Episode 115: Where Are They Now? A Conversation w/ Former Students Of The Interior Design Business Bakery

Business Interior Design Coach Michelle Lynne

Show Notes: 

In this episode I am coming to you live from the Las Vegas Market and I am interviewing two of my friends and former students Ivan Piniero and Heather Vercellino, of the Interior Design Business Bakery. They both now have thriving businesses from two very different backgrounds and you will get to hear each of them tell their stories of their individual journey to get where they are now from the first days of their business.

In this episode you will get to hear where they each started, why they joined The Bakery, and the mindset around what it takes to go all in and create the interior design business you desire. 

You’ll learn how Ivan got his first clients ever for his design business while still juggling his corporate job and what you can learn and implement from that, as well as why Heather is so grateful that she went all in and joined The Interior Design Business Bakery and how building her business the right way allowed her to be able to live a life and be there for her family while maintaining a thriving business. 

The thing that brings them together is their love for design and their experience in The Interior Design Business Bakery which is both powerful in helping you build the foundations of your business, AND bringing people together with a powerful community that we will share for years to come which you’ll see is crucial for long term success in this business. 

Thank you for listening, and if you enjoy the show, please don’t forget to rate and review it! 


It would be very much appreciated if you would leave a rating and review wherever you listen to podcasts. It really helps to keep the show relevant, and I would love to come back to see some of your kind words. Enjoy this fall weather, and take some breathing time for yourself too!


About Michelle: 

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.


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A Podcast Launch Bestie production


 [00:00:00] Hey, y'all. Welcome back to the design for the creative mind podcast. I have a very special episode for you today. I recorded this when I was at the Las Vegas market. I was on a podcasting panel with Luann Nygara, Rick Campos, and the hot young designers, podcasters, which was super fun.

But while I was there talking about podcasting, we went ahead and recorded a couple of episodes. This first one, I am speaking with Heather Versalino and Ivan Pinedo. They are both graduates of the interior design business bakery. If you're not familiar with the interior design business bakery, it is an intimate 12 month mentorship program where interior designers grow their business from low and six figure revenue to multiple six figures with the profits and the passion baked in.

So our conversation is surrounding their experience within the bakery, like where they were before, what they experienced during the bakery, [00:01:00] and where they are now. So this is more of a where are they now type of conversation versus a case study. And these two individuals, and you're going to hear a lot of laughter and giggles and just, we had such a great time recording it, but they come from completely different backgrounds.

Heather had been in business for a few years when she joined the bakery and is classically trained. I believe she has her degree in interior design. Whereas Ivan, when we met him and when he joined the interior design business bakery, he was still working for a corporate and completely unrelated industry.

So he was working for corporate. He had since quit his job and is doing extremely well in his business as well. So you will hear from them. And asking some very pointed questions. One of the things I pride myself on, for myself, but I was so excited that Heather and Ivan felt compelled to share the good, the bad and the ugly.

So you're going to get some really great insight here. I did not pay them for it. I didn't [00:02:00] give them anything free for their time. I think that we all just really enjoy when we find something that we love. We like to share it with others. So, I hope you enjoy it and stay tuned because next week we're actually going to be talking to Heather and hear from her husband as well.

So enjoy this episode and thank you for your time. [00:03:00] Well, welcome back, everybody. I'm so glad you guys are here. I am at Las Vegas Market with our students. We call them the bakers. So, right now, Ivan Piniero, is that how you say my name, Piniero? Yes, kind of like that. You nailed it, actually. A little bit of my Spanish background comes in handy.

Michelle: So, we're going to chat with Ivan, and then when Heather gets here, we're going to pause and introduce her and have a conversation with all of us together. So, this is just a fun kind of reunion at Vegas Market. So, if you hear background noise or whatnot, forgive us, and I didn't even bother , hauling up my microphone, because I was schlepping it around in a bag and at the market. So here we go. Ivan, thanks for being here. Thank you for inviting me. I'm like, you told me I was like, Oh my [00:04:00] God, this is going to be so much fun. So, very much fun. So. What I want to do is I want to take the listeners through your story because you're not the individual who went to design school, graduated, started your business and just lived happily ever after.

