Alex had a chance to speak with Alex Petrov of YZign, a DC-based interior design company, about what the interior design industry has seen related to Coronavirus in the DC, Virginia and Maryland markets. Alex talks about how the designer community has responded, what his company offers clients in this new digital landscape, and how consumer design trends are changing in the dawn of an emerging stay-at-home, work-from-home lifestyle. Listen along to hear more, or read the transcript posted below.
Pachedzhiev: Hello guys. This is Alex Pachedzhiev with KW Beltway Homes. Today I’m with my friend here on a Zoom call. My friend Alex Petrov with YZign, and I wanted to ask him real quick about what is the state of the industry, how his business is doing, any special services that he offers, and in this way to provide more value to you and be helpful in case you need any of his services. Alex, thank you so much for joining this call. I really appreciate your time.
Petrov: My pleasure, my pleasure.
Pachedzhiev: So my first question to you is, tell us more about what’s happening with the interior design industry at the moment with this pandemic that is going on.
Petrov: Actually, recently there have been a lot of studies and research on how the industry is being effected or not effected by the pandemic. And there are a few things that just came up, a few numbers. Wayfair, the number one e-commerce furnishing store in the US stock jumped over 750%. Their sales increased over 20% just during the pandemic. Which shows, as people are stuck in the house, at home they are shopping for furniture, and they are feeling comfortable shopping online. So as the brick and mortars are going down and other stores are closing down for good, the online furnishing is really thriving. That’s one indicator of what’s happening. Very few interior designers are worrying that they will not be able to go to physical showrooms at the moment, and they feel comfortable shopping online for their projects and clients. Very few interior designers indicated that projects were canceled during the pandemic. Meaning that the projects were continuing as planned. As a whole, the interior design industry is experiencing unprecedented demand in our services, because people are finding in their homes the refuge of the pandemic new normal.
Petrov: Now they don’t need one home office anymore. They need two. The gym was nice to have. Now it’s a must. You need a space for e-learning and for your kids. You need in your socializing area to have virtual equipment so you can have birthday parties, and you can have a dinner with our grandparents that you probably wouldn’t see for the next year because they are the most vulnerable. It’s not just the phone anymore where you time to time have a virtual dinner with someone. People want equipment ready to go that is part of the interior. And a lot of things that we have expected to see. We are surprised, and it’s something that we haven’t really expected to see. The way I look at this pandemic is what we are experiencing and living in and the way it’s changing our industry, it’s really a consequence, it is a trigger. We were, as a society, as a business community, we were all ready, the technology was there. We just needed a trigger to embrace it.
Pachedzhiev: Yeah people just weren’t using it that much, but now, exactly, that trigger. Start using this technology, it’s there for you. It was created, it makes our jobs easier. And our time more effective.
Petrov: Yes, yes.
Pachedzhiev: This is exatly what Lawrence Hume the National Association of Realtors Chief Economist said, that people are spending money on updating their homes. And the real estate industry is actually the leading industry that will be vital for the whole economy to recover.
Pachedzhiev: But yes people are doing a lot of repairs, landscaping, interior updating. That’s what I hear from my friends and clients as well. Including myself.
Petrov: Yep. Their old house is not serving them any longer. They need to have an outdoor space, they need to have nature, they need to have landscape. They need to integrate their homes to serve them 24/7. And with that, they either need to call you to change their house. Or they need to reshape, renovate, repurpose their spaces so they can serve them. And a lot of us now are realizing that this is not a short term thing. I think we all started thinking that it’s going to take years. You cannot address the economy or anything in society before addressing the priority. And we have a priority to address things, it’s going to take some time. So, people are realizing it, and we’ve been fortunate as an industry to be on the good side. On the line. And seeing most of the designers ready being able to work in this environment entirely virtually is promising. It’s promising to watch.
Pachedzhiev: How do you conduct your business? How do you… I mean, I’m sure people are concerned about you walking in their homes.
Petrov: So, our process is entirely virtual. We don’t visit the place physically. It’s entirely contact free. All our meetings are done virtually. Clients are showing us the space the way we walk in the space otherwise. All they need to do is just provide measurements. Quite frankly, we started virtualizing our delivery of services back in the days. We were probably pushed into it because we had a lot of remote clients, from Nigeria and Europe and from the West Coast. Probably around 5-6 years ago we needed to put a lot of efforts into establishing a process where all of our services were delivered virtually. And, nothing really changed. The way we do business today it’s not different from the way we were doing business in January and last year.
Pachedzhiev: Well that’s great, you were prepared. You were already steps ahead, and using the technology.
Petrov: Yes, yes.
Pachedzhiev: Well, do you have any special services or products that you want my audience, my clients and friends to know about?
Petrov: So, our main full service is not a secret, our rates are on the website. Our standard rate is $150 per hour. For our full scope projects, where we take things from A-Z, and this is how we’ve been working for many years. We recently, because of the Covid-19, in order to ease the discomfort of many of the people that are reaching out to us, we implemented three new packages. The first one is a 90 minute consultation. The second one is a 5 hours block of interior design. And then a 10 hour block of virtual interior design. All of them are virtual. So whether you need just a 90 minute consultation where you talk with a designer about your space, and you need to repurpose it. You need to evaluate your project, where you are and what are your needs, and what are the next steps in your project. A 90 minute consultation is a good time for you, for many of the people, we find, to decide what they want to do with their home moving forward. And the 5 and 10 hour packages are something that can it really, practically help them. We can help them with design concept, decor, repurposing some areas. A lot of people are contacting us right now that they would like to have their living area accomodate, also, a small e-learning space for their child. Or next to their office they want to have a small area for the kid where they can also be next to them. So, the e-learning and the work from home is all in one so they don’t have to be interrupted and move from space to space. It’s a lot of things like that. That small consultations, or small packages can help people without committing to a big project. If they don’t feel comfortable or if this will ease them to a bigger project, so to speak.
Pachedzhiev: And do you handle the whole process? Or do you just do the interior design? I mean, what about the contractors, what about selection of furniture or any of this?
Petrov: We do kind of everything. We have an integrated approach that starts with the designand finishes to completion. The construction was essential from the very beginning. So, all of our vendors and contractors that were out there on the field they were using all the regulations and guidelines from the local, state and federal level to perform their construction in a safe way.
Pachedzhiev: Well thank you so much! And guys, if you want to get in touch with Alex, let me know. I will connect you and he will be more than happy to consult you on any of the projects that you may have in mind. We appreciate your time. Thank you for the value that you bring, and you keep bringing to my clients that you bring, and you keep bringing to my clients and my business. And take care, stay safe.
Petrov: Thank you Alex, nice talking to you.