A lot of people say they started a business because they always knew how to decorate. Well, Gracious Style happened because we had no idea how to decorate. Here’s the true story:
Carolina: In 1998, I’d left my job as an emerging markets research analyst at Bear Stearns in New York. We’d recently bought our first house together, a two-story Colonial in Scarsdale, so I started renovating. In three months, I changed the layout, remodeled the bathrooms, and added a new kitchen and breakfast room in the back.
All excited, we started thinking about hosting our first Thanksgiving, when I told Si: “We need a new tablecloth.” I was surprised by how hard it was to actually find a nice tablecloth, so I thought “Let’s import them ourselves.” After all, we’d seen very nice linens on our work trips to Europe, so how hard could it be?
Si: At the time, I was working as a portfolio manager at a hedge fund, and when Carolina told me about her idea, I thought “Cool!” I envisioned going on romantic buying trips to Milan, Paris, and who knows where else. So I quit my job and joined her.
It was slow going for a while, but we did end up going on those fun buying trips. We went to Europe year after year, looking for small, family-owned manufacturers who specialized in high end linens. We even made the front page of an Italian newspaper once! (Ok, it was a very small town.) Fortunately, those were the products that top interior designers and architects were looking for, and gradually our business grew.
Carolina: But meanwhile, our own house sat pretty much unfurnished. An IKEA table floated in the new kitchen and breakfast room (but with a nice tablecloth on top!) The living room never got furnished. When we sold the house, there were just some boxes in it, and people thought we’d already moved out.
It wasn’t until five years later, when I built a new house for my parents, that I got serious about decorating. I went through each room and wrote out a story for it: My parents watching the Lakers here, my sister cuddling up with a book and cup of tea there. From these stories, I came up with plans for each room and the house as a whole.
In the process, I realized that it was the finishing touches that mattered the most. That’s what I was missing back in the Scarsdale days. You can have a beautiful kitchen with the Viking and Subzero, but it’s the light fixtures, the rugs, down to the plates and napkin rings, that’ll give your home its unique personality.
Si: And that’s where Gracious Style is today. We’ve come a long way from the early years, when we just imported table linens. Today, our goal is to help you find those special things that complete your home’s story, and make it easy for you to do it. Learning to decorate and design has enriched our lives, and we believe it will make a big difference in yours as well.