WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. – Imagine selling a Whitefish Bay home for about $800,000 more than you bought it for at just 25 years old and doing it just as a marketing tactic.
It would be pretty incredible and incredible, but for Sophia Lee it was all part of the plan…sort of.
Sophie Zang, who goes by the professional name Sophia Lee, will close on 5462 Santa Monica Blvd for about $1.1 million. She bought it about two years ago for $340,000.
Go big or go home
“We called it the Go Big or Go Home house because we knew we were going big and we could potentially go home with this one because it was a risky decision,” Lee said.
The plan was to either go big with the sale or go home with it and move into the house myself. The original intention of the house was to be a CV builder. Lee is an interior designer. To attract customers, she knew she would have to prove to them what she could do. So rather than showing off her skills with just one room, she proved herself by completely restoring a house. She relocated the kitchen, built a two-story addition, and essentially gutted the entire house.
“And from the beginning we went into it not trying to make a profit out of the house. It wasn’t a traditional flip. I don’t even like to say it was a flip. We call it ‘ a restoration, and we really bought it to be able to show what I can do and my design style, so we can go get future clients,” she said.
She actually didn’t benefit that much from the sale. In total, with all the construction and setup costs, she spent $980,000. That means she only took home about $120,000, but that’s before brokerage fees, taxes and paying her staff. She also hired a production team to document the entire process. Once edited, she will post it on her YouTube page.
By Sophia Lee
That’s no small price tag for a recent college graduate. Lee could afford it with all the money she made from her brand By Sophia Lee.
“I didn’t get any money from my parents. I paid for every single penny of my college. I paid for every single penny of this business,” she said.
As a sophomore at Concordia University, Wisconsin, she started a dorm decorating blog. Lee always knew she wanted to be an interior designer. It only made sense that she started decorating her residence. From there, her website, By Sophia Lee, began to attract thousands of viewers a month, and in turn, she earned several thousand dollars a month.
“I knew this when I went to college. I didn’t care about the classes. I cared about how my dorm room looked, and if I cared about my dorm room decor, I knew other people would care too. So, I started writing all about dorm decorating.”
She doubled down on her career in interior design and created a TikTok account that has 471,000 followers and a YouTube page with 117,000 subscribers.
She leveraged her brand into a successful business. By Sophia Lee is visited by tens of thousands of people a day. She makes money through advertising, brand deals, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing (that’s where a company like Amazon pays Lee a commission because Lee generated a sale through her referral).
“Through Sophia Lee is a six figure business, sometimes even six figure a month business,” she said. Her team also sells its own products such as daily planners.
All of this led to her buying a house, restoring it and proving to potential clients that she has what it takes to be in charge of their interior design needs.
Lee wants to own her own design firm and possibly go into home building to have her own By Sophia Lee homes.
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