Master Your Finances Kurt Baker with Joe Giamarese and Vivian Hung – Transcript

Written by on March 29, 2023

0:00:00.0 ANNOUNCER: So you wanna know the ins and outs of managing your money, well lucky for you. You are just in time for another episode of Master Your Finances with Certified Financial Planner professional Kurt Baker. Kurt and his panel of experts are here for you, and will cover topics from a legal and personal standpoint. They’ll discuss tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing, and saving your money and more. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by Certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University, Rider offers continuing studies programs for adults who need flexibility. Want to add new skills to your resume? Take a continuing studies course at Rider University. Now let’s learn how we can better change our habits with Kurt Baker.
0:00:47.5 Kurt Baker: Do you want to learn how to make a wise decision when undertaking a major renovation? Would you like to avoid future headaches by planning projects and saving money as a result? Vivian Hung and Joe Giamarese, the founder and principal designer of Global Home are here to help you understand the service behind interior design. They will make you feel smarter for entrusting professionals to guide you to the peak, especially if it is a personal residential project.
0:01:25.3 Joe Giamarese: Very Nice.
0:01:25.9 Vivian Hung: Wow! Nice.
0:01:26.7 Kurt Baker: Alright guys. Thanks for coming on. Alright.
0:01:27.8 Joe Giamarese: Thank you.
0:01:28.4 Vivian Hung: Thanks for having us.
0:01:28.9 Joe Giamarese: Thank you.
0:01:28.9 Kurt Baker: Appreciate it very much.
0:01:30.2 Joe Giamarese: You added quite a lot of flair to our last names.
0:01:32.9 Vivian Hung: That’s right.
0:01:33.4 Kurt Baker: Is that not a good thing? Well, you don’t wanna be flair. You don’t like.
0:01:37.0 Joe Giamarese: It’s okay.
0:01:39.0 Kurt Baker: You guys are like flaring people from New York City. Come on.
0:01:41.4 Vivian Hung: We like the little pizzazz. It’s okay.
0:01:42.8 Kurt Baker: You like a little pizzazz in New York City?
0:01:44.7 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:01:45.4 Kurt Baker: I mean they light up the Empire State Building. Got your favorite colors, I’ll go do it for you tonight, man. In your honor, how’s that?
0:01:50.9 Joe Giamarese: I love it.
0:01:51.4 Kurt Baker: In your honor. Pick a color. I’ll call them up right now and it’ll be tonight.
0:01:54.9 Joe Giamarese: Perfect.
0:01:55.0 Kurt Baker: Is that a good? Alright.
0:01:57.3 Joe Giamarese: I can’t decide on the colors though.
0:01:58.7 Kurt Baker: Okay, well you guys work that out. We’ll get on, we’ll get her done. All right. Well, thanks for coming on, guys, you guys have a very fascinating story. I met you guys a little bit ago and it was, I thought it was very fascinating. So if you don’t mind going back a little… A few steps, how you guys got into this thing, if you don’t mind and then how you ended up in the Princeton area. Do you wanna take us back a little bit?
0:02:19.4 Vivian Hung: Okay.
0:02:19.9 Joe Giamarese: Let’s go way back.
0:02:20.8 Kurt Baker: Yeah… It’s a, cool story.
0:02:23.3 Vivian Hung: It’s a little romantic and a little adventurous. I think, we were young professionals in the… Want [laughter]
0:02:30.5 Joe Giamarese: Want.
0:02:31.4 Kurt Baker: That’s romantic that you were young. I love that.
0:02:33.6 Vivian Hung: We were… Yeah, we were romantic in, back in the day when we were younger. And we had just come back from a vacation together and we’re like, “Oh, let’s… Where do you wanna go next?” And we were out at dinner and we’re like, “Okay, let’s play a game. You write down a list of places you wanna go and I’ll write a down a list and let’s see if anything matches”.
0:02:54.6 Kurt Baker: This sounds like fun.
0:02:55.7 Joe Giamarese: So we each got our cocktail napkins and we’re sitting there at the bar writing down our list. And I had about 20…
0:03:03.8 Vivian Hung: And I had about 20.
0:03:04.7 Joe Giamarese: Places, and she had about 20 places, and there was only about maybe five that overlapped.
0:03:10.8 Kurt Baker: That’s actually not bad.
0:03:11.8 Joe Giamarese: No, it’s not bad.
0:03:11.9 Vivian Hung: That’s not bad.
0:03:13.2 Joe Giamarese: A total of, what is that, 40?
0:03:16.2 Kurt Baker: That’d be 40, had a five.
0:03:16.9 Vivian Hung: 40.
0:03:17.3 Joe Giamarese: 35 places. We had 20-20. And then…
0:03:20.5 Vivian Hung: And then we said, “Oh gosh. And we’ll never be able to go to all these places if we only have two weeks off a year”.
0:03:27.6 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:03:28.5 Vivian Hung: And I said, “I don’t really like my job.”
0:03:31.0 Joe Giamarese: And I said…
0:03:31.7 Kurt Baker: From writing out these names on a napkin, you didn’t just… Okay.
0:03:34.6 Vivian Hung: Yeah. And I said, I would love to be able to see all these places for longer than just two weeks for each place. And the only way we could do that is of course if we didn’t have to work.
0:03:47.3 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:03:48.6 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:03:49.8 Joe Giamarese: So that was the…
0:03:52.8 Kurt Baker: This is true work life balance.
0:03:54.1 Joe Giamarese: We’re…
0:03:55.4 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:03:56.5 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. And we’re really… You asked for the long story? So this is the long story.
0:04:00.2 Vivian Hung: Yeah. This is what… We’re giving it to you.
0:04:00.6 Kurt Baker: Let’s… Go for it, man. So we’re, we’re in a bar, we’re on a cocktail napkins we got 40 names and five of them overlap. You’re like, okay, we can’t do all this.
0:04:10.6 Joe Giamarese: Yes.
0:04:11.6 Kurt Baker: You mean the five or the total, the 40?
0:04:12.8 Joe Giamarese: Of the total, the 35.
0:04:13.5 Vivian Hung: The 35, yeah.
0:04:15.1 Kurt Baker: The 35 that were total. The 35 total.
0:04:17.1 Vivian Hung: So we plotted and we said, “Let’s save for a year. You hate your job. I hate my job. Let’s save up money and let’s travel around the world”.
0:04:24.4 Kurt Baker: There you… Well that’s good, that’s a good plan. Okay.
0:04:26.1 Joe Giamarese: So we did. So we did.
0:04:27.3 Vivian Hung: And we did it.
0:04:28.1 Joe Giamarese: And we sold all of our possessions, which there weren’t that many.
0:04:31.3 Vivian Hung: No. But, I mean, yeah. Not that many.
0:04:33.8 Joe Giamarese: And so we raised some more money and we just plotted…
0:04:37.4 Kurt Baker: This is a good, as a planner. This is a good one year plan. So at the end of the one year [laughter]
0:04:43.0 Joe Giamarese: We didn’t have, we didn’t have. That was it.
0:04:44.2 Vivian Hung: We didn’t plan. But we were actually gone for a year and a half. And then we came back and we thought that we would, in order to replenish our empty bank accounts that we would do henna tattoos on the beach.
