The Louis Vuitton of real estate, Living Vogue seeks to glam up industry
In four frenzied years, luxury real estate brokerage Living Vogue has added a second location and is now up to 100 agents. "We had confidence in ourselves," the co-founder says.
| 5:00 a.m. May 30, 2023
Walking into the Living Vogue storefront in downtown Sarasota, you are met with large artwork hanging on the walls, pool tables and a champagne bar. Music, neon lights and furniture complete the vibe.
Yet this isn't a party space or an art gallery. it's a residential real estate showroom. And the hip feel, designed by husband-and-wife broker duo Mark and Jamie Coppens, is on purpose.
“I looked at what the larger markets were doing in Los Angeles, Miami and New York,” Mark Coppens says, “and that’s all very normal. We wanted to bring that here.”
It’s been catching on, he says — pointing to the fact that Living Vogue doesn’t have to do a lot of active recruiting for agents. It now has more than 100, after the firm started in 2019 with just Mark and Jamie.The company takes listings and sells homes on Lido Key, St. Armands, west of Tamiami Trail, Anna Maria, Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Bird Key and downtown Sarasota. “They come to us for interviews,” Coppens says.
Living Vogue has grown revenue 30%
-40% every year, Coppens says. He declines to disclose revenue specifics, saying the company has had a lot of businesses try to buy Living Vogue.
So far, Coppens has rejected the suitors.
"We would have had to compromise too much from our current brand and culture plus we feel like we’re not done yet," he says in an email exchange with the Business Observer. "I think we have a model that is unique, focusing on the client with luxury showrooms that make consumers feel like they are shopping at a luxury store rather than a bland real estate company. We hope to expand and then possibly franchise."
After splitting from a small boutique brokerage in 2019, the Coppens' launched their business — with an eye toward disrupting the sometimes staid real estate industry. One year into it, they were hiring real estate agents. They signed a five-year lease to the 6,000 square foot storefront on Main Street in downtown Sarasota, right as the pandemic was starting. They opened later that year in September.
“We basically took a lot of risks,” Coppens says. And when the real estate market boomed, “we took advantage of that,” he says.
Now, in addition to having over 100 agents, the company has a second location (in the Mall at University Town Center in north Sarasota) and has even gone International for the first time. That last part came from a deal to be the exclusive U.S. broker for an oceanfront Caribbean community in Antigua selling $5-50 million residences and a $60 million hotel project.
“When you grow, you can’t just grow for the sake of it,” he says. “You have to scale everything.”
While many real estate brokerages seek scale, and many aim to be different in customer service and other metrics, Coppens says the Living Vogue strategy secret lies in the showrooms.
Location for the showroom, in a high-traffic location, is key. Like a mall or a downtown main street.
The next key is in marketing and advertising, where both Mark and Jamie Coppens have experience.
“Most real estate companies are experts in marketing first,” he says. “(Experts in) marketing homes or properties they’re selling or marketing themselves to get more clients.”
But the current advertising in the industry, Coppens says, is a little dry.
“Everyone’s ad looks similar,” he says. “Right away I saw an opportunity to bring a trendy, edgy vibe to advertising to attract agents and clients.”
The industry advertising is focused on the product and less focused on the client experience. Consider, Coppens says, Coca-Cola.
“If you look at an advertisement for Coca-Cola, it’s almost never about the product,” he says. “It’s about the experience.”
Scouring the social media sites Coppens has set up, bright colors pop from each picture. It’s not just photos of homes.
A ballet dancer in the Living Vogue downtown Sarasota showroom. A modern home framed with a bright blue sky and green lawn. A woman adorned in green shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day. Pictures with large letters that if viewed side by side spell out phrases and words like “Team,” “Welcome,” “Listed” and “La Vida Vogue.” Neon pinks, blues, greens and purples.
How do these social media aspects translate into a real estate showroom? Coppens compares his brand to luxury retail brand Louis Vuitton.
“You walk in, they treat you differently. They’re giving you a glass of champagne,” he says. “Why not have that same experience when you’re buying a million-dollar property?
“If you’re going to spend a few million dollars on a house, I just feel like that whole buying experience should be luxurious.”
Living Vogue now seeks to expand, with a new showroom in Tampa or St. Petersburg, namely the upscale Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa.
There’s also plans to expand further into development.
“If you notice it’s always the same three or four brokerages that get those sales jobs,” Coppens says. “I want that to change. We’ll look to compete with the big guys.”
Currently, Living Vogue is the exclusive broker for The Velocity Sarasota, a condominium project in Gillespie Park, a neighborhood across from downtown Sarasota on the other side of Fruitville Road.
Looking back from where they started, Coppens says Living Vogue is exactly what he and his wife envisioned.
“Something just told me this was going to be a good thing,” he says. “We had confidence in ourselves. It was a risk worth taking.”