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She helps sellers dress their homes to impress

Rochester Business Journal
August 31, 2012

Leona Piro, owner of Act Two Home Staging, took her career in a new direction in 2008 and has never looked back.
 
Piro, 59, worked in real estate management for years, first forming her own management company 15 years ago. After managing apartment buildings and modeling apartments for appeal, Piro finally decided to branch out on a new career path.
 
She started Act Two Home Staging, a home staging and decorating company based in Mendon. Home staging is the preparation of a home for sale by increasing its appeal.
 
"When I started, I studied with a company called stagehomes.com," Piro says. "I took a course in Atlanta and started my business just a couple of months after that. It has slowly built from not just a home staging company to a decorating business."
 
Her passion for creating and designing the perfect home is clear in how quickly the business has grown.
 
"My plan from the beginning was to put everything that I make back into the business," she says. "I'm probably the only home staging company in Rochester that has my own inventory of furnishings.
 
"Whatever profit I have over the last three years has gone right back into the business with buying furniture and a wide range of accessories. In the future, a portion of my revenue will actually be from the rental end of the business."
 
Home staging is a process, says Piro, one that usually begins with a consultation. After the consultation, customers decide either to do the staging themselves or use Piro's assistance.
 
If they decide to bring Piro into it, there are three elements to pricing and the process that must be considered.
 
"One is the actual furniture rental, which sometimes could be the most expensive part of it," Piro says. "Then there are the moving costs, and finally the labor, which is estimated at a flat rate."
 
Piro works on a variety of homes.The decorating side of the business grew from the staging aspect but has quickly become roughly half of what she does.
 
"That was not the plan, but I love the decorating just as well as I love the home staging," Piro says. "I love doing high-end homes; I love doing low-end homes.
 
"It's a different set of challenges. The low end is really working with what people have and making something new out of something old."
 
Piro is the pillar of Act Two, but she employs one other stager and an administrative assistant, and she is currently in the market for a media manager.
 
Piro stages roughly 25 homes a month, including consultations. Business is on the rise.
 
"I'm currently looking for a space that would be combination office and showroom," she says. "My dream is to have everything in one location, where the furniture could be stored and displayed and then be able to have my office under one roof.
 
"Part of the appeal of doing business with Act Two is that I love working with people. I love decorating, and I love putting it all together."
 
Katherine Alexander was a Rochester Business Journal summer intern.
 
Small Business is a weekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at
sjacob@rbj.net.8/31/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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