Written by: Terrex
Simply look around… to be grateful for the life you live.
Had anyone looked at Jill O’Gorman in 2008, a single mom of three kids – the eldest diagnosed with cerebral palsy – and working in real estate when the market had just gone bust, they probably would have been immensely relieved to be standing in their own shoes.
That same Jill O’Gorman today, however, stands tall as the founder and owner of the staging and interior design company, Ravishing Rooms, in Minneapolis.
Divorced for 10 years now, Jill has walked a hard road alone. She has always had a passion for helping others, a calling which led her from high school to a college Psychology degree. However, with a baby due two weeks after graduation, her plans to better the world were put on the backburner.
She married, but life was not done testing 22-year-old Jill – complications during delivery resulted in her daughter being born with a disability. Career plans put firmly on hold, Jill became a stay-at-home mother and add two little boys to the mix. With a growing family it was time to consider buying a home.
In 2000, the couple bought their first home … but only after viewing over thirty properties to find the perfect one. Jill recalls even then, her eye for design was relentless. She visualized the interior of every prospective home her family visited with an active imagination that placed colors, furniture and embellishments over the existing décor.
The realization came that this was a rare gift, one that allowed her to find potential in the most dreary and dingy houses, beyond faded wallpaper, moldy couches and decorating choices that left rooms looking gloomy and cramped.
It was followed by an understanding she could use her gift to help both home sellers and home owners get what they wanted – the former would be able to sell their homes quickly and the latter, find the ideal home they would otherwise have overlooked.
Jill’s staging imagination was further honed in the next 5 years as the couple bought and sold a series of four homes in quick succession, this time in California. Each sale was preceded by numerous offers and Jill knew they were due largely to her hand in prepping and staging those homes.
Meanwhile, the creative soul inside her was begging for release. This is when Jill considered returning to school to study interior design. However, family commitments prevented her from leaving home to attend classes. The indomitable Jill found a compromise – online accreditation.
As she achieved success there, fate sent another curveball her way – divorce. Suddenly a single mom with three young kids, she was forced to return to the working pool in circumstances that she had not anticipated. With her experience in buying and selling homes in the preceding years, the obvious choice was real estate.
Whereas her passion for staging homes still raged strong inside, the absence of financial resources to start a business in that niche meant it had to remain a dream. She became a realtor’s assistant, going beyond her duties to stage homes and improve their interior design of her own volition and without remuneration.
In 2007, Jill got up the courage to borrow money from her mother so she could start her own firm. Soon after Ravishing Rooms was born! Jill worked on a school friend’s bachelor pad and on another home for the realtor with whom she had partnered before.
It seems providence was playing with Jill O’Gorman. Just when she was finding her footing in the industry for which she was born, the rug was pulled out from under her: the 2008 financial crisis.
The housing market tanked and people simply did not have the money to service their mortgage payments, let alone for luxuries like staging.
Jill found herself working as a parent advocate for a non-profit organization helping children with disabilities. She admits it was actually a blessing to be able to contribute to a purpose with which she is so intimately associated.
Listen to her story on the Edina-SW Minneapolis Advice Givers (r) Podcast
The design bug lay dormant for a few years but was certainly not finished with Jill. In 2012, when the housing market began to show signs of recovery, Jill promptly moved back into real estate.
Once bitten, twice shy, they say and Ravishing Rooms 2.0 caused Jill a great deal of anxiety before its launch. She went into partnership with veteran designer, Melissa Groshong. They set up shop in SW Minneapolis to serve Edina home sellers.
Jill says that the hardest part of her job is trying to read into what the masses will like, particularly as trends come and go.
With over 10 years of experience, she now has the ability to foresee changes and anticipate shifts. Still, she has her ear constantly to the ground. That dedication to excellence ensures each home she stages mesmerizes potential home buyers and ensures her clients quickly get their asking price, or more.
Jill laughs when she narrates how it is sometimes awkward to tell clients the décor they have lived with for so many years, and which they love, just won’t cut it in the market. However, most clients are overwhelmingly receptive, particularly given Jill’s fantastic track record.
In fact, it’s not rare for Jill to hear, “Perhaps we won’t sell after all!” upon seeing her work.
One older couple from Bloomingdale spoke those exact words. Their home of over 30 years had been on the market for over a year before they employed an agent who recommended Jill’s services. Although initially skeptical of the additional expense, they agreed.
The house sold in a week.
Jill’s face lights up as she recalls their gratitude. The ability to use creativity to make dreams come true is important to her. Asked for the best advice she can give to a budding entrepreneur, she replies without hesitation.
‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’
No doubt alluding to her own challenging path. That path has given her a soft spot for single mothers; few can understand their struggles like Jill can. Together with legendary football coach, Mike Grant, she is focusing on Project Friendship, a program that strives to help single moms by strengthening their bonds with the community at large.
Volunteers can offer to provide a range of services like rides to matches and even cash donations. The objective, create a network that acts like a safety net for vulnerable families. And that is Jill’s wonderful creativity at work again… for a world which she loves despite the adversity it’s thrown at her.