Episode 067: Thinking Differently About Your Business with Cheminne Taylor-Smith
Cheminne Taylor-Smith is a creative thinker and an idea generator. She helps brands, businesses, and entrepreneurs think differently about how they do business. She was the PR director for Elle Decor, the VP of Marketing for the High Point Market, and has consulted with well-known brands such as the Showtime cable network, Christie’s auction house, Conde Nast, Mercanteinfiera Parma, Galerie Magazine, Bernhardt, International Market Centers, Dallas Market Center, and more!
In this episode, we chat about things designers should do NOW to prepare for any economic disruptions in the coming months. We also talk about the importance of looking at cash flow to ensure we have a cushion in the event of a recession.
Connect with Cheminne
Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.
In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.
Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.
Connect with Michelle
You can follow Michelle on Instagram or join her Free Facebook Community! You can learn more about Michelle's program, Designed for the Creative Mind right here. You can also learn more about Michelle's Interior Design Firm here.
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Michelle Lynne: Welcome to Designed for the Creative Mind, a podcast for interior designers and creative entrepreneurs to run their business with purpose, efficiency, and passion. Because, while every design is different, the process should remain the same. Prepare yourself for some good conversations with amazing guests, a dash of Jesus, and a touch of the woo woo, and probably a swear word or two. If you're ready to stop trading your time for money and enjoy your interior design business, you are in the right place. I'm your host, Michelle Lynne.
Michelle Lynne: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. This is Michelle Lynne, and I am super excited to introduce you to a friend of mine today. Cheminne Taylor-Smith is a creative thinker and an idea generator. She helps brands, businesses, and entrepreneurs think differently about how they do business. So let's just dig in. Hello, Cheminne. Thank you for being here.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Hi, it's great to be here with you.
Michelle Lynne: And I've got to tell you, so y'all can't see my notes, but you'll have to check the notes for Cheminne's bio, because we would be here for probably about 10 minutes with me just telling you all of the cool things she's done. But I will say she did, and correct me if I'm wrong here Cheminne, you're the one who came up with Style Spotters at High Point.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's right.
Michelle Lynne: So for those of you who follow along at High Point, for those of you who have been there, High Point goes through and selects a handful of designers every market, and they go through, and I just, it's a great idea, but she was also the PR Director for Elle Decor, the VP of Marketing for High Point, lalalalalala, amazing background. I knew you were a badass, but then I was reading it I was like, whoa. So thanks for being here.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Thank you.
Michelle Lynne: So Cheminne, how did you get into this area of, how did you get into the design industry? And not as a designer yourself, but you have just been surrounded by the industry.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Circled by the design industry for years. You know, I actually was a journalism major. So I started out in the magazine industry, in the newspaper industry, and that was ages and ages ago at Furniture Today. And then ended up skipping over a few things. I ended up being the Editor-in-Chief at InFurniture, which is a Conde Nast publication, made a lot of connections there. And, you know, over the years, as I was working my way through journalism, we all know what has happened to a lot of the publications. There was a massive round of shutdowns in 2008 or so. That's when House & Garden went, which was also Conde Nast.
Michelle Lynne: That was the year I started my interior design business, during the recession.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Exactly. InFurniture was axed then, and so was, I'm trying to think Domino, the original Domino.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, that was sad.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: And all of us were on the same Conde Nast team. So yeah, that was fantastic. But I went from there. I had some friends at Lexington Home Brands, and I worked there for a while helping them with their marketing and did the Donald Trump launch, which is a whole other podcast. At the time, I was walking through a lot of magazines, and I was friends with Donna Warner. And she was the fantastic iconic editor of Metropolitan Home magazine. And she said to me, I think you should come work at Met Home and Elle Decor, doing PR because this is obviously a natural extension of what you were doing in journalism. And it is kind of related. I mean, once you sat on one side of the desk, you definitely can on the other.
Michelle Lynne: And you had all the connections.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Yeah. And so I did that, I went to Elle Decor and Met Home, and that's where I really started to gather the wagons with my design industry friends. And it just kind of grew from there. And then when I was hired at High Point Market, they specifically wanted to bring the design industry back to High Point, because remember, there was a time at High Point Market where they had signs on the door that said they didn't do business with designers in that particular showroom. It was literally that bad.
