When I received an email saying, “We are a team of sisters from Colombia who started an online home décor business. We are both moms and decided to take a leap of faith into this business because we want to have the time to be present in our kids’ lives. We both quit our jobs and are fully dedicated and committed to making our business a success,” I knew there was a captivating story behind it.
As an exchange student from Colombia who came to the United States for her degree in Finance, Caroline Schwartz’s dream in life was to pursue a career at Goldman Sachs.
Martha Mosquera, her oldest sister, was always “the creative” in the family. After being a US exchange student herself, she returned to Bogota, Colombia, to obtain a degree as an Industrial Designer and teach in college.
It is said, however, that entrepreneurship is shown since childhood when our games are free of outside influence and we allow ourselves to be who we really aspire to be or enjoy the most.
“Since we were little, we used to play ‘grownups’ with two cousins. I was always a designer with play dough, my sister always a banker,” Martha told LatinasinBusiness.us.
The family in Colombia
Martha and Caroline talked fondly about their family. “Our parents and grandparents were a very traditional family but they were always open to let us attend college and choose our own careers,” Caroline said.
Their first exposure to an entrepreneurial spirit came from their mother, who had a degree in Marine Biology but always enjoyed the freedom of choosing her own projects. She worked as a consultant for the government.
Their father, on the other hand, always had a job for several private companies or government agencies. “We saw firsthand the contrast between having a job and being an entrepreneur,” the sisters said.
When Caroline stayed in the United States after starting her bachelor in finances studies at Indiana State University Midwest, she was offered a position as an administrative management position in an architectural office.
“My ultimate financial dream was to be the absolute best out of college and find a career at a powerhouse in Wall Street,” she said. Her eyes were on Goldman Sachs. “They were gods to me,” Caroline said.
She carefully planned her life to prove she was a high-flier, making her life decisions around this idea of achievement. She soon enrolled in an MBA program.
“While in school, I started applying to Goldman Sachs but time after time the doors were closed,” she said. A very rootless culture that finally discouraged Caroline, with her husband they bought a house in Florida.
“The day after we signed the papers, I received a call from Goldman Sachs. They were offering me me a position!” Caroline shared.
“I wanted to be an Art major but I knew it was hard to make a living from it,” Martha said. As a child, she used to love sitting with her grandma to see her doing crochet and crafts; or going to the fabric store to find materials for her dresses.
After she finished her degree in Industrial Design, she obtained a teaching position. “I’ve always been good at talking to people, and needed to be ‘out there’ doing things and finding new opportunities to connect,” Martha shared. Little she knew all these skills would prove very handy later on.
After visiting her sister in the United States every year, Martha finally decided to stay in Florida; her parents had already moved there so the family could be reunited.
Martha and Caroline the power of two in home décor
So now both sisters relocated to Florida, they were reunited to find the power of their relationship and revive their childhood dreams.
“Looking at our own lives and our friends’, we realized that people might want to redecorate their homes every so often without a major expense or hiring an expensive interior decorator,” they said.
On the other hand, they realized people buy expensive furniture but then they do not know how to work around it. “We came up with this idea of Swift Décor, building a basic set of coordinated elements that complement certain styles or type of furniture,” Caroline said.
The sets include artwork, curtains and pillows that coordinate with certain carefully selected objects. Upgrades with supplementary elements can be added to the basic set to complete the desired look. Sets are designed as “limited editions” and renewed every few months.
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Targeting Millennials their best home décor customers
Martha and Caroline realized that Millennials are the largest group right now purchasing home décor improvement elements. As a demographics of renters, they move frequently and like to redecorate their environments.
“Especially Millennial men are best customers because they want to get it done quickly and do not mind the splurge”, Martha said. The set comes with an instruction booklet that explains the options customers have to put all elements together.
“We are now looking to build collaborations with bloggers to promote and review our products and target mobile shoppers,” Caroline said.
A partnership in life and work
“We have a great working partnership with Caroline because we cover all areas of business. While one keeps an eye on the finances, the other is ‘people-oriented’ and creative. My Spanish also helps me speak directly with people in the trade, as we made a commitment to employ as many Latinos as possible,” Martha said.
The sisters have traveled the full circle; now they have started an entrepreneurial venture in which their skills and dreams have come together.
“Swift Décor was born from our joint vision to simplify home décor; when people shop for home décor, the options are overwhelming. There are multiple styles, colors and trends and very little help or guidance unless you can afford your own interior designer. There is not much in the middle to choose from and that is when we realized there was an opportunity to create a concept in which our customers could afford and enjoy a designer-in-a-box,” Caroline concluded.
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