Nikki Watson is a powerhouse. She began The Design Quad, a well-known home-staging firm based in Dallas, in 2014. Her dream began with $10 she borrowed from her mom.
In a male-dominated industry, she has grown The Design Quad to be one of the most sought-after firms for home staging in the US. She began at a time when few home stagers were African American. Nikki has gone from casually staging for family and friends to the owner of a successful firm with a national presence.
Interview with Nikki Watson
I had the opportunity to ask Nikki some questions. Below, she discusses why home staging is important, the challenges for African American women working in this industry, and more.
Thanks for being here, Nikki. Let’s start by talking about houses. Why is home staging important?
Home Staging gives home buyers something to connect to when they are searching for their new home. Vacant houses seem cold, and lots of times buyers need to see the picture of how they will live in the home. Staging answers those questions and lets them picture themselves living there.
Can home staging services help the current US economy? If so, how?
Yes. When the real estate industry is strong, the economy is strong. Staging gives the seller a large return on investment by selling the house faster and for more money.
That’s great you offer this valuable service. What does The Design Quad offer?
Home Staging, Renovations, Flooring Sales and Installation, and Interior Design
Working in the home staging industry, do you notice a diversity problem?
Not in 2022. When I started Staging in 2015, there were no Stagers that looked like me in the Dallas Market. Things have changed, and I am happy to be one of the faces of that change in my industry.
Home Staging is a made-up industry formed in the 1970s. As a fairly new industry, it took a while for women of color to learn about this career, and being the first is intimidating.
What challenges did you face as an African American female starting a home-staging business?
Navigating the business alone was the most difficult thing. Women of other races were not open to sharing tips with me in the beginning, so anything that I didn’t know I had to figure it out on my own. There were no mentors for me to look to.
You not only figured it out – You rose and conquered! What advice can you offer African American females looking to start home staging?
Reach out to a Home Stager in your market that looks like you. Offer to take them to lunch and ask them three questions about running their business that would be helpful to you. I would also tell anyone starting out to make marketing their number one goal each day.
Running The Design Quad, what unique difficulties do you face as a Black female?
In the Dallas Real Estate Market, most agents, investors, and affiliates are not black. Establishing myself as the authority in Staging was hard because most people in the industry had never seen a Black Stager. Often, I would let an employee represent my company to a client or team if I felt the audience wanted to see someone other than me.
I’m glad you’re no longer letting that happen. Nikki Watson, what is your go-to when you feel low and want a pick-me-up?
Religion. When things get hard, I focus on God and remember where I started.
Who inspires you?
I am named after the poet Nikki Giovanni (Full name Nikki Giovanni Watson). She was very popular in the 60s and 70s for her revolutionary poetry and very strong voice during the Black Arts Movement. Since I carry her name, she will always be my inspiration. To make beautiful things and to be bold about it.
Nikki Watson, You’re an inspiration!
Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to be here today, Nikki. You overcame many challenges to be the founder and owner of The Design Quad, a leading home-staging firm in the United States. You let nothing hold you back and instead drew strength from the hard times. You are a woman who inspires.