5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became an Interior Designer
While forging your own path and making a name for yourself is part of becoming an interior designer, there’s something to be said about following the path that someone else has already taken, and already done the whole “learning from your mistakes,” thing.
So before you dive into the design pool- or in some cases, don’t dive in because you’ve been given wrong information- check out these five things I wish I knew before I became an interior designer. These are things that previously held me back from starting my career as a designer, and my hope is that you’ll read these and interior design is for you.
You Don’t Have to be Artsy
This is one of the most common things I hear from fellow designers. There are just too many of us out there that put off this amazing career opportunity, simply because we didn’t think our artistic talents were interior design-worthy… i.e. we couldn’t draw.
Sure, it’s helpful to be able to jot down ideas when necessary, and at least have them be semi-easy to interpret later, although this isn’t a must, because Lord knows there are times I’ve been unable to read my own drawings.
What you do need is an appreciation for the design process, and a software sidekick like Foyr to help you do all the hard things. Programs like Foyr let you “draw” your plans, then translate them into incredible 3D designs that will blow your clients’ socks right off. Shoot, you might even blow your own socks off when you unleash your inner artist.
An Interior Design Degree is not an “Absolute Must”
If spending a bazillion dollars to get an interior design degree is holding you back from living your best life as an interior designer, I’ve got good news… that’s just not even true! There are some states that require you to obtain a license from the National Council for Interior Design in order to practice interior design. But there are several different avenues you can take to train for the exam that you need to take in order to become certified.
Your general contractor will be responsible for knowing all the building codes and construction processes, but it is helpful to have a good understanding of the lingo. Enrolling in a few community college courses is a great place to start for this, but also, spoiler alert… we’ll be rolling out a program in the year ahead to help you get your feet wet in the interior design language world!
Remember, the bottom line is that clients will hire you because you’re an expert in your craft, no matter how you achieved that interior design guru status. There are plenty of other big named designers out there that don’t have design degrees, like Nate Berkus, Joanna Gaines, and moi! So don’t even let this be a blip on your radar, no degree, no problem.
However you choose to put in the time and effort to learn all the things is up to you! And continuing to practice with the utmost integrity and professionalism is what will keep you at the top.
Do Not Say “Yes” to All the Clients
No. No. And no. I cannot stress this enough. While you might feel like the only way to get your foot in the door is to accept any and all clients that come your way, but trust me, this is not the way to do it. Signing on with a client that expects you to respond to midnight text messages about last minute design changes is not the life for you. Spending hours searching for a specific item that just might not exist is not the way to establish yourself.
What you need is to establish systems that will make your business profitable, without sacrificing your own integrity… and time. Once you identify your ideal client, and a healthy sense of confidence, the design world is your oyster. The only people… or person… you have to say yes to, is yourself. When you come from a place of possible, you understand your own self worth, and realize that you don’t need to settle for those less-than-desirable clients, just to build a portfolio.
So, the bottom line here is that if you feel like a client isn’t a good fit, just say it. It sounds much more professional to be upfront and say “I don’t think this is the right fit for your project,” rather than taking it on the chin and letting your life suck for the next six months while you pour all of your energy into one horrendous design.
Project-Based Fees Are Possible for New Designers
More like having a project-based fee system makes you look like a true professional, like you’ve already been there/done that… even if you haven’t. Instead of navigating your business pricing woes all alone, I’ve put together seven foolproof steps to take you through the process. I’m here to hold your hand and sprinkle you with positivity, like I wish I had someone do for me!
To build your own process system, you need to know where you're starting, and where you’re going. And those are both up to you. All of my fees are “baked” into my projects… a little something I learned along the way, after making all the pricing mistakes. In addition to my seven steps outlined in the link above, I also have a free workshop that’s 100% dedicated to helping you figure this out. If you’re ready to start baking your profits, I’m ready to show you how.
All Relationships are Important
Client relationships are absolutely essential to a successful business. But, they’re not the only relationships you need to build… and keep. Strong vendor relationships have just as much impact, and it can be positive or negative. Having a community of vendors that you work with will help you develop the clientele you want.
It often just takes one referral from a vendor, one “I have a great designer that would be perfect for this project,” and your name is officially “out there.” So establishing great vendor relationships right away is a great marketing strategy from the beginning.
Feeling a little better about starting that journey to becoming an interior designer? Really, the only thing that’s holding you back is you, so no more excuses, it’s time to start making those dreams come true… and making that money!
This industry is a big one, and there’s plenty of room for everyone. So take my hand, and let me show you how to get started, the right way. Join my badass community (if I do say so myself) of clever, creative designers, making things happen in all the right ways. I got you, babe!