0:04:57.9 Vivian Hung: You do… In New Jersey.
0:05:00.2 Kurt Baker: What kind of tattoos?
0:05:01.6 Vivian Hung: Henna tattoos.
0:05:02.5 Joe Giamarese: Henna tattoos.
0:05:03.4 Kurt Baker: Henna tattoos?
0:05:03.8 Vivian Hung: Henna tattoos. It’s like you paint.
0:05:04.7 Kurt Baker: Henna, oh henna.
0:05:05.2 Vivian Hung: Yeah. Henna.
0:05:05.7 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:05:06.0 Kurt Baker: Oh, my niece is Hannah. So I was like, wait a minute. I didn’t know she did tattoos with you guys.
0:05:11.3 Joe Giamarese: No…
0:05:11.6 Kurt Baker: I wasn’t aware of that, Henna. I got it.
0:05:11.8 Joe Giamarese: We could do… Maybe we could have done that we made us just as much money.
0:05:15.1 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:05:16.5 Joe Giamarese: But yeah, because when we were traveling on the beaches of Southeast Asia, there were people that did little henna tattoos.
0:05:21.7 Kurt Baker: Oh. So you saw other people doing this, huh?
0:05:24.2 Joe Giamarese: When I tell you, like you, we probably could have made like $5. That was probably the amount.
0:05:27.9 Kurt Baker: Okay. And this sort of sustained you for how long?
0:05:29.3 Joe Giamarese: No, we didn’t do it.
0:05:30.9 Vivian Hung: No, we didn’t do it.
0:05:31.1 Joe Giamarese: Because it was a dumb idea.
0:05:32.5 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:05:33.4 Kurt Baker: Oh. [laughter]
0:05:34.9 Joe Giamarese: But besides learning about that henna tattoos are done on the beach, we also saw around the world where things were made. Like we traveled round and we saw how baskets were woven in different villages in Southeast Asia or where to get teak furniture. I mean, we essentially saw products around the world and it really sort of informed our… How the world worked in terms of design.
0:06:02.6 Joe Giamarese: Right. But most importantly our passports were stolen when we were in Bali. And…
0:06:08.7 Kurt Baker: Okay, that’s not a good thing.
0:06:11.2 Joe Giamarese: So we were stuck there for six weeks. It could be worse.
0:06:13.0 Vivian Hung: It could’ve been worse places.
0:06:14.0 Kurt Baker: Bali? That’s true. If you gotta get stuck.
0:06:15.0 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:06:17.3 Kurt Baker: That’s true.
0:06:18.2 Joe Giamarese: And one of Vivian’s friends from college her parents lived in Bali 6 months of the year. And her father collected Balinese antiques and he had two giant warehouses full of Balinese antiques.
0:06:33.1 Kurt Baker: Two warehouses full?
0:06:34.4 Joe Giamarese: Yes. Giant, like airplane hangar size. Yeah. So he was… We stayed… They also had like a little hotel and we stayed at their place, and then he would bring us to the warehouses and show us around. He’s very proud of his collection.
0:06:48.1 Kurt Baker: Can imagine.
0:06:48.3 Joe Giamarese: And he would also show us around like different, handy craft places that would make baskets and all sorts of things that are produced in Bali. So that was just kind of like the… We learned, we kind of had like our intensive course in that. And then, our trip was coming to an end and I got a job offer and we came back and I worked at that job. And it was completely unrelated to, you know, it was at Vogue Magazine, I was the Marketing Director. So it was a nice salary. We made a lot more than we would’ve made doing the henna tattoos.
0:07:27.0 Vivian Hung: Yeah, a lot more. [laughter]
0:07:27.4 Kurt Baker: Alright. They pay better at Vogue than on the beach?
0:07:29.7 Vivian Hung: Yes. Just a little bit.
0:07:31.8 Joe Giamarese: At the beach, in New Jersey, where the season’s only what? Two and a half months long. So…
0:07:36.1 Kurt Baker: All right. Yeah, all right. Okay. All right.
0:07:37.8 Vivian Hung: And then September 11th happened. We said, okay, well, you know, if we wanna live a fulfilled life, we kind of wanna pursue our dreams. Maybe we need to rethink what we wanna do. And we decided that Joe was working on Vogue and he didn’t like it. We… There’s a theme, like, we didn’t like working for other people essentially.
0:08:00.0 Kurt Baker: I’m seeing that. Yeah. Definitely starting to see that pattern.
0:08:01.8 Joe Giamarese: So we… In the mean… So because of September 11th, we wanted a getaway place, so we bought a place up in the Catskills. And we were still working in the city, but then when I had the eureka moment that we were gonna quit, import the Balinese antiques that we saw.
0:08:19.1 Kurt Baker: You just went straight to let’s import this stuff?
0:08:21.3 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:08:21.8 Joe Giamarese: Yes.
0:08:22.4 Kurt Baker: There’s a warehouse, there’s a airplane hangar full of stuff. What’s that?
0:08:26.2 Joe Giamarese: You know the appeal of Tique?
0:08:27.4 Kurt Baker: Yeah. You heard my story, right?
0:08:27.5 Joe Giamarese: I heard your story.
0:08:30.3 Kurt Baker: You heard my antique story.
0:08:31.4 Joe Giamarese: So, yeah. And then we just rented a storefront up in where our country house was. Kind of moved out of the city, went to Bali, imported a container full of stuff, and just like sold it out of the storefront.
0:08:47.0 Vivian Hung: Mind you, we knew nothing about importing, nothing.
0:08:50.0 Joe Giamarese: Retail, nothing.
0:08:50.6 Vivian Hung: Retail, nothing.
0:08:51.1 Kurt Baker: I completely understand your story.
0:08:53.6 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. I know.
0:08:54.8 Kurt Baker: So, I get it.
0:08:56.2 Joe Giamarese: And then we, having the store, we set it up in a certain way that it was beautiful and we had repeat customers. And eventually people said…
0:09:05.8 Kurt Baker: This was from your marketing background, you kind of had an eye, right? Sounds, you guys kinda know…
0:09:10.0 Vivian Hung: I was a creative director.
0:09:13.3 Joe Giamarese: Vivian was a creative director.
0:09:13.4 Kurt Baker: There you go.
0:09:13.8 Vivian Hung: In advertising for a long time.
0:09:13.9 Kurt Baker: So you have some talent here. This isn’t totally without talent, obviously.
0:09:15.8 Vivian Hung: Yes. I mean, we’ve always had love for design and home furnishings. And…
0:09:19.7 Kurt Baker: I just wanna throw that piece in there for you.
0:09:21.8 Joe Giamarese: Yes. Thank you.
0:09:22.5 Vivian Hung: Yeah, because you’re like…
0:09:22.7 Joe Giamarese: Yeah, it wasn’t out of the blue. This was like, this was a thing that’s, ever since we were together, it was a thing that we had a shared passion for. So, and our customers started asking us if we could do the store in their house, right? If we can make their house look like a store. And we said yes without hesitation.
0:09:42.2 Kurt Baker: Sure. It sounds like money to me, right?
