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L to R: Owners Cassie McDowell and Allison Vaccaro, and partner & designer Shannon Gallimore.

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE THE V IRTUAL EXTERIOR DESIGN COMPANY Writer / Jane VanOsdol Photography provided by Brick & Batten

Vaccaro start working, the duo talks to the homeowners via FaceTime or Zoom.

A childhood immersed in the design and flipping of homes grew into a dream business for sisters Cassie McDowell and Allison Vaccaro.

“We care about their space, where they spend most of their time. We honor their wishes and desires,” McDowell says.

Spurred on by their family’s passion, the two started Brick & Batten in 2017, a virtual exterior design business. They opened their online doors in June, and within the first month they were already up and running with clients, thanks in part to fans who had followed their posts on social media for years.

A comment section also allows clients to specify any of their must-haves for the project. PURCHASING ITEMS Brick & Batten has established relationships with suppliers so they can offer the best pricing on exterior supplies, most of which are available for purchase on their website. Clients then have the option of purchasing from Brick & Batten or locating the items elsewhere. Some of their suppliers include Timberlane Shutters, Pacific Home & Garden and Doors by Decora. Clients are also in charge of either implementing the changes themselves or hiring local help to do it for them.

BUSINESS MODEL Their business model is simple, innovative and genius. People submit a photo of one side of the exterior of their home that needs updating. Vaccaro and McDowell use software to cosmetically update the home’s exterior (no structural issues are addressed), sending a virtual rendering of their recommendations back to the client, With McDowell living in Carmel and complete with a clickable shopping list of all Vaccaro living in Atlanta, Georgia, an online the design elements. business works perfectly for them and allows them to help clients from all across The sisters are careful to include clients the United States. Customers are a mix of in the process. After the client purchases both sellers who want to increase the curb the package and before McDowell and 6 / CARMEL MAGAZINE / MARCH 2018 / atCarmel.com

appeal of their home and owners who are staying for life with a desire to make their homes the best they can be. The sisters love design and helping others, so they have priced their service affordably. To be even more budget friendly, they suggest that homeowners complete the outdoor upgrade in stages. For example, painting a home is best completed in spring or fall due to weather conditions. Use the summer to add flowerpots and other landscaping. Doors and shutters can be added during the summer or fall. A LA CARTE OPTIONS In addition to their regular service, clients can elect to add two other options provided by Brick & Batten: • A rendering of an additional side of the house • A virtual landscape consultation designed to their exact geographic location and soil type These choices can be added before finalizing an order on brickandbatten.com.

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