So, When we first connected, what were you doing for a job when we first connected, I was doing corporate America. So I work for a company that does third party administration for others. So, I did all the disability leaves. Fun. Not really. You were stuck to a desk. Yes, I was stuck to a desk and I was also a leader.

So I had 10 people reporting to me. So yeah, it was challenging. Not so fun. And I was, I had design in my mind almost every day. Absolutely. So, how did we connect? So, I always say this, , it was a creepy Facebook ad, and I'm like, why does it keep popping up? I only probably did [00:05:00] like a Google search a couple times.

Right. And then my Facebook started aggressively. Isn't that crazy how technology works? It's like I was there. Yeah. I then came to the workshop. Yes. And you know what? I said, this is fine. You know, I have to go for it. So that's how that's how I just signed up. Yeah. Well, it was free. So, you know, if it sucked, it wasn't like you're going to lose any money.

Exactly. So that was the rolling in the dough workshop. Yes. And you were still working corporate. I was still, so did you like to sneak out into the break room and watch it? So I, I, that was the beauty of it though. It was very flexible. So I. I remember I did request a time, um, for those days to work a different shift.

So, I mean, there you go. The rolling in the dough was just, it was easy enough, like an hour or so every day, so, yeah. Oh, that's fun, fun, fun. Okay, so you went through the rolling in the dough, stayed in corporate. Yes. Um, and then what were you thinking at that point? I was, [00:06:00] I was super scared because I know when I put an idea in my mind, yeah, I just don't let it go and go back world.

Um, and again, we're in the middle of a pandemic, I had just moved to Las Vegas as well. Right, right. Because you moved from Florida, right from Orlando, Florida, so I moved to Las Vegas. And of course I also had extra time in the afternoon because of the time difference. I was working Eastern time here in Las Vegas.

 Getting up at 4 a. m. every day to work and then at 1 p. m. I was done and I will just invest my time in whatever you wanted to do, what I wanted to do. to do. So that gave me kind of like that opportunity. Oh, that does work nicely. So it wasn't a standard eight to five job. You had some flexibility for yourself.

It was eight to five in Orlando, but

, so from that rolling in the dough workshop, is that when you joined the bakery, the interior design business bakery, or did you wait and then go back to join it? I waited like a day.

 Like I said, when I put an idea in my mind, I just have to go for it in order to do it and finish it. [00:07:00] And I'm like, I'm going to go all in or I don't. Right. So I went, I signed up for the bakery. I signed up for the summit and I did everything. You did it at the same time. Oh my gosh. Yes.

Cause that's when, okay. So that's a funny story. So y'all, I've been signed up for the interior design business bakery. Do you remember what month that was? It was probably September of 2021. And then the summit was probably October or November ish. Yeah. And then while you were there, and you guys will get to meet Heather here in just a little bit.

While you were there , tell us about your conversation with Heather. It was ongoing and repeated. It was ongoing. So I met Heather, of course, we already had started that relationship through the bakery. So it was just amazing to meet everybody in person. , but. Heather, right from the get go , started saying that I needed to leave my corporate job.

 That was the ongoing conversation with Heather. That was so funny because she [00:08:00] kept nudging you. Yeah. I, by that time I still had my corporate job, but I wasn't really into what interior design was. You know, , and one, one of the two was going to suffer if I didn't make a decision anyways.

That makes sense. Yeah. And, and you couldn't be working from four in the morning until five in the afternoon, six, seven, eight in the evening. Or even more sometimes. Yeah. I totally get it. I started my business while I was in corporate and stair stepped out of management and finally said, sayonara.

 So, Heather kept telling you in, I think it was October of that year. Yeah. Quit your corporate job. Quit your corporate job. Yeah. So, I remember this, like, today Rick Campos was there. , we had our cocktail time, , one of the evenings and. I remember Heather, , really, we were all strangers, we just interacted on Zoom.

Yeah, so Heather just stood up, we did a toast for me leaving my job, and I had to hang on. That was October. And I didn't leave until the following year, until [00:09:00] March, the following year. But you had, you were building your foundation , with what you were learning in the bakery. So yeah, you couldn't have left the next day.

Yeah, , no, no. And then, and again, you have that cushion of your patient coming in and it's a very comfortable place. So I knew at some point I had to get uncomfortable. Um, that makes sense. Yes, I have to get uncomfortable. Yes or yes. If I want it, I really wanted to do it. And one day, , I just did a design presentation with a lead that I got and they said yes, and that exact same day, I put in my two weeks notice.

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! That's amazing. Yeah. So you secured your first project, and you were like, okay, this is gonna work, I'm diving in. Yep. So what's happened since then? So since then, , everything has just... The flow has just been natural. When you invest in something a hundred percent, that's going to pay off a hundred percent.

Sometimes it's not that pretty, you know, and sometimes you get worried. Oh my gosh, the leads, where are they? But they always are there. If you [00:10:00] keep doing it and just consistency. But also you have that mindset. Because you could go either like, they're there, those leads are waiting for me, or, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, they're gone.

So I think if you, if you believe that they're there, you're going to find them. Right. And, um, again, I was juggling with my full time, which was really demanding, with 11 people reporting to me. . Then my first design project. I knew I had to do it because, again, one of the two was going to suffer. Either I was going to keep my full time job and ignore a future break because I couldn't handle anything else.

It was just that project. And , whatever will come after that, you'll have to ignore completely. So yeah. . . So it's like, you've got your foot half in. Yes, absolutely. You have to make a choice at that point. Don't you have to have a personal life? Right. Like, how can you navigate that? Didn't know how I was doing it.

Um, but it was happening. So, well, I think it goes to show that when you, when you, like, you just, when you know what you want and you [00:11:00] pursue it with your all out passion, it comes together and you do hard things knowing it's temporary because you can, I think we can all navigate. A difficult season in our life, knowing that it's temporary.

Right. And, and again, everything goes back to the bakery for me because if I hadn't signed up for it, I would have expedited. Right. What I didn't know. , and what would have taken me probably a couple years, three years, it was just everything was concentrated. Yes. And it leads you through that progression and then you have the, um, the community that helps you when you have questions and so forth.

So that, I think that has been. You know, such a blessing that it's not just on my team or me, but it's the community where you get answers. Like you have your little, you know, your little friendship group that you developed from, from there. So how are [00:12:00] you, how were you? Cause I know a lot of the listeners are like, how do you get leads?

Like, how do you get started? So , you had your one project and then you were like, okay, see you guys later. I'm doing this full time. Where did some of the others come from? It was really interesting at the beginning , because again, like many, many of us who were starting, we don't have the content to put out on social media.

So again, many ideas came from the bakery, other ideas just popped up. Um, so the approach that I took with social media was Just put renderings out there and put vignettes and yes, and just put myself out there because people if you're not active, people are not going to see it. So that's how I did it.

And of course, I don't know where I haven't paid Instagram any money for any leads. . And I get them through there. I have tried. Advertising through other venues, and those bring nothing. Everything has to be through Instagram. That's the same for us. It's Instagram and Google. Yeah. And for the most part, , like you, we have done paid ads , and all the things.

And it's nice because [00:13:00] I think you have that visibility, but besides that it's just not going to drive business and I have even after it hasn't worked because I'm like, let me just try it you know you should try whatever works for you. 

 Well guess who's walking up? Miss Heather. Heather Versalina. Okay, hold on. I'm going to pause. We'll be right back. All right, y'all. So here we are at Market. Like real time been sitting here chatting with Ivan for the past 20 minutes and Heather Vercellino just flew in, I get a text you might have even heard the ding on the recording, saying, I'm five minutes out.

She just flew in from Detroit. And , Heather, welcome. I'm so glad you're here. It's good to be here. I know. So fun. It's like a reunion. It is. Ivan was just telling the story. We got to the point where he had left corporate. Yes. And , how he was getting leads, which I thought was super interesting. , let's pick up there real fast.

You were going to listings. Yes. So what I did was I wanted to [00:14:00] reach. The neighborhoods that I want to reach, you know, so I went to those and went to a realtor. com. I remember, and I pulled listings because somebody else here has a little cookie Connor. So let's just feel like the room. And I went through the listing pictures and I remember choosing a, it was like a great room and a living room.

Right. And it was just an empty room listed. Yeah, and I, the measurements and I put everything together in our rendering, which was not perfect, but it was just, yeah, but that's great. And I did sign up for the room and I put that out there and that was my first lead. Very cool. Like that's in that same week.

Y'all need to write that down and do the same thing. That's a great idea. Yes. Yep. So Heather, you had been in business for a while when we connected. Yeah. Now, did you get, your hair looks really pretty. Is it, did you color it? I know I'm going down a bunny trail. Yeah. I've got some dry shampoo and a few injections and you know.

 Okay, squirrel. I [00:15:00] haven't seen these people in a while y'all. So you have been in business for a couple of years. Yeah. Now were you in the same workshop that I was in the very first round. That's right. So that would have been in February. Yeah, so you have been in the bakery for a while when Ivan came on board.

Yes. Yeah. But we met at Summit. . And like instant besties. Yes. It's totally true. You guys are like work spouses.

Well, there's no benefits that go with it, but he's always with you at the Marketplace. You didn't ask me if I was my husband, but we're both like, did each other laugh.

 That is too funny, but you know, you guys have been so inseparable. Yes. You know, you guys are at markets together. You met at the summit, you went back to the summit. Yeah. So that was fun. So y'all I've got a interior design business success summit that we do annually this year, it's in the spring due to unforeseen changes.

Yeah. Yeah. Cause Nicole used to help me with it. And so, yeah, I've got too many things on my plate too. Try to pull that together in the next [00:16:00] couple months. So yeah, we'll be doing it in the spring. And who knows, that might be a new tradition. Yeah, from summit home and then I went to market. Yes. So I mean, that's so crazy. I can't believe I'm exhausted just thinking about your schedule. Okay, so you, , you came into the bakery for the first round. So you were like the OG baker. Yeah. And then , what did your business look like beforehand?

So you had been in interior design for a couple of years. Yeah. So I'll give you the cliff notes version. So it was, , Oh, what was it like January, 2021 ish. And I just had my third child, she was born in October, and then we moved, and you know it was post COVID, and I realized at that point that if I'm going to be a mom of three kids and run a business, it's going to be a business.

I'm not running a hobby anymore, I'm not doing this to make 1, 000 [00:17:00] here or there. I either am going to commit and invest my time into this and structure it like a business. Right. Or I'm going to let go of that. Um, so I, and I didn't want to do that. And I think at that time when I was pregnant with my third, I realized I didn't know a single other mom with three kids that was working.

Yeah. And so there was this like, I didn't really know how it was going to look and I was a little anxious about it. And I found your name through a Facebook group, and I did the five day workshop, and I was like, you know, I'm just going to try it and it rocked my world because it was everything I needed to hear from a.

 Worth and identity standpoint, because the month prior I did not send out a single invoice for my time, and I didn't feel as though I was worth what I was putting out. , and I was also, you know, just a mom, 

I felt like I was juggling a [00:18:00] lot and. , all at the same time, you know, there was no structure to what I was doing. I was, yeah, with the kids, they were sitting on my lap, my daughter, I have pictures of her sitting on my lap while doing the rolling in the dough workshop. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yeah. I feel like nursing.

My like, camera would be on my chin and but I knew at that moment a shift needed to take place and I am definitely an all or nothing kind of person. 

It's like, if I'm going to do something, like I am going hard, you know, yes. And so I. , I took the investment at the time to join the bakery and I say investment because, , you know, as a business owner, strategic investments have potential for great reward. And the reward that I gained from that was financial, relational, , I'm a better mom.

I'm a better wife. I use the tools that I learned with the bakery to encourage my husband to quit his job. And now we're both [00:19:00] entrepreneurs. Oh, that's so exciting. Yeah, yeah. I have like 10 resignations under your belt. Yes, I did tell the girl, I referred you to the girls. Sitting next to me on the airplane.

