There were mad dashes to Target. There were declined credit cards. There were Craigslist runs. It was scrappy in the beginning, but Cheryl Eisen, the founder of home staging firm IMG, was determined to make it work. A serial entrepreneur who had founded a software company that arced up before flaming out in the dot-com crash, in the late aughts Eisen had found a new calling in real estate. She wasn’t just selling it, though—she was staging it.
At the time, the practice of decorating a home to sell it faster was somewhat novel in New York. Eisen was one of a small group of professionals lending their unique touch to the city’s languishing inventory in (relative) obscurity. But after a New York Times article documented the phenomenon, along with Eisen’s savvy, her career received an injection of rocket fuel. Soon she was known as the luxury stager in New York, and IMG grew and grew. Today, it’s a 100-person operation, with an art department, in-house PR, and a growing presence in Miami.
In this episode of the Business of Home podcast, Eisen chats with host Dennis Scully about her company’s growth trajectory. She explains why staging firms do well in both bull and bear markets for real estate (New York is in a bear market at the moment) and why it’s been necessary for her to change IMG’s look over the years. Eisen also discusses the unique aesthetics of staging, and why the practice is the exact opposite of interior design.
As for her firm’s next step? Eisen is going from purely renting furniture to selling it too. IMG Home, the company’s debut line, will benefit from being shown in 170 staged apartments around the city—not many makers can boast 170 showrooms in New York.