Mike CAO 曹希玮
Owner & President
Casa Spazio Inc.
Owner & President
Home Element Inc.
River North Design District (NPO).
With a master’s degree in computer science and MBA, I am not the conventional guy in this high fashion modern Italian furniture world. However, as a Shanghai native, I always have an eye on design, good designs!
In 2003, I quit my job in the computer software world and moved full time into the home furnishing business, starting with a small 500-square- foot store that sold home accessories, furniture and antiques. In the meantime, I recognized that there was a market niche for the high-end Italian furniture designs. Later on, in 2010, I opened Jesse Chicago which is now the Chicago area flagship store for Jesse Italy, and in 2011, I opened the Casa Spazio, which represents 10 Italian high-end furniture lines combined.
I believe in designing first, selling second. I don’t just sell merchandises. Instead, I enjoy working with customers, listening to and understanding their needs and priorities, and providing comprehensive solutions. I take every project as my own project. In this coming year, we will have a very sophisticated e-Commerce presence. Time has changed, so has the luxury home furniture.
What was your first job, and how did it shape your life?
My first job was a college teacher of Information & Technology at Shanghai University. Being a teacher, I learned to be patient, and that has helped me in training employees after I created my own company.
What keeps you awake at night?
Almost nothing keeps me awake at night. I used to be bothered and kept awake by unresolved issues. Nevertheless, after many years, I have gradually learned not to let issues be part of my life once I get home.
What books are currently on your bedside table?
Content Marketing by Andy Crestodina
When do you feel most free?
I work every day. In the morning, I spend 30 minutes at the coffee shop before arriving to the showroom. This 30 minutes give me time to think quietly before a chaotic day starts.
What is an extraordinary place you have recently traveled to?
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I am a very hands-on person, from software programming to physically unloading containers.