0:09:44.3 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. And then that’s how it started. And we were successful at it. And there was a big second home community up where we lived, and then, so, you know, once we kind of like did places up there, then we… They would have us to their apartments in the city and we would do their homes in the city or northern New Jersey, or in Long Island. And the business just grew from there. And then we eventually opened up, you know.
0:10:10.5 Vivian Hung: Multiple stores.
0:10:11.4 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. We had multiple stores. We had a showroom in New York, in the Flatiron District. We had like this thriving, interior design business. And that’s what like we… That’s what continues today. That’s… Did we wrap it up? Did we tie it? Did we tie it back? Does it make sense, even?
0:10:32.9 Vivian Hung: I mean, it sounds like a…
0:10:34.0 Kurt Baker: Makes perfect sense. So, alright, so you started off, you’re importing these things from Bali. Are there any other places or just…
0:10:38.9 Joe Giamarese: Thailand.
0:10:40.1 Vivian Hung: Southeast Asia.
0:10:40.2 Kurt Baker: Thailand? So you expanded like the areas and neighboring town?
0:10:45.2 Joe Giamarese: India. Yeah.
0:10:45.8 Kurt Baker: Okay. So we definitely wanna get into more of this, but I don’t know if… We have a break coming up shortly, but I wanna make sure we have plenty of time for that. So maybe we’ll take a quick break now. We’ll make the next segment a little bit longer. I wanna get into like how you start that process and the things that you’ve learned along the way about how to do it. ‘Cause I remember you start off, you don’t know anything, but then you kinda learn along the way. What are some of the things that you learned along the way? We’re gonna take a quick break here. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be right back.
0:11:09.2 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker. Certified financial planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing, and saving your money and more from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by Certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University. Rider University offers flexible education for adult learners. For more information, it’s
0:11:44.7 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances and we have Vivian and Joe here. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about how you started this off. Now I completely understand ’cause you guys heard my antique story, right? I imported some stuff. I won’t get into that now, but those who wanna know, I’ll tell you offline, but yeah. So importing things. So you started the process, essentially ’cause you wanted a really, a better quality of life. You wanted to work on your own, you found a demand, you opened up the store, it worked out well, but then this is interesting ’cause then people started asking you to do additional services. And you were really doing both of these, ’cause it sound like you opened up multiple locations. I don’t remember how many you said, but it was quite a few it sounds like.
0:12:23.2 Vivian Hung: Yeah. We had three…
0:12:25.2 Joe Giamarese: We had three.
0:12:26.0 Kurt Baker: Three?
0:12:26.1 Vivian Hung: In total in the end. Yeah. As well as our e-commerce site, yeah.
0:12:26.2 Kurt Baker: So walk us kind of through… Okay, just a little more detail. Like you come in, you’re selling the stuff, you get your container full, you’re selling it. People start asking the services. And what made you decide to expand the stores and kind of walk us through all that whole progression and what you learned while you started importing? ‘Cause you expanded that whole process.
0:12:43.0 Vivian Hung: Right. Well, I mean, importing at first sounded really great because you’re like, oh, great, we get to travel and have all that fun time and see more places because that feeling of freedom was something that we always wanted, right? And then when you open up the containers, you’re like, “Whoa, now I have to like, unpack that? And then I have to put it… “
0:13:02.5 Kurt Baker: This is actual work.
0:13:03.4 Vivian Hung: It’s actual like physical labor. And we would put it into the stores and it would happen twice a year.
0:13:09.8 Joe Giamarese: Twice a year.
0:13:10.2 Vivian Hung: And then we also wanted to expand the breadth of stuff that we were selling. So it wasn’t just Southeast Asian, antiques and handicraft. We wanted to mix it up with more modern contemporary pieces, which is sort of our aesthetic. So as a result, we, did more domestic manufactures and through that, I think we realized that the importing business was a bigger bear than we could really do well…
0:13:41.8 Joe Giamarese: With the scale that we had.
0:13:44.8 Vivian Hung: Right. And also we wanted it to feel really intimate and customized and curated. So, if you import things, you need a lot of volume. Right? So you need to bring in lots of different multiples of things. Right? And we weren’t at that scale yet. So we, paired it with the, more of the local manufacturers. And as a result, since then, since we opened up in 2004, we’ve… Have all these different relationships with a lot of domestic manufacturers and we let them import the things.
0:14:18.5 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. There are people that do this.
0:14:20.1 Vivian Hung: And do it well and have a better, structure. And we are the ones that are able to then cherry-pick and curate and make the vision that we want to make.
0:14:31.4 Kurt Baker: Okay. Yes. Lemme just make sure I understand. I think I understood it but I’m not sure so, so before you were just doing direct import. And so there’s an economy of scale, it sounds like. Right?
0:14:38.1 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:14:38.2 Kurt Baker: So you can’t fill up a… The big container, whatever, with… I get that. So it has to be an economy of scale. So explain to me a little bit more about the relationship locally. So you say local US manufacturers. Now, I don’t think the United States is a place where we manufacture a lot of furniture, and I… Wasn’t I wrong about that. Do we do?
0:14:53.3 Vivian Hung: North Carolina has a lot.
0:14:55.3 Kurt Baker: Okay, good.
0:14:55.5 Vivian Hung: But they also do a lot of their manufacturing is abroad. So what they do are… They’re American businesses, right?
0:15:02.1 Kurt Baker: So they’re based in the US but they may actually manufacture overseas.
0:15:10.5 Vivian Hung: Overseas.
0:15:12.5 Joe Giamarese: Right.
0:15:13.5 Kurt Baker: And then they bring it in. So what you’re doing is really buying from them and they’re worried about bringing in the 100 or 200 containers…
0:15:13.6 Joe Giamarese: Exactly.
0:15:13.9 Kurt Baker: And they’re gonna sell you a couple pieces out of that.
0:15:15.0 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:15:15.2 Joe Giamarese: Exactly.
0:15:15.5 Kurt Baker: So they’re much higher efficiency as far as what they’re trying to do.
0:15:18.3 Vivian Hung: Yes. And they can take all the liability, containers fall off ships, we don’t have to worry about that.
0:15:23.3 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I saw that video. It does happen occasionally. You don’t realize that it does happen occasionally.
0:15:28.1 Vivian Hung: It does happen.
0:15:28.6 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I’m aware of that. Yeah. So [laughter]
0:15:30.5 Joe Giamarese: Plus then there’s like a whole world of product for us to choose from and make our look from, like, we’re not limited with just, the places that we go. And that was fun. And then we also had children. And so we couldn’t like be gone for six weeks.
0:15:49.7 Kurt Baker: Yeah. Life definitely changes when you have children.
0:15:51.5 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:15:51.5 Joe Giamarese: It definitely did. And so that we… It sort of all happened at the same time. Like we were learning more about the… Other people importing product. We were having babies [laughter] and it sort of was like this thing where everything comes together and we’re like, “Okay, well we’re gonna do that now”. And we also kind of like supplement… You asked about, whether or not America’s manufacturing stuff. Yeah. North Carolina’s still a center for that. But there’s kind of like these little shops, these little, crafts artisanal shops that are doing stuff out of like Brooklyn, out of Austin, Texas.
