Ivy Designer Spotlight | Nykke Jones, Nykke Jones Interiors

Based in Dorset, Nykke Jones is the owner and primary designer of Nykke Jones Interiors. Nykke has close to 30 years of design experience and has worked globally. 

How did you get started in design? 

It all began whilst at college studying textiles. I began doing window and interior displays for a high-end shoe shop in Belfast. I loved it, but I guess I’ve always had the design bug. I then began working and training with a small design company 1991 and it simply grew from there. 

I ended up moving to the USA in Florida and continued doing interior design there. I really grew in my knowledge and applications whilst there. I came back to Ireland and set up my own design firm, Bloomsbury Interiors in 1995. That was a fantastic experience. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also the best! 

I ended up back in America again in Charleston, for 5 years, and again the interiors in the USA was incredible. But I returned to the UK in 2006 and continued with design; albeit with commercial office space and ended up going back to university to complete my degree in Interior Architecture and Design in 2010. 

I then began Nykke Jones Interiors, and the rest is history. I’ve been in Dorset almost 14 

years, and I love it here. I raised my son here and he’s now off to university in Bristol. 

What was one of your favourite projects to work on?

That’s a difficult one to answer, as I’ve loved working on all of my projects. But one that stands out because it was so different, is a simple island home up on a hill in Eleuthera Island in the Caribbean. 

It was a manic quick turnaround for the client who had bought the beach property and wanted it ready for the summer vacation for his family. So the whole team got to work designing the house, and sourcing everything they needed to move in. The theme of course was coastal, and it was fabulous! Rustic and groovy. A place to really just kick back. 

That was fun, I can tell you, organising the delivery of two containers of goods, and getting it all through customs at Miami. The last boat to get it all there had to do two trips as it wasn’t big enough to take the two containers. It took just a week to get it all set up when we got there. 

The highlight was a cute gazebo overlooking the cliff top out towards the beach. We decided to paint it hot pink, both inside and outside, including the roof; so that when the client flew over the house to land, he would see the gazebo from the air. It was a fun design element and it really suited the surroundings. It became the talk of the island. 

What is most challenging in your work? 

All projects are challenging in their own sweet way. But ultimately it’s about managing people’s 

expectations, and most of all, managing the trades. If they work with you and with 

each other well, then were onto a winner! 

What feedback do you love receiving from clients? 

Any positive feedback is wonderful. When clients are genuinely happy with the work, I’m delighted! When they recognise my integrity and commitment to their project, it’s so very heartfelt and rewarding. 

But basically, if they’re happy, I’m happy! 

Why did you choose Ivy for your business management needs?

Discovering Ivy has completely changed the way I run my business. I was always quite organised, but this takes it to a different level for me. The projects are managed and tracked with such ease and professionalism for my clients it’s just incredible. 

Its allowed me to focus on the design instead of the admin as the admin is now so much more efficient to manage. It’s the best money I spend each month and is a no brainer to anyone out there running their own design firm. 

It keeps it all so professional and unified for the client /designer relationship. Sending proposals and invoices is a cinch and requesting payment is easy. 

What are your favourite Ivy features?

I love love love the time billing. This was an area that I have always struggled to keep track off. Ivy has made it so easy for me and with the app I can add time billing quickly while I’m away from my desk. 

The clipper is also super for gathering all the specs I need when sourcing and specifying for a project. It’s all really rather awesome! 

What advice would you give an Ivy rookie? 

Honestly, just take your time with it. Play around with the functions and you’ll get to realise the areas that you’ll use on a daily basis for your style of working. 

The good part is you don’t have to use every element of the system to benefit from it. And in time you’ll add new processes when your confidence grows using it.

Do you want to be featured in an Ivy designer spotlight? Contact us at sarah.drill@ivy.co.

How the UK Ivy Community Can Help Your Business Thrive

The Ivy community on Facebook is the #1 community for designers. The group exists exclusively for Ivy members as a safe space for designers to break the barriers of competition and come together as a community.

This open, safe space can do wonders for your business. Without concerns about over-sharing and competition, designers gain valuable insights from the community. 

Here are the 4 key benefits you stand to gain by joining the UK Ivy community: 

1. Ask anything

The Ivy community is a trusted space exclusively for you and your design peers. It’s a place for you to engage in topics that you might not be able to engage in anywhere else. 

