Staging Success Story: Brazilian-American Home Stager Builds a LegacyJan 09, 2023
Seven years ago, Carina Contarini had never heard of home staging. She moved from Brazil to the United States with her family, and found herself in a new place with no job, no friends – and no English skills.
"I remember I had meetings with the Realtor to find the house, and it was funny because I couldn't communicate," Carina said. "She was just showing me the house and I was gesturing."
Now, Carina is a licensed real estate agent herself, and is building a thriving home staging business. She officially launched Just Right Staging & Design July 2022, and now owns enough inventory to stage five homes at once. With only a few months under her belt, Carina is already serving clients across Snohomish and Skagit Counties in Washington State.
Carina's path to success was not easy. In Brazil, her career in education administration was flourishing.
"I gave up on everything that I was pursuing in Brazil," Carina said. "I knew that for my daughters, it would be a better chance for them to just see the world, speak another language, grow personally, and have more chances for jobs."
Shortly after emigrating, Carina's marriage began to fall apart. Isolated, without a driver's license, and with no money, she knew she had to make a change in order to survive.
"I took responsibility for my learning," she said. "I always had English as my weakness, because I was never confident enough, I was never believing in myself that I could do it. I was doing things because I had to do it."
She began working as a preschool teacher. As her confidence developed, she quickly progressed into leadership roles for Seattle Public Schools, demonstrating the motivational drive that would serve her well in her next big career move – real estate and home staging.
Discovering Home Staging
Newly divorced and building a life for herself in Washington State, Carina finally began to feel comfortable in her new life. As time passed, she bought a house and got remarried.
Then, the pandemic hit. For many educators – Carina included – it was time to pivot. She was burnt out.
"Even my daughter said, 'Mama, can't you see that it's not working anymore?'" Carina said. "To give up all that knowledge that you built your whole life, it was really tough. I didn't want to let go, but then I finally did."
Her friends suggested real estate. Carina earned her license last year, and now considers it a "bridge to find staging."
The first time Carina heard of home staging was from her own Realtor – the same one she gestured at over Zoom due to the language barrier. At the time, her agent noticed how gorgeous her home was, and told her to consider home staging. Carina didn't know what home staging was, and didn't think of it again until years later.
However, after staging her first real estate listing, Carina revisited the idea of becoming a home stager.
"The house turned out great," she said. "Everybody was making compliments and asking for the staging company. That's when I was like, you know what? I like this, I can do this."
Building a Strong Foundation
At first, entering real estate and staging brought many of the same challenges she faced when she first started her life in the United States. But, just like she did then, Carina faced her obstacles head-on.
"I started studying for real estate, I faced all those words and all those new terms," Carina said. "I was like, oh my gosh, here I go again!"
After staging her listings for several months, Carina decided to go all-in and launch her own home staging company. Her home was empty for three months as she used her own furniture to stage properties. Through hard work and tenacity, Carina is rapidly growing Just Right Staging & Design – and now has her own furniture back at home.
Carina's next big goal for her staging business is to double her inventory so she can stage twice the number of houses at once, and hire some staff to help with her increased workload. She attended the Staging Studio Master Class in November 2022, learning strategies for organizing her inventory, increasing her profitability, and managing growth.
Leaving a Legacy
One of the most rewarding parts of Carina's home staging entrepreneurship journey is the legacy she's leaving for her daughters. She said her kids understand how hard things were for her when she first came to the United Stages, and recognize the person their mother is now becoming.
"Recently, I really heard from them saying 'you're doing great, look how much you've grown,'" Carina said. "You don't realize that just with your actions, you are inspiring people, your daughters."
Carina's journey has the power to inspire not only her children, but home stagers across the globe.
"One of the main advantages you have today with technology is people can share their story," she said. "When you see people doing what you're doing, you feel like you can do it as well."
By sharing her experience, Carina passes along the inspiration she first felt when she became part of the Staging Studio community.
"When I learned about the story of Debbie and Julie, I'm like, 'well I can do that, because they did it,'" Carina said. "What Staging Studio provides is that safe space."
Find support, inspiration, and community by joining Staging Studio's Cru group coaching program. Created by stagers, for stagers, Cru provides the action steps and accountability you need to live your dream in design.
Don't miss our next blog like this!
Join to receive the latest news for home stagers.