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Exploring Life & Business with Norma and Gaston of Duoma Atelier

Today we’ll like to introduce you to Norma and Gaston from Duoma Atelier

Hi Norma and Gaston, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hi! Norma and Gaston here, we are so excited to tell you about our story and how Duoma was born.

First, let’s give well deserved credit to our parents, since without them and their efforts we wouldn’t be telling this tale. Both our families immigrated from South America to the United States in the late 90’s, as you can imagine, in the pursuit of a better life. They came to South Florida and thanks to that Gaston and I met and fell in love. As soon as we started dating, we knew we were destined to be together and do great things, so right after I graduated, we tied the knot quickly without much planning, simple backyard wedding. Our beginning was humble, we didn’t have much money-wise, but our hearts were full, and our dreams were big. Both of us were certain with our work ethics and wits we had no limits.

Gaston’s background is carpentry, a trade that was passed down from generation to generation. His grandfather was a carpenter and immigrated to Argentina from Italy where he had a successful carpentry shop, he taught Gaston’s father the trade and then Gaston learned the trade with his father at a young age. When Gaston’s family immigrated to the United States, he stayed to finish his Mechanical Engineering degree, but his dad passed away shortly after that, so he decided to join his family and work to support them. I met him shortly after that when he had been working as a millwork installer for a while and decided to open his own carpentry shop. At this point I had already started my professional experience as an interior designer in a Residential firm.

The carpentry shop was a great experience, wasn’t as successful as we would have wanted it to be, but we were young, and this failure made us grow and learn tremendously. After we closed the carpentry shop, Gaston tried a lot of different things and landed a job as a project manager in a Millwork Installation company. After gaining vast experience in the business, he decided to open his own company doing the same and it has been very successful ever since, the company is still open, and he runs it with his eyes closed. While running his company, Gaston went back to school to obtain a Construction Management degree and is now a licensed GC.

Meanwhile, I had continued gaining valuable professional experience as Interior Designer and Project Manager in recognized Global Architectural firms, but once we started having kids we realized, working in a corporate environment in this field is not sustainable to raise a family. I admired Gaston for being able to run his own company and being his own boss. We both wanted to have the same autonomy and make a difference in our community, so after being together for 15 years we finally made the decision to join forces and do something with our skills sets. Why not!? We both had more than enough experience to design and build so what was stopping us?

We gotta admit, our first home renovation gave us a little push, after we were done, we realized we can totally do this for other people, and this is how Duoma was born. We wanted to offer clients something no one was offering, a complete design + build concierge turnkey service that would provide piece of mind. We felt we had found our niche and we wanted to change the stigma of “how much of a headache” it is for a homeowner to do a renovation and deal with design professionals and contractors. So, we brought all consultants necessary under our umbrella, and our clients only need to deal with us. This means we take care of the whole process for them, and they just enjoy the ride while taking care of more important things, their family, work, and other responsibilities.

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?
My biggest struggle was leaving an important position with a steady paycheck and great benefits, as many entrepreneurs know, this is a big jump. After this, the next big struggle as it probably is for many businesses was getting our first projects and building a client base. But because both of us are planners we had decided very early on we would invest in a good company brand and story that represented us, this has helped us greatly in portraying our professionalism and relevant experience. The response so far has been very positive, and we have been busier than expected this first year, so that takes us to our last big struggle, growth strategy. Since it is just the 2 of us right now, we wear many hats and rely a lot on outsourcing work to freelancers, however, we are getting to a point we need to start hiring for more permanent positions which also means we need to invest more of our time bringing more work to keep a healthy projects pipeline.

We’ve been impressed with Duoma Atelier, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Duoma stems from the word duo and signifies the expertise duality our studio is founded on. We are a design + build firm providing innovative and high-quality solutions for our clients’ diverse lifestyles. We specialize in high end residential projects and our concierge turnkey service provide our clients piece of mind. Our goal is to listen to our clients, and this is how we approach all our projects. Every home should reflect the family that lives in it, so we strive to capture their personal style and inspirations in every design detail. We are also stewards of our community and our environment, who strive to make a positive impact through our work and commitment. We believe that good design is for everyone, and our ultimate dream is to help underserved families with our skill sets.

How do you think about luck?
We believe equally in luck and having the power to forge our own destiny. Both of us have a positive mindset that attracts good things, so we would like to believe that most of our luck in life and business comes from the energy we put out into the universe. We can’t, however, deny the fact that we have been extremely blessed and that combined with many failures have paved the road to where we are today. One great example of this is the launching of Duoma during the pandemic. We didn’t plan it this way, but it didn’t stop us from doing it and little did we know, despite all the news about a recession, that real estate in Miami would increase in this past year more than it did in the last few decades. Unlike other industries which did not do that well during the pandemic, we were in one that was thriving. Now, that is some amazing luck we humbly recognize and appreciate.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jeanne Canto

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