Behind the Design: Ivy Design Firm Staci Munic Interiors
Behind the Design: Ivy Design Firm Staci Munic Interiors – Chicago & Palm Springs
Staci – how did you get where you are today?
Staci Munic: I am a Chicago girl, born and raised! I come from a very closely knit, loving family, as I am the daughter of a Holocaust escapee, and I am a first generation American on my dad’s side. My artsy, beautiful, industrious mom was born and raised on Chicago’s south side, and has a zillion aunts, uncles, and cousins, as my Nana was the youngest of 9 and my Papa was the eldest of 11! My darling, hard working, jeux de vie parents had the foresight to buy a vacation home in Palm Springs in the 70’s where my family escaped harsh winters and embraced the desert lifestyle. Hiking, tennis, golf, poolside parties, lively restaurants, and an admiration for mid century art, design, and culture drew us in like bees to honey. Palm Springs truly was our second home, and as my parents grew older, they began spending more and more time there.
I have a BA in Business and Hospitality Management from Michigan State, where I also participated in a culinary program at Ecole Hotelier in Lausanne, Switzerland. I returned to Chicago, upon graduating, and after managing upscale dining restaurants for Levy (Spiaggia, Bistro 110, and Blackhawk Lodge), I founded a specialty wholesale bakery, Little Miss Muffin, and was the CEO for 15 years. Being fluent in Spanish, and always interested in teaching, I earned my MAT in Elementary and Middle School Education, where I completed my student teaching in a dual language program in Highland Park, after I sold the business. While this professional aspect of my life was growing, I also got married, had two children, got divorced, got remarried, got divorced (again) and moved 8 times between 1995-2014. Every house in which I lived was a fixer upper, or, if it was already fixed-up, I made substantial changes to make it our family’s home, and I always worked directly with my contractors and architects, who would say to me, “Stac, you really should be a designer.”
How did I become a designer? Well, that’s a great story. Upon completion of my Master’s program, I went back to Little Miss Muffin for a year to consult, meanwhile, I was in the process of selling one home while rebuilding and designing another home (on the other side of town for my family with my second husband). One of the potential buyers said to me, “We love your stunning home! We are not going to buy it, but can we please have your decorator’s contact info?” I told her that I design and decorate my homes, and she asked me if I would do hers, and my son said, “Yes, she will,” and that was my first client.
It has always been important for me to be an expert at whatever it is I am doing. So, I started to research design schools, however, I couldn’t find a program that fit my time schedule, as I was already busy working with clients, and I was a single mom of two teenagers. I completed an online course, Certified Interior Decorator, and through Ivy and several other professional organizations at which I’m affiliated, I attend countless workshops, conferences, and educational seminars. So, there you have it!
You spend half of your time in Chicago and half of your time in Palm Springs. Tell us how you balance your time between both cities…
SM: It really depends on where my projects take me. Since this is new for me, time will tell.
How would you describe your ideal / target client?
SM: Truly, I would consider any client that trusts me, respects my time, appreciates my value, and is a kind person.
Single working parents have been a great demographic for me. For starters, I can relate to their lifestyle. They are super busy, don’t have a significant other that has to give approval on budget or decisions, and are very grateful for the personal and efficient service I provide. They are also extra thrilled to have their home transformed into a place they absolutely love. Another growing market for me has been empty nesters “right-sizing”. It can be daunting to move a lifetime of furniture and sentimental collections.
Who are your favorite vendors and tradespeople to work with in Chicago and Palm Springs?
SM: Kravet, CAI, Circa Lighting, Studio 41, Roca, and Porcelanosa.
How does designing make you feel? What’s your business mantra?
SM: Designing homes fills all of my buckets, as it melds all of my life experiences. The beauty and artisanship I encounter every day is overwhelming and inspiring. I am able to be creative and entrepreneurial all at once, while simultaneously helping my clients enjoy and feel proud about their homes in a way they couldn’t imagine. Reducing clients’ stress and anxiety levels about the design process is also incredibly gratifying. Above all else, the relationships I have formed with my clients, vendors, and trades are precious to me. My mantra: I treat my clients’ projects as if they were my own.
What are some common business dilemmas you face and how do you navigate them?
SM: Honestly, managing my time is my Achilles heel. I think I can squeeze 36 hours into a 24 hour day. I work well under pressure, so I tend to procrastinate.
It’s tricky for me to figure out an ideal way to charge for both my time and products sold. For now, I bill an hourly rate and am completely transparent about my pricing process: I add a 15% project and product management fee to all services and products I touch. There is simply no way to keep track of every text, phone call, and email, with clients and vendors. My clients respond well to this format.
Whenever I feel stuck, I turn to Ivy. I learn so much from the resources provided by Ivy, including webinars and podcasts, and apply that knowledge to my business practices.
Why did you join Ivy?
SM: Having worked alongside many team members in a fast paced, customer-facing business in the hospitality industry and in education, becoming a designer felt quite isolating. I missed interacting and collaborating with people at the level to which I was accustomed and enjoyed. I also felt that I was reinventing the wheel every time I started a new design project. After my demo with Reisa of Ivy, I was elated, and I joined!
How does Ivy help streamline your day-to-day workflow as an interior designer?
SM: Ivy has completely streamlined my proposals, purchase orders, and invoicing, and for that, I am grateful!
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
SM: The Ivy Product Clipper, and my growing library of products, of course! The time tracker and client invoicing components are also a game changer.
What have you learned from the Ivy Designer Network?
SM: Collaboration over competition. We truly are stronger together, especially with the power technology has given our clients. I posted a question to the community about Chief Architect training, and I received great feedback.
How has Ivy transformed your business?
SM: Ivy has taken my business to the next level. It has enhanced my small shop’s image as professional and polished and has empowered me with knowledge and a trusted pool of professionals in the interior design world. Ivy is my Board of Directors. Thanks, Ivies!
Here at Ivy, we’re more than just an interior design software. Our mission is to provide interior designers with the community, resources and tools needed to manage your business beautifully. Are you searching for a business management tool to help streamline your workflow as an interior designer?