Points for Presentation: Living Edge Interiors
By Hayes Knight - 28 September 2016
Homestaging company Living Edge Interiors is creating a niche in the top-end housing market. Guided by its passionate new owner Sharon Laffan, the company has grown, solidified its position and extended its offering in exciting new directions.
Have you ever walked into an open home, fallen in love with the
interior furnishings and marveled at the owner's sense of style?
Chances are, the furniture and accessories you covet don't belong
to the owner at all, but instead have been carefully selected by a
homestaging company to create just the reaction you
With the booming Kiwi housing market, homestaging is on the
rise. Agents and sellers now understand its value in enhancing the
visual appeal of a property, says Sharon Laffan.
She's seen the company grow from humble beginnings 16 years ago
to become the country's largest homestaging business. Over
more than a decade, Sharon has helped shape the development and
growth of Living Edge. She's been heavily involved in the buying of
merchandise, as General Manager. So when the company came up for
sale in 2014, the opportunity was too good to miss.
"I'm extremely passionate about the business and our goal to be
the absolute benchmark in the industry," she says. "When we first
started, there was only one other company operating in this space;
now we're competing against 30 companies in Auckland."
Today, Living Edge has 20 staff, including a team of interior
designers, its own fleet of vehicles and warehouse space. The bulk
of the company's furniture is sourced from overseas, with up to 5
containers of stock a year being brought in as a result of Sharon's
With a background in retail and merchandising, Sharon has
developed longstanding relationships with real estate agents and
developers. They make up a large chunk of the company's clients,
along with aged-care providers, private residential owners and
corporate clients, and the entertainment industry.
"Our furniture is unique and we have several different styles,
all branded with our own label," she says. "We're focused on the
high end of the market. We do a lot of properties in the $2 million
Homestaging is a labour-intensive enterprise, with each property
requiring 12-15 hours to complete from initial sales to selection
of furniture and then installation. Living Edge has sought to
extend its offering with complementary services. The company hires
out furniture and supplies cutlery, towels and bed linen to CEOs
relocating to New Zealand. It provides set furnishings for TV shows
like Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules and X-Factor. Living
Edge has also furnished backstage sets for visiting rock stars,
celebrity weddings and private parties, where security and
confidentiality are paramount.
"We've experienced exceptional growth over the last four years,"
says Sharon. "It's been the result of a conscious effort to grow in
the wider Auckland area. We also now sell our own branded furniture
on our website. Our mid- to long-term plans are to increase the
output of showhomes and launch online shopping via our
When looking to purchase Living Edge, Sharon sought advice from
Knight Director Brendon Cutler who carried out a valuation and
prepared financial forecasts to enable her to obtain the necessary
finance. The firm now acts as financial and tax advisor for the
company, assisting with annual accounting and tax compliance,
meeting regularly and providing a sounding-board for any
"Brendon has been a great mentor and financial advisor,
particularly during the sale and purchase process," says Sharon.
"He's pragmatic, highly responsive, and has developed a good
understanding of the business."
Brendon believes Sharon's focus, coupled with her willingness to
work hard, set goals and move forward with increased confidence,
has taken Living Edge to a new level.
"Sharon should be really proud of what she's achieved," he says.
"She's done a great job to grow the company faster and more
profitably than we forecast, while at the same time managing that
growth conservatively. Sharon has a good business brain and listens
to advice. I've no doubt Living Edge will continue to grow and
refine its offering."
Setting goals, continually reassessing them, and managing your
growth carefully are some of the keys to business success. Hayes
Knight Director Brendon Cutler offers advice on growing your
- Ensure you have a solid business plan and an integrated
- Understand your balance sheet and the impact growth will have
on it - especially on your working capital
- Be aware that issues around growth are often operational.
Identify where your step changes should occur - at what point do
you need to purchase a new vehicle or piece of equipment or bring
in a new person? How will you fund those, and what are the short,
medium and long term implications for your business?
- No matter how hard you work, you can't do it all. Low-value
tasks take up your time and can stall growth. Delegate them to an
assistant so you can focus on more important decisions
- Get your head around the numbers, or work with someone who can
help you do this.
Living Edge Interiors owner Sharon