Like many creatives, Nina Magon always had big ideas—unlike many others, she’s always had a knack for finding practical ways of bringing them to life. When the design bug first struck, for example, a 14-year-old Magon took it upon herself to visit a nearby shop that sold kitschy Egyptian-style antiques, filling her family home with gold pedestals and candelabras. Then, after studying business and fashion in college, she opened her own lingerie boutique at the ripe age of 22, before deciding there wasn’t much future in it if she didn’t franchise.
After bowing out of fashion, Magon set her sights on real estate: She hired a contractor, bought a piece of land, and built and sold the house before it was even completed. The project received the most praise for her work on the interior styling of the home, and soon Magon founded a design firm and enrolled in design school. Once there, where she promptly found a way to merge her education with her brand-new business.
“I started hiring my professors to work for me, to help me do CAD drawings and that kind of stuff,” Magon tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of the Trade Tales podcast. “The professors, on my dime, were teaching me more off-school than I was learning in-school.”
As her budding firm took off, it wasn’t long before Magon’s design prowess earned her a spot on the Nate Berkus–hosted home-improvement competition show American Dream Builders. The silver screen appearance boosted the caliber of projects Magon’s firm now had access to—and she wanted to make sure she didn’t squander the sudden window of opportunity to bring her business to the next level. What followed was a difficult, but necessary, organizational overhaul that involved letting go of employees in order to build a new team primed for growth.
“When you’re in a creative business, it’s kind of a two-way thing: Either you stay smaller, and you manage every single project, or you think bigger,” says Magon. “To do that, unfortunately, you have to let go of something.”
In this episode, Magon shares a few strategies she’s learned from her path to scaling up, including the name-first rebrand she initiated, the executive team that’s allowed her to pursue a greater vision and the rainy day fund that ensures her firm can provide a luxury experience to clients.
Homepage image: Nina Magon | Courtesy of Nina Magon