This is a unique opportunity to talk to others about how they grew their bottom line, how they charge clients, how they structure markups, how they deal with difficult clients, how they navigate blunders, and so much more.
You can ask anything. Take advantage of it.

2. Share knowledge, gain knowledge

The community has become a central hub for a unique knowledge exchange. It’s this open exchange of information that allows businesses to grow and designers to help their peers in a way that never existed before.  

Lindsey Borchard of Lindsey Brooke Design shares, “I’ve probably shaved off at least 3-5 years of costly mistakes because of the knowledge I’ve learned from these powerful, incredible business owners. This part of Ivy is priceless.” 

Designers share their experiences and knowledge in the community, and gain just as much, if not more in return. 

You can actually access a long list of documents in the community that designers have shared to help their peers. Beyond the official document sharing, there’s also the daily knowledge exchange that occurs every time a designer asks for help.

Like when Ivy designer Barbara turned to the community for help dealing with a “red flag” client who questioned her design fee after the work had been done. Laura helped her by sharing a letter she wrote to a client when dealing with a similar issue.

Or when Ivy designer Tiffany decided it was time to break up with a client, Jennifer helped her word a polite, yet assertive email to part ways on good terms.

And the time Ivy designer Michelle needed help managing the multiple deliveries to her home every day while she worked from home. She got over 20 responses with helpful tips and tricks.

The list goes on and on. 

Take it from Ivy Co-Founder, Lee Rotenberg, “The Ivy community is a free-flowing exchange of knowledge and insights. The more you engage with it, the stronger it becomes for everyone.”

3. Use it as your design-specific search engine

The more robust the community becomes, the more you can find in it. Today, a designer looking for advice in the community may not even need to write a post. You can simply search the group by topic or keyword and will likely find what you need.

When I have 5-10 minutes of spare time I’ll scroll through the most recent posts in the Ivy community. It’s a great source of information. A lot of the questions have been asked, so I’ll go in and search for what I need.

Boo Randle | Boo Randle Interiors

You’ll find everything from markup strategy and profit margins to recommendations for bookkeepers and assistants. The best part about searching in the community? You know the answers are real, candid and from your peers. 

You also know you can count on the community to help you source. Any item, any time. 

Barbara Town of Town Lifestyle + Design says, “I love that I can post a quick question or photo of just about anything, and within a few minutes, the Ivy community seems to have the answer.”

4. Build your support network

Working as an interior designer can feel isolating. Being a part of the Ivy community means having a place to turn when you need to vent, need advice, or simply feel like connecting with other designers. 

Kelly Esposito of Harper Haus Interiors shares, “I’ve learned that I can ask anything and someone is always there to help! For most of my professional fashion career, I felt the cut-throat corporate lifestyle. With Ivy, I feel like I am surrounded by people that want me to succeed as much as I want them to. It’s been so refreshing!”

Having a group of like-minded professionals to turn to truly is priceless. With the Ivy community blooming in the UK, now is the time to join.

Briony Reyne of Reyne Design shares, “It would be great if the UK group were more active as we all have a lot to learn and share and we can definitely help each other out. I love the feeling of solidarity, support and community on the US group but the UK industry is very different to the US. I’d be more than happy to share our knowledge and experience with other designers and know we could benefit from their knowledge too.”

If you haven’t already, we invite you to join the UK Ivy Community on Facebook today. After all, your experiences and expertise are unique — your community should be too.

Join the UK Community→

Ivy Designer Spotlight | Briony Reyne, Reyne Design

Based in Wokingham, Berkshire, Briony Reyne is the Design Director of Reyne Design. Briony has over 18 years of architectural and interior design experience across a large variety of projects throughout Europe.

How did you get started in design? 

I did my degree in Interior Design so the decision was made for this career path when I was still at school. I spent my 3rd year of university in industry working for a firm that designed health and fitness clubs predominantly. That sealed it for me.

Briony Reyne
Photo by Hannah McClune of Visible by Hannah

What types of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I love projects where we make a huge difference to our clients; show them things they probably would never think of themselves that make a huge difference to the way they work and live in their homes.  

I like nothing better than looking at the plan of a house and reconfiguring it to make it work better.  

Two projects immediately spring to mind. The first a client approached us to help with a potential extension. They admitted they had a sizable house but just couldn’t work out how to make the most of the space and felt they needed more. We showed them how to reconfigure the plan and discover that space without the need to extend.  