0:16:27.3 Kurt Baker: Okay. That’s good to hear.
0:16:29.1 Joe Giamarese: Out of… Yeah. A lot of like, kind of little centers around the country. And it’s cool to mix those in with what we’re finding from other manufacturers as well.
0:16:38.3 Kurt Baker: Okay. Well I’m glad to hear that. So you’re buying things, some of them from manufacturers in the US that might be bringing in and overseas, so it’s a blend, and then you have some that are actually local manufacturers. So you have quite a variety of products it sounds like.
0:16:49.7 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:16:50.0 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:16:50.2 Kurt Baker: And now we’ve got three stores, one in New York City, which obviously is kind of like the big… The place, if you wanna sell something around the world, you go to New York City, right?
0:16:57.6 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:16:57.8 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:16:58.0 Kurt Baker: Flatiron District and all that stuff. So what you’re doing now is a little bit different, right? ‘Cause people started asking you for the services. So kind of explain to us like, you really had two businesses going on, right? One is you’re bringing in stuff and you have a storefront, you’re selling things, I’m assuming.
0:17:10.6 Joe Giamarese: Yep.
0:17:10.9 Kurt Baker: And the other is people are asking you to do their house, make their house look like your showroom…
0:17:16.0 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:17:16.4 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:17:16.4 Kurt Baker: Kind of thing. So kind of tell us the difference between the two and how that process went?
0:17:20.9 Vivian Hung: Well, the services end, I think it’s really interesting because you really have to understand the client and really understand their vision of how they wanna live and, Joe and I always say like, we should have became therapists as well. Because, it’s really understanding the words that they’re saying to us, like how we wanna live and this is what we want. And then interpreting it into a 3D space that is functional, solves problems and is also beautiful, and as well as provide the service that it comes in on time and in-budget. So it’s a lot of things that we juggle and it’s not dissimilar to having a retail store, it’s just that the retail store We’re their clients. Right?
0:18:01.6 Joe Giamarese: Right. Everything in there was from what we envisioned as like our environment, if you will.
0:18:08.7 Kurt Baker: So you were like the middleman? Kind of.
0:18:11.3 Vivian Hung: Yeah, yeah.
0:18:12.4 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:18:12.6 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:18:12.6 Kurt Baker: In a way, right?
0:18:13.9 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:18:14.2 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:18:15.2 Kurt Baker: And you’re like, wait a minute, that’s your product, that’s your view, but okay. That’s interesting.
0:18:18.9 Joe Giamarese: Exactly. Yeah. So I feel like it helped to guide clients as to what we were capable of. But, now without the physical retail spaces, we’re still able to do that. But, we also are able to really, get into our client’s brains. And understand what they need and what they’re looking for and make the space theirs.
0:18:48.0 Kurt Baker: So you basically decided one day, we don’t wanna deal with these three stores.
0:18:52.1 Joe Giamarese: Yes.
0:18:53.3 Kurt Baker: The business, I’m assuming the consulting business probably was exceeding the revenue.
0:18:57.2 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:18:57.3 Kurt Baker: Net revenue. Let’s talk about it… Right of the…
0:19:00.8 Joe Giamarese: The net revenue for sure.
0:19:01.3 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:19:01.4 Kurt Baker: Of this business. So you started watching what you were doing and what you actually seemed to be enjoying?
0:19:05.6 Joe Giamarese: Yes.
0:19:05.8 Kurt Baker: You’re like, “Wait a minute, we’re spending time here and yeah, it makes us money, but really we’d rather be doing this over here, which is the consultation part. And actually, we’re making more money out of it”, sounds like.
0:19:14.6 Joe Giamarese: Yes.
0:19:15.0 Vivian Hung: Well, I mean…
0:19:15.2 Kurt Baker: So sometimes business owners have to really pay attention to what’s going on in their business and I just wanna make sure I point that out. And then sometimes you get kind of bogged down, like, “This is how we’ve always done things. This is what wakes me, this is making us money”. But are we enjoying it? And is there maybe another way to do it that we like that actually makes us more revenue…
0:19:31.4 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:19:31.4 Kurt Baker: Overall? And I sense that was the transition you went through.
0:19:34.6 Vivian Hung: Exactly.
0:19:35.2 Joe Giamarese: That’s exactly. And it happened prior to the pandemic, right? So…
0:19:39.3 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:19:39.9 Kurt Baker: As you weren’t… You weren’t a COVID like business?
0:19:41.6 Vivian Hung: No.
0:19:41.7 Joe Giamarese: No, we weren’t.
0:19:42.8 Joe Giamarese: We didn’t have a door that we could open.
0:19:44.9 Kurt Baker: Out of necessity.
0:19:45.8 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:19:46.4 Vivian Hung: Yes. Well, I mean, I think we learned the lesson the hard way, when we had the New York City store, because we thought, “Okay, this is… We’re going to be big. We’re gonna to have a New York City store, and it’s gonna be fantastic. And our brand is going to be everywhere.” I mean the thing is that you have smartphones…
0:20:03.3 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:20:03.6 Vivian Hung: And you have the internet. And you know there was a time and to quote, Carrie Bradshaw, from Sex and the City “Shopping was cardio”. Everyone, we used to just go shopping and do that and go into different stores, people are not doing that anymore. They’re just like, on their phone, shopping online and having a retail space. That whole space was filled with money that could be converted. Right?
0:20:26.9 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:20:27.5 Vivian Hung: We had to outlay the money.
0:20:29.1 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:20:29.6 Vivian Hung: So it just wasn’t making financial sense.
0:20:32.5 Joe Giamarese: And because we were selling products that other people were bringing into the country. They were also available elsewhere.
0:20:40.8 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:20:41.1 Joe Giamarese: A.k.A the internet.
0:20:42.3 Kurt Baker: So, if I went to Bali myself, I could probably find that same…
0:20:44.5 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:20:45.2 Kurt Baker: Warehouse, the hangar?
0:20:48.0 Joe Giamarese: Yeah, you could. So that was more… That was more unique, right?
0:20:51.1 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:20:52.2 Joe Giamarese: As we started bringing in more manufacturers, they were also sometimes available online. So people would use our retail space as showrooms, they call it showrooming? Yeah.
0:21:02.3 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:21:02.3 Kurt Baker: Remember Best Buy was, like, got worried about that to change their whole business model, right? They would do price matching right on…
0:21:07.5 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:21:08.4 Kurt Baker: Site, because they found people just looking at the TV, and then they would go online and buy it there. And they’re like, wait a minute, they’re buying it in the store on their phone?
0:21:14.5 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:21:14.7 Kurt Baker: We better like stop that. [laughter]
0:21:15.8 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:21:15.8 Joe Giamarese: So, we invested all the money to bring the product in…
0:21:19.1 Kurt Baker: Yeah. Yeah.
0:21:19.9 Joe Giamarese: To showcase it in the way that we believe it should be showcased. But it didn’t matter. Because people were like, “Oh, it’s $4 cheaper on Amazon or on another website”.
0:21:27.5 Kurt Baker: Right. Right, right.
0:21:28.3 Joe Giamarese: So that was the ultimate…
0:21:30.1 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:21:31.6 Joe Giamarese: Reason.
