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Sophia Lee, 25-year-old influencer, restores Whitefish Bay home, sells $1.1 million after buying for $340k

Sophia Lee restored the Whitefish Bay home as a marketing stunt to show potential clients her interior design skills.
Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 16:12:19-04

WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. — Imagine selling a Whitefish Bay home for around $800,000 more than you bought it for at just 25 years old and only doing it as a marketing tactic.

That would be pretty incredible and unbelievable, but for Sophia Lee, that was all part of the plan... sort of.

Sophie Zang, who goes by the name professional name of Sophia Lee, is set to close on 5462 Santa Monica Blvd for roughly $1.1 million. She bought it for $340,000 about two years ago.

Go Big Or Go Home

"We called it the Go Big or Go Home house because we knew we were going big and we possible could go home with this one because it was a risky decision," Lee said.

The plan was either to go big with the sale or go home with it and move into the house herself. The original intent of the home was to be a resume builder. Lee is an interior designer. In order to attract clients, she knew she would need to prove to them what she could do. So rather than showcasing her skills with just one room, she proved herself by completely restoring a house. She relocated the kitchen, built a two-story addition, and essentially gutted the entire house.

Sophia Lee
A photo taken after and before of the restoration of the home on Santa Monica Boulevard.

"And from the beginning, we went into it not trying to make a profit from the house. It was not a traditional flip. I don’t even like saying it was a flip. We call it a restoration, and we really purchased it to be able to show what I can do and my design style, so we can go and get future clients," she said.

She didn't actually profit from the sale that much. In total, with all the construction and staging costs, she spent $980,000. That means she only took home about $120,000 but that's before realtor fees, taxes, and paying her staff. She also hired a production crew to document the entire process. Once it is edited, she will post it to her YouTube page.

By Sophia Lee

This is no small price tag for a recent college graduate. Lee was able to afford this with all the money she has made from her brand By Sophia Lee.

Sophia Lee
Lee started as a college dorm blogger at Concordia University Wisconsin.

"I didn’t get any money from my parents. I paid for every single cent of my college. I paid for every single cent of this business," she said.

As a sophomore at Concordia University Wisconsin, she began a dorm decoration blog. Lee always knew she wanted to be an interior designer. It just made sense that she began with decorating her dorm. From there her website, By Sophia Lee, started attracting thousands of viewers a month, and in turn she was making a few thousand dollars a month.

"I knew that when I went to college. I did not care about the classes. I cared about what my dorm room looked like, and if I cared about my dorm room decor, I knew other people would also care. So, I started writing all about dorm room decor."

Sophia Lee
A newly remodeled living room designed by Lee.

She doubled down on her interior design career and created a TikTok account that has 471,000 followers and a YouTube page with 117,000 subscribers.

She leveraged her brand into a successful business. By Sophia Lee is visited by tens of thousands of people a day. She makes money through ads, brand deals, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing (that's where a company like Amazon pays Lee a commission because Lee generated a sale through her referral).

"By Sophia Lee is a six-figure business, sometimes even six-figures a month business," she said. Her team also sells its own products like daily planners.

All of that led to her buying a home, restoring it, and proving to potential clients that she has what it takes to be in charge of their interior design needs.

Lee wants to own her own design firm and potentially get into home construction to have her own By Sophia Lee houses.

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