This content was originally published by Palm Springs Life.
Samantha Senia had to shake up her life to survive divorce. Her answer was to take up kick boxing to release anxiety and focus on launching a business, Elite Home Staging, which now provides high-end furniture and interior design for homeowners in the Coachella Valley, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley and Orange County.
The success of this venture that began 14 years ago, plus Senia’s powerful example of sobriety, has led her daughter, Nicole, and son, Brandon, to give up drugs and alcohol and work in the family business. All three work a 12-step program, and the two women inspire others through a podcast, “The Power of We.”
“I never set out to do a podcast,” says Senia, who says she recently bought a home in Palm Springs. “I’ve been a guest on home-staging shows. A producer came to us and said, ‘I really want to get your story out there. It’s powerful.’”
Senia says she was very unhappy, in spite of her business success. “I was doing the cocktail hour with friends. I wasn’t a nice person when I did cocktails. My son came to me and said. ‘If you don’t stop drinking, I’ll never speak to you again.’ I stopped.”
Meanwhile, Nicole says she hit “rock bottom” while doing drugs and alcohol in college but “I was able to go to my mom for help.”
Senia was glad to be there for her daughter. “Mother-and-daughter relationships can be healed, even if you’ve gone through stuff,” she says. “There’s so much partying among young people at college. Parents don’t realize. Don’t just drop them off to school and think it’s OK. So many kids feel lost.”
Nicole became sober at 21, she says, while her brother Brandon was 19. All three used a 12-step program and had a life coach that was “heavily involved,” Senia says. “We do a lot of prayer and meditation and practice gratitude. The family time was the best family time we ever had. We did meetings together. We each had our different pain, but we had the same thing in common.”
“The Power of We” podcast took their struggles public in hopes of connecting with others who feel isolated and powerless. She and Nicole have completed two podcast seasons, touching on subjects such as relaxation practices, gratitude, self-care, going sober and empowerment. The third season will expand on those and introduce women in business and home staging.
Feedback from listeners lets them know they are on the right path. One of Nicole’s former drug-using friends contacted her recently to say she had been listening to the podcast and she’s going sober. Also, after Nicole discussed her own sexual assault during one show, a producer thanked her because she had also been assaulted, she says.
Senia adds, “We have a lot of people coming to us asking, ‘Where can we go (for help)?”
Guests have included Fox 11 Los Angeles news anchor Christine Devine, “Dancing With the Stars New Zealand” lead judge Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, author Tim Storey and Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a national non-profit, whose mission is to support people in recovery.
Senia says the show is also designed to help women start their own careers. “We’ve trained them to become successful in business. We empower them to be the best person they can be. We get them to do meditation, we send out positive quotes.”
She adds, “Elite Home Staging has become a serious virtual reality show.” The two women laugh.
So, what’s the latest home staging trend?
“Rentals are the hot thing,” Senia says. “Everything’s going like crazy. Beverly Hills people are renting homes out for $40,000 a month. They might remodel the house a bit. We place the furniture.
“Palm Springs is different. Everything is selling extremely fast. We’ll stage it, and it will sell in 3 to 7 days. Air BnBs are renting for $8,000 a night during big events like Coachella (Music Festival),” Samantha adds.
Samantha travels internationally to source furniture — Shanghai, Canada, Guadalajara. She’s also developing her own line, Elite Maison, which she began in the middle of the pandemic.
“We go after Hollywood people, Instagram people. A lot of tech companies are coming to Los Angeles. There’s a lot of TikTokers, Twitch people buying homes in West Hollywood,” Samantha says.
Elite was “an essential business,” during lockdown, Samantha says. “People were wanting to get out and go elsewhere, like Miami. I went into ‘go’ mode. We were staging 5 houses a week for sale.”
The company donates used furniture to a Los Angeles charity program, HomeLife Family Living, operated by The Midnight Mission, a non-profit that provides housing to the homeless as part of a comprehensive approach. “It’s a platform for people coming off the street who have been using drugs,” Samantha says. “They have to join a work program to get back on their feet. Nicole and I began staging the homes. Some have never had a home of their own.”