The second is a really modest 1930s semi detached property that our client extended. The plan was well on its way, but for us there were too many compromises being made on the way the family would use the space. We helped them to replan the interior space into this incredible, sociable family area with the kitchen at the heart. They never dreamt they could have such a great kitchen in their home.

Kitchen design by Briony Reyne

What is most challenging in your work? 

The hardest challenge is the preconceived views of interior designers and their role. I think the message that we are not just about cushions and curtains is slowly getting out there but it isn’t helped by the fact that the term is used to cover such a broad breadth of services from furniture retailers to decorators and homeowners who have been complimented on their newly decorated home. 

As qualified and experienced interior designers we have extensive knowledge of all aspects of the build process from services and structural restrictions to building regulations and how to maximise budgets without compromising the overall design.

If our clients want something we would never dream to have in our homes — that’s great.

What sets your firm apart? 

All of our projects are individual and client focused. Every designer I employ has come from a commercial background with experience working with retailers with well established brands. We couldn’t propose to them they change their brands in line with our likes or trends and we don’t do that for our clients either.  

If our clients want something we would never dream to have in our homes — that’s great. We don’t have to live there but our clients do and we want them to love it way beyond the time we have left.

Bedroom and bathroom designed by Briony Reyne
Photo by Miriam Sheridan Photography

Ivy allows us to spend more time on the parts of the job we love — being creative.

Why did you choose Ivy for your business management needs? 

As our projects get bigger we have been spending more and more time creating spreadsheets and other ways of communicating our ideas and services to our clients. We are designers not spreadsheet experts. It’s a part of the job I hate. 

Ivy allows us to input the information once and it is then translated into all the different documents we need allowing us to spend more time on the parts of the job we love — being creative.

Bedroom design by Briony Reyne
Photo by Hannah McClune of Visible by Hannah

How has Ivy transformed your design business? 

Ivy has allowed us to free up our time for the creative work we are employed for. It keeps everything tidy and in one place.

What are your favorite Ivy features? 

So far the best thing about Ivy is definitely the community. Being a member of the Facebook groups is invaluable. Having access to all the wonderful advice and support of other professional designers is priceless. I love the feeling of community, not competition.

Do you want to be featured in an Ivy designer spotlight? Contact us at sarah.drill@ivy.co.

Why Your Business Needs the Aussie Ivy Community

The Ivy Community is an exclusive Facebook group for Ivy members. It’s a safe space for designers to share challenges, concerns and ideas. 

In this unique, open space, without concerns about competition, designers share and gain priceless insights from the community.

Ivy’s community is proof that by breaking the barriers of competition and instead, coming together as a community, our businesses can thrive.

Your business stands to benefit from these 4 aspects of the Australian Ivy Community:

1. Get answers to any question

The community has become a central hub for a unique knowledge exchange. It’s this open exchange of information that allows businesses to grow and designers to help their peers in a way that never existed before.  

This is a unique opportunity to talk to others about how they grew their bottom line, how they charge clients, how they structure markups, how they deal with difficult clients, how they navigate blunders, and so much more.

Lindsey Borchard of Lindsey Brooke Design shares, “I’ve probably shaved off at least 3-5 years of costly mistakes because of the knowledge I’ve learned from these powerful, incredible business owners. This part of Ivy is priceless.” 

Designers share their experiences and knowledge in the community, and gain just as much, if not more in return.

Like when Ivy designer Susie turned to the community for help understanding whether she should continue working with a new client after recognizing some red flags. 28 designers commented with advice and support.

Or when Ivy designer Isabella needed help deciding whether to break up with a client and wondered whether to return the deposit. Shaun helped her work through her decision.

And the time Ivy designer Nicole searched for someone to help manage her Instagram account or advice on handling it herself. She received 62 helpful responses.

The list goes on. 

Take it from Ivy Co-Founder, Lee Rotenberg, “The Ivy community is a free-flowing exchange of knowledge and insights. The more you engage with it, the stronger it becomes for everyone.”

2. Source products more effectively

In addition to being a source of real, candid advice, the Ivy community has become a tool for product sourcing. 

You’ll find multiple posts a day where designers call the community to help find a product’s source or similar products.

You know you can count on the community to help your source any item, any time. The more active the Australian community becomes, the more this benefit with grow.

Barbara Town of Town Lifestyle + Design says, “I love that I can post a quick question or photo of just about anything, and within a few minutes, the Ivy community seems to have the answer.”

