The Haute Design Network by Haute Residence brought together four designers from across the country to sit down and discuss the business aspect of their Design Careers.
"The Business of Design" webinar was hosted by Haute Living Media Group Senior VP, April Donelson and included the following designers: Rafaela Simoẽs and Laila Colvin of 2id Interiors, Karlee Coble of Karlee Coble Interiors, and Dorothy Alon of Sophea Designs. While interior design can certainly be an artistic and expressive career, when one owns their own design firm, the business aspect of things comes into frame all too quickly. The talented and successful designers explained the intricacies of walking the fine line between artists and business person all at once.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
April Donelson: At what point did you decide to start your own design firm and was there ever a point where you ever thought of designing in any capacity which did not involve owning your own firm?
Karlee Coble: I started out working for other firms. Right out of art school, I had worked for three major firms before I started my own firm. While there, I learned everything from working with clients, to writing contracts, to learning how to get work, how to maintain work and so on. I found that every project is different and every client is different. So, I kind of worked my way up to my own firm and I got to see everything from other design firms. Once Had my own firm, it was organic and it just naturally happened. It was a point in my career where I was ready to be on my own and do my own thing and serve my clients in my own way. I had all the knowledge from other firms on how to do so. I guess I kind of worked it out backwards but it all worked out and it has been really successful.
AD: In regard to the beginning, the early years, what is the biggest lesson you got or the biggest take away you could share?
Rafaela Simoẽs: I think the biggest lesson I've learned has actually been to learn how to say 'no' to a client when you don't feel the chemistry or when you sense that things are just not clicking and you feel the relationship will not go well. Because I'm a pleaser, I always incline to try to satisfy the client no matter what but at some pint down the road, things get ugly if you avoid saying 'no.' So now, whenever I get that feeling, I would just rather not proceed and I move on.
AD: How do you integrate social media into your business? Do you see it as a positive or negative?
Laila Colvin: I think social media, for our company at least, is so major these days, especially Instagram. I would say we have more than half of our clients coming from Instagram alone. It's unbelievable how Instagram in particular is so important to us.
AD: What is the most enjoyable component of being a business owner?
Dorothy Alon: The best part of this business is the I can drive in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice, and I may not know the person who live in this home, but I do know how this house looks on the inside. We also impact the exterior of the house as well so philosophically, it's like we are part of the landscape of Los Angeles. It's exciting because you think of all the people who live in these houses and you don't know their names but I feel as if I am a part of their lives despite not knowing their names and vise-versa.
Watch the entire conversation below: