Pre-dental student uses creative eye to pay way through school

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    By Erica Williams

    A zoology major at BYU has discovered a creative way to keep out of debt and eventually put himself through dental school: home decorating.

    Sam Hayes, a senior from Oakland, Calif., said it was his wife Marielle”s flair for creativity that sparked his idea to start their own home decorating business.

    “I handle the financial side of the business and manage the Web site,” he said. “And I let her go wild with her imagination.”

    Hayes said their business, Decor 84, became official in November, and now he and his wife have home accessories for sale in several locations.

    The Veranda, a shop in the Riverwoods mall in Orem sells the Hayes” merchandise, as well as Ciao Bella, a boutique in Reno, Nev.

    According to Hayes, Decor 84 specializes in three main products: pillows, curtains, and reversible table runners. All these home furnishings are handmade by Marielle, and some of the items can be custom made upon request.

    He said their most popular accessory seems to be their felt pillows, which are soft and fuzzy and come in three or four different designs.

    Hayes said one thing that sets their business apart is their reversible accessories, such as the table runners.

    “People buy one product, but they actually get two, since there”s a front and a back,” he said. “They”re really funky on one side and more conservative on the other.”

    Decor 84 offers various other home accessories as well: candleholders, glassware, vases and paperweights.

    Hayes said they hope to eventually branch out to shops in other parts of the nation. If the business expands as he hopes it will, he said he and his wife will be required to hire some additional help.

    “We”ve had our share of successes so far,” he said. “Of course, there have also been a lot of challenges, but within a year, we hope to be making a lot more profit.”

    Customers can find descriptions and photos of all Decor 84”s merchandise, as well as make online purchases, at the business”s Web site, decor84.com.

    Hayes said getting set up on the Internet was actually one of the most challenging tasks that he faced when starting the business.

    “It”s extremely difficult to get into Google,” he said. “It took about a month before we even showed up on any search engines, and even then we weren”t recognized as a quality site. It”s been about four months now, and we”re finally getting a lot more visitors.”

    Hayes said Decor 84 is quite competitive with similar businesses.

    “There are some places that sell decorating pillows for over $100 apiece,” he said. “We have our pillows for K-Mart prices, but they”re all handmade.”

    The Hayeses plan to participate in several art shows this August.

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