3. Create a unique support network

Having a group of like-minded professionals to turn to is priceless. With the Ivy community blooming in Australia, now is the time to join.

Stephanie Burden of Quench Designs says, “The Ivy community on Facebook is another great way to receive and give support as it is a forum whereby fellow designers share stories, seek and give advice. Everyone is very generous in wanting to help one another, as we know this can be an isolating industry at times.”

While there’s a lot to learn from the US community, the Australian design industry is different. There is much to be gained from sharing knowledge and experience with other Australian designers. 

Not yet a member of the Australian Ivy Community on Facebook? Join the community today.

Join the Aussie Community →

Designers Share How Ivy’s Software Has Boosted Their Businesses

Here at Ivy, we’ve seen countless examples of how our business management software has transformed interior design businesses. But hey, don’t take it from us: here, fellow members of the design community share some of the ways tapping into Ivy’s resources has benefitted their trades, from streamlined systems to increased profits, and expanded capabilities.

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

Streamlined Systems 

“Ivy is one place I can go to keep track of client information, projects, sourcing, time tracking, billing, invoicing, POs… these are all of my pain points! Ivy makes these elements of my business so much easier to deal with on a daily basis. When things are systematic, it takes much less time to journey through the process, and I LOVE Ivy for that!”

– Nichole Gabriel of Perfect Piece Interiors – Atlanta, GA

Faster Approvals and Payments

“Ivy allows me to create a digital presentation for my clients that can be approved, by item, and then paid right there. It allows for the whole process of client approval and payment to move much quicker, and I love that.”

– Rachel Madden of Rachel Madden Interiors – Marin County, CA

Eliminating Costly Errors

“Since we’ve used Ivy, we have so much more control on our projects. It’s an easy process for the client to approve the items they want — they can do it in their own time and see the total adjust. Prior to Ivy, we would print out a spreadsheet and use a highlighter to select what the client wanted to go with. There is so much room for error, and we made a few!”

– Lauren Li of Sisällä, Melbourne, Australia

More Time for Creativity

“Ivy has brought a level of professionalism to our firm that we were longing for. We are now able to handle many aspects of our projects in one place, and that keeps us on point. It’s also created a space for our whole team to work on multiple facets of our projects together. And most importantly, it’s freed us up to focus more on creating beautiful projects!”

– Lindye Galloway of Lindye Galloway Interiors – Orange County, CA

Work-from-Anywhere Accessibility

“Goodbye to a million different Excel spreadsheets! I have been able to actually come up with a process from start to finish with clients because of Ivy and their easy way of managing all of the moving parts. I am able to have everything I need in Ivy, all in one place, and can reach it now, no matter where I am, on any computer, iPad or phone. That’s pretty amazing.”

– Lindsey Borchard of Lindsey Brooke Design – Thousand Oaks, CA

Faster Payments 

“Clients pay so much faster! They LOVE the interactive nature of Ivy and being able to pay with credit card or bank transfer.”

Christopher Kennedy – Palm Springs, CA

Seamless Organization

“Ivy’s easy-to-implement tracking system allows our design and warehouse personnel to seamlessly monitor projects. We are much more organized and informed about the status of our orders.”

– Deborah Costa and Kristine Renee of Design Alchemy – Sacramento, CA

Greater Profitability

“Ivy helped my business become equal parts consultant and product sales. Before Ivy, our revenue mostly came from hourly time or flat fees. We would have clients purchase directly from the lighting store or the plumbing store, or used to take clients to big box retailers for furniture. Now, because we are so streamlined, we purchase everything directly and then sell to the client. We have become more professional as a result.”

– Barbi Stalburg of Stalburg Design – Birmingham, MI

Effortless Time Management

“I collect a retainer up front. After presenting to a client, I can write-up a proposal and have it transformed into an invoice, and then a purchase order, in minutes. Hello, time management!”

– Amanda Barnes of Amanda Barnes Interiors – San Francisco, CA

Room for Customization

“I joined Ivy because it’s a cloud-based software that integrates into platforms like QuickBooks Online. It structures my business in a way that allows me to customize our accounting and projects based on the tools that interior designers actually need to manage the day-to-day challenges that non-design accounting platforms aren’t set up for. I am obsessed with creating a lean and efficient company, and in that way, we resemble a startup. Our goal is to offer creative services with