Episode 87: Finding Your Passion in the Midst of a Storm with Desiree Washington
My next guest started her business two months before the pandemic and during her first year of motherhood. Desiree Washington founded Designs By Des Interiors to help busy moms and professionals like herself create healthy spaces that would foster growth. By working through her own challenging experiences, she created healthy, comfortable environments for her growing family through a budget-friendly approach.
With a background in architecture, lighting, and psychology, she has helped to create her empire around what she loves. Desiree has also completed the Interior Design Business Bakery Program.
Despite her prior education and experience, Desiree still encounters imposter syndrome. In this episode, we chat about how becoming a mom changed her outlook as a designer, her favorite part of having an interior design business, and her next big business move.
To learn more about working with Desiree and her team, visit www.designsbydesinteriors.com. You can also find her @DesignsByDesInteriors on all the social media platforms.
Book mentioned in this episode:
Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani
Text UPDATES to 214-380-1969 for all our DFCM updates.
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
Have ideas or suggestions or want to be considered as a guest on the show? Email me!
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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 woowoo, 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: Well, hello, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. This is Michelle Lynne, and I am super excited. Now, yes, I know I say that every single time. I'm always excited. I love, love, love having these guests on to introduce you to. I get to meet badass people; you get to learn about their experiences and so forth. So today, I want to introduce Desiree Washington. And she is a woman of color interior designer in Massachusetts, with a degree in architecture and a concentration in human factors in design. She's a mompreneur who founded Designs By Des Interiors two months before the pandemic and in the midst of hitting one year of motherhood. She's got a big mission to help other young professionals gain control over their inner worlds. DBDI specializes in multi-functional, yet luxurious spaces in New England. And she's passionate about teaching how to create healthy home habits. She believes, she and her team believe everything begins and ends at home. Woman, thanks for being here.
Desiree Washington: Thanks so much for having me, Michelle. I'm so excited.
Michelle Lynne: Oh my gosh, you started your business right before the world shut down.
Desiree Washington: Yes.
Michelle Lynne: And you're still here.
Desiree Washington: I'm still here, surviving.
Michelle Lynne: And going into motherhood. So how old is your, it's your son, right?
Desiree Washington: Yeah, he's three and a half now.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, we can compare some notes. I've got that four-year-old little tornado.
Desiree Washington: He's a tornado too.
Michelle Lynne: So much energy. I wish we could just bottle that and like resell it. Wouldn't that be nice?
Desiree Washington: Seriously. Oh, yeah, we'd be rich.
Michelle Lynne: Damn skippy. Oh, so fun. So Desiree, when did, like looking back, when did you know that interior design would be your career choice? I always wonder. Like, did you know it was even a career at any point in your life? How did you fall into it?
Desiree Washington: So this is interesting and kind of sad, I would say, in a way. So I didn't hear about interior design, really, until I was in corporate America after I graduated college. So went to school, I went to school for architecture, like I didn't really know of all the other professions like interior design, and like home styling, and that kind of thing. So just like how do you create a building without it crashing down kind of thing. When I graduated from college, I went into lighting design and that was where I started to learn more about what interior design was, but I didn't have a full understanding of it until I honestly started my own business and was like, I'm gonna start doing home decor because I love decorating. And then I really found out what I was really doing was interior design. So I was actually already in my business.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, wow.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. While doing interior design. So then, like a year in, I was like, people were like, you're undercharging yourself for what you're doing. And I was going off of home decor rates because that's what I looked up online. And then I was like, oh my gosh, like, yeah, what I'm doing is really interior design. And so I really didn't really know until like, I will say two years ago.
Michelle Lynne: Isn't it crazy?
Desiree Washington: Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: I'm really shocked that they didn't mention it in your architecture curriculum of any type.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, no, not really. No, we didn't learn about interior designers and how to even work with them or anything like that. It was more like structural stuff, how to design, conceptual, stuff like that.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Desiree Washington: Not really learning about the professions.
Michelle Lynne: No, and they don't teach that in interior design school. Like how to run a business and all the things.
Desiree Washington: Really?
Michelle Lynne: No, not at all.
Desiree Washington: Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. So what is the human factor in design?
Desiree Washington: So that's human psychology. So the whole thing I guess, with designers that we do is that we are always seeing how the human anatomy is influenced by our interior spaces. It's what human psychology really is about for design.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, interesting. So that was your concentration within. So that would be like colors and the light, I mean, like fluorescent versus incandescent probably has a whole lot just I mean,
Desiree Washington: Yeah, yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Ugh, just trying on a bathing suit with the fluorescent.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, like how your body perceives it, how your body is influenced by different colors, color theory, all things like that.
Michelle Lynne: I love that. Oh, that's very cool. That was very cool. So you were already doing interior design just by passion.
Desiree Washington: Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: And then realized, hey, this is actually something I can make a living off of.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, yeah. So I started my business while I was working full-time.
