The crucial advice I wish I knew before I started my interior design business

 starting an interior design business

Fall 1999 – Monday morning rush hour and I’m on the highway to hell.
I’m returning to work after a short leave. I talked to the HR Department just last week to confirm today was the date I return to work.
It’s a typical Monday except my hands are sweaty on the steering wheel, and I feel sick to my stomach at the thought of returning to my cubicle.
Technically, I’m in a creative field, but most of the time, it doesn’t really feel creative. I’m one of three hundred designers working for the largest architectural firm in the state. The last project I worked on for them was detailing brass handrails for a shopping mall. Do you know how many linear feet of handrails exist in a two story mall? I didn’t know either, but I can tell you this – the number is truly mind numbing.
I’m nearly crying hysterically as I drive around and around in the parking deck searching for a space.
Finally, I pull myself together and make my way to the twenty-seventh floor of tower one.
As the woman in the HR Department gathers a folder with various papers for me to sign and direct deposit slips, I hear myself whisper, “I quit.”
The woman looks up and says, “Excuse me, Honey?” I take a breath, clear my throat and confidently announce, “I quit”.
Confused, the woman shuffles the papers, double checks my name, and asks, “Weren’t you suppose to be starting back to work today?”  “Yeah, I changed my mind,” I hear my mouth saying as I shift my weight from foot to foot.
“In that case, we need to do an exit interview,” the woman says as she turns to get a different set of paperwork.
///
This scenario took place about six months prior to me hanging my shingle and starting my residential design business. I was afraid. I knew I couldn’t stay where I was – it was killing me – but I didn’t know what life would be like afterward, and that uncertainty terrified me, too.
I wish I could go back in time and tell the old me how it all turns out, but I can’t, so I’ll share these things with you instead.

The important pieces of advice I would tell the old me:

  1. Do not make rash decisions (or send emails or, ahem, quit your job) when you’re highly emotional. Mull it over for a day or two or seven. Then put a plan in place, save some money for basics like web hosting, email providers, and food. I wasted time for months trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself. A plan will evolve and change but it can also give you the clarity you need to move forward.
  1. Keep a running list of all of your victories, big and small. When you’re on the never-ending treadmill of entrepreneurship and you believe you’re not making any headway, you’ll have a list of accomplishments to remember.  If you got showered and dressed four days in a row, finally got 50 people to like your Facebook Page, and published that first blog post, you DO deserve a gold star. It’s all about perspective.
  1. For the love of all that is holy do not set your fees at rock bottom. You know what’s at the bottom? Bottom Feeders. I mean, don’t set your rates at $1000 an hour like Nate Berkus (I have no idea what his rates are-just sayin’) but do remember that you’ve got to eat and it’s OK to make money from your talents. You ARE worth it.
  1.  You know more than you think you do. You may have just started your business or maybe you’ve just graduated, but your years of formal and informal training have been preparing you to be a designer all your life. Don’t discount that.crucial advice you need to know before starting an interior design business
  1. Find a mentor or group of designers for emotional and industry support as soon as possible. A mentor can help with the business side of running a design business like setting up systems, contracts, and trade sources, and the emotional support will be priceless. Trust me on this.
  1. Source to-the-trade items immediately. Do not get caught in sourcing from retailers that offer designers minuscule discounts. The pocket change is not worth your time and you’ll wind up known as that designer who picks stuff from Pottery Barn. That’s not a good niche.
  1. Don’t worry about what the “competition” is doing. We all have ups and downs in this business and its easy to get distracted by someone else’s highlight reel. There is enough work for everyone. Don’t fall into a lack mindset. Remember, collaboration over competition. Work hard, share ideas and resources, be nice to others and keep your eyes on your own path.
If you’re just starting out, I’ve been just where you are. In fact, when I first started my interior design business, I thought I would never get any clients. It was frustrating and scary and I thought i was destined to eat beans and rice indefinitely.
But you know what? I did eventually land a client that wasn’t a family member or friend of a friend.
Now, I have dozens of satisfied clients – I make people happy by doing what I love every day. You can make it, too.
You may second guess yourself, and believe you’re not creative but hang in there. It is so worth it to make a living doing what comes easy to you and what you’re passionate about.
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Red Carpet Fashion Inspiration to Room Interpretation

Award season came to an unfortunate and awkward close last night with the confusing plot twist at the end of The Academy Awards with the Best Picture winner announcement. That was totally crazy, huh? I felt so bad for the cast of La La Land and Moonlight.

