The President meets: Jennie Norris, Chairwoman IAHSP®International

In this episode, IAHSP® EU President meets Jennie Norris, the Chairwoman of IAHSP® INTERNATIONAL. Learn the core values and more about the World Home Staging benchmark Association.

S.R.: How beneficial is the IAHSP® INTERNATIONAL Global Expansion for the entire Home Staging Industry? 

J.N.: The strategic expansion globally is critically important for the growth and future of the Home Staging Industry.  Home Staging was birthed in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and remained largely a US and Canadian focus for decades. It was just a matter of time before other countries took notice of this business and service that makes a hugely positive impact wherever real estate is sold. It is our responsibility, as leaders of the Home Staging industry, to ensure its longevity and impact globally by reaching out proactively to industry professionals around the globe. Being able to offer membership, education, and association to benefit individuals who want to succeed in Home Staging requires planning and purpose. IAHSP® leads the way.

S.R.: IAHSP® INTERNATIONAL is the longest-running Home Staging Association in the world. What are the distinctive characteristics of your organisation and what is it that sets IAHSP® INT. apart from any other trade association? 

J.N.: Great question.  I want to share first and foremost, we are the largest and longest-running Home Staging and Real Estate industry trade association in the world – and we are the only association founded by the Creator of Home Staging®, Barb Schwarz. The IAHSP® was started as s mission to serve, not a way to make money, and that perspective and attitude has permeated into all we do. It is why, I believe, people can sense a difference when they attend an IAHSP® event – as we truly care about our members and their success. We do not focus on what we get from members – their fees or payments for other events. We focus on their success and giving the support and resources a person intent on being successful long-term, needs. 

We have a “Why IAHSP®” section on our website as it is important for the public and industry pros to understand what makes IAHSP® different than other association or membership groups and I have highlighted a few of the many distinctions below.

IAHSP® is the ONLY professional industry trade association that requires education in Home Staging first, to join. We believe it is important to have a firm foundation for success, and education is one way to differentiate ourselves in the industry from those who are not willing to make the investment in establishing a professional business.  We don’t take just anyone who proclaims themselves to be a Stager – and instead IAHSP® reviews and approves credentials we know are on par with what the public deserves when working with a staging professional. We also Accredit certain courses as quality ones for those looking to receive education, and do not charge for this so it is 100% unbiased, and not a “pay to play,” recogntion.

IAHSP® is operated by professionals who are active and very successful IN the industry. We currently own and operate businesses and have a vested interest in the success and longevity of our industry.  Our leaders rank in the top 5% of all home staging companies globally for revenue, production, credentials earned, and awards received.  Other groups have leaders who have never operated a successful staging business, or no longer run a business, so they are not as up-to-date on the trends, challenges, and needs of the members we support. You cannot teach what you do not know.  We not only “talk the talk,” we “walk the walk,” alongside our many colleagues around the globe.

IAHSP® is a Family.  Our slogan, “Your Home in the Home Staging Industry,” rings true from the many members who share when they attend one of our amazing events, “I feel so welcome here.  This is not like anything else I have experienced from other groups.” And it is sincere inclusion as we truly care about our industry, our members, and the success of anyone intent on building a thriving business.  We serve and lead because we love the industry, we are passionate about helping others, and we know for our industry to continue to grow, we must cultivate and support future leaders.

IAHSP® events are like none other with our focus on Education, Motivation, Inspiration and Fun. No other group hosts a conference with all these elements – only IAHSP® does as we want our events to be memorable and meaningful. Our Conference & EXPO is a true celebration of our industry with high quality, expert speakers, largest vendor expo featuring our many industry partners, and fun.  The money we bring in from ticket sales goes right back into the conference to pay for quality venues, speakers, promotional giveaways, special VIP events, and more. We incorporate music, entertainment, and time to get to know colleagues in attendance so friendships can be forged. Our Awards Gala is unique because we wrap it into our celebratory sit-down dinner, with music, fun themes that encourage costumes, and proper recognition of the talented winners. 

IAHSP® was the first association to establish regional member chapters. I was the person that started the very first chapter in 2003 – this was long before any other groups existed. I saw a need for industry pros to band together for mutual support, marketing, and camaraderie. These regional chapters operate in person and/or virtually and allow our members anywhere to stay connected with colleagues who share ideas, challenges, solutions, and staging work. IAHSP® has been the benchmark of excellence for the entire industry, with others patterning their groups after the success of IAHSP®.

IAHSP® is truly global. We have a focused initiative to help increase awareness and support staging professionals in countries around the world, to ensure they have the camaraderie with colleagues that make the journey of success so much more enjoyable. No other association is dedicated to worldwide expansion, as it takes time, energy, and finding the right leaders to step up.  We are so blessed to have found leaders in IAHSP®-EU who see the vision and embrace the mission of IAHSP® International.  If people only knew the amount of time that is donated by our leaders, me included, they would think we were a little nuts. They might think, “Why would they devote so much time and energy to an endeavor that does not pay much?” To lead in this industry, a person must see beyond potential income, and instead look at it as a mission, and great leaders step up to serve, devoting countless hours to ensure members have a vital and thriving association that provides resources for success. I want to personally thank you, Sanja, for your dedication, and Verena and Paloma as well. You three are really making a huge difference around the world.

S.R.: IAHSP® INT. stands strong for Education, Excellence, and Ethics. How these fundamental aspects are beneficial to the industry Professionals willing to join the Association? 

J.N.: We established these 3 foundational pillars years ago when we determined what an association should provide to its members.  

Education is a core foundation of our association for the reasons shared already. Education in home staging shows a person is willing to invest in their success, and not try to “figure it out,” and devalue the industry. Education shortens the success path as well. Rather than “guess” at things like pricing, a reputable course teaches a Home Stager how and what to charge for their time and talent.  Education separates the hobbyists or wannabe stagers from the pros.  We recognize industry pros with special marketing logos they can share, as it has become a marketing differentiator in our industry for business. Being able to share with a prospective client, “I am educated in Home Staging and belong to the only industry association has educational standards for membership,” is impressive. Credentials matter. No one will ever convince me otherwise. There are exceptions to every situation however being teachable means your mind, heart and spirit are open to learning, and to close that off because of ego or pride leads to the possibility of limiting your overall experience and success. 

Excellence comes with establishing and elevating standards for how we perform our services, staging techniques, and styles. IAHSP® recognizes excellence with awards, shining a light on those professionals who do exceptional work, and helping set the example for those who are newer in the industry. It is important to stretch creatively, develop niche market services, and lead the way for the entire industry. 

Ethics is a core foundation, and we encourage ethical practices throughout the industry. Our members agree to adhere to our strict ethics policies that establish standards of business practices for our clients and colleagues. It is important to have an entity that can act as a mediator when disputes may arise and provide a place the public can go to discuss any issues of concern.  Without ethical standards of how we provide our services and how we treat each other, our industry would be like the wild west where anything goes. Whether it is resolving issues with colleagues or to support a member who is experiencing challenges, or resolving pricing issues from those who undercut the market, our association must stand up for the industry, and encourage camaraderie and cooperation, not negative competition.  The adage, “One bad apple can spoil the bunch,” rings true for our industry where one negative person can impact many others with their attitude of competition and gossip, both of which we strongly discourage in IAHSP®.  We adhere to “The Golden Rule,” and the idea of what we do must be beneficial to the common good, not just benefit a few.

S.R.: What are the mid-term Association’s goals? 

J.N.: We are always focused on growth and continue to encourage industry members to join our association to find a home in the home staging industry. We continue to build our vendor partner program to save our members time and money on purchasing items for their businesses and provide resources for success. Current and future members need to see the value in belonging to an association, and we focus on providing resources, education, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

We are focused on identifying areas our members need and want education and develop niche specific courses to keep our members at the forefront of the industry. We believe in collaboration and aligning our association with other people and entities that have the same outlook, vision and mission as IAHSP®.  We are partnering with global entities to bring even more exposure and opportunities to our members, and we are committed to proactively reaching out to countries around the world where people want to learn about Home Staging. 

Covid physically separated us from one another, and I have greatly missed the connection with my colleagues and friends. Distance has been damaging to the human connection we all need, and I am thankful for technology that has allowed us to be able to see and hear one another, but boy, do I miss hugs, and laughing with colleagues until I am crying. The moments and memories I use to fuel my energy and passion have been void – and we cannot get back to “normal” soon enough for me.

S.R.: You are the Editor of the IAHSP® INT. Monthly Magazine. Please tell us more about it.