Michelle Lynne: Doing architecture?
Desiree Washington: No, I was doing lighting design in a lighting agency.
Michelle Lynne: That's right. Yep. Yep. Yep.
Desiree Washington: So I was almost seven years in. So no, actually, I was six years in and then started my business. So I was doing, like two things at the same time.
Michelle Lynne: Yep. I understand that. And momming.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, yeah. And I'm working from home then too, because so, Boston is about like, 50 minutes from my house. So with traffic, it's like an hour and a half. So I was commuting so much for so long. So they were already doing a hybrid work schedule before the pandemic. So I was like, working from home with my business and a full-time job and being a mom, so really three full-time jobs.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. Don't forget being a wife.
Desiree Washington: Oh yeah, four.
Michelle Lynne: I know, our poor husbands sometimes get lost there.
Desiree Washington: So true.
Michelle Lynne: Well, they don't hang on our legs like the kids do.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. Exactly.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that's exhausting.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. It was exhausting.
Michelle Lynne: So when did you end up leaving your corporate job to do what you're doing full-time?
Desiree Washington: So I was laid off during the pandemic. So the same month that I turned 30, and my son turned one, actually it was the same week in March, was when my business restructured and let me go. So that was when I catapulted like full-time into my business, because I didn't think that I could get a whole new job during the pandemic, and then try and work my business.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Desiree Washington: At that time people weren't doing hybrid work schedules that early in the pandemic, it wasn't until we were a little bit in it. So I didn't think I could find a job that was going to allow me to have the freedom that I had. So I said I'm gonna just stick this out and just keep on trying and grind through this. And that was when my business was really growing.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, wow.
Desiree Washington: So the first year, like, the first year, people weren't really comfortable with us coming to their houses. So I created like a remote hybrid kind of thing for a while. And then that full first year, I'd say going into my second year was when I just like really blew up.
Michelle Lynne: Oh wow. So yeah, you were scrappy while you were just growing it. Yeah, I totally understand that. It's like I'm gonna make this thing work because I'm not going back to corporate.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, exactly. It's like when you know what you have, it's like, you just can't go back anymore. It's like, I don't know. It's just you're so used to just all the things that you currently have.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, amen.
Desiree Washington: And I love being creative. I didn't feel so creative in my other job. And so for me, I just thought I could be a kid again, and be very playful with my work, and just having that energy again I was like, wow, it's amazing how much I was missing that.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, yeah. And it's because it's so gradual we just kind of lose that passion. I know a lot of people I bet you in our audience listening to this podcast can relate to that. Because we all it's like, have you ever heard the analogy, if you put a frog into a pot of water, and you turn the heat up, the frog is not going to jump out? He just gets used to it getting hotter and hotter and hotter and then he's boiled. Okay, but if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he jumps right out. But it's like you turn that heat up, and we just get used to that discomfort.
Desiree Washington: Oh, such a good analogy.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, except for the frog. That's a bummer if you’re the frog.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, poor frog.
Michelle Lynne: But yeah, that makes sense. So what's your favorite part of having an interior design business?
Desiree Washington: I think my favorite part is, I think being so one on one with a lot of my clients, because so, I don't work with everyone. And I’ve always been really good at reading people's energy. And so I always feel like if our energies are just not in sync, then I'm just not the designer for you. And I'm totally okay with that. But I have been around so many people that just have such strong relationships with me, and they become a part of my family, and just seeing their faces light up when I know that something that I did, brought joy to their life. Like that's just the feeling you just can't even really
Michelle Lynne: I think a lot of us can totally relate to that. It's just that, that joy of bringing happiness to somebody else, and they get to experience it every day. It's not just like, you know, a quick flower delivery.
Desiree Washington: Right, right, exactly. And just seeing that weight lifted off of them in that moment or seeing their space. It's just like
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, it's pretty awesome. I agree. So are you making money doing it now, or are you still undercharging?
Desiree Washington: I think I'm slowly not undercharging anymore. Ever since, ever since I was in the Design Bakery with you honestly, when I started seeing oh my gosh, I'm really undercharging.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Desiree Washington: But I slowly had to make that transition into, because also myself I had to unlearn a lot of things about myself too and my own worth and that kind of thing. And also, not trying to do work out of the lack mindset, which is what I was doing a lot of time during the pandemic. Obviously, this is now my full-time job and I'm like scrapping trying to
Michelle Lynne: Well, and the world shut down. So you know, you've got a lot of, those voices in our head are just fierce.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, that's exactly what they are. They are fears. And what I realized is that, during the pandemic, I was going back to old traumas that I didn't even realize I still had. And it's like, you know, when you're working for so long, in something that doesn't really fulfill you, you could sometimes kind of feel like a robot in a way you just like, kind of showing up, but you're not really, truly showing up.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Desiree Washington: So all that stuff starts to come up when you're like, with yourself for so long. You're like, oh, my gosh, like, I need to fix a lot of things. So I had a lot of that mindset shift that needed to happen earlier on before I started changing my fees and that kind of thing, just being more aligned with what I was trying to do.
