I am going to share with you the backstory of how my journey to 6 figures started. It hasn’t been easy getting to this point and I have made PLENTY of mistakes along the way. I have worked my way up, hit some major lows, and gotten back up again. I truly believe if I can create a successful business as an Interior Designer, anyone with a creative spirit and a bit of natural talent combined with relentless drive can do it too.
This blog is for dreamers and creatives with a relentless desire to start an Interior Design Business. Maybe people come to your home and tell you “you should be a designer”. Or maybe your friends and family are always asking you for style or design advice. Maybe you have a COMPLETELY different career but your “hobby” and true passion is to change other people’s lives and transform spaces with your talents. Maybe you have a design degree or certificate but have been out of the workforce so long, you just don’t know where to even begin. Maybe you have dabbled in design and have a handful of small clients but nothing you would consider “a real job”. If any of this sounds familiar…then you are in the right place.
I am going to guide you on your journey to being an Interior Designer, share all of the knowledge I have gained along the way, and help fast track you to 6 figures. I hope my advice will encourage and inspire you to jump in FACE FIRST , CREATE YOUR OWN DREAM, and start your own thriving Interior Design Business.
I am a mom of two wonderful humans, Carson who is now 20 and Owen who is now 15. Recently I was blessed with a “bonus child”, my step daughter Cate. My husband Jeremy is truly the kindest person I have ever met and the love of my life…I am so blessed we found each other…he was worth the wait.
For the past 15 years I have been immersed in the world of Interior Design. Not only have I worked with hundreds of clients on Interior Design projects with combined budgets totaling millions of dollars, I have owned my own brick and mortar high end retail boutique, have practiced Real Estate and am a licensed General Contractor.
All of this work experience came within the past 15 years. When I started I literally started with nothing. And in my full story to follow, you will see I hit several HUGE bumps along the way and had to COMPLETELY start over from nothing a second time.
In addition, I am a “self taught” interior designer with no Interior Design Degree. I actually do have a degree, but it is in Broadcast Journalism, not even close to anything design related. Do NOT let outsiders tell you that you need a 4 year or even 2 year “piece of paper” to be successful in this business. I am here to tell you that I am 100 percent self taught. Here’s how it all happened:
In 2005, I opened my dream boutique in an up and coming inner city neighborhood that was going through a period of revitalization. I had a friend that owned a store in another city and it inspired me to open my own store front. The boutique was a mix of Home Decor, Vintage Furniture, Women’s and Baby clothing and Accessories. If you are familiar with Anthropologie, my store was a mini version of that…with my own spin. The product mix and “experience” I created was modeled after the eclectic multi sensory experience you have at Anthropologie. I wanted it to smell good, the music to be good, and the overall vibe when you came in to be a feast for your eyes.
Shortly after I opened people were blown away with the aesthetic of the store…all white walls with oversized opalescent polka dots painted on one wall…Farrow and Ball damask wall paper on another, and vintage magazine pages decoupaged on the other wall. The ceiling was dripping with crystal chandeliers and All of the fixtures for my clothing racks were made of chippy paint porch posts from old houses. Display tables were farmhouse tables and there were luxurious touches all around such as an oversized ornate mirror and velvet chairs.
Slowly my customers started asking me to help them decorate a room here or there in their homes. I truly dipped my toes into the Interior Design world without knowing ONE THING about how to run an Interior Design firm. Thankfully clients were patient because they knew I was learning on the fly. Also, when I started I wasn’t charging nearly enough because I thought since I was a newbie I couldn’t charge as much as the established professionals in town. So in addition to being able to “fake it” as a designer I was cheap!
In a short period of time I had gotten a ton of press on the store, and the clients started pouring in. As they did , I started getting more design jobs. It was apparent very quickly to me that I could make more money with my brain and natural talents than I could selling a ton of retail products. Also, I realized that I didn’t need the overhead of a retail boutique store front.
So in 2007, with a bit of pain and resistance I sold my store. It was hard to let go because I had created it from scratch but it was the only way I could maintain the level of Interior Design clientele I had acquired and still be a good wife to (my then husband) and a present mom to my 2 little boys.
In July of 2007 I had just finished my first over 100k budget design project. This was a huge job for me at the time. I was so proud of myself as my clients trusted me, gave me creative freedom, were very well known in town they couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
That month life as we knew it changed forever.
My younger son Owen, who had just turned 3, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
A few weeks later my house flooded with 5 feet of water and we lost not everything..but alot.
A few weeks after that My then husband told me he didn’t love me anymore and left.
It is safe to say 2007 totally sucked for me.
The next July I moved back to my hometown with my 2 little boys to start over as a single mom. I left my thriving Interior Design business and a book of clientele that were, as I now know, best of the best….I just left it all behind.
Anyone who knows anything about going through a divorce is that it hits you in the face in many ways but also financially it can be devastating. Mine was no different.
I had no choice but to start over in every way. My self confidence was at an all time low and I had to get a J-O-B.
I wanted to go work for another designer or a design firm so I could have a “REAL JOB”. But, even with what valuable experience I had, no Design firm would hire me…even for a front desk job…because I didn’t have an Interior Design Degree. Also, I needed some flexibility with Owen because I had to leave at lunchtime to go give him insulin shots and be able to pick him up from school by 3pm everyday.
There I was…I had no degree, I had no clients, no money, and no husband.
So what did I do next? Well, I made several bad decisions including getting into a business “partnership” with a friend, and taking a job selling office furniture that I was fired from. When they fired me, they told me I was terrible at sales and to do myself a favor and any future employers a favor and not try sales again. I got my real estate license and did that for a while and just to make things even better…I also started dating someone who was a sociopath.
I hit the lowest of lows. I was lost. There were many tears, soul searching, self help books and days laying in bed feeling sorry for myself. But… there was also something inside me still burning, that still small voice at the back of my head urging me to start my own business. And literally in a dream one night the name Interior Design Therapy came to me. I knew I could have a business, I had done it before, under much different circumstances, but why couldn’t I do it again? I had every bit of my brain telling me I was a loser, I was unloveable, I was stupid, no one would hire me, no one would like my work, my family would think I was crazy etc. etc.
So with ALL of those negative thoughts, and the sound of the guy’s voice who fired me from the office furniture job in the back of my head, I started my own business.
How You ask? WELL…I put one foot in front of the other and took baby steps. Those baby steps were the first on my path to where I am today.
Right now, I sit here and I am starting a podcast, I have a thriving 6 figure Interior Design Business, I am in the process of launching a second business, and SUPER EXCITING… I am creating an online course to guide you and to give you the tools and confidence you need to start your own thriving Interior Design business from scratch.
I have come up a list of the first 15 steps I took to MOVE MYSELF FORWARD. In the next Interior Design Therapy Blog Post, I am sharing those 15 actionable steps with you, so you can get to that first paying client.
Download the Cheat Sheet now: 15 Actionable Steps to start your own 6 figure Interior Design Business