And I was like, you know, like, if you talk to me long enough, you're going to quit your job before we lay out. And she wants, she's here as a rep and she wants to start her own business as her, you know, retirement journey. And I was like,

I know you guys, we just need to, we need to get you your own special code. Just hang out on the business card. I like it. Yeah, absolutely. Get some extra commission going on there. Yeah, so fast forward now, it's yeah, two and a half years since the bakery. And what does that look like now? Well, I have a Five kids?

I'm just kidding. You can talk to Joe about that. Joe would have 10 if he wanted. Oh my gosh. I still have three kids, and I now have a studio slash [00:20:00] showroom. Nice. We've got about 1, 500 square feet of showroom space, we've got a conference room, a studio, and then a resource room, and I've got a team of myself and two other designers , and the community that we've gained from the bakery.

, it's not just Ivan. We have friends that we're in regular group chats with. , and then honestly, just using the tools that I've learned from you to encourage other people has been, , in a cheesy way, like the camp that keeps on giving, because I really delight in seeing my peers thrive. Yes. I think that that's just like, that has been such a thread of the individuals.

The bakery is just all about the community and lifting others around them as well. I just thought about this. This is the bakery that has no calories.

 Do the cupcake that can last forever. Not on the bus. All of that cake . [00:21:00] Actually, it's like, like I'm a cheese person. Oh yeah. So maybe like a, that's what I had on the plane yesterday was their cheese plate. Yeah. Oh yeah. I'll take it. . Oh, that is so fun. So I love hearing how. Life was before and how life is afterwards.

Yeah. , I don't have any other words. I just can share another really cool story? Yeah. I mean, I could talk all day, , so about a month ago my mom was diagnosed with leukemia. Oh. And yeah. Yeah. It's been, it's been really hard. Yeah. And , It's really amazing as a business owner to look at this season.

And my goal, , in this season is to be the best daughter I can be for my mom. And that is my driving force. I told my mom, I know nothing about anything medical. So I'm not here to give you any advice, but I am here to be a good daughter for you. And two years ago. [00:22:00] I don't know that I would have been able to say that and have my actions back that up because as a business owner, your life and your business is so woven together that what I did not know two years ago is that I was setting the infrastructure to be able to like thrive and not just survive, , well, life kind of hits you in unexpected ways, you know, and so on.

, I have a team, I have processes, I have automation set up now to where I can rely on that and know that the business will sustain itself. It's kind of like your story, being able to go on maternity leave, but that was planned. And so we call it the Fiji factor. Yes, yes. But. Live every day, build your business today, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, whether it's business or if it's your personal life, because [00:23:00] truly like, I, am able to have peace with my business and not let that overflow the stress of what's going to happen, overflow in an already unknown situation that I'm dealing with your mom.

Yeah. That's great. Cool. Yeah. I'm sorry about your mom. That's tough. Is she local with you? She is. Okay. Well, that's a blessing. It really is. And she's so strong. If anyone can beat it, she can. So I'll keep her in my prayers. That's a lot. That is a lot. Yeah. Well, I was so excited to have you guys both here and I love you here.

And it's so fun because you guys have such different stories. Yeah. So, you know, for the listeners, you know, I've been coming out of corporate and just walking away from that and, and, and knowing that it was going to be a bit of a struggle, but still having the fortitude to, to power through it. And you having been at that point where you're like, okay, I've got family and I've got my work and this is hard to navigate and grow.

I can't even imagine like three kids. Same. [00:24:00] Yeah. Yeah. How old are they? Two, four, and six. Two, four, and six. Yeah. Because I have that five year old and trying to navigate business in one kid is plenty. Yes. I'm really old. So I just clam tired. You are not.

Oh, so that is so fun. And I love the fact that, you know, you came through the first round of the bakery and then Ivan, you know, has worked yourself in as well. And as we grow. The bakery has just continued to evolve and it's because of your feedback and your support and all of that. So thank you guys.

It's so appreciated. It's my pleasure. Yeah. Well, thanks for being here. And for those of you who are listening, you can head over to the Facebook group. It's called the interior designers business launch pad. That's where we hold our rolling in the dough workshops. And then also if you're interested in the interior design business bakery, you can go to Designed For the Creative Mind.com and you'll find all the information [00:25:00] as well as this podcast there. So thanks for joining us. Thanks guys. Oh yes. Thank you.

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