Michelle Lynne: It's hard because it feels so personal. So in all, what do you call it? Transparency, I think? Desiree is a member of our Interior Design Business Bakery. Actually, you've wrapped that up?
Desiree Washington: Yeah, well, well, yeah. I took the designation, so now I have the certification. Yeah. But I'm still in the group. And I still go and rewatch videos from time to time.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, good. Good. Good. Good. I haven't seen you on the calls too much. But it's probably because you're working so damn much.
Desiree Washington: I'm on calls. But I'm also like, on mute sometimes when I'm at a client's house the same time you guys have calls.
Michelle Lynne: Yep, that makes sense. That makes perfect sense. So yeah. So I think it's interesting, because a lot of the people, a lot of the designers that I talk to, they feel like a little bit of an impostor syndrome coming into this. But it's also interesting that you had to go back and work on yourself. But you came out of architectural school. So you have more knowledge about some of the big things.
Desiree Washington: But I still had imposter syndrome. Yeah, I still had a big time.
Michelle Lynne: I get it.
Desiree Washington: Because my mindset was like, I didn't go to school for interior design. And I didn't work for an interior designer when I left the other job. I was in a lighting design firm. I wasn't in an interior design firm. So I had that impostor syndrome being like, well, how can I call myself an interior designer if I don't have a degree and all the things? So I even held off on even joining the IDS because of that, because I was like, I felt like I had to have all these things to call myself an interior designer.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, I totally get that.
Desiree Washington: I joined, by the way, about three weeks ago.
Michelle Lynne: Did you? Oh, good. So the Interior Design Society, I'm so glad to hear that. I love them. They're just such a welcoming, friendly group. And I've met them nationwide. And there's, I don't think there's a chapter that is snooty.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, I mean, the one that is close to me in Connecticut, is about like two and a half hours from me. So I haven't actually been to any of the in-person meetings quite yet. But I remember hearing you speak so highly of them, which is how I ended up joining.
Michelle Lynne: Oh good, good. Yes. I just think, like we talked about it all the time is community over competition. And I love our chapter because I get referrals from them for like contractors and wallpaper hangers and stuff like that. Just those little things that you can't put a price on because everybody wants each other to succeed. So it's been really nice.
Desiree Washington: I love that.
Michelle Lynne: I'm glad to hear that. Yeah. So what do you do now? I remember, so in the Interior Design Business Bakery, one of the first exercises is like, list all the reasons you're badass, right? And you kind of have to, it's kind of a dorky exercise, but you have to step into that and own your inner badassness.
Desiree Washington: Absolutely.
Michelle Lynne: How do you channel your inner badassness now?
Desiree Washington: So I have to get out of my head. I'm one of those people with a Type A personality, I tend to overthink, everything has to be perfect. So for me, I had to get out of my own head at the beginning of the day. So I usually will have at least 30 minutes to myself. I try to wake up before my son and my husband gets up to just have that time where it was me and God journaling, listening to some music that makes me feel like I'm a badass. And I also read. I try and get in as much time reading, even if it is just 10 minutes a day. I'm always reading something that's about personal development just to also get out of my head. That honestly has changed everything. Because I used to wake up and just go right into my email, go right into work, and I was scatterbrained all day.
Michelle Lynne: Oh yes, yes, yes. I totally get that. You're like a squirrel on cocaine.
Desiree Washington: Yes.
Michelle Lynne: I totally get it, if I don't get my mornings in. So now, what's your son's name?
Desiree Washington: Myles.
Michelle Lynne: Myles. So did the end of Daylight Savings Time jack up Myles's mornings?
Desiree Washington: Oh, yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Right? Whoever came up with that, man, I'm gonna bop them in the head.
Desiree Washington: They don't have kids, that's why.
Michelle Lynne: No. It was probably a single dude.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. Totally.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, Genevieve has been waking up, like she normally gets up at 7, sometimes 6:30, and then we go fall back, it's like 5:30 or 6 and I'm like, chick, I need my quiet time.
Desiree Washington: I know, I need that extra hour.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. I'm getting up at 4, 4:30, it's like, no, that's not gonna happen because then I need a nap.
Desiree Washington: Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: But I do think, good for you, I think it makes such a difference when you have just some semblance of a centering routine. Makes a big difference.
Desiree Washington: Big difference.
Michelle Lynne: What are you reading these days?
Desiree Washington: Um, what's the name of that book? It's with, I'm looking at my bookcase right now.
Michelle Lynne: I understand.
Desiree Washington: Um, oh, my gosh, I forgot the woman's name now.
