I have been meaning to sit and write a blog for a while ….I know you’re supposed to do this for your business, but when your business is busy it’s hard to make time. So this one has been on my mind awhile, and since I heard it again recently from the well-meaning guidance counselor at my sons high school (as she is trying to schedule our annual catch up/state of your student meeting and I am explaining “no those dates don’t work because I am busy with” ....) I thought I would try to write it and see where this goes.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want this to come off negative. I love my job, I love what I do, I love to design, and I love our clients, vendors and trade partners. But....well, let me just break it down like this:
A. Designing is only part of what we do, and even that isn’t strutting around with a latte - shopping at high end furniture stores with my client’s credit card in hand, no limit, the way some people imagine it. There are countless creative hours that are wonderful and totally fulfilling depending on each designers’ strengths and affinity, but designing space takes brains, and computer skills, and product knowledge, architectural and building experience, and so on. Selecting finishes and furnishings, time, knowledge, sources, sometimes a lot of leg work, sometimes a lot of desk work, well you get the idea. There are budgets and deadlines to manage. It takes work, it doesn’t just happen, it isn’t like it looks on HGTV!
Just to give you an idea, for a 4000 SF turnkey house of furniture that we recently wrapped up -, we sourced everything from at least 16 different vendors, we must check stock and verify pricing, confirm dimensions and space plan each room with every item. Upon client approval we must send purchase orders, confirm the order, track everything, work with our receiving and delivery service to coordinate hundreds of items. For this house the list is 6 pages long, in very small font, and 2 binders of orders and delivery notices. And that doesn’t include the paint, wallpaper, window coverings, custom closet organizers and the last-minute “let’s remodel the master bath & can you get it done in 4 weeks” paperwork. I don’t mind any of the paperwork and follow up, I love to check and double check it off my list once everything has been accounted for, but I do mind the impression that we somehow don’t work, and it is just a good time everyday scheduled around dog walks, yoga and lunch with friends. Sound easy?
B. We must be part psychologist and therapist and designer, and not every client is a ray of sunshine. Sure, we try to avoid those with the obvious red flags, but sometimes those flags show up later and we are into the job too deep to just cut and run, and our reputation is on the line, or money is on the line. the more they spend, the more “perfection and attention” they tend to expect, possibly rightly so, but I will tell you nothing in life is perfect. We start every job by setting the expectation that we are working toward excellence, not perfection. But sometimes Mrs. Jones loses her mind over a zipper in a pillow or a seam in a drape or a back ordered piece of art that didn’t make it on the slow boat from who knows where. Maybe it’s over the thing that was done by the human being that made a mistake didn’t do the detail just like the diagram or the vendor shipped the wrong thing and it is going to take time to get the right thing. Being rude, abrasive or insulting, never got anyone to help anyone any faster. Be kind and polite and reasonable and I will move heaven and earth to make you happy. Sound like a piece of cake yet?
C. Speaking of the missing item, or error, or damaged obj d’art, it is our job to worry and to manage the parts and pieces, trust us, we are working on it, our vendors are working on it, we will make it right. Thankfully, I am not a surgeon and no one has ever expired on the floor from a paint mistake or a chip in a tile, or whatever the crisis of the day might be. But trust me when I tell you, there are many little emergencies on every job, and we are working around the clock with your GC or whoever is involved manage and handle them so you don’t even notice. Sound fun yet?
D. Some heavy lifting might be needed....and yes I do mean physically. I have pinned my hair up more times than I can count to help a guy lift a heavy or awkward item out of a truck or van, or to make sure it doesn’t scratch my clients wood or ding the walls, or to just get all the pieces in the house faster. I have been on a step ladder and on my hands and knees cleaning before we deliver furniture or take pictures. I am sure not all designers do this, but I bet most of us do more physical work than you can imagine, especially on installation/set up days. I am an expert bed maker, I am a pro dishwasher, I am an ace mirror and window cleaner! And by the way, even if your house is on the beach, we are running the AC on working days, no one wants to see their designer wilted to near death after a long day of fluffing and staging. Sounds glamorous right!
And don’t get me started about the one where the cat went missing while we were delivering furniture... that one took years off my life, but we found fluffy in the house all along, no worries!
To be successful at anything you have to work hard, smart and organized. To be successful and be the business owner, you have to work long hours. To be the designer that your clients call back, refer to friends and family or that the GCs request on their job, you have to be willing to go all of the extra miles all of the time. Yes, it is great being an interior designer, we love the before and after photos, we love seeing the transformation in the space, we love seeing out vision come to life and most of all we love when our clients are thrilled beyond their expectations and appreciate all of the work that has gone into their project.
Design Your Life ! Kristi