In just a few short years, Zaina Wuest has transformed her side gig as an interior designer to a thriving furniture and interior design business.
Wuest opened the doors of Exquisite Living in 2016 with a storefront on Atlanta Highway north of Alpharetta. That space has since more than doubled to better enable the Exquisite Living team to show their beautiful pieces.
This year, Wuest opened her second Exquisite Living location in Alpharetta City Center, across from City Hall. The shop’s stylish furniture and elegant décor are right at home among the downtown boutiques.
Wuest credits her company’s rapid growth and success to superior customer service and the bonds she and her team form with their clients.
“It’s about the relationship and not feeling like you’ve gone somewhere and the staff just tried to sell you something,” she said.
Exquisite Living also employs four interiors designers and four design consultants with an educational background in interior design who meet the clients at their home to help them develop a plan for their space.
These designers understand the scale, textures and tones of the furniture and accessories in Exquisite Living’s inventory to help customers create a space that is both comfortable and elegant, Wuest said.
“It’s one of the things we do differently at Exquisite Living, which is the reason our design side has grown tremendously,” she said. “Complimentary design service is offered by many retailers, but there is a huge difference between having a sales person looking to sell existing inventory versus an interior designer whose primary focus is to create a beautiful space.”
She said her Exquisite Living team works with each client to develop a plan that best suits their home, personality, style and budget.
When she set out to build Exquisite Living, Wuest studied the factors that often prevent someone from hiring a professional designer. Many shoppers feel pressured by sales people who put artificial deadlines on the design process, she said. Wuest then sought to eliminate those hang-ups from her business model.
“We discuss with the client what their dream home looks like and understand their timeline, so our clients can enjoy the process, rather than feel overwhelmed and stressed,” Wuest said.
It is that interior design approach, combined with the top quality and stylish furniture she selects for the shops, that forms the foundation of her company’s success and helps it live up to its name, she said. In addition, the company prides itself on working with established U.S. manufacturers, who use locally sourced material to build custom upholstery.
By putting service, quality and beauty before sales, Wuest’s strategy has proven fruitful. Many clients return to Exquisite Living for multiple projects and even multiple homes, and Wuest said developing trust and building a long-term relationship with their clients is the most valuable currency for her.
Wuest said she is always looking for ways to make a positive impact on the community and plans to get more involved with local philanthropy opportunities as the new store begins to settle in.
Recently, Exquisite Living partnered with Appen Media Group to hold a room makeover sweepstakes in which one lucky Herald newspaper reader won a $5,000 room redesign.
“I was so excited,” said the winner, Tanya Nystrom. “I just didn’t believe it. Exquisite Living, my goodness, it’s a nice prize.”
Nystrom plans on making over her family room, relying on Wuest’s expertise to make the ‘80s home feel more light and open.