Michelle Lynne: Ouch.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: So what they wanted was because of the of the economy, they needed more business and then the designer suddenly became important again. So it was my job to help bring that design business back with the connections that I had forged at Met Home and Elle Decor. So that's a little bit of a long story, but that's kind of how it happened. And then ever since then I've just been very enmeshed with the design industry and with a lot of great friends and clients who are designers.
Michelle Lynne: That makes sense. And it's just become second nature to you, it seems.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Right.
Michelle Lynne: So, I know, I've had conversations with you, where you have just got such a unique view of the design industry. You talk about thinking differently in business, what does it mean to think differently in business? And is it limited to design?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: No, it is not. This is for any business that you may be a partner in or an owner. I think, too often, we have a preconceived notion of how that business is supposed to run, right. And so to us, there's a natural progression of, you start your interior design business, you work your way up the ladder to higher-income clients, then you get published, then you get a book, then you get a licensing deal, like, there just seems to be this pre-programmed path that people feel that they are supposed to stay on as a designer. And if they don't meet one of those markers, then they're a failure. And for me, I always think you need to define your own success. And sometimes that's not being published, sometimes that's making as much money as possible. Sometimes it's allowing yourself to have a great creative business, whatever your goal is, I think you need to keep your eye on that ball instead of what someone else is doing or what you think you're supposed to be doing as a designer. And if the pandemic has taught us nothing, it's that we kind of need to throw things out the window. Business is not the same. You don't need to follow the same strategies just because that's the way it's always been done. So I just want people to think about how dramatically everything has changed just in the last three years. You need to have a business that's profitable for you, that you enjoy. And that may mean throwing everything out and starting over again. It may mean that you don't sell furniture anymore. It may mean that you only consult or that now you shop with your clients in a retail setting. It could mean that you no longer market your business in the same way or that you decide you don't have to do a show house just because everybody's telling you you should. So the model needs to fit your clients, your vision, and your profitability. And that can be something completely new and unique. But you personally have to have the courage to buck the system.
Michelle Lynne: I love that because especially in this industry, everything is so shiny and pretty. And then you have Instagram and you're so many times comparing yourself to others and seeing what they're doing and saying, oh, I should be doing that. And I 100% agree, I want quality of life. Like when I first started my business, it was really important that there was time to breathe, that I could stay happily married, you know, now I've got the kid. So, you know, spending time with her this summer is going to be a little bit scary, because I've never taken, you know, half-a-day off almost every day of summer. But that's what we're doing. It's just, that works for me. I love the fact that you said you don't have to be published, you don't have to be in a show house, all of those boxes. If they don't bring you joy, it's a bonus. If it doesn't bring your money.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Exactly. It's the clients that you're trying to attract that you need to pay attention to. And too often I hear, well, I need to do this show house because it's part of my path. It's only part of your path if you're trying to attract attention within our industry. Because frankly, your clients have no clue you're doing a show house unless you're doing it in your own town. So that's always one of those things. And I'm not knocking show houses, I think they're fantastic. And I think we can all name designers who have literally made their name on a show house because of their ingenuity and their creativity. But I'm just saying you need to think about where to reach your clients, how to reach your clients, and what business model works for you. And it can be something nobody else has thought of yet. It's again, the idea of having the courage to be whatever you need to be in your business. That's the key.
Michelle Lynne: Be that unicorn.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Right.
Michelle Lynne: I love that. And also, I like to take a look at other industries and potentially see what we can learn from them and apply to our industry. Because like, if you keep doing what you keep doing, you keep getting what you've been getting. I love that.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's exactly right. An industry that I pay a lot of attention to, and I know that it seems obvious, is the fashion industry, but not just for the trends. I think that's too often what we're looking at is just what are the colors, or you know, is fringe back? That type of thing. What era is now the hot era? But honestly there are some very interesting things happening in fashion because they're having to face some of the same problems and issues that we have in the home industry. And some. So fast fashion, for example, and how they're going to combat that and still have a business and so there are a lot of very interesting things happening in the business of fashion that I think is something that every designer should be paying attention to.
