How We Became The Gold Standard In Home Décor

Sometimes the road to your dreams is smooth and straight. Sometimes it’s a meandering path. And so it was with Stefanie Burns – a meandering 25-year path.

This story is not uncommon – someone dissatisfied with how little free time their career left them; a desire to own a business, set their own hours, work when they like, play when they want to.

It seems like an ancient memory now, but Stefanie used to grind out 80-hour weeks in auto finance. It paid well but left little time for actually enjoying her life. After all, what’s all of the hard work for?  One would like to put their feet up at the end of the day, a glass of Cabernet in hand and say, how sweet it is.

Taking the leap

In a leap of faith and a desire for more – or perhaps less in a way – Stefanie sold everything in New Jersey and moved to North Myrtle Beach, SC. Free of the chains of day-to-day careers, with time to think and full of the entrepreneurial spirit, she spent her days roaming the beach and spent nights contemplating ways to use her talents to start a new business.

Selling online was an interesting idea. In South Carolina, she combed through antique stores, thrift shops, storage units, and roadside yard sales to find interesting and unique items: jewelry, lamps, mirrors, decorations – anything that caught their attention and could be easily shipped. Stefanie cleaned each piece she found, photographed it, and posted it on eBay. Things moved – she seemed to have a knack for this.

But soon Stefanie discovered that the effort in finding and selling one-of-a-kind items online didn’t always pay off in profit. Not enough anyway to be called a business. But the home décor did pretty well.

Back in the day, Stefanie was a ringer as an interior designer when it came to remodeling and flipping a home. She was a genius with color palettes and knew what color schemes would work in a room, the best lighting fixtures for a space, trendy or traditional shades of paint, the magic of a strategically placed mirror, what floor coverings would set the room apart. Her mid-century taste combined rustic sensibilities were a winning combination with home buyers.

So she asked, what if I bought home décor wholesale and sold it just like brick and mortar stores do? Except without the brick and mortar part? And with that idea, her first company, Treasure Combers was born.

Back to New Jersey

Stefanie moved back to New Jersey to shave costs and get this home décor thing going. At first, her 3-car garage served as the warehouse. As sales grew and inventory grew, she abandoned the garage and rented a small warehouse. And soon she needed a warehouse 4 times as large. Things were good, business was robust, customers were ecstatic.

But still, Stefanie wasn't satisfied. She wanted to build something unique and change the home décor buying experience. And so Zinc Décor launched, featuring higher quality home items from a smaller number of companies.

A passion for quality and value

Too often, a picture of an item on a website is impressive, only to disappoint the buyer upon arrival. And the opposite is true as well – it’s difficult to capture a thing’s heft, how it balances in your hand, a finely honed edge, exquisite craftsmanship, uncommon color shades or any one of a thousand other unique attributes in a 2-dimensional image. The things that impress can sometimes only be appreciated up close in person.

Stefanie decided to personally vet every home décor item for Zinc Decor. She road tripped to each company so she could see every item, hold it in her hands, and decide if it was good enough for her customers.

Today, Stefanie has 3 criteria for each home décor item she sells: is it of quality craftsmanship and materials, does it meet her design sensibilities, and will customers see the value? If an item doesn’t meet all 3, she passes on it.

Just as important is Zinc Décor’s white glove customer service. Stefanie never wants a customer to feel like just a number. After all, who hasn’t known that frustration? That’s why she answers every email and phone call herself - when you have a question you’re speaking directly with the owner.