm like very confident and very happy in the place that I am with my team and my life. And we're growing. We're like, we're just continuing to grow. If the projects continue to come, I'm happy. Let's keep hiring people and let's keep training them and let's keep building a beautiful world together. So that's, that's, that's probably the part that I feel the most proud of for the future. But we also have some incredible projects. Like we just signed some of the projects with the highest budgets that I have ever, I couldn't even imagine a few years ago. And we're also working with like clients that are super open-minded that are just sort of like, make this an amazing house. Like, you know how to do it, see you later, you know, and you're like, wow, this is cool. We have a project that I'm particularly proud of, which is a house in The Bahamas. It's like this beautiful compound. So I'm really excited about that. That's gonna be a fun install. And yeah, we, I mean, I can't mention too many specifics, but we have like a lot of really fun, fantastic clients that I'm very proud Speaker 0 00:50:14 Of. That is so amazing. I have enjoyed this chat so much. Susanna, you have been the absolute highlight of my week. Thank you so much for being here. Speaker 2 00:50:22 Aw, you're so sweet. Well, thank you for having me. I still don't know why you wanna have me on this thing, but I appreciate it and thank you for listening to me rambling Speaker 0 00:50:31 <laugh>. I will talk to you soon. Thank you so much. Speaker 2 00:50:34 Thank you. Bye. Speaker 0 00:50:39 Susanna, thank you so much for joining us on the Interior Collective today and sharing your contagious enthusiasm and fresh perspective with all of us. Even as an avid Instagram user who grew my own business on the platform, I can honestly say that I am leaving today's conversation with a new found love for the platform and a feeling of renewed inspiration. If you haven't already run, do not Walk to follow at chango and co on Instagram and learn more about Chango and [email protected]. If you weren't able to write down everything you heard today, you can find all of the links and other details from this episode of the Interior Collective on our website at If you'd love today's episode as much as I did, please subscribe because we have a season jam packed with tangible takeaways for growing your business. Just as good as the stuff we covered today. If you haven't already, please leave us a review. Your reviews are critical to our ability to speak and learn from incredible talented people like Sana. If you'd love to be on the show next season, want to suggest a guest or have a topic you'd love to learn about, email [email protected]. Again, that is podcast ID Until next week, I'm your host, Anastasia Casey, and this is The Interior Collective, a podcast for the business of beautiful living.

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