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Meet Amanda Sancen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Sancen. 

Hi Amanda, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hi! My name is Amanda Rose and I am the owner and designer of ARC Design Studios LLC. I opened my boutique design studio in 2014 while working as a lead visual merchandiser for a large company, and teaching interior design for Western Michigan University.

My love for creative small businesses stems from growing up watching my mother run her photography business out of our home. My sisters and I all shared our first job experience as helping hands during shoots in our home studio and on-site. I have many memories of moving all of the furniture out of the living room, building backdrop stands, and preparing the stools and lights for the next clients. Helping her carry equipment at on-site shoots, weddings, and sporting events was all part of the gig.

I knew that I wanted to start my own small business post-college graduation and after working on a few events for family and friends I decided to open my studio and focus on event design and coordination. I have been designing weddings for almost eight years now and I have made some amazing memories and friends along the way. Each client is special and has a unique vision, I love the challenge of taking inspiration and making it their reality. Working at venues with some of the most talented teams of vendors has brought so much joy to my life.

While I love weddings, I am working towards using my decade of experience as a visual merchandiser to open up a new branch of services at the studio focusing on freelance visual merchandising. ARC Design Studios Retail was born late 2020 and I have enjoyed working with small businesses to elevate their in-store experience through visual merchandising and killer displays ever since!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a bumpy road, and any small business owner that tells you otherwise is not telling the whole story. I ran my business while working two other full-time jobs and my busiest years with events were in fact the ones where I was also a professor and a lead merchandiser working a full schedule.

On top of just learning the hard lessons that come with any new business, there were many times where I didn’t know if I could manage, if I could maintain, or if I could provide the level of service I needed to in order to uphold my reputation. I was being pulled in a million different directions while dealing with some large changes in my personal life.

When trying to juggle so much it can be hard to remember why you started your creative business in the first place. It can be hard to relight the flame that keeps you going.

The largest obstacle to date, as it has been for many, is dealing with the pandemic. Running a studio that focuses on events when there are no events happening is terrifying, but also forced growth. It was not till the pandemic did I have time to focus on the direction I wanted my studio to head in. With the additional time I had while events were postponed, I was able to tackle the beginning phases of growing my new branch of services, networking in a new industry, and rediscover who I am as a freelance merchandising and retail designer.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I specialize in two different categories of design. Events and retail merchandising and design.

I am currently known for my event design, custom décor, and event coordination. I take my clients’ visions and inspiration and develop it into a map for how to get there. From breaking down all of those Pinterest boards they have to building custom décor all the way to styling their big day I am here for the journey.

However, I am now growing to introduce my merchandising and retail services to a new market.

I am of course proud of all of the work I have done for clients and their celebrations. It is a special moment to be a part of their life and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

However, what I am most proud of is my merchandising career and the start of my freelance merchandising services as a studio. In 2019 I moved back to Detroit and it was my goal to become more involved in the small business resource industry to start to make a name for myself. I started by participating in a design contest held in Detroit during the holiday season. It was the holiday window walk contest where seven designers paired up with different businesses in Capitol Park Detroit to design/execute a window display for the community to vote on the winner.

I loved the process from start to finish, I worked with City Bark, a boutique pet shop in the city and we took first place. I was most proud of seeing my window display completed as well as taking home the cash prize of course. I have been back to work on that window for the business since that win both for holiday and non-holiday displays. This moment is what made everything click for me, that I needed to be offering this type of service (and others) to businesses in the Detroit and metro Detroit areas. On top of this, and staying an active participant in different design events in the community, I started volunteering for Tech Town in Detroit as a professional service network member. Here I work one-on-one with businesses through scheduled calls to answer questions using my merchandising and design expertise! Through this company, I was also contracted to develop and present a merchandising course for their small business candidates.

What sets me apart is that I have a variety of experience throughout my years that add up to the ability to use design thinking to create profitable and inspiring places and spaces. There are also very few people who do what I do as a freelancer looking to work with small businesses and their merchandising.

I believe when you support small businesses, you’re supporting a dream. My goal is to work towards supporting as many of those dreams as possible. The small businesses are the backbone of our communities and I strive to preserve their uniqueness.

How do you think about happiness?
I am the happiest when I am able to use my creative talents to make someone else happy. It is really that simple, when I can do what I love to do and the end result is a smile on someone’s face I know that I have made it.

I am my happiest when I am creating, especially when it is for a client. It could be for any one of my projects but specifically window displays. When you spend all day building an install in a window and then finally walk outside and stand on the street to see it, there is just nothing better than that for me. Of course, the client talking about how much their guests have enjoyed the display and how it has brought attention to their product also is incredibly rewarding.

I also feel amazing when I know my creativity is helping to promote and celebrate a small business. My mother’s small business supported my ability to go to college for design so I feel a personal connection when I see a small business do well for their family.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Beth Eggert Photography

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