Michelle Lynne: So what do you, I'm ignorant when it comes to some of the fashion industry. What do you look at? What do you follow?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Well, you know, it's interesting, I follow Business of Fashion, which is a great account. And I also, and they're on Instagram, and I pay a lot of attention to WWD and other publications, you know, the ones that are still around. But for me, too, it's also just keeping up on LinkedIn sometimes with those fashion accounts. Because that's where they tend to post more of the business stuff. So I do like to follow a lot of those accounts on LinkedIn. One of the things that I talk to a lot of clients about is just absorbing as much information as you can. And I know everybody's busy. And I know we're all trying to read business books, and books for pleasure, and we're trying to consume, you TV programs we love, and it can seem like overwhelming and too much. But for your own sake, for your business's sake, pay attention to future trends and what's coming, because that is something that will always hold you in good stead when you are thinking about your way of shaking up your business or what you need to plan for in the future. So for example, I am registered for a lot of newsletters that come in my inbox in the morning so I can at least skim, like the Axios one or, you know, fast business and some of the other ones that I think, Fast Company, excuse me, that I think have a lot of forward-thinking ideas that may be in other businesses that may be in other areas that aren't necessarily touching on home, but will impact home eventually.
Michelle Lynne: Right.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: And so that's, I'm always warning people, just always look ahead and look at those forward-thinking forecasts and business ideas, business news. Keep your eye on the ball because you never know how that will impact you or spark an idea that's that unicorn that nobody has thought of.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, that's a great point. So we're not always on the defensive, but it's also the offensive.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: It's both.
Michelle Lynne: So yeah, I love that. And I think it's also finding those publications, whether they're in your inbox or tangible, that are not going to overhype anything. Because everything, it's like, if it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead. So we want the facts.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's a great way to say it, and I agree with that. So if you want some of my sources, like for tech, I do follow Fast Company, Wired, and there's a great one called BBC Future, obviously run by the BBC. Even Science magazine and SciTechDaily, those two I really pay attention to because you never know what's going to happen. Like, for example, technology and fabrication, something like that.
Michelle Lynne: Right, right, right.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: For design, I love Dezine. Business of Fashion I already talked about. Core77, Cultured, of course Business of Home, which my friend Julie founded many years ago. But for news, I do the Axios AM newsletters, New York Times, et cetera, you can pick your favorite. And for business, I look at Forbes and Financial Times. Now that sounds like a lot, but they all have newsletters. So when the newsletters hit your inbox, you can literally skim and if something kind of sparks something for you can say, Oh, wait a minute, let me go back and look at that a little bit more closely. And also too I tend to, it may not resonate with me at that moment, but then later on, I'll think, Wait a minute, didn't I see something like this in one of those newsletters, and I'm starting to see a trend now because more than one outlet is talking about it.
Michelle Lynne: That makes sense. So could you just summarize the good stuff and send it to me once a week?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Sure, no problem. I should charge for that, but sure.
Michelle Lynne: There you go. That might be the new idea.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Exactly. A new way of making money is by aggregating all the news that's fit to print.
Michelle Lynne: So I think one of the things that's on the top of so many of our minds is the economy. Like right now, we are all rolling in the dough. But what are some things that designers should do now to prepare for any disruptions that might be coming up? Because we're not always going to be fat and happy.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Yeah, I mean, when the ball goes up, it also comes down. We all know that. And I think we're already seeing some signs of that. And I always warn people, don't think about it as being negative. I think there's too much of a fear factor sometimes, but we all know that it's a complete roller coaster, right? Things are gonna go up and then they're gonna go down, but they'll usually come back up again. So I don't want people to think about it as being fearful. But instead, it's being realistic and being prepared. Those are the two things that I think are the most critical. And if you're paying any attention right now, you're hearing the big box retailers say that they are not feeling great about the end of this year and the beginning of next year. And so I think that's a warning bell for any of us that are in the home industries, because we're even talking about Home Depot, and some of the others, which are early bellwethers for us, in some instances. Target even, which you know, Target's always cranking, so to hear them say, we're gonna pull back a little bit. Wayfair is pulling back a little bit, those are people, those are companies and retailers that really do impact our industry. So what I think people should be paying attention to is if you've not been paying attention to your cash flow, now's the time to really drill down on that cash flow, ensure that you do have a cushion. You know, you've probably heard the saying, make hay while the sun shines. Well, the sun's been shining really hard on this industry for a couple of years. And I'm not saying it's been easy, because we all know the supply chain.