Michelle Lynne: That's alright.
Desiree Washington: I just finished the one it's called bravery courageous I think is what it's called. No, brave over perfection. (Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani). And that book, I was reading it, so I honestly took so long thinking I didn't have time to read books. So someone was like, you just need five minutes, like five minutes a day start there. And I got through that book so fast, because I felt like she was speaking to me so much because of that whole perfectionism mindset that I developed when I was younger, and I was carrying it into my business. And once I finished that book, I was like, alright, time for me to grab the next book. I wish I can remember the name of the other book.
Michelle Lynne: That's okay. That is awesome.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. Brave, not perfectionism is what it's called, something like that.
Michelle Lynne: Something like that. That's good. Yeah, I remember reading one about perfection as well. And it was interesting. She intentionally put the name of the book backwards and upside down on the spine. And I'm like, okay, there you go. So it's, it's still on my bookshelf, and I read it years ago. And it was just like, that's a reminder.
Desiree Washington: I'll need to read that one too.
Michelle Lynne: I'll have to go look it up. It's something, it had a similar name. But yeah, I'll let you know what that one is. But I think perfection is just something to hide behind and not get started. At least that's what it was for me.
Desiree Washington: It was for me too.
Michelle Lynne: It's just like, it's a coward's way out. I'm not going to do it if I can't do it perfectly. So funny story, when I was in corporate, I was an area director for a boutique recruiting firm, like completely out of this industry, whatever. And it was small, and it was run by these three individuals, these three gentlemen, they were partners, and they would just roll shit out. They would just like roll it out and it wasn't done well. It wasn't done, whatever. My team and I would be like, this sucks. It's not done right. It's not finished. It's like, what? And now I'm like, I had to go back and apologize. I was like, Dave, my apologies. It's like, I get it. Done is better than perfect. Just get, sometimes just get that out, you know, proof of concept. And then you can go back and tweak it.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, absolutely. Because you waste so much time and it's never going to be perfect, ever.
Michelle Lynne: And what if it doesn't work? Like you just rolled out something perfect, and nobody ever gets to see it.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, and perfection is perception.
Desiree Washington: Hmm.
Michelle Lynne: So I might look at something that you've done and say, oh, that's amazing. It's perfect. And you're like, oh, no, it's only halfway done. So that also translates to our designs.
Desiree Washington: Oh, yeah. Big time.
Michelle Lynne: Do you find that you are searching for that perfect, perfect, perfect, insert item here?
Desiree Washington: Yeah, I have to self-correct a lot.
Michelle Lynne: Otherwise you lose money.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, because you're wasting so much time just trying to nitpick on little things. So I have to put a disclaimer out on some of the things I was doing with my design, because, so in our firm, we usually have to, we do like design, like we do our own e-design and 3d design, that kind of thing. A lot of times, they're seeing their design beforehand, but I always tell them, listen, this is computerized, it's not, like, this is not gonna be the end goal. Don't be married to this. And since that problem, and when I was working in corporate America, with people with lighting in their ceiling, they thought that like, it was gonna look the way that the renderings looked. And it's like, renderings are never ever a hundred percent. There are so many things in real life that computers can't like ever convey, but people who are not in our industry don't always understand that. So we just have to always teach them and
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, well it's like the filters on Instagram. That shit isn't real either.
Desiree Washington: Another good example. Yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Right?
Desiree Washington: So it'll be better. It'll be the best thing when it's done.
Michelle Lynne: Exactly. Trust me. Trust me, I'm a professional.
Michelle Lynne: Imagine trying to bake a cake without a recipe. You kind of know what the ingredients are, but you don't know how to put it all together. After lots of hard work and trying different combinations, all you are left with is a sticky situation and a stomachache. Babe, running an interior design business can feel exactly that same way. That is why I created the Interior Design Business Bakery. This is a program that teaches you how to bake your interior design business cake and eat it too. If you don't want to figure out the hard way, and you want guidance to follow, a recipe that has already been vetted, someone that has already been there and done it and will help you do it too, then check out the year-long mentorship and coaching program, The Interior Design Business Bakery. If your interior design business revenue is below $300,000 or if you're struggling to make a profit and keep your sanity, this is the only program for you. You can find that information at designedforthecreativemind.com/business-bakery. Check it out. You won't regret it.
Michelle Lynne: Now your family works with you.
Desiree Washington: Yes, yeah.
Michelle Lynne: Tell me how that works.
Desiree Washington: So my husband, my dad, my mom, and my sister.