0:21:32.8 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:21:33.1 Kurt Baker: But they still need to know how to put it in action, which is where you are. Right?
0:21:36.7 Joe Giamarese: So that’s where we are. Yeah.
0:21:37.7 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:21:37.9 Kurt Baker: You had to put the puzzle together, so it looks nice.
0:21:40.2 Joe Giamarese: Yes.
0:21:40.5 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:21:40.8 Kurt Baker: So you can buy all the pieces.
0:21:42.8 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:21:43.3 Kurt Baker: But do you want it to do what you want it to do, and you want it to look the way you want it to look, and this is where you guys get involved, right?
0:21:48.0 Joe Giamarese: That’s exactly right.
0:21:49.7 Vivian Hung: Yeah, I think it’s the years of experience of knowing where to find things, as well as how to interpret the words that people are saying to us. “I like modern, I like transitional, I like color.” What does that mean…
0:22:06.0 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:22:07.3 Vivian Hung: Into a true space? And then also, making sure that it’s executed in the way that we design it. You can put together a lot of pretty pictures and on Pinterest and say I want to do this, but to actually have the time and the experience to do it, this is what we do.
0:22:25.4 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:22:26.1 Joe Giamarese: We have a process for that.
0:22:26.3 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:22:26.5 Joe Giamarese: Maybe can get it you, yeah.
0:22:27.4 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:22:27.6 Kurt Baker: Yeah. I definitely want to talk about that. Because I understand the psychology of it and I know. ‘Cause I’ve gone into some of these places where I’ve always been kind of amazed and I’m not a designer, but I mean, you go and you can tell when it’s been professionally done by somebody actually knows what they’re doing. And then when somebody just put stuff together, right? So…
0:22:44.0 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:22:44.5 Kurt Baker: And I want to… Maybe we can walk through a little bit that so people understand what actually goes into making all these things that don’t seem to make sense together, but somehow they do when you’re all done.
0:22:53.0 Vivian Hung: Right, exactly.
0:22:54.9 Kurt Baker: So I think that’s pretty cool. We’re gonna take a quick break, you’re listening to Master Your Finances, we will be right back.
0:23:00.2 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, Certified Financial Planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing, and saving your money, and more from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University. Rider University offers flexible education for adult learners. For more information, it’s
0:23:34.0 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’re here with Vivian and Joe, and we’re talking about design. So you basically went through a business model change from something that worked but wasn’t quite as profitable as something that worked better and was actually more enjoyable.
0:23:49.2 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:23:49.2 Kurt Baker: So, now you went to your passion, which we talked about all the time is like, do what you love, and you’re gonna do probably a better job at it because you’re gonna want to do it, you’re gonna get the money as is exciting. This is great. So just to start off, maybe tell us a little bit about when you go to a space, it’s been like professionally done by somebody that actually knows how to design something. How could it seems like it all seems to work but I don’t really understand why necessarily. ‘Cause I’m not a designer.
0:24:12.3 Kurt Baker: Because I’m like, how come to that table goes with that chair goes with that lamp because of this… I mean the photos and lighting and it all seems to work somehow.
0:24:19.4 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:24:19.8 Kurt Baker: But I know somebody had to figure all that out. So I’m just curious, why do I notice this when I walk in? Why do you think I noticed it?
0:24:27.1 Vivian Hung: Well, I mean, good design is harmonious. Right?
0:24:29.8 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:24:30.6 Vivian Hung: And actually, you probably notice bad designing quicker than you do good design.
0:24:34.1 Kurt Baker: Yeah. Maybe that’s it, maybe that’s the thing I’m noticing bad design. [laughter]
0:24:35.7 Vivian Hung: Right. I mean, I think that what you’re saying is why do these all fit together? Why do these pieces of the puzzle work? Is a designer actually put some serious thought into all those pieces. And why do they all work together? And if you take one piece out, it just messes up the whole…
0:24:53.0 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:24:53.3 Vivian Hung: Harmony of it. And I think that that’s the magic of design. I mean, being an interior designer, and it is like 20% of it is the design, and 80% is the thought process and the execution to make it happen.
0:25:12.6 Kurt Baker: Right.
0:25:13.6 Vivian Hung: And I think that that’s why a lot of people don’t understand what we do, because they watch TV and they think, “Oh, this is like just gonna happen. And it’s so quick, and this is how it’s supposed to look”. And in actuality, I think that it can be much more customized and really like the fine design. There’s a lot of thought that goes into each piece.
0:25:37.2 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:25:37.6 Joe Giamarese: I also think there’s… As with any occupation, there’s a certain balance of art versus science. And certainly, Interior Design is an art but there’s a certain science to it, there’s like how large should the lighting fixture be and what’s the relationship of the carpet to the size of the room and how much of what color, one color do you put into a room? There’s certain rules. But the art is knowing when to break the rules and how to kind of make these little tweaks that make it, harmonious, like Vivian was saying, it does come sterile.
0:26:15.6 Kurt Baker: This comes with experience. It sounds like the more you do this, the more you kind of see. So I’m assuming most of the time you guys are probably pretty successful. So every once where go and you say, well, maybe we should tweak this a little bit now that we see how this lays out. Or how do you kind of walk through that process when we’re going… I mean I have a room, I’m doing something, right?
0:26:33.6 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:26:34.1 Joe Giamarese: Yeah.
0:26:35.4 Kurt Baker: You always hit it a hundred percent every time like, “Damn, we nailed this sucker”. Every time, pretty much?
0:26:39.3 Joe Giamarese: We kind of do a lot of setup.
0:26:42.3 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:26:42.8 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:26:43.5 Joe Giamarese: So that we’re more ensuring a successful outcome. So for instance, from the beginning, when we sit down with our clients, it’s like our first consultation and we do this something that we call the design DNA. Which is actually, we have that…
0:27:00.4 Vivian Hung: Trademarked.
0:27:00.8 Joe Giamarese: We have that trademark.
0:27:01.2 Vivian Hung: Yes. [laughter]
0:27:01.6 Kurt Baker: Alright. And, it is… [laughter]
0:27:03.8 Joe Giamarese: But it’s very old school in the sense that, we have about a thousand tear sheets from magazines, from interior design magazines. And have all different interior design styles. And we sit down with our clients and we put the stack in front of them and they viscerally kind of go through and say, “I like this. I don’t know why”. It’s never like, “I like that sofa, or I like that”. It’s like, how does it make you feel? And if it’s a good feeling, they put, it’s like swipe, right, swipe… That kind of thing.
0:27:35.2 Kurt Baker: There you go.
0:27:36.8 Joe Giamarese: And so, say we wind up with 50 polls out of the thousand. And it’s interesting ’cause every client is always…
0:27:44.3 Vivian Hung: They look surprised.
0:27:46.0 Joe Giamarese: It’s very different. And they’re surprised by their collection of stuff. But we take it back after that consultation, we take it back to our lab and kind of look at it and look for the things that are similar between the polls, little like surprises, color stories, et cetera. And we give them back a report.
0:28:04.3 Kurt Baker: Oh interesting.
0:28:04.5 Joe Giamarese: And that’s kind of like the first step of our like “Hey, this is who you are…
0:28:08.6 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:28:10.2 Joe Giamarese: And this is how we want to approach your project because of that”.
