My Telluride Christmas
Dustin Clements and Sarah Harkness are decking the halls this season, through their new venture “My Telluride Christmas”.
Purchased from Lisa Cox, a friend who started the venture in 2018, My Telluride Christmas specializes in full-service holiday décor for vacation homes in Telluride and Mountain Village. Premium live Christmas trees, garland and wreathes are delivered to the home, decorated, and then taken away after the holiday. Clements and Harkness handle the tree and all the trimmings, so guests can make the most of their time while visiting Telluride.
The team offers ready-to-install design themes as well as custom options, including decorating with your existing décor. They coordinate with property managers to have the home decorated prior to guests’ arrival.
“Lisa wanted to sell the company as she was ready to move on from the opportunity,” Harkness said. “She approached us and after we talked about it and looked a little closer, we realized that it was a great fit for our individual skills and other current endeavors we were pursuing.”
Harkness has a marketing background and is a former employee of Latitude 38 and Clements a partner at Communion Wine.
Harkness said, “My first job was visual merchandising at Macy’s, and we had friends that had a Christmas tree farm, so it was a natural fit for me. I began my career hot gluing and tree fluffing and bow making. Dustin is better at logistics, and I like the creativity piece,” she added. “There’s a good balance between my enthusiasm and Dustin’s realistic approach.”
Clements has been in the area for 20 years while Harkness has been visiting from Austin, Texas her entire life. Between the two, they have steeped relationships with local property managers and real estate professionals.
Harkness drives hospitality, design, and marketing, and has personally run both the marketing and hospitality for vacation homes and hotels.
“I’ve always loved decorating; it’s always been fun. I’ve always been crafty, and I love making spaces look beautiful,” Harkness said. “I am a Pinterest nut!”
Clements added, “For me, it’s a passion of love. We bring joy to our guests, and we love seeing them show up and see ‘Christmas’ and feel at home. It’s amazing. I like seeing other people happy. A lot of it is flipping between people coming and going before check in and check out so to me it’s complimentary to my nighttime business of Communion Wine,” he added.
Although they will have teammates in future, right now it’s just the two of them trying to figure it out.
“We did inventory and understood what we were buying. Lisa had done this as a passion project and it wasn’t really being handled as a business would be versus something fun while she was visiting, so Dustin and I are working on getting familiar with all the inventory and planning for budget and revenue,” Harkness said.
So far, they haven’t needed much in the way of advertising.
“We made one post to Facebook Sweet Deals that blew up,” Harkness said.
They are seeing customers from all over the place, including Hawaii, Arizona, and Nebraska.
The team is just getting started this year and wants to live up to the high standard of quality set by Cox.
“We currently have about 30 clients, and that is what we are comfortable with this first year,” Harkness said. “We are right there at 30 and many of those are custom installs. We are thinking of scaling to 40-50 clients next year.”
“We want to get to a point where we feel comfortable not turning people away where we can guarantee that same quality of work,” Harkness said. “Like decorating your own house, you want to say, ‘this is beautiful’ and show it off to your friends. Our differentiator is that we have a customized, pre-built product that we bring in and set up and take down for you.”
Harkness continued, “We are extremely detail-oriented with our live trees and lights. You’re asking someone to spend a lot of money on something and we want the ‘wow’ factor to be there. What is so fun is seeing everyone’s different styles and all the different takes on Christmas,” she said.
Clements added, “It’s just like catering going to all the different houses, it’s interesting to see everyone’s different homes and how they like to decorate.”
Both Clements and Harkness’s complementary professions provide a nice network of property management and real estate companies. “There are so many connections in that world we didn’t have to advertise too much,” Harkness said.
“It’s a service industry thing and if you can provide joy to someone, that’s what it’s all about, seeing joy,” Clements said. “I enjoy the creative aspect too. Being a chef and being creative I like organization, and I also like the logistical side, both talking to clients and involving project management. That is where my skillset comes into play – operations and logistics,” Clements said.
“I think when you’re coming to Telluride you’re here for the experience of Telluride and we’re both lucky enough to experience Telluride,” Clements said. “When you’re visiting for a brief stint, this whole place is magical and the moment you walk in your home the magic continues and you can enjoy friends and family and not have to worry about checking off a to do list.”
My Telluride Christmas can do stock design found on their website www.mytelluridechristmas.com as well as individual personalization, all the way down to the kitchen plates and bathroom towels.
“It all depends on the individual,” Harkness said. “As long as you’re good at communicating your Christmas experience it’s always just saying ‘yes’ to the client after they communicate their desires. I have a wholesale license, so we source from everywhere.”
Harkness relayed that she’s just visited a property on Benchmark which aligns very well with a traditional, tartan and plaid package. “It is a very traditional Mountain Village home with dark wood and trim. We’re working with other customers who are suited more to glitter and sparkle and color.”
The team is also interested in other product offerings and exploring options based around the holidays.
“We did put up a more yuletide rustic tree this year and we like to also cater to those that are not solely focused on the religious aspect. We have done Jewish décor with blue ornaments and beautiful silver trees too,” Harkness said.
“This is an opportunity that both Dustin and I really think we can capitalize on – we both want to watch it grow,” she added.
Clements said, “This is something that was established already and seemed like a good project to get involved with. Lisa felt comfortable turning it over to people that she knew and she’s excited to watch it grow with us. We’re keeping her on in a consulting capacity because we want to make sure we stay true to the company she built.”
“Because it’s special to her, and she’s special to us,” Harkness added.
Ultimately the team would like to offer custom tailored packages with custom pricing. Coming at it from the real estate perspective, they are working on quick flips from property owners, getting to know the spaces and preferences and applying unique solutions as they build relationships. They have even tossed around expanding to Ridgway or Crested Butte.
“The character of Telluride is changing and has been for the past 20 years,” Clements said. “We’d like to keep that approachable, accepting and friendly town we know so well, where the focus is being together.”
Harkness encouraged anyone who is interested in the service to visit mytelluridechristmas.com, and to do so early.
“Our ideal clients call us early, before October, the earlier you can get in the better, especially if you want custom products,” she said. Click on the QR code to learn more: