After graduating college, I worked part-time for a local designer. My husband and I had recently purchased our first home and in my spare time, I would blog about our home improvements and other design inspirations. I realized how many other bloggers started their own business and I decided I would give it a try. I had such little experience and essentially no business plan. Friends and family started asking me for design advice and I landed my first real budget project with my aunt, the same aunt who actually told me about an interior design career when I was 9 years old.
Through random social media connections, my first non-family/friend client saw photos of my aunt’s completed room on Facebook and reached out about my design fees. What started as a small project, lead to a full home remodel, which lead to her new home remodel. Through this first client, I gained tons of experience and learned the ropes of running a business.
I felt like it took forever to acquire clients. I started with the smallest of budgets and very little real life design experience. It’s been a lot of trial and error. Every project has taught me something new and mistakes I know not to repeat. When you run your own business, the stress of dealing with different client personalities, design ideas gone awry or vendor mishaps, I have to figure it out on my own. It’s been one big, gigantic learning process and I continue to learn and grow so hopefully in a few more years I’ll have it all figured out. Ha!
One big point of pride for me was when I was working for an interior designer who was involved with lots of charity work. She had gathered a group of pretty accomplished interior designers, about 30 of them, to design rooms for a women’s shelter. One day, she asked me if I wanted to design a room of my own. Me?!?, I thought. All by myself. It was too good an opportunity not to take. I quickly asked friends and family for donations and started my design concept.
Most of these other top level designers had bigger budgets, a team of vendors to supply from, and experience. I had a friend who was handy and about $2000.
A few days or weeks after the opening, I was contacted by an online magazine asking if they could share my room in the upcoming month. Out of the 30 or so designers, they selected me and four others. It was my first solo project and my first piece of press. And it was for charity! I also received a very heart-felt letter from the woman who moved into my room. I was so touched all around.
At this point, I’m most proud of my consistent business growth. I remember the days when I used to cry to my husband because I thought no one would ever hire me and I was insecure of my skill. Thinking I wasn’t good enough, but over time clients inquired and continue to which makes me realize they like what I’m able to produce. Seeing completed projects always makes me proud.
I shared some of my work with online design sites (i.e.; MyDomaine, Style Me Pretty) to feature my work, (HGTV magazine, Better Homes & Gardens) which lead to referrals. Now through word of mouth and advertising, I’ve had a consistent stream of business making me so happy and proud that people want to hire me to help them.
And even still, I really do try to help everyone. I’m not a hoity-toity designer who expects these unlimited budgets. So many clients in my demographic just want to live in a well decorated home and I feel like it’s such a great service to be able to create spaces that affect one’s lifestyle. It’s not about how expensive furniture and accessories cost, but about how you’re able to pull items, colors and patterns together.