Michelle Lynne: Amazing.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, so they each have their own roles. Most of them are involved with our staging part of the process. I'm still doing all the design work. But my mom is the one that comes out with me when we're sourcing and shopping for clients and that kind of thing. But she's also there for reveals. So my dad and my husband are the ones that are assembling all the furniture on the site usually. We do have a warehouse that we bring decor to but for the most part like they're the stagers and they're overseeing things. And then my sister is the one that helps us more so with our marketing stuff and like on the backend stuff.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, that's so cool. Keeping it in the family.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, absolutely. And then we have family time together, when a project is done, we go out to dinner together to celebrate.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, I love that. You're going to be putting Myles to work soon.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. Unfortunately, he is on job sites a lot more than I'd like to admit. So he's playing with the packaging and stuff.
Michelle Lynne: That's awesome though. I mean, heck yeah, keep it in the family. And he's also gonna see that you're setting an example. You know, our kids are watching so much. It's amazing.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. And he loves blocks. And so I'm like always saying, he's like learning from us from like how he stacks and everything like that. So we call him our little engineer.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, that is too cute. Yeah, soon, he's gonna be telling you what to do.
Desiree Washington: Oh, seriously.
Michelle Lynne: So how has becoming a mom, since Myles is still just under four, how has it changed your outlook as a designer?
Desiree Washington: Wow, I would say that becoming a mom has really been a big reality check for me. I think that because I think back to my perfectionism thing, again, like us moms, sometimes we just throw in the towel. We're just like, listen, today we're gonna follow the schedule today, like our schedules, if everything doesn't get done today, it's okay kind of thing. So I've had to really learn how to prioritize well because I tend to create long lists of things that have to get done in my business, my personal life, and I realize this is unrealistic. So being a mom has really helped me to navigate that like, getting rid of that checklist and what is the most important thing I need to do today in the business, as a mom, or even if I'm not in the business for that day, just showing up in a different way is fine with me. Because like, even though every single day, of course, I'm not saying I'm not working kind of thing, but when we're our own entrepreneurs, we still have to make sure that we're taking care of too. And so I'm always scheduling in those times too to have self-care dates with myself.
Michelle Lynne: Oh good. Yes.
Desiree Washington: And just getting out of the house and not always be in client's houses, like doing other things helps how I show up in my business.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, I love that. Did you get the planner that we sent?
Desiree Washington: Not yet. I'm trying to figure out where it is.
Michelle Lynne: What? Okay, I'm gonna write that down. Yeah, because we sent all of our bakers the planner that I designed. And that's one of the things that like, I couldn't figure out, like, I didn't like all the planners that I bought. Because sometimes it's like, if I get these three things, what are the top three things I have to get done today? Like, and it could be brush my teeth, you know? Or it could just be like, I've got a hair appointment. I need to pick something, some eggs up.
Desiree Washington: A shower.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, exactly. And then I need to get this email out. So these three things, at the end of the day, I'm going to be a success.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. I love that.
Michelle Lynne: But I'm bummed that you didn't get yours, Desiree. Okay, we did get one returned. I wonder if it was yours. I'll take a look tomorrow when I get back to the office.
Desiree Washington: Ok. Thanks.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, so I agree. It's like, you know, at the end of the day, we're not working in an operating room. Nobody's gonna die on our shift.
Desiree Washington: Right. Exactly. Like the things will get done. Like the project will be fine. It's okay.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I think we're also, we're always comparing ourselves to other people that we see on the internet or whatever. It's just, that's just the highlight reel, y'all.
Desiree Washington: Seriously.
Michelle Lynne: Because life as an entrepreneur is not pretty.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, and I make sure I have to do time blocks on even social media because I'm always comparing myself to other studios. Like, they just posted a reel today. I have to make sure I post my reel today.
Michelle Lynne: Or your sister. You said she does the marketing, right?
Desiree Washington: Yeah, well, she's more so like, more so like content creation, not the posting or that kind of thing.
Michelle Lynne: Gotcha. Yeah.
Desiree Washington: I'm still the one doing that.
Michelle Lynne: I understand that. I totally love that. Well, yeah and it's interesting because I love what you said that you still take time for yourself. But being a mom, being an entrepreneur, like doing all the things, it's not easy.
Desiree Washington: No.
Michelle Lynne: And then you have all those other things that come up. I think you'd written somewhere in your notes, you can be a mom and a wife and do what you love becoming either is not a death sentence, but it can be a renewal.
Desiree Washington: Hmm, uh huh.
Michelle Lynne: I think you wrote that in some of the notes that you sent over for our podcast. And I just thought that was really special because it's so true.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, because I feel like once we become moms, like, it's just that our world really shifts. Like us as women even, like, we just go into this whole new chapter of embodiment that's beautiful. And I mean, my postpartum was rough. So I'm not gonna say it was all rainbows and whatever. But what I'm saying is that it's just a new outlook for us to just look back at ourselves. And before we were moms and be like, why did I make that such a big deal?
Michelle Lynne: Yes.
Desiree Washington: Why did I do that?
Michelle Lynne: Now we just don't have the energy, Desiree. That's like, that's really bugging me but I'm not even going to fight it. Because I got this kid over here who needs to eat.