0:28:16.8 Vivian Hung: And it’s really helpful with married couples as well.
0:28:19.4 Kurt Baker: Oh yeah.
0:28:19.8 Vivian Hung: Because, when you can have the polls where they both like, and they’re both different. You can visually show them, what they’re interested in and then through our analysis they can really understand where we think the design of their home should be. So there’s never any fighting.
0:28:39.7 Kurt Baker: That’s… Okay. Yeah. You just jumped in by how do you… Yeah. How do you do that? Because I know people have very different tastes. Especially, men and women, they’re married couple. If you go to their apartments prior to marriage, they’re gonna be totally different location.
0:28:54.5 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:28:54.6 Kurt Baker: Totally different places. And they get married, like how are we gonna put this together? I hate your stuff. I hate your stuff. Are we gonna throw it all away. Are we gonna, just leave it here on the carpet and that’s it? [laughter]
0:29:03.1 Vivian Hung: Right. Well that’s why we do this design DNA, because the common polls that they both like, they can both see where their home will end up being, so that becomes the template for them right? So if there’s any fighting, we’d be like remember you said you like this and this is the analysis. And so we have a plan…
0:29:23.2 Kurt Baker: There you go.
0:29:23.8 Vivian Hung: Set in place. Otherwise, there’s nothing worse than like, your midway designing and you’re like, people nitpicking, ’cause there’s a process, why we’re doing the first, the envelope and then putting in the details because we’re basing it off of the design DNA that we came up with from the first consultation.
0:29:41.0 Joe Giamarese: And sometimes, there’s… In a couple, for instance, there’s some things that one person can’t part with and…
0:29:48.9 Kurt Baker: Okay. So you’re bringing in existing items as well.
0:29:50.8 Vivian Hung: Yeah.
0:29:51.0 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:29:51.5 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. Absolutely. We always try to use as much of the existing stuff. Sometimes you just can’t. And the design DNA kind of helps us say, “Guys, there’s no way this piece can go into your house and still have it be a beautiful home”. But if someone’s like, I need that piece, then that’s why there’s men’s dens and that’s why there’s ladies offices, it’s like sometimes, they have to hold onto the pieces that they really love that the other person can’t stand.
0:30:23.1 Kurt Baker: That’s why you build a shed out back. Is that it?
0:30:26.5 Joe Giamarese: That too.
0:30:26.8 Vivian Hung: Yes. It can happen.
0:30:28.0 Joe Giamarese: That too, that’s like last resort. Yeah.
0:30:29.9 Kurt Baker: You can have it, but you’re gonna take your own spot in the backyard in the corner.
0:30:31.4 Vivian Hung: Right. And then from the design DNA just to expand on the consultation, then we’re able to put together a proposal. So that we are really able to see what’s their taste luxury level, so that we’re able…
0:30:45.7 Kurt Baker: We have a luxury level?
0:30:48.0 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:30:48.0 Joe Giamarese: Kind of yeah.
0:30:48.2 Vivian Hung: Like where they are like in terms of what do they wanna spend their money on? So sometimes people have caviar taste, but they have a…
0:30:56.8 Kurt Baker: IKEA budget?
0:30:57.1 Vivian Hung: A IKEA budget, right? So you have to really be able to talk to them about monies upfront. Budgets have to be set up upfront before we start anything because it’s not fair for us to start putting together a beautiful design. And it’s like, “We have not that much money to spend”. Before we even sign a contract, we already know where the budgets lie and how the money’s gonna fall.
0:31:20.6 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:31:21.2 Joe Giamarese: Right. Like if we discover through that design DNA that they love everything gold leaf then they cannot have everything gold leaf. If…
0:31:30.2 Kurt Baker: You mean they don’t sell it at IKEA?
0:31:31.2 Vivian Hung: No.
0:31:31.8 Joe Giamarese: Like if their budget is not…
0:31:34.0 Kurt Baker: Darn.
0:31:35.2 Joe Giamarese: Gold leaf budget, right? So it’s really helpful…
0:31:37.2 Kurt Baker: But I’ll put it together myself.
0:31:38.9 Joe Giamarese: Exactly. I have an Allen wrench. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with IKEA, but no.
0:31:43.3 Vivian Hung: Yes, definitely not.
0:31:43.5 Kurt Baker: No, it is, it’s great. No, I’m not kidding. It is good stuff. I agree.
0:31:48.7 Joe Giamarese: But all IKEA maybe, but, we definitely occasionally will source something from IKEA.
0:31:54.7 Vivian Hung: Well, yeah we can do high and low, but at least everyone’s on the same page in terms of what the budget level is, what we’re spending our money on, where would be splurge pieces where would not be. So it’s really transparent. Not only is like we have already in the consultation an idea of what the design will start being, but we already know transparency wise, where the money’s going.
0:32:15.9 Kurt Baker: So, typically what if somebody come… So I’m envisioning like, I’ve got this furniture in my house when you come into an existing house or am I moving? When does somebody usually engage you? Okay, because it sounds like you’re dealing with a number of pieces that exist and you’re coming in and doing a redesign. Are they selling the house or you’re trying to stage the house? That’s a little different. Probably not.
0:32:32.8 Vivian Hung: No, it’s different. Yeah.
0:32:33.5 Kurt Baker: Probably not because that’s like, bring my stuff and make it look good and make it look empty so I can get rid of it, right?
0:32:39.1 Vivian Hung: Yes. Yeah.
0:32:40.0 Kurt Baker: So kind of walk me through, like I have a… Obviously I have a house, and you go, “Okay, what are you gonna do next?” Right? So you come in, you say, “Man, what a fricking disaster this is.” So we gotta get rid all this stuff, right? [laughter] So everybody… So, I’m just trying to understand like, you come in and literally just what are your most common scenarios, I guess is what I’m asking you? Like when do people approach you? What are some of the… We have like money in motion, like in my business, like, well, it’s usually something’s occurring, right? You had a baby, you had a marriage. I mean, some reason something… That’s when people usually think about wealth management and advising and things like that. When do people usually think about, “Oh, maybe I need to do something concerning what you do.” I’m just curious what kind of triggers usually happen for people?
0:33:22.3 Vivian Hung: I feel like there’s two scenarios, right? Either they’re moving from an existing home to a new build and it’s completely empty and they wanna just like start anew, or they’ve been the home for 10 years, eight to 10 years or something, and they just never had the time to make the house look…
0:33:39.9 Kurt Baker: The kid just moved out.
0:33:40.0 Vivian Hung: The kid just moved out.
0:33:40.8 Joe Giamarese: Something like that.
0:33:41.3 Vivian Hung: Something like that.
0:33:41.9 Kurt Baker: We’re gonna redo their bedroom, they’re gone get rid of the furniture. We’re gonna… [laughter]
0:33:44.8 Vivian Hung: Yeah. Or there’s like, some big life change or something, you know? Like a new divorcee wants to redo their new place, so that’s usually when people come in. And I think we’re able to adjust, the consultation works for any of those scenarios. The ones where the people have lived there for a while, they usually have much more specific ideas of what they want because they’ve lived in the space and they know, oh, the living room, this is where we wanna do X, Y, and Z. And I would love if the kitchen was open a little bit more and all those things, they have clearer ideas. And then we come in and say, “Okay, that sounds good, but maybe not, might not work in this space.” Or maybe we come up with alternative ideas but usually when someone’s moving into new space, it’s just a blank slate. We could do whatever we want.
