A divorced mother of two, Karin Doty needed a way to support her daughters as financial help from her ex-husband was about to end. So she started a home staging business with no money down, no loans and no financial help from friends or family members - and she did it at the start of the Great Recession.
Now, Doty has taken her Consign and Design home staging and furniture and decor sales business out of her garage and three rented storage units and into a store at 975 Garden of the Gods Suite D.
"I needed to start working full time because I was at a crossroads where the financial support ended," she said.
Doty seemed destined to launch a career in home design. She graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in social sciences, but describes her student self as "the girl who'd rather decorate her apartment than study."
College was where she learned to shop at estate and thrift sales, and to dumpster dive for unwanted furniture and decor. She worked 17 years as a social worker before having children, and got divorced in 2003. Four years later, she started her staging business with a partner, but they worked independently.
Doty had no inventory when she opened her company. She built it without loans or investors by charging real estate brokers a down payment to cover the cost of the furniture and d?or needed to stage a home. She then used the deposit money to buy home-staging inventory. When the home sold, she received the rest of the money she was owed.
By 2010, Doty was staging nearly 30 homes a year, using her three-car garage and rented storage units to stash furniture, picture frames, drapes and bedding.
"We could not park in the garage any more, and I started having more and more liquidation sales," said Doty, who has staged 280 listed homes in Colorado Springs since she started.
Those sales, which she held about four times a year from her garage, provided funds for updated furnishings. They also helped finance the second phase of her business.
As the economy improved and homes sold faster, Doty's staging business began to slow, and she needed to reinforce her income. It was her financial planner who suggested the obvious next step.
"(He) said, 'Why are you having these sales out of your garage? You need a store,'" she said, "and the light bulb went off because consignments are my most favorite places to shop,"
This time, Doty got financial help - a $50,000 small business loan - to open Consign and Design, which sells new and consignment furniture and accessories. The store's sales represent nearly 50 percent of Doty's overall business.
It also represents a family effort. Her daughters, Annie, 18 and Lauren, 15, designed the business's lights and logo.
While she never thought she'd be divorced, she said the end of her marriage provided her the chance to take a different path.
"I have taken some chances because I am divorced," she said, "and for that I am really thankful (because) I am living my dream."
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.