Interior design is — there is certain glamour to it all. And, for those who have a natural aptitude towards the arts and design that this may indeed be an ideal career choice. The wonderful thing about this particular profession is the fact that it is one which is achievable at any age and at any point in life.
I recently talked with Leslie Wood proprietor of Hadley Court. To learn the intricacies of getting a design company off the ground. I asked her to share some of her secrets with the hopes of sharing them with those of you who aspire to travel this path also.
It is a profession that sees no age constraints
After earning her MBA and working in the corporate world, Leslie, like so many girls do, resigned from her career to raise a family. When her kids were grown, interior design, always a passion, appeared to be a natural match. She registered in design school to earn her diploma. While she was doing that she kept busy in the design community by attending as many seminars and lectures as possible to gain insight from high quality advisors. Throughout the classes and the lectures she started to identify her own style — She gravitated towards lavish design. Her customers have an appreciation for the traditional and heirloom quality however they need family friendly furnishings for their lifestyle. This practical luxury is now Leslie’s area of expertise.
Find your attention
Focus is important. It’s necessary to concentrate on your own personality, passions, interests and abilities. Educate yourself as much as possible in specific places. By way of instance, if fine art is your passion, research it as much as possible so that you can start to make your own market and develop your specialization, just like if your passion was in beach style homewares. People will begin to seek you out to your own specialty. What’s more, when you have honed in on your individual area of expertise, you’ll have the chance to work with other designers who might have specialties in other locations, thus cultivating new and hopefully lasting working relationships. An excellent way to get your foot in the door and to get yourself some visibility is to find an internship with or work for recognized leaders of the business. This provides invaluable experience and is another terrific hands-on approach to learning. If you do so, it would be smart to work with a designer whose interior decorating style is similar to yours.
Getting started: The financing
You really don’t have to have a huge budget to start your own firm. Connections, in this case are more significant. It’s crucial that you connect with recognized top business advisors and authority figures in design. As you do that you may grow your own network foundation and as this occurs you’ll start to draw your own client-base. By taking the necessary steps of learning, interning and partnering your system will grow organically.
The best way to charge
In any Industry this might be the hardest, most confusing part of building your own business. First of all, you need to charge what you’re worth. Set the tone right from the start. Your customers will love this knowledge, upfront. From that point, ideally you can calculate how many hours you worked on a certain job, divide number by the net profit you made on the job. Initially a target rate of $75 (US) per hour is reasonable and accurate. Based on where you live, the scale may vary slightly. If a plumber can control their rate, then you need to also! Your eyesight, ability to conceptualize, and pull things together is what your customer is paying for. After all, if your client could do everything they would not have called upon you for your help!
Get it in writing
Contracts are necessary — absolutely necessary, since they protect all parties involved. Draw up a contract in writing so that your customer can see all that is entailed. It’s advised to ask for half the cover front, once the contract is signed. This will protect you if your customer has a change of heart. The more professional you’re from the beginning, the more you’ll be appreciated for your time, talent and business sense. Keep receipts and all of your finances in order. This is important when dealing with vendors, retailers and customers. If a customer audits you, which is a valid request, you’ll have to provide all of the detailed paperwork. If accounting isn’t your strong suit, then it would be a good idea to employ an accountant.
How to present to customers
Whether you’re meeting with prospective customers in their homes or your workplace, you may prepare storyboards for their own projects. If the client is after a beach style home, then clippings for coastal furniture and fabrics would take up your storyboard. Storyboards are visual and tactile recordings of the room you’ll be recreating. They permit you to be certain that all elements of your interior design work together. Leslie suggests offering your customers as much as possible and she sends her customers home with a gorgeous box full of fabric swatches in addition to a linen binder full of details for furniture, paint, hardware, etc. She firmly believes that it is this amount of attention to detail which has enabled her business to flourish as fast as it has.
The best way to grow your company
In this day of social networking, a growing number of people are relying upon the power of positive comments and word of mouth. Grow your circle. Get out there and join with as many people as possible on many levels. Join social and business networks. Meet with real estate agents, architects and contractor as it could turn into a working relationship. Identify and grow your brand. Start a blog or site or both to showcase your interior design style. Give prospective clients a sneak peek into your world. Here the net and social media is a really powerful tool. It’s the ability to connect you with individuals who may not ordinarily find you. Social media will help editors and powerful bloggers locate and promote your work also. All this can help grow your company, your brand, and in case you’ve got a product to sell, it is going to help with that too.