I received an email from Ana this week, someone who is interested in doing an interior design degree, but is unsure about what life as an interior designer looks like. I get asked these questions quite often. So I thought why not share it with all of you instead of just with Ana because I feel these Corona times are forcing us to look at who we are and what we stand for more than ever. (Ana, if you read this, thanks for asking and hoping you will choose to become an interior designer - it is honestly so fulfilling!)
The other part people are always interested in is my decision to completely turn my life around and switch careers. This decision is intriguing and daunting for people at the same time. For me, it is the best decision I ever made. I am able to express myself and be myself and still, after 10 years, it excites me when I present a proposal to a prospect client and I can't wait to implement my concept.
FROM BANKER TO DESIGNER
So here’s a bit of my background and how I got to where I am today. I worked in the banking industry for 7 years, and the last 3 years was as a real estate fund project manager. I enjoyed the project management part (it’s something I think I’m good at), but I missed the ability to really be me in the banking world and to be more creative, passionate and entrepreneurial. So when I was on maternity leave, I used those months off work not only to care for my great baby boy, but also to do a bit of soul-searching, as cliche as that might be, to try and find out where/what my passion was. This is not an easy task and I recommend dedicating a lot of time for it.
For me, it became clear quite quickly that I always loved interiors, even as a child I did not stop moving things around in my own little bedroom and I would use my savings to buy that cute vase or rug. So I decided to start an interior design firm and at the same time, part-time, do an interior design degree. To me, the degree was important for my credibility as a designer and stylist (also the only way, as you need to learn the technical skills!). But also a backup plan if my own firm would not succeed. After all, you need a diploma to be able to apply for interior design jobs in other companies.
ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY
Since then I have been building my interior design and styling firm and we now offer quite a wide range of services. While Make Room first started with roots in retail, we’ve since moved exclusively into offering interior styling advice, interior design with project management and since for the last couple of years, photography and product styling. I’m so proud to say that as of last month, we can add online styling to that list! And I still have so many other ideas I am exploring to offer. I would love to write a "How To” book on styling and offer online courses. The ideas keep just coming :)
Is it always fun and passionate?
No, the biggest misconception is that I worked harder as a banker. Starting your own business and making it successful means hard work! And you are the one that is accountable at all times, so it also means constant pressure. Do I love it? Oh yes :) I believe you honestly become a better person if you are able to live and work in a place that reflects who you are and caters for your lifestyle. I certainly feel like a better version of myself anyway. And to go on the journey with clients to find out what that looks like, is the best in the world!
A DAY IN THE LIFE
What is a typical day like for you as an interior designer? Well, every day is different, but the constants are answering emails and whatsapp’s (crazy how much work is done over whatsapp these days!), site visits, meeting clients, preparing proposals and quotations. Also preparing blogs, photos and videos for marketing purposes. On a bigger scale, I try to allocate time to gain inspiration and ideas. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily life of emails and quotes, but it’s so important to stay inspired and get the creative juices flowing by reading books & magazines, scrolling through beautiful images on Instagram, visiting art galleries and ultimately, traveling.
What are some of the challenges you face in your work? The client management. You deal with humans all the time and you need to be good at dealing with them. Everyone comes to me with a problem that needs solving or a budget that is too tight, or something or other! It’s fine a balance between being firm and honest, but also listening and accommodating. Another big one I find is the pace of work. You are constantly managing multiple things at the same time and you need to be able to manage your time well. I always plan my day, but a lot of unexpected things happen in our profession and have to be dealt with on the spot, so your planning always needs to be quite flexible.
What keeps you going and what do you love about being an interior designer? I love the creation part. To start with a vague idea and to turn that into a concept people love and even better - would like to live or work in!