J.N.: I started the IAHSP® Magazine in November 2020 because there was not an industry publication widely available, and I get a lot of questions from industry members related to business success and growth. I thought it would be great to put out a quality publication full of timely topics, answers to common questions, and provide information that our members could use to build their success and share newfound expertise with their clients.  Our membership is too large for us to be able to print and mail these publications, as it would be cost prohibitive and we would have to charge quite a bit for a printed and mailed copy, so our magazine is a digital publication. Members can download the magazine, print off articles, and even print off soft or hardbound copies of the magazine, if they would like. We wanted to be able to share what works with our members in a way that is appealing and include special features, interview industry colleagues, and more. Each month has a “theme,” of sorts, and we take time to gather information and format it in ways that are visually appealing and compelling.

You didn’t ask about this, but the “Home Staging Talk Show LIVE” that airs Wednesdays at 10:30AM MST, was started for the same reason. I wanted to be able to reach those interested in Home Staging, as well as provide a forum for open, meaningful discussions about success, business, trends, and more. I have been doing the show for over 4 years. It was the first talk show of its kind – a LIVE Broadcast where anything can happen – and it has! We don’t record our sessions, edit, and air them after they are perfected. We are LIVE and believe me I have had plenty of times where I was freaking out inside over technology that was not cooperating, power that went out, audio that didn’t work – all while keeping a smile on my face and praying the glitches would resolve themselves. I have laughed and enjoyed interviewing special guests and embarking on interesting discussions that make us think. The show has had everyone from industry celebrities like the Scott Brothers, Carson Kressley and Candace Olson, to world ranked, high-level motivational and business speakers and authors like Chris Widener, and Business Strategists like Scott Hansen and Jonny Fowler, to colleagues who excel in specific areas and are willing to share their successes and challenges. I have gone live from multiple locations around the world, with the goal of sharing and connecting with viewers who tune in to see the show. It has been a wild ride, and I continue to bring special guests and topics to the show, taking breaks from weekly sessions from time to time.

One concern I have about our industry is it is about showing a perfected representation of a property, room by room, to the public. However, we need to be mindful not to apply that same principle of perfection on ourselves our business journey, and our lives. Perfection is not reality. The truth is we will have challenges, life can get messy, we make mistakes, we may say or do things we regret, and ultimately knowing others have done the SAME thing, gives us hope. The perfected images on social media that are enhanced with filters or photoshopped create this utopia where someone looking at what is shared there may feel intimated or disconnected because they cannot relate. We must be able to laugh and enjoy the journey and be ourselves, make mistakes, pick ourselves back up and move forward and SHARE this actual REALITY. To me business is not about how much money we can make. It is about the lives we can positively impact with our words and actions. And it is about willingness to look and be “perfectly imperfect.” I would not be part of this industry if it was not about helping other people.

S.R.: You are going to attend the 3rd IAHSP® European Conference in Lisbon in May, as the Chairwoman of the IAHSP® INT. and also as the Official and Certified Trainer for the Senior Staging Consultant Designation – a Designation that is offered for the 2nd Day of the Conference. What are your personal expectations in regard to the Conference and what are you truly looking forwards to experiencing?

J.N.: The first thing I am going to do is HUG every single person that walks into the room – even if they are not normally a hugger, they are going to get one from me! I have deeply missed this personal connection and I have missed seeing colleagues from Europe, isolated from one another for over two years now and I am so over all of it, and I know others feel the same. The education will be excellent – I know most all the speakers personally, and attendees are in for a treat as they learn from industry colleagues and experts eager to share their knowledge and tips with the audience. Of course, I also love teaching and educating others, and look forward to sharing knowledge and expertise that will help others succeed. 

The part about being able to travel to a beautiful location with my husband, stay in a gorgeous and historic hotel, in one of the most scenic cities in the world is a bonus! Thank you, IAHSP®EU for selecting such a wonderful location for this conference. Being able to travel to other countries to spread the mission and vision of IAHSP®, to inspire and educate others, and encourage those who are on the same journey is really a joy and a privilege, and I do not take my responsibility as the Chairwoman of The IAHSP® lightly. 

If you are reading this and want to increase your success and learn what it takes to get to the next level in your business, you need to make a commitment to yourself, and your future. Register for the conference. I will be there in support of our IAHSP®EU Leaders and colleagues, who have dedicated countless hours to plan and execute a quality, classy, and memorable event – for YOU! 

I know those that do this will get inspired to success (plus you will get a hug from me!) and I look forward to seeing you all in Portugal in May!

Jennie