Desiree Washington: There we go. that's what it is.
Michelle Lynne: And she won't eat what she ate yesterday. Now she calls it disgusting. It's like, come on now, you had 17 of those meatballs yesterday, and now you think they're disgusting?
Desiree Washington: Now they're done with it. Go on to the next stage.
Michelle Lynne: Exactly. That is too funny. So what have you got up your sleeve, Desiree? What's your next business move?
Desiree Washington: Hiring an assistant.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, good. Good, good, good.
Desiree Washington: Ugh, I've been, oh my gosh, so many people have told me, Des, you need to get an assistant, Des, you need to get an assistant. But the reason why I didn't get an assistant was, once again around that perfectionism thing, thinking that no one could do it as well as me. And so I would not outsource that for anything. And they always say like, oh, one of the first things you should hire is an assistant to get things off your plate. But at the time I was like, but I want to still be able to have my family do all the things and feel like, I feel like they need to be there first before I started passing things on.
Michelle Lynne: That make sense. Somebody else outside of the family.
Desiree Washington: Yeah. But honestly, when I started realizing I really needed an assistant was when my physical body started breaking down.
Michelle Lynne: Ah, yes.
Desiree Washington: I literally saw like, okay Des, you're starting to get sick more frequently. That's a big trigger right there showing that you still need to prioritize yourself.
Michelle Lynne: It makes perfect sense. So are you going to hire them as a design assistant? Or like an administrative assistant? Or what are you looking at there?
Desiree Washington: So I think I'm gonna start first as administrative and then, because I don't think they'll be maybe the same person. I'm gonna just first, because right now I was thinking about like a virtual assistant. I've interviewed a few people. I'm actually closing down for January, counting down the days to that.
Michelle Lynne: Amen.
Desiree Washington: Closing down just to like recoup and all the things. So a lot of my clients are really booking in April right now. Just like, they're fine for now. But that's the time that I'm really centering myself and being like, okay, what are the things that I definitely need to get off my plate that's going to help get more time back. And then I also want to be able to get design, some design stuff off of my hands, too. So I can start, you know, taking on more projects because I'm like booked out far because I can only take on so much myself.
Michelle Lynne: Amen to that. And you have to step up and be the CEO and not the COO.
Desiree Washington: Yes.
Michelle Lynne: And doing that. So good for you for taking off some time and organizing that. And I think in the bakery, in the frosting section, there might be some content on that, on how to hire and things along that line.
Desiree Washington: Okay.
Michelle Lynne: So there's just some free information there as we're sitting here chatting about it, we'll just take a look there.
Desiree Washington: I love that frosting section.
Michelle Lynne: I know, right? But I think going through and offloading that, just write it all down. This is all the shit that somebody else can do. And also, what I learned as well with hiring Debbie and Megan, is that when you do bring somebody in, they sharpen your skills. So from a design standpoint, there's no threat, but they sharpen your skills and might be strong where you're weak, and you're strong where they're weak. And it's just, it's well worth it once you find that person, just make sure you check their references.
Desiree Washington: That's a good mindset adjustment. Like, from someone like I said, who struggles with that perfectionism mindset like that, it's just a matter of, okay rethinking what they can really do for your business and seeing ways.
Michelle Lynne: Oh girl, they elevated my business past where I ever could. Like, my clients were like, I had brought them on, we were working together, and then my clients were looking for more like handholding, like white glove concierge service and like, elevated designs. And I was like, I don't, I don't want to, no, I don't like people that much. I don't want to do this, I don't want to, you know, I don't want to be. So they were able to take my design firm to a place that I really didn't have the energy to do.
Desiree Washington: Wow, I love that. Did you hire one at a time or both at the same time?
Michelle Lynne: I hired Debbie, it was probably a year and a half to two years before Megs.
Desiree Washington: Oh, okay.
Michelle Lynne: And so they've helped me grow. And a lot of the stuff that we teach in the bakery, they were some of the guinea pigs when I started kind of backing out a little bit of the day-to-day. They're the ones who helped tweak it. So yeah, it's all relevant in that respect.
Desiree Washington: I love that.
Michelle Lynne: But yeah, yeah, no, definitely. It's a blessing to have somebody to come in plus, just bouncing ideas off of each other is so, I mean, we look at each other like how in the hell does anybody do this by themselves?
Desiree Washington: That's what I was gonna say, I miss that. Because like I said, I'm the only one that's designing. So I try to like, tell my mom, like, look at this, whatever. And she's just like, I like it, it looks cool.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, exactly. But different life experiences and stuff like that, you know, Debbie, she's taken kids and raised them and launched them great. You know, Megan, I joke because she was designing things for people who had kids and was putting a rug underneath the kitchen table. And Debbie said to Megan, no, you don't do that when you have kids, because they make a huge mess. So it was just that elevation and stuff like that. And then Megan would, you know, elevate Debbie on some other things. So it's been fun. I think you're gonna really enjoy it.