Michelle Lynne: Right, different challenges.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: But there have been people who have definitely had almost more work than they can handle. So I hope you've been banking some of that away, and really paying attention to where you can have that, let's say six-month pad, to help support your business. Because, you know, if you're thinking of expanding in any way, that could be employees, it could be a larger footprint for your showroom, whatever it may be, think about it very carefully right now. Because is this the right time to do it when we're hearing some little warning bells in the background and some red flags? Maybe not. So I'm just saying, I would look ahead, pay attention right now to what we're hearing is coming. I've already heard the recession word twice. And even one of the people that I follow said 50% chance of a recession next year. So again, I'm not saying we all need to panic, but we do need to pay attention because inflation, too, is hitting.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, yeah. Well, as business owners, we have to be good stewards of our own money. Like, yeah, it's great that we can manage a budget for our clients, but we have to be able to, first of all be charging enough that we can make a profit, and know the numbers, and know what you have to hit every month, as your minimum revenue before you start making profit. And then taking some of that off the top and putting it into savings. So maybe you pay yourself a little bit less, but you put more money into savings.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's exactly right. There are a lot of adjustments you can make to that if you're on top of your financial game. That's the important part. And there's just so much fear around money. And I don't think it's necessarily a female problem or a designer problem, it is a problem for many, many small businesses. It's almost like, if I don't look at it, it'll go away.
Michelle Lynne: I tried that. It doesn't work.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: It doesn't work. I remember one time, you know, drilling down with someone on their profit margins and helping them understand that just because they had all that money rolling in didn't mean they were actually making money because they weren't paying attention to the money rolling out. And so, you know, you've got to know what your financial numbers are at any time of any day. You've got to know what your future business is and how you're going to market for more of it. And you have to understand where your clients are. So at the very top to the maybe top 5% of household incomes, they're still not feeling that inflationary pinch quite yet. They may feel it, but they're able to absorb it. But if you're in that upper-middle to middle income, then you're going to start feeling it yourself. So yes, pay attention to your financials is a number one.
Michelle Lynne: And that makes sense because that's who we're marketing to you. We market to the wealthy, because what we do is a luxury, whether we want everybody to have beautiful design or not, this is a luxury service. And the tip top will always be able to afford us. But the upper echelon of the middle, who could be our bread and butter, will start to feel the pinch and will pull back, which will slow down our revenue in general.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Well, think about the percentage of designers that we know that are not working with that tip top. You know, I mean, they're doing great business, nobody says you've got to have 50 celebrities in your back pocket to be famous. But that's, you know, that's maybe going to be protected much longer. But if you're at that upper-middle end, which is really honestly, most designers, pay attention.
Michelle Lynne: That's most of us. Yeah. And just be prepared. I think that that is key. And I agree. Don't be afraid, y'all. But as business owners, we have to be looking ahead and be proactive instead of reactive. Otherwise, the business won't be there. We'll be shutting our doors.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's exactly right.
Michelle Lynne: I don't want to be one of those. So now that we're talking about like our clients and who they are, what would you suggest to do to get in front of them, what sort of marketing efforts have you seen lately? Or have you come up with in that big ol' brain of yours?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Well, I think that one of the most important things that I tell designers when it comes to marketing, this is really where you need to think differently. Because too often, there's an assumption of where your client is. Okay? So, too many people assume that their clients are on Instagram. But that doesn't actually mean that all of your clients are on Instagram. And trust me, I know there are designers who've gotten some business off of Instagram.
Michelle Lynne: Oh yeah.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Don't get me wrong. But that doesn't mean all of the clients that you're targeting are on Instagram, it's still a very young-focused, young demographic, social media channels. So you need to think about that carefully. And each designer could have a different answer to that. So it's your target client, where are they? Where are you speaking to them? For some, it could be Instagram, but I suspect, and I know for a fact for some of my clients, when we really started looking at it, their clients were not on Instagram, they were on Pinterest, or they were on Facebook, and they were actually only talking to other designers rather than speaking to their clients, which is great, but it doesn't necessarily get you what you're looking for.
Michelle Lynne: Right.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: So that's part of the problem there. But also, I think too, you know, people are consuming a lot of information on social media. Facebook, for all of the doom and gloom of people saying they're going to leave it, they haven't. But I do think that one thing that we have definitely seen happen in the last two years is that those algorithms can be brutal. And all of a sudden, overnight, Instagram can, everything that it's doing and now you're not, no one is seeing your posts.
Michelle Lynne: You're not relevant.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, it's the worst. And it happens whenever they want it to. So the thing that I tell people is, if you have not been collecting email addresses, you darn well better get on that bandwagon.
