Tucked into an upscale shopping center in North Raleigh, NC, alongside a Fresh Market, restaurants, boutiques and more, is a pretty little home furnishings shop called Lavish. Step inside and the ambience of the shop reflects the company’s name in more ways than just merchandise.
Elegantly appointed furnishings are paired with a gift selection — jewelry, trinkets, greeting cards and wine (more on that later).
Lavish is home to interior designer Jenny Cimino, who has an extensive portfolio of residential and commercial projects under her belt. While the storefront has only been in existence for three of the 14 years Cimino has been in business, it has added exponentially to her design business for building her customer base and as a way to treat her clients like royalty.
Adding a retail component had always been on Cimino’s mind, but more as something of a retirement plan. It was the urging of a friend who asked what she was waiting for that made her make the move sooner. It was a good leap, Cimino says. “The store has helped us get foot traffic we wouldn’t have otherwise,” she notes. “There’s also the credibility that a brick-and-mortar location offers us. Our clients know they can find us.”
The front half of the store is layered with artwork (some from local artisans who can be commissioned for custom pieces), furniture, lighting and accessories, all beautifully merchandised in settings where visitors to the store can envision the furnishings in a room. The range of furnishings at Lavish reflects the diverse nature of Cimino’s interior design business as well, which covers residential and commercial projects. “We design for our clients and help their visions come to life,” she says. Her clients’ requests cover myriad styles and projects from residential to a dentist office and a bourbon lounge. “A residential design eye can offer a lot of insight to commercial experiences,” Cimino says. “We bring the creativity to the table.” A common theme throughout her projects, while they can be vastly different, she adds, would be simplistic, clean and livable design.
Lavish is also known for its events — whether in clients’ homes or in the shop — as a way to stay connected or provide a draw for those who may not know Lavish yet. The company doesn’t advertise via traditional channels, choosing instead to give back to clients in unique ways that market the business, showering clients with gifts with Lavish branding or holding a remodel party in a client’s home after a reveal. “It drives business through word of mouth and helps us build clientele,” Cimino says.
For Cimino, a full 75 percent to 85 percent of her clients are referrals. Social media is an important tool for marketing as well, she adds, noting that Instagram is her best advertiser, especially when she shares before and after pictures from a project.
Lavish is also known for a significant selection of wine. “We hold events, we stock clients’ wine cellars; it made sense to start carrying a selection of wines in the shop,” Cimino says. The wine, along with the gift selection, provides yet another reason for customers to come through the doors between projects or to see what Lavish offers. They’ll remember the store and come back when they’re ready for a design project, she adds. And that’s the goal for Cimino. If she can keep her clients coming back for more and bringing their friends with them, business is good. Adding a storefront has been a good business move for Cimino and her brand, she says, “but relying solely on retail would be tough.” With the interior design portion of the business as well, it’s a great way to promote the design services and bring in new customers.
So, what started as a “retirement plan” has become an integral part of Cimino’s business. Next up, she’d like to open a Lavish in Wilmington, NC, where she also has client ties with coastal properties. I don’t see retirement in the near future for Jenny Cimino or Lavish!