I haven’t seen either movie yet, but can’t wait to see them now.

Either way, the red carpet was full of fashion eye candy and with this post I get to have fun fusing the worlds of Hollywood, fashion, and interiors with my red carpet fashion inspiration room interpretation postings.

I’m not sure when I started watching, became obsessed with the award shows but the glitz and glam of Hollywood  has long been an inspiration for me as well as the couture fashion houses.

Interiors tend to follow the trends of fashion design in many ways. Be it color, cultural influences, or textures. This past winter velvet was having a moment in the fashion world. Trust me you will see velvet textures emerge for interiors this 2017 winter season in pillows, drapes, and even sofas for the daring. It just takes a little longer for the interior world to embrace and adapt the trend.

The leading ladies didn’t have all the fun, the leading gents got in on the action too. In fact, I almost enjoyed the masculine room interpretations more. I like seeing men step out of the boring basic tuxedo and add a little more style to their suits, like Ryan Gosling and Mahershala Ali.

Tell me, which room interpretation is your favorite?  Which did I nail? Totally miss?

Enjoy!

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Viola Davis (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Viola Davis was stunning in this red dress as she made history as an actress to win a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar.

 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Room Source

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Loved the retro shirt with the lettuce edge bib detail down the  front Ryan wore to jazz up his tux. Ha, see what I did there?

 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Emma Stone wore my favorite dress of the night! The gold brocade, the long fringe makes me want to shimmy right here in my seat. You know you want to do it too.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe interiors


 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe interiors

Actor Halle Berry (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe interiors

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe interiors


red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe interiors

Kirsten Dunst (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Can’t go wrong here, classic dress all around, love the shoes!

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe interiors

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Singer/actor Janelle Monae (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

This dress is whimsical with all of the different textures, lace, and beading. Texture plays a critical role in my neutral rooms.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

TV personality Brad Goreski (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Blue velvet dinner jacket sure helps you to stand out form the crowd Mr. Goreski.

 

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Who can resist feathers? Not me!

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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This light fixture! I’d give anything to see it in person.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Here is the classic vampy velvet dress  worn so well by Taraji P. Henson

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Actor Naomie Harris (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

I love the simpleness of this white tailored sequin dress, note the miss-matched yellow suede sandals.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Nice black on black tux with a pop of pattern with the pocket square sported by Mahershala Ali.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation


red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

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red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

 


 

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Dev Patel (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

I think I love a white dinner jacket and the man bold enough to eat in one better than the traditional black jacket.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation by Elle C. Wolfe Interiors

Room Source

This neutral room is anything but boring with the handsome play of textures and shine, and it maintains its masculinity.

red carpet fashion inspiration to room interpretation

Woohoo, this was fun. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.  I’m almost tempted to do more of these with the After-Party looks. Celebs tend to be more daring and let their hair down with outfit selections and who knows what room interpretations those may inspire.

 

 

 

Who’s your Leading Lady Persona?

Are you down to earth, girly glam, bold and mysterious or poised and refined?

Are you wondering what in the heck I’m talking about?

The website has gotten  a little update, its still a work in progress. More branding changes  in the near future, progress over perfection, right? So,   I’ve been slaving to create this fun and informative quiz. Its called Who’s your leading lady persona?

We are all Leading Ladies in our own life stories. This quiz is a fun way for you to accept the role of Leading Lady and reveal a bit about your design style.  Wanna play? Answer the quiz questions  to reveal your Leading Lady Persona result and get a 10 page booklet with all sorts of personality and design information.

You’re the Leading Lady in your life story. Take the quiz to reveal your leading design style.

Hey, if you enjoyed the quiz I would love it if you shared it with your  social media community.

Elle-C.-Wolfe-AltMark