Desiree Washington: Okay, no, that's comforting to know, because I've definitely been struggling with that.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, I understand that. It's like your baby.
Desiree Washington: It really is.
Michelle Lynne: You don't just put Myles out to anybody.
Desiree Washington: Right, right. Exactly.
Michelle Lynne: Here's my kid, can you take care of him, please?
Desiree Washington: Exactly, exactly. Our businesses are our babies. And that's the thing that's always tough, like letting go of something too, because almost like a parent, like when you're like, I want to keep them little because I miss them like that.
Michelle Lynne: I know.
Desiree Washington: But it's like, but they have to grow and go.
Michelle Lynne: Yes, absolutely. And also, one thing that I learned from Barbara Corcoran, you know, she's that real estate mogul who is on Shark Tank now. I saw her at an event one time, and she said, okay, hire slow, fire fast. So shoot the dog early is what she said. It was like, okay, well, I don't really like that visual, but it makes sense. If this person's not working out, they're just not gonna work out. With as much loyalty and coaching as you're gonna give them, trust your instinct.
Desiree Washington: That's so true. Because the last thing you want to do is drag them through the mud. And then you're being dragged through the mud, and it just wastes time.
Michelle Lynne: And your reputation and your service level and all the things so.
Desiree Washington: It can kill your business if you just hold on to so much too long.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, exactly.
Desiree Washington: And it could kill you. It could just suck all your energy until you die.
Michelle Lynne: Either that or you will kill them. And then you get thrown in jail. And like all the bad things happen. I have no idea where we went with that, Desiree, but seriously, hire somebody that's great. All right. So I could totally sit here and talk to you about business for a while because I just can go down a bunny trail obviously and enjoy it. But the next segment, dun dun dunnnn, is the Q&A rapid-fire fun.
Desiree Washington: Woohoo, I'm ready.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, so we'll start with a soft one. What's your favorite ice cream?
Desiree Washington: Hmm, I love chocolate chip, and I'm really picky on the brand. It has to be Brighams.
Michelle Lynne: It has to be who?
Desiree Washington: Brighams. The classic Brighams.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, I don't think we have Brighams down in Dallas.
Desiree Washington: Oh, I was thinking that this was like a national thing. Or maybe it's just a New England thing.
Michelle Lynne: I don't know. Maybe. We have Blue Bell down here, which is amazing. And Braum's.
Desiree Washington: Oh, okay.
Michelle Lynne: So okay, chocolate chip. Now I know what to look for when I go back East. When was the last time you laughed until you almost peed yourself?
Desiree Washington: Oh my gosh. Probably at my husband doing something. My husband thinks he's like a comedian full-time. Bless him. He could never be a stand-up comedian on his own, but he loves making people laugh and he's not bad at it. But we have this stupid humor and there's something that was in the movie we were watching. I know everyone's gonna judge me when I say this, but Austin Powers Goldmember. It's such a stupid movie, but we will watch that movie certain scenes and just like laugh so hard.
Michelle Lynne: That is awesome. So it sounds like you've seen it a few times.
Desiree Washington: More than I'd like to admit, yes.
Michelle Lynne: That's awesome. That is awesome. All right. What was your favorite subject in school?
Desiree Washington: Ooh, I loved art.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, there you go, go figure, huh? What scares the hell out of you?
Desiree Washington: Oh, horror movies. I hate them.
Michelle Lynne: Hence Austin Powers.
Desiree Washington: If there was a horror version of Austin Powers, I would have to not watch.
Michelle Lynne: That's too funny. That is too funny. So Desiree, where do you find inspiration?
Desiree Washington: So I find inspiration usually honestly, outside.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, no, I understand that.
Desiree Washington: But like, nature teaches us so much, like so many things. I love nature.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, I do too. I understand that. And if nothing else is just God's color palette is always so perfect.
Desiree Washington: And so beautiful.
Michelle Lynne: Yes. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
Desiree Washington: I would say, just being a difference maker that is different than anyone else that's ever walked this earth. If that's even possible.
Michelle Lynne: Hell yeah, you were perfectly made.
Desiree Washington: So true. We're all beautiful in different ways.
Michelle Lynne: Yes. I think that's, that's accurate. It's a good lesson to teach our kids too, especially when everything is right now is so kind of homogenous.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, so true.
Michelle Lynne: That's a whole different podcast that I'm not even gonna go broach that subject. Okay. Innie belly button or an outie belly button?
Desiree Washington: I'm not gonna want to admit this. I used to be an innie but since I had a baby, now it's an outie.
Michelle Lynne: Girl, you're the second person who said that.
Desiree Washington: Really?
Michelle Lynne: Yeah.