0:34:40.3 Joe Giamarese: Often it’s a renovation as well. So if you’ve been living in the same house for 20 years and you’re like, “I hate the kitchen, I hate the bathroom, time for an addition.” Like, we’re often called in at that point for space planning and consultation as far as like what to do with the new space.
0:34:58.5 Vivian Hung: Project management as well. Yeah.
0:35:00.3 Kurt Baker: Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah, we definitely gonna get into more of that. I mean, we’re gonna take another quick break. You’re listening to Master Your Finances and we will be right back.
0:35:06.5 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, certified financial Planner, professional, learn about tax efficiency, liability owning, managing, and saving your money and more, from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by, certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University. Rider University offers flexible education for adult learners. For more information, it’s
0:35:43.0 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You are listening to Master Your Finances. I’m here with Vivian and Joe, and we’re talking about design DNA. Right, there proprietary process to really kind of walk through like what’s existing, whether there is anything existing, and then learning like about you individually, right? Like what, how does all this make you feel? ‘Cause obviously once you’re done, you want it to make you feel good and so that’s interesting to me. So a lot of it starts there and then that art and that science goes together, which I can completely identify with, so that’s cool. So we have different points where people typically come, right? They bought a new house, maybe they’re adding a room or redoing the kitchen, they’re redoing the house in some way. Maybe the kids moved out and they wanna repurpose part of the house, something like that.
0:36:27.9 Kurt Baker: Divorce situation, you mentioned and moving in a new place, things like that. So, now that we’ve kind of got this project going, so I’m like, “Okay, I need you to do something.” So you talked about first set up a budget, which I agree a hundred percent anytime you do something like that, okay, here’s what we’re gonna do. Set up my budget. Then what happens from there after they kind of get through this process and set the budget up and move ahead?
0:36:48.2 Vivian Hung: Well, once the contract is signed, that’s when the fun part starts. So we kind of do several, a few rounds of design meetings. So we need about three to four weeks to kind of put together the initial vision based on the design DNA. And that means we come in with samples and mood boards and…
0:37:08.3 Joe Giamarese: Material and…
0:37:09.0 Vivian Hung: Materials.
0:37:09.5 Kurt Baker: What’d you call it, a mood board?
0:37:11.0 Joe Giamarese: A mood board. Yeah.
0:37:11.7 Vivian Hung: A mood board. Yeah.
0:37:12.5 Kurt Baker: Ooh, alright. I don’t know what that is. Sounds like, I know you had mood rings.
0:37:16.4 Joe Giamarese: It’s almost. It’s like a mood ring, except…
0:37:18.0 Kurt Baker: Really?
0:37:19.7 Joe Giamarese: Definitely not.
0:37:20.7 Kurt Baker: Okay. Definitely not.
0:37:23.4 Kurt Baker: I don’t want my mood board to be black, All right? Doesn’t really matter.
0:37:26.3 Joe Giamarese: Okay. Unless that’s what you want, but…
0:37:28.6 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:37:29.0 Joe Giamarese: So it’s typically a few trays of materials where we’re showing you kind of like the textures of fabrics and colors of fabrics that we’re, we intend to put into your place. The tile, any other flooring, drapery fabrics, paint colors, wallpapers, wood tones, like anything that we’re kind of adding to the space, we have a couple of different options for like, “Hey guys, this is like the natural earthy vibe, and then this is the more glamorous vibe”. And typically what people do is say, “I like that part of this, and I like that part of this.” And then we wind up with like kind of an amalgam and their design direction from there.
0:38:21.4 Kurt Baker: Oh, okay.
0:38:22.5 Joe Giamarese: Then the next step would be the design to actually like, take that information and then pick the actual pieces, do the furniture layouts. What is the cabinet style, what is the appliances that are going into the kitchen? What is the rug?
0:38:42.0 Vivian Hung: Yes. Yeah.
0:38:42.6 Joe Giamarese: So like, then it gets more and more specific until we have an actual plan. And then we get into like kind of the execution part.
0:38:50.9 Vivian Hung: The execution, yeah. So then once everything’s approved and signed off on, that’s when we start purchasing. And it’s the processes, we buy everything. We have everything shipped to our warehouse and it’s stored and quality controlled to make sure everything arrives in perfect condition. If there’s a renovation, we are already in talks with contractors and have them bid out the design so that they will kind of know how much that bid will cost. And then we set a timeline. If it’s a renovation, then we… When is the contractor have to come in, when are the materials due at onsite? All those things. So it becomes much more complicated and that’s where a good project manager and our team helps the client kind of like go through that kind of…
0:39:40.2 Vivian Hung: Can be headache inducing process. There’s a lot of detail work and a lot of things that need to be answered that most clients when they wanna do a renovation on their own don’t even know how to ask the right questions. So that’s why the services of our expertise and our project management do not only, relieves them of all that headache, but also will probably save them money in the long term. Because if they don’t have these things answered prior to things being put in, there’s always a change order for the contractor to come in and put it in after the fact.
0:40:16.8 Kurt Baker: That’s expensive.
0:40:18.6 Vivian Hung: Which is expensive.
0:40:18.9 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:40:20.3 Kurt Baker: Sure. I’ll move that window for you.
0:40:22.3 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:40:22.6 Kurt Baker: Here’s your bill.
0:40:23.3 Joe Giamarese: Yeah, exactly.
0:40:24.6 Vivian Hung: Yes. Exactly. So these are all things like, explaining to the client, trying to be as transparent and as open about the process with them as possible. It allows them to trust us. They’re… It’s never an inexpensive process. So we are very cognizant of that. It’s like we’re spending someone else’s money. So we wanna make sure we’re making smart decisions and that’s why we don’t buy anything unless they approve it. They know everything that’s going on along the way. We check in with them, give them project updates. So it’s pretty clear, what’s going on.
0:40:58.6 Kurt Baker: Since I just want… The relationship between… ‘Cause you mentioned appliances and kitchens and renovations. And so where does the… Where… ‘Cause your project management… You have a contractor subcontractor, so how does that whole relationship dynamic work? ‘Cause you got your part of it, they’re part of it. Obviously the final picture that the owner is looking for.
0:41:16.6 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:41:16.8 Kurt Baker: How do all these kind of pieces fit together when somebody’s in the middle of these projects?
0:41:21.3 Joe Giamarese: We like to say that we act as an advocate for the client. So, we are interacting with the contractors and the subs. So that they’re putting their best product forward so that our clients get the outcome that they want.
0:41:45.0 Vivian Hung: Right. So, when we work with contractors, I and Joe already have a design plan put together. So essentially we’re working together with the contractors to say, “Okay, this is the vision. You know how to actually install and execute. This is how I would like it done”. And then you work together and it’s a constant communication. I’m not a contractor, I don’t know how to lay tile nor I’m an electrician. And I don’t want… And I’m sure they don’t want me to tell them what to do. But I know how I want it to look and I know how I want it to operate. So it’s just being very open and communicate and what the end vision is.
