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Decorator's Biz Clicks on the Web

Sandra Oster believes in life’s second and third acts. When she had children and needed to balance home with work, she left a dawn-to-dark job with Charles Revson to start an interior design business in Greenwich. When the Great Recession hit and business dropped off, she came up with an Internet idea to help homeowners refresh their rooms at a bargain price.

The idea hit her when she surveyed the unique, unsold furniture and accessories in her warehouse and thought, “It’s not just me.” Designers everywhere have merchandise sitting around that they’d like to unload. So in 2009, she launched Decorator Tag Sale , where professionals can show pieces they’re willing to sell at steep discounts. The bargains include showroom extras, pieces with minor imperfections and client returns -- both modern and antique.

The site caught on quickly, Oster says. She gets a commission on items sold. When a consumer shows interest in a particular item, it comes off the screen while negotiations with the designer are underway. For the holidays, there’s an extra $100 discount on pieces costing $500 or more.

Oster graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design  with a bachelor of fine arts in photography and graphic design. “I followed this path to interior design because design was born in me. It just felt natural,” she said. She calls being a mother and a decorator -- she has practiced the latter for 30 years --  “a perfect blend of work and life.”

Oster still works with a few, select clients. But most of her time goes to Decorator Tag Sale, which she operates from the same small cottage behind her house that was once her design studio. Her husband, Stephen, a private investor, business consultant and former CEO, works for the business, too. “He is well-equipped to focus on areas of his expertise while I focus on mine,” she says.  Together, we’re an extremely effective team.”

Kathy McShane runs http://ladieswholaunch.com/southwestct , an organization of entrepreneurs.

Have you ever purchased high-end furniture online? If so, add a comment below telling us what kind of experience it was.

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