Michelle Lynne: A-fricking-men.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Because that's what you control. And so, if you're able to pull in as many email addresses as you can, and I've got one more big hint about that, make sure you're tagging your sources. So in other words, if it's a client, you make sure that whatever CRM you're using, which could be MailChimp or Constant Contact or whatever, that you are tagging the email addresses that are coming in so you know that that's a client or potential client. Or you know that it's a vendor or press or another designer, like you need to be able to parse that out so that you know who you're speaking to.
Michelle Lynne: That also goes to when they start calling you, ask where they found you. And know that just because the last place they saw you was Instagram doesn't mean that was the source, they probably saw you in three different places and then decided to pick up the phone.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: It's interesting, because a lot of times, and we all know this is true, grassroots marketing is still number one, it just is, who you know, and who recommends you. But there are now three touch points before someone gets in touch with you. So for example, your neighbor could say, you know, Michelle is the best designer, you really need to get in touch with her. And I'll say, hmm, let me go look her up. So the next thing I'm going to do is go to your website, and then I'm gonna go to your Instagram and see what you're doing over there. And you know, I might look at one more source but the point of it is, it's not like each of these operates in a silo either. So you do have to have, your website needs to be on point presenting you in the best way possible. And your Instagram needs to be on point presenting you in the best way possible, so you look like an expert and someone who does amazing work and has fun, maybe whatever your brand is. You've got to have all of that buttoned up because you never know where they're gonna come from. And then you're absolutely right. It could be they started in grassroots, but they're gonna say, oh, well, I was on your Instagram because that was the last thing they looked at.
Michelle Lynne: Absolutely. But it's, that's one of the things we have to remember. It's also, people are gonna go Google you.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Absolutely, so your website better be on point.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, well, that but I do want to say that this came up in the Interior Design Business Bakery the other day, is that on point in year one, two, and three of your business is different than on point year 10. Do not compare your website to mine. I don't compare my website to people who've been in business and have, quote unquote, better clients or bigger clients. It's not fair. And it's not right. And it's not accurate.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: No, that's absolutely true. You can do a lot with a single project and make it look like a whole lot of projects on your website.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, yeah.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I've seen that happen. I just worked with a client a couple of months ago, who is starting out, and it's a second career. And she did her own home, which, hello, is one of the best ways to get your feet wet. And she had the most incredible photography. And her website was stunning. Even though, if you looked closely, it was one project. So you're absolutely right.
Michelle Lynne: But it was all very cohesive.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Exactly.
Michelle Lynne: So it served its purpose.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: It was on brand, that's for sure. But you can do a lot with very little and still have a very vibrant and compelling website. That's the point is just, do you give all the right information? Do you show yourself in the very best light possible, which means great photography. And do you have all the information there they need to make a decision. That's important.
Michelle Lynne: And that's huge. But yeah, and I don't know if it was you, who mentioned this a while ago, back in the day I was in sales, before I got into interior design, I did sales. And at the time, people needed to have contact with you four to six times before they would trust you. I think now it's up to like nine or 10 or more, just because we're all so bombarded with so many things. So just having that activity of being on Facebook, of being on Instagram, of having a Pinterest presence, having the Google, having an email list, it's overwhelming, but baby steps make a difference.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I agree. And that's why if you are feeling overwhelmed and you don't have a large team to support you with it, you really need to know which things take priority so that that gets more attention than the other. So if it is Facebook where you think most of your clients are, then it gets the bigger bulk of attention versus Instagram or whatever. But you need to make that decision for your business based on your target client.
Michelle Lynne: And you have to try it for more than two months to make a decision and pivot.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: If there's anything I hate, it's when a company, and it's usually a company that comes back to me and says, we’ve been doing this for a month and it doesn't seem to, Well, yeah, you cannot do something for one month and expect it to have instant results.
Michelle Lynne: It's like, I worked out for a month. How come I don't look like a fitness model?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That is exactly right. You have to give yourself time to have a campaign work. You rarely see a massive ad agency say, we've got this campaign, we're going to try it for a week. I mean, unless it's something focused on a single social media channel, that's not something you're gonna hear a lot of people say. You've got to let things take traction.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. Patience grasshopper, patience.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Exactly. Well, I mean, the old adage is absolutely true in this industry, that if you are marketing today, you're going to get business, but it's not going to be for three or four months. Because that process of those 10 touches or gaining the trust, which, you know, if they know someone who knows you that helps shortcut some of that.