0:42:25.5 Kurt Baker: Sounds a little bit like how an architect would work, right?
0:42:27.4 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:42:28.0 Joe Giamarese: Yeah. Absolutely.
0:42:30.8 Kurt Baker: So they designed the house so that you’re gonna go build it, but he’s gonna still check in. It’s like, all right…
0:42:31.7 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:42:32.5 Kurt Baker: This is looking the way I’ve intended it to be looking when I’m done. [laughter]
0:42:34.9 Vivian Hung: Right.
0:42:35.4 Joe Giamarese: Because there’s several details that contractors ask or sometimes don’t ask. So for instance on a countertop, like what’s… Is it an eased edge? Is it a rounded edge? And these are things that, if a contractor would even think to ask the client, they may not know the answer. So, we either can just provide the answer or at least translate that, what that speak is to the client and tell them what the different things are so that they can then have an informed decision on how they want it.
0:43:13.8 Vivian Hung: Yeah. So, yeah. So, say it’s a new build and there’s an architect, a contractor and us. That’s ideal because the architect is basically building the structure and the spatial arrangement. And then we would come in with the finishes. And so, the architect doesn’t wanna tell the contractor what the paint colors are.
0:43:35.3 Kurt Baker: No.
0:43:35.4 Vivian Hung: They don’t care.
0:43:36.6 Kurt Baker: No.
0:43:36.6 Vivian Hung: But, and the contractor’s not gonna choose, if they choose everything will be white, contractor white.
0:43:41.1 Joe Giamarese: That’s true.
0:43:41.7 Vivian Hung: But the person who’s actually paying for the three parties is… Cares. And that’s what we do. We are… We’re in communication and saying, okay, we know that the client wants these little touches in there. So we are the ones that kind of we set those… We select those finishes.
0:43:58.6 Kurt Baker: So, tell me some stories about somebody that came in. Like, I have this project due, it probably feels overwhelming coming up. And then when they got… How did that go through? What were their emotions during this whole process? Like, I came in, I hired you guys. I’m envisioning, like you said therapy. You come in like, “I don’t really wanna do this” [laughter] But then you’re like, when it’s done. So can you kind of walk through maybe some examples of how people… What occur along the way and they felt after it was all over?
0:44:26.0 Joe Giamarese: Well you can look at it at our website.
0:44:28.6 Kurt Baker: I can?
0:44:29.0 Joe Giamarese: And look at the…
0:44:29.5 Kurt Baker: On the radio?
0:44:30.2 Joe Giamarese: No, you can’t right now.
0:44:30.7 Kurt Baker: This is amazing. You guys are really talented. I have to tell you.
0:44:32.7 Joe Giamarese: Look at the client testimonials and…
0:44:34.5 Vivian Hung: You can look at all our Google reviews.
0:44:37.3 Kurt Baker: Okay, fair enough.
0:44:38.2 Joe Giamarese: Our flawless five star Google reviews.
0:44:40.8 Kurt Baker: Flaw… Oh, you’re flawless. Okay. I didn’t know you’re flawless.
0:44:44.0 Joe Giamarese: I think we’re all five star at this point.
0:44:45.3 Kurt Baker: Okay. That’s awesome.
0:44:46.1 Vivian Hung: I think the best testimony of our work is people come back and hire us again. And then also refer us to all their friends and families. So that makes us feel great that we’ve nailed the project or we’re able to understand what our clients wanted.
0:45:01.7 Kurt Baker: So, what’s the typical concerns they have? Maybe I’ll just be more… What concerns would people typically have when they start this process? ‘Cause to me…
0:45:08.6 Vivian Hung: Budget.
0:45:09.5 Kurt Baker: Oh, okay. Budget.
0:45:10.1 Kurt Baker: I don’t know. I’m just asking.
0:45:11.5 Joe Giamarese: Trust.
0:45:11.7 Kurt Baker: I’m always about… Yeah.
0:45:12.9 Joe Giamarese: Trust. I feel like a lot of people don’t… Despite, we have our portfolio with examples of our… Endless examples of our work, testimonials, et cetera. It’s a lot of money. We’re expensive. We’re 100% worth it, but we’re expensive. And I feel like people have issues with, are they going to be able to pull off what I want?
0:45:40.1 Kurt Baker: Right, right, right.
0:45:40.9 Joe Giamarese: And I think the answer is, yes always.
0:45:46.1 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:45:48.2 Joe Giamarese: There’s a process. Some people are more trusting than others from the get.
0:45:51.3 Kurt Baker: Right. Okay.
0:45:52.8 Joe Giamarese: But I think it’s like once we’re interacting and once they kind of get the feeling that we are on their side. ‘Cause I feel like sometimes people have the impression that designers are people that they see on TV that come in and say, “That sofa needs to be red and you need to throw all that out”. And it’s like, I think we get a bad wrap or rep, is it rep or wrap? But in the end we’re not that… We’re not those people. I think designers are not those people we’re client advocates.
0:46:30.1 Vivian Hung: Right. Exactly. And also, when we meet with them initially, we’ll be like, “Look, this is gonna… If we… If you hire us, we’re gonna be in your business. So we have to like each other, and this is… We’re all going towards the same place. We wanna make sure your place when you are in your home, you feel happy. And you feel like this is where I’ve always wanted to live.” This is the same goal. So, I think that that’s… The trust thing is important, but I think we’re always in contact. We’re always talking, we’re always… If they have any questions they can always ask us. And I think we’ve found that through our many clients. It… The process has worked. And…
0:47:14.4 Kurt Baker: Okay. So what’s your website real quick and then gimme some final recommendations there. Go ahead. What is it?
0:47:20.5 Joe Giamarese: Www.globalhomeny. As in Even though we’re located in Princeton, New Jersey.
0:47:27.7 Kurt Baker: I was gonna just… I was gonna point that out, but I guess…
0:47:29.8 Joe Giamarese: We started in New York.
0:47:30.7 Kurt Baker: I know. The Flatiron District. I heard about that part.
0:47:32.8 Vivian Hung: Yes.
0:47:33.1 Kurt Baker: That’s awesome. Any final thoughts before we go ahead and sign off. You guys did a great job. Anything else?
0:47:37.0 Joe Giamarese: Thank you.
0:47:37.8 Vivian Hung: Good design is worth the money.
0:47:40.2 Kurt Baker: Okay.
0:47:40.3 Joe Giamarese: Oh yeah.
0:47:40.4 Kurt Baker: All right. Awesome, man. All right. Well, you guys have been awesome. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. Have a wonderful day.
0:47:46.6 ANNOUNCER: That was this week’s episode of Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, certified Financial Planner professional. Tune in every Sunday at 9:00 AM to expand your knowledge in building and managing your wealth. Missed an episode? No worries. You can subscribe to a free weekly episode of Master Your Finances to listen to on your favorite podcasting platform. Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, whatever. Master Your Finances is underwritten in part by Certified Wealth Management and Investment and Rider University. Rider offers continuing studies programs for adults who need flexibility. Want to add new skills to your resume? Take a continuing studies course at Rider University.

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