WHO: Amy Reiss and Melissa Carr
WHAT: Home Sweet Home Video — Home Inventory Services
WHERE: Pacific Palisades, California
HOW: After struggling through the death of her mother and stepfather, the last thing television producer Amy Reiss wanted to go through was the emotional and financial stress of dividing up her parents’ belongings. “The legal issues relating to their trust and the identification of personal belongings became an emotional and financial ordeal for all involved,” says Reiss.
Melissa Carr, on the other hand, had recently relocated. Leaving behind her own furniture store in Colorado, she had started working for an L.A.-based company that staged homes for sale – but missed working for herself. The two met working freelance projects on a TV show – and the gears began turning. Both in need of full-time work, and excited to try something new, the two friends began to brainstorm about they way their skills could mesh into a unique company.
They began to think up a company that would cross off something on everyone’s to-do list – creating a full inventory of the furniture, wardrobe, jewelry, and architectural details that are worth something to their owners. “We knew there was a need for people who were about to create a will or trust, get married or divorced, lease a home, or move items into storage and for insurance purposes,” says Reiss, adding, “I knew that if [my parents had] an inventory , it would have saved us all a lot of heartache.” Throw in their backgrounds in home goods and videography, and the two knew they’d found their project. The pair took the plunge – investing $12,000 of their savings – and began to purchase the equipment they’d need to successfully document the items in people’s homes.
What makes Home Sweet Home Video stand out against its competitors is their individualized approach to each client. Recognizing the various reasons people might need home inventory – not just for legal reasons, but Southern California earthquake insurance, for example – they cater each assessment to each specific home. “If someone has a home with special architectural features then we videotape a ‘home tour’ with the client,” says Reiss. They’re so specific, that when their client Courtney Love asked for an assessment, Reiss and Carr individually assessed each pair of high heels in her closet! Inventories range in price from $500 for a small condo to more than $10,000 for those that involve weeks of work. “We not only shoot the items in the home, but concentrate as well on flooring, appliances, sconces, and so on,” says Reiss. “Then, the video is edited with titles and chapters for easy reference.”
Since their launch four years ago, the business has completed over 100 inventories, and has consistently seen a profit – but the pair would like to expand their horizons. “Our goal is to educate as many people as we can about the importance of having a complete home inventory,” says Reiss, “and our new project is to donate our services to charities — via silent auctions — to give back to our community.”
THEIR ADVICE: “Do your research!” says Reiss. “Know your marketplace, your competition, and who your client is, and then create the best service/product.”