Michelle Lynne: Holy cow, yeah.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That building of the trust and getting to the point where they're ready to call you is going to take a while, especially because we're talking about a lot of money in most cases. And I don't care if you're a billionaire spending a chunk of money, you know, you want to make sure you're putting your money in with somebody that you can trust and it's going to do what you need them to do for him.
Michelle Lynne: But that brings me to a point is that right now, if audience, as you're listening, is that if you're slammed and you're busy, and you just can't quote unquote, can't find the time to market, you're doing yourself a disservice for the future. So you still have to find that. And if you are super busy and making a bucket of money, outsource it. Because if you don't have the time, but you've got a little extra cash, it will pay for itself.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Because it does take a while to get that
Michelle Lynne: Rhythm.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: that contact to come back to you and to have, you're exactly right, that rhythm of constant marketing, so that you have a constant source of new clients. And you know, people are not stupid right now. I think another thing that this pandemic has done is its trained people a little more into how long it can take to work on a home or to get some furniture, unfortunately. So I think that in a way that's bought us a little bit of grace with customers who may, or clients who may not have known in the past exactly how this all rolls. So you've got to, even though you are marketing to them right now and it's taking them a while to build that trust, even when they call they're not going to expect you to start on it tomorrow. So I hate it when people are like that.
Michelle Lynne: They will, every once in a while, that happens.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I know. But for the most part, they understand that, you know, you can't finish their kitchen in a week. Some people are crazy.
Michelle Lynne: But that's okay. That's our job to educate them.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's exactly my point. Yep.
Michelle Lynne: And it does, yeah. And our process at ML Interiors Group, we have, and we explain this to them on that pre-qualifying call, is that literally, it can be a minimum of a month before I even have pricing for you on my services.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Right.
Michelle Lynne: And then it takes how many months to create the design, and then now how many months to get the product. So it truly is something that we have to, even though it's easy for us and it's familiar, we have to take into consideration that it's all new to the client most of the time, and we have a lot of educating.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: And the thing is too, remember that you don't want to, this is something that I hear too often from designers when they're explaining, is they'll say, our process is or my business does. And that's great to say, you know, this is how I work, but you need to remind them that this is the way the industry works. So the other thing is too if someone is saying, oh my god, it takes that long, you can say well, that's the industry standard, or this is in general what you're going to find from any designer you reach out to. Do yourself and other designers a favor by saying that because it's the truth.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, it is. And if anybody's saying otherwise, it's probably because they're not busy, because they're not very good.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Exactly.
Michelle Lynne: Or they just started, we all have to start somewhere.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's right. And so, you want to help them understand more about building in the patience. You're also going to do a favor for that newbie who's just starting out too if that's who they decide to go with, that they have to have patience built into their home project. They do.
Michelle Lynne: And we learned that one, I don't wanna say the hard way, we used to crank out our designs so quickly. And we would just do one after another after another. And now we have them stacked, so that we've got, it's just a better business model. Speaking of cashflow, we have them stacked, but it's also giving ourselves breathing room, because if you think you should get your, should, quote unquote, should get your design done in two weeks or four weeks, you're not giving yourself enough space for creativity. You have to have some white space in your mind in order to get the best result. And if you're just cranking them out and thinking it should take you two weeks to get a living room done, you know, are you putting your best effort in?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Well, and I think too, that that sometimes comes from a place of fear, in that you think you're not going to get another client or you're not going to have any business and you need to just do it.
Michelle Lynne: Or they're going to be disappointed.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Yeah, I think so too. And it behooves you to be professional and tell the truth. And to make sure that as often as possible, you're communicating everything that's going on so that they have all the latest information, because that just helps you. You know, and I think we have to have the courage and professionalism to set our own schedule, to say no, when somebody calls and just to say, I'm sorry, I can't start now, or it will be this many weeks. And to say it with confidence. This is just the way it works in this industry. One of the people that I really love to pieces is Brian Patrick Flynn. And I don't know if he still operates this way. But years ago, I remember he told me that he would take on a project, and it would operate, he had a timeline that worked for him, and he could give them that amount of time. But he also built in time off on the back of it. And it can be as much as a month if that's what he wanted. And so he would do a project and then time off, and then a project and then time off. So he had the courage to tell a client who called while he was in the middle of another project, let's say, it's going to be another two months before I can even talk to you. But he knows that he's good enough that people are going to wait, you know, you have to have that courage of your convictions and that confidence to say, if you want to work with me
Michelle Lynne: Well, that, and it also, it makes people, it's scarcity. Like, I can't work with everybody, I'm in demand. Yeah, I think that that comes with time, age, and confidence.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I agree with that.
