When you realize that you have 2,892 pins on your home decor Pinterest board and zero pizzazz in your pad, you may have an interior design problem. SwatchPop! solves decorating dilemmas through a genius online service that combines the fun of picking out style with the practicality of paying for an interior designer consultation on a personalized budget.
Founders Jessica McRae and Kristen Yonson give the scoop on how SwatchPop! is taking on the $79 billion home decor industry and jumping products from screens to rooms.
On a high-level, can you tell what SwatchPop! is and where the idea came from?
JM: SwatchPop! was born out of my own decorating frustrations. I like decorating my own home but there were times I’d find myself stuck. I would spend hours on Pinterest, gathering all these great ideas, but I couldn’t figure out how to make them work in my own home. Paying an interior designer was never an option for me. I didn’t have that kind of money to spend, and I didn’t need someone to makeover my entire room, I just needed help here and there. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who’s an interior designer, so I started snapping photos and texting her for advice. That’s when I was inspired to create a forum like this for everyone. A simple, convenient and quick way to get professional advice when I wanted it.
I reached out to Kristen, a high school classmate, who shared my passion for interior design. We really make the perfect team and in April 2014, the two of us launched SwatchPop!
Do you have any competitors, and how do you stand out?
There are other online designers in the market, but no one is doing it like SwatchPop! We’re the only ones allowing our clients to customize their own projects rather than choosing a one size fits all room makeover. Our clients can seek advice for small projects like choosing a new rug in their foyer, or build larger projects to get more of a total transformation. We consider ourselves a more realistic approach to interior design. People typically decorate a little at a time and are constantly changing and refreshing their rooms. We do some total makeovers for clients who need more help, but we our “a la carte” menu allows people to seek advice on their own timeline and budget. Our turnaround time is 3 business days, compared to the others that take 6-8 weeks. We call it “interior design on demand.”
Tell us about the idea of a personal “design profile.”
We needed a way to define someone’s personal style, so we created something that is very simple and turnkey. We wanted it to be one and done. People don’t have time for this, and we need a concise way to understand their style and budget. So, we provide a variety of images to them and then they rank them telling what they like and don’t like. They can comment on each look with their own thoughts and preferences, making it really easy for the designers to get a true sense of their style.
How does the interior designer matching work?
We match our clients with designers who share their style and aesthetic. We have a network of designers from all over the country, who serve as independent contractors.
Most of our designers are proactively finding us through Facebook or word of mouth. The designers love this as much as our clients. We’re making their jobs easier. We make sure that everyone has the right credentials and then we give them a couple of mock projects to complete, so we can get a feel for their work. We pick the best to join our team.
SwatchPop! features a clickable shopping list, an e-commerce aspect to your business. How does this work and how do you select products for the store?
Our designers handpick the products that are right for the client’s style and budget. Through the Design Profile, we know where they like to shop, and it gives us a baseline. The clients are able to specify a budget or price range within their submission, so we’ll choose products that fit their criteria. We choose products from any and all online retailers – from small, artisan shops like Etsy to big, name-brand stores.
Are you funded or bootstrapped? Tell us about your revenue model.
KY: We are completely bootstrapped. We each put $5,000 in at the very beginning to verify the model, build, launch and market the site. We were profitable just 6 months after launch and continue to put our profits back into the business. We are currently raising a seed round which we will place into marketing and advancing our technology.
We have three revenue streams. First, we collect service fees on each project. We charge $49.95 for the first “dilemma” or design element and $29.95 for each subsequent element added to the same project. Second, we make affiliate commissions off some of the products we source and third, we make revenue from advertisers and content sponsorships.
How does Atlanta weave into your story?
JM: We’re both from the Atlanta area, and went to Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta. We came back after college and stayed ever since. We’re both born and raised in the South, and happy to call it home.