Desiree Washington: I didn't know it was common. I was hoping that it would go back in like during postpartum. But it still, oh my gosh.
Michelle Lynne: Not so much. Poke poke poke.
Desiree Washington: Oh my gosh. It's worse and Myles pokes it too because he sees it and he's just like, thanks for reminding me, son.
Michelle Lynne: That one's for you, honey. That one's for you.
Desiree Washington: Exactly.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, Let's see, what is the best compliment you've ever received?
Desiree Washington: Ooh, the best compliment I've ever received is when someone told me that they felt my radiant light just being in my presence.
Michelle Lynne: Oh, I can see that. But that is really sweet that they like verbalized it and put that out there. Oh, I love that.
Desiree Washington: I lost my words when I heard. I was like,
Michelle Lynne: I know, you just want to cry.
Desiree Washington: I'm also like an emotional, like, I'm an overly emotional person. Like I feel everything a lot of times. So if someone says something to me I'm just like wah, crying.
Michelle Lynne: That's also what brings the light though.
Desiree Washington: Oh, that's so true. I didn't think of it that way.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah. I think that's part of it just because you feel and also because you have that empathy for others. Because you're not going to want to make them feel hurtful at all.
Desiree Washington: It gets in my sometimes, though. Putting other people first before myself and la la la.
Michelle Lynne: Sounds like you're learning.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, I am. I'm getting better.
Michelle Lynne: Well, that, and I think it comes with age and experience. And I can say that because I've got 20 something years on you. So no disrespect at all because I was the same way. And you just learn it's like screw that I'm gonna have different boundaries.
Desiree Washington: Hmm. Those boundaries.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, because you're learning it with work. Yeah. And oh, it doesn't hurt. If you won $10 million tomorrow, what would you spend it on?
Desiree Washington: Ten million dollars, that's a lot of money. But money is energy, right? Um, I think I would somehow put it back into the business to get it to the point where I can give it back outward so it can multiply.
Michelle Lynne: That makes sense. Yeah. So kind of invest it, reinvest it, and share it.
Desiree Washington: Yeah, yeah. And I'm really big on like, building up communities and that kind of thing. So I feel like some way I could serve my area and give back in some kind of way through my business.
Michelle Lynne: I love that. Yeah. I love that. Okay, last question. What would you pick for your last meal?
Desiree Washington: Ooh, that is tough.
Michelle Lynne: I know. I'm getting hungry right now too. It all sounds good.
I know. I'm like, isn't it lunchtime? As much as my mind wants to say something healthy because I'm still trying to work on my health. Be a better eater. Um, I think that I'm gonna go the pizza route though. But it has to be loaded with like, lots of meat.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, so meat lovers pizza. Is it deep dish? Is it thin crust? How's the sauce?
Desiree Washington: Oh, totally deep dish.
Michelle Lynne: Okay.
Desiree Washington: Deep Dish with a little bit of sauce.
Michelle Lynne: Yeah, we had that Friday. Chicago style. Mm, yeah. Where you have to have a fork and a knife?
Desiree Washington: Yes.
Michelle Lynne: Okay, yeah, I'm getting hungry. Well on that note, Desiree, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I'm gonna have to go chow down.
Desiree Washington: This was so much fun. Sorry if I made everyone hungry after this podcast.
Michelle Lynne: There you go. Well, I think that I bet, I'm sure that a lot of the audience just loved what you had to say. Because it's just down to earth. This is real. This is life. And you know, you're just such a joy. And it's just lovely. So thank you for being here.
Desiree Washington: Thank you. We're never alone.
Michelle Lynne: I'm sure you'll be an inspiration. Yeah.
Desiree Washington: Thank you.
Michelle Lynne: Yes. Now, how can our audience connect with you outside of this podcast?
Desiree Washington: So I am on Facebook and Instagram. On Instagram I'm @mrs.desedge, the period after the Mrs. I have not converted my name to my business name, long story. Facebook, it's just my business name, and I'm on TikTok.
Michelle Lynne: Ah, oh, there you go.
Desiree Washington: And then, you know, my website is my business name, designsbydesinteriors.com. But yeah, those are my main socials at the moment.
Michelle Lynne: Well, I will make sure that all of those are in the show notes so that people can reference back to them.
Desiree Washington: Thank you.
Michelle Lynne: And for those of you who can benefit from even more resources surrounding the business of running your interior design business, we've got a Facebook community. It's a private Facebook group called the Interior Designers Business Launchpad. And also as a gratuitous plug, we talked about it earlier with Desiree, the Interior Design Business Bakery. It's a one-year mentorship program, where you learn that the projects are always different, but the process should be the same. So Desiree, thank you so much for being here.
Desiree Washington: Thanks so much for having me. This was so fun.
Michelle Lynne: It was definitely fun. All right, y'all. Until next time.
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 the 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 fun. 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.