Designing Your Success

Designing Your Success

Tips for starting a successful interior design business

The design industry is booming! And we will see major proof of that this weekend at the Interior Design Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from January 18-21. This is one of the largest gatherings of designers and industry leaders in Canada and show organizers are expecting over 50,000 attendees this year!

We find it interesting how many amazing women are drawn to this field, including many of our members. Designers and decorators have the ability to change people’s homes (and lives!) and they get to use their creative talents on a daily business. The industry can be very lucrative, but it’s also competitive.

Here at Mamas and Co,. we have quite a few designers, decorators and stagers within our community, who are all extremely passionate about what they do. Some of them have been in the industry for a while so we asked them to share their top tips for anyone starting out in the business.

We love this tip from long-time member Julie O, owner and founder of Lux Furniture Rentals. Julie has over 10 years of industry experience and runs a 7-figure operation.

Julie says, “My number 1 tip is to network. Don't view others in your industry as competition but as people you can learn from and grow with. Network with the people in your industry as much as possible whether it be at social networking events, tradeshows or even Facebook groups. Help each other grow. It will in turn help you grow your knowledge, your passion, your confidence and increase your business.” (Incidentally this idea is very much in line with what Mamas & Co. is all about: “community over competition”!)

Melissa Peretti is a Toronto-based decorator and said one of her biggest challenges is the business aspect of things. She says she can’t believe “how much content I have to create! You have to establish yourself as an expert and gain the trust of prospective clients by conveying your style and personality while entertaining and informing them. Some days I feel more like a design blogger or magazine editor, and even a marketing strategist than an interior decorator. In order to attract the clients, you have to continually be promoting yourself... I spend more than half my week promoting, nurturing sales, and business tracking and planning.”

Like many of our conversations within Mamas & Co. there was a common thread of knowing the value you bring. “The work we do enhances people's lives. We improve the way people interact with their surroundings and create environments that bring joy. It's kind of a big deal. So never underestimate the value of what you do and never charge less than you know your time is worth,” says Julie Taylor of Julie Taylor Interiors.

Jassy Sidhu of JS Design & Styling had a similar tip: “I wish I knew to trust in the belief that I bring a lot of value to the table. In the beginning, I wanted any work I could get to justify leaving my other job. So, I would give freebies and discounts. I have since learned to ask for my worth. My price is my price and I stick to it. I'm not afraid to walk away from a client. If they aren't willing to pay my designated prices then they probably are not my ideal client.”

While improving your business knowledge is essential, it is equally important to continue to grow your creative skills as well. Linnea Lions of Linnea Lions Design has over 15 years of experience working with both commercial and residential properties and she advises the following: “Reach out of your comfort zone and aim to introduce something new in every new project. Material, design detail, colour... challenge yourself and you will feel more empowered as a designer.”

We also really loved these wise words from our long-time member Becky Freeman, the Property Stylist. With nearly 4000 Instagram followers, Becky really knows about the creative process. She says, “when you’re building your interiors business from the ground up, don’t be afraid to take on projects that aren’t in your preferred design style or taste. It can help broaden your appreciation for different approaches to creating a beautiful space. The more well-rounded experience you can get, the better.”


We hope this advice is useful to both newbies just starting out and perhaps seasoned pros who may be in need of a little boost. If you are attending the Interior design show this weekend, look out for some of the Mamas & Co. members mentioned in this blog!

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