Michelle Lynne: It's also, you know, and we will wrap this up here in just a second, but you and I could talk for another six hours, I'm sure.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Easily.
Michelle Lynne: I'd have to have something to eat though. I'm getting hungry. But the line I use with my clients is that I don't want to disappoint you and embarrass myself by over promising. And I have had more people, even just on that very initial phone call, say thank you for that. Because think about how many times we've all probably been over promised and under delivered to. And so yeah, it has given us a lot of really good breathing room for my team and I and it's just been a game changer to be able to step into that moment.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: It's a smart way to do business.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, it's so funny. It's just like being normal and not thinking you have to be something else. So that goes all the way back to that first question of the things that you think differently about your business just, this is my business, this is how I'm going to run it. So y'all, before we move on, I just want to bring to your attention that if you are in the Interior Design Business Bakery, Cheminne is going to be stepping into one of our master coach roles. Super excited about that. So if you like what you've heard, I believe we're going to be talking mostly about financials on your quarterly calls. So I think it'll be a lot of fun. So with that, let's also move forward. Because you know I love to talk all things business, but I like to have some fun too. So I have a rapid fire Q&A. Nothing's out of bounds.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh no.
Michelle Lynne: So are you ready?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I'm ready.
Michelle Lynne: We'll start with a soft one. What's your favorite ice cream?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, rocky road.
Michelle Lynne: If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: To be kind.
Michelle Lynne: Good one. What was your favorite subject in school?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Literature, duh.
Michelle Lynne: Well, then what's your favorite book?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, my God. That's impossible. Literally impossible. My favorite recent book?
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Would be The Lincoln Highway.
Michelle Lynne: I'll write this down. What is it about?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: It's literally about a road trip and kind of a coming-of-age story. You have to, I can't tell you more than that.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, good. Well, I love asking that question. Because I have a whole laundry list of books to go buy.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Follow me on social media. I'm always talking about my books.
Michelle Lynne: It's true. It's very true. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Hmm...liars.
Michelle Lynne: Amen. What is your favorite productivity hack?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Turn off your phone.
Michelle Lynne: Ugh. No kidding, right? I pick that up to turn on my music and I go down Instagram for about three minutes before I catch myself.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's exactly right. Just turn it off.
Michelle Lynne: Yes. Put it away. So what would you do, anything, personal, professional, whatever, if you knew that you could not fail?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, gosh, I'd be an astronaut.
Michelle Lynne: Really?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I know. That's left field. But yeah.
Michelle Lynne: That's very cool. Yeah. Innie belly button or outie belly button?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Innie.
Michelle Lynne: And when was the last time you laughed so hard you peed yourself?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Wow. Probably with my sisters. They know the inside jokes. And they also know how to push your buttons and those few things together are lethal.
Michelle Lynne: So fun. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, wow. Probably that I touched someone in some way in their life that I didn't realize. You know, we all impact each other in ways and touch each other in ways that we may not really understand. But sometimes, and that goes back to my thing about being kind. Sometimes that smile that you gave someone or that compliment that you gave someone or a piece of advice or whatever, in some way that you were kind, you may not even realize how big of an impact that makes. And I've actually had someone come back and say that to me and totally took me to tears. It meant a lot.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, I love that. I think it might have been Stephen Covey told a story that really resonated with me, I can tell you where I was when I was listening to it in my car on Audible. And I think it was him. Did he write Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? I think it was that book. But it was where he was on a train and a dad was there with him or on a bus and had kids running around like crazy. And he was sitting there judging him, like, why aren't you controlling your children? Why aren't you controlling your children? And I'm probably butchering the story, but then the dad looked over and said, so sorry, we just buried their mother, and I just don't know what to do with them. And it just reminds me that you never know what somebody's going through. And you can't sit there and judge them. But if you offer them that kindness, it can go a long way. So I love that.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That's my entire point is we all need more kindness right now.
Michelle Lynne: Amen to that. I don't care when this airs or when you're listening to it. More kindness is definitely necessary. Okay, so last question is if you could have dinner with anybody, past or present, who would you invite?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Can I invite more than one person?
Michelle Lynne: Let's start with the first one. And then we can maybe expand it to a dinner party.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Well, my mother, because she's been gone for almost three years, and I miss her terribly. So I still try to pick up the phone and talk to her. It drives me crazy.
Michelle Lynne: That's hard.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Yeah, that's a hard one. But you know, there would be a lot of writers at the table. There will be a lot of sarcastic people at the table, sassy people, because that's my favorite.
Michelle Lynne: They'd be sassy and kind.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Yeah, well, yeah, but you can be sassy, c'mon.
Michelle Lynne: Oh yeah, and sarcastic.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: There will be a lot of writers and you know a lot of people that I admire. There are some people who are involved in the Buddhist movement who mean a lot to me, mainly because again about that kindness. That's what I take away from that. It's not that I'm necessarily a Buddhist myself, but that appeals to me. And that compassion. And then of course, my daughter and my husband. I mean, come on.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, that sounds like it'd be a really fun party.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, I like fun parties.
Michelle Lynne: Well, then, okay, I said it was the last question, but let's just say this dinner party that you were having was your last meal. What would you have?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, my gosh. Well, I'm southern so it would probably involve macaroni and cheese, for sure. Some sort of greens because we like our greens in the South. I may not have the serious accent, but trust me, that's where I go straight to for the love. And then probably a homemade cherry pie.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, I love a good cherry pie. Cherry Cobbler. Actually, let me rephrase, I love any cobbler or any pie.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: They're my favorite. I love cherries and it's almost cherry season and I am ready.
Michelle Lynne: You do a lot of canning, don't you?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: I do jams.
Michelle Lynne: Jams, that's what it is.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Yeah, I make a lot of jams. I make a really spicy tomato jam that some people are kind of addicted to.
Michelle Lynne: Ooh, with cheese?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Oh, you can eat it with anything. Hamburgers, meatloaf, pizza. People put it on everything.
Michelle Lynne: Dude, I'm already hungry, now I'm dying. I don't know if you guys can hear my tummy growling. But I don't think my microphone's that professional.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: You need some cherry pie.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, I do. Or three. All right, thank you, Cheminne, so much for being here.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Thank you.
Michelle Lynne: It's always such a pleasure to chat with you. Can you tell the audience where they can connect with you and maybe see some of those books on your Instagram or on your social media?
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Sure, I'm @cheminnets on Instagram. Don't look for a lot of business things there, it's really about penguins and books. And you'll get that joke when you go and read my bio. And then I actually have cheminne.com, which I use as my website. When you have a name like mine, I mean, what are you going to do? So hopefully we'll have that spelled correctly on Michelle's website.
Michelle Lynne: I hope so too.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Be sure to watch my reel I made about how to say my name, and that will help a lot.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, that was hilarious. That was so hilarious. But yeah, for y'all who are listening, it will be in the notes section. But it's C-H-E-M-I-N-N-E and TS os for Taylor-Smith.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Ooh, she gets a gold star.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, well, I'm gonna give myself up. It's because it's on your Zoom account. I didn't even have to look. I cheated. That's what you call a productivity hack. There you go.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: That was a hack, yes.
Michelle Lynne: So y'all go follow Cheminne, check out her website as well. She has just been a blessing to me and my business. And just, you've probably noticed it now, just so kind as well. So thank you, I will make sure everything's in the show notes. And also, for the rest of y'all who can benefit from more resources surrounding the business of running your interior design business, don't forget to join the growing community on my Facebook private group. And yeah, I know it's Facebook. Not everybody loves it, but just hop on in, go to the launch pad. It's called The Interior Designers Business Launchpad. I go live there once a week. And we just have a lot of fun and a lot of good community support because a rising tide lifts all ships. So thanks again, Cheminne.
Cheminne Taylor-Smith: Thank you.
Michelle Lynne: Hey, y'all, if you love the show and find it useful, I would really appreciate it if you would share with your friends and followers. And if you like what you're hearing, want to put a face with a name, and get even more business advice, then join me in my Facebook group, The Interior Designers Business Launchpad. Yeah, I know it's Facebook, but just come on in for the training and then leave without scrolling your feed. It's fine. I promise you'll enjoy it. And finally, I hear it's good for business to get ratings on your podcast. So please drop yours on whatever platform you use to listen to this. We're all about community over competition. So let's work on elevating our industry, one designer at a time. See you next time.