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Meet Talena Gulash of Interior Design by Talena, Ascher Building & Design and The Closing Stage

Today we’d like to introduce you to Talena Gulash.

Talena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I graduated college with a degree in Marketing and degree in Management. I was in the corporate world in the financial industry for the first eight years after I graduated. I eventually went to work for a construction company doing their marketing and it wasn’t long before I was promoted to COO handling their business operations. No matter how many successes I had while climbing the corporate ladder, I was ultimately left unfulfilled. I began dabbling in the creative side working on kitchen and bathroom designs picking our designers’ brains. I found I had a knack for design and continued to insert myself in that aspect whenever possible. I made the switch to designer and finally felt I had found my calling. I am often compared to Joanna Gaines or Christina Anstead (once El Moussa) who both did not have an educational background in interior design, but instead gained their knowledge and developed their skills through experience. I find that clients do not care about a degree once they have seen my portfolio or have read past client reviews.

I was living in Florida at the time and once I move to Houston, I started my own company. Within 60 days and very little marketing, I had a waitlist of clients. I design kitchens, bathrooms, full renovations for the everyday homeowner, businesses and many real estate investors. I also create the full design with regard to furnishings for a single room or the entire home or business. All of this portion of my business is conducted under Interior Design by Talena. I also have my construction business which is Ascher Building & Design. Most of the kitchens, baths and renovations which I design, I am also the contractor. I find people like that I am a one stop shop and will be THE point of contact from the design all the way through to the completion of the project. I help my clients manage the budget, make sure my crews are paying as close attention to detail as I do all while bringing our collective vision to fruition. My business background has no doubt played an enormous roll in my success as a business owner but being able to express my creative side has been what makes those stressful days all worthwhile.

In 2019 I decided to add a new business to my repertoire. I found a huge void in the real estate market that related to design but which every listing agent and nearly every home seller needs in their quest to sell a home. That is when I started my third business which I named. The Closing Stage. We offer occupied home staging ONLY. We don’t bring in anything new. We merely declutter, depersonalize and redesign with what is already in the home. Now don’t get me wrong, this service is already offered by other stagers and designers. Unfortunately, the average cost for a company actually DOING the work is $500 which is expensive. It is a difficult sale for a listing agent to convince their seller to pay for this service and it often doesn’t make sense at that cost for the listing agent to pay for it. This is where the void comes in. Upon this realization, I began putting a plan into action so that I can offer this much needed service at a price which would make it a “no brainer” for agents to use on every single listing they have. The Closing Stage offers occupied home staging for $149. I have spent the last five months speaking at brokerage firms all over Houston to let agents know about this service and it has been a huge hit. I had a website built to make the scheduling and payment very easy for the agents or sellers. My designers are making a huge difference, not only in the real estate market but also in the lives of the sellers by alleviating some of the stress of preparing their home for sale.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t have a “walking in snow barefoot uphill” story to tell. For that, I am grateful. That doesn’t mean that my business doesn’t have its challenges because every business does. Hiring, training and retention all present their challenges. I am a person who early in my career would stress over all the things which I was unable to cross off my “to-do” list. This would cause me great anxiety. At some point, I learned that it is more productive to focus on all the things which I did accomplish each day and be proud of that. As a business owner, the work is NEVER done. There will always be things “to-do” on my list and they will never ALL be crossed off. I have had to accept that. There is never a day that I wake up and wonder what to do with my time. There is always a plan. Even on the days when things come up which derail my plan, there is always a path for me to get back on and keep moving along. I have had to get better at delegating and setting the expectations of my clients. Those are probably the two most important things which have helped to manage my stress.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Interior Design by Talena, Ascher Building & Design and The Closing Stage – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I do not have a niche design style. For me, that would be boring. I truly design to the taste of each of my clients. I take the time to really get to know my clients and tailor each design to them, their needs, their usage of the space and their budget. I believe beautiful design can be achieved on any budget.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Interior Design by Talena and Ascher Building & Design are my two companies which are established and have a constant flow of business. I would like to hire another project manager soon to oversee the day to day operations in the field which I think would alleviate some pressure on the construction side. I would like to begin selling my cabinet lines in a retail setting with a sales office set up for clients to come see my product line in a showroom.

Currently, I only sell my cabinet lines to design clients but I am planning to set up a showroom in the next 12 months. The Closing Stage is a new company and its potential is limitless. We currently offer this service anywhere from The Woodlands down to Galveston and as far west as Katy or as far east as Beaumont. I would like to fully develop Houston and the surrounding areas and then grow to other large cities/markets across Texas. Beyond that, I see plenty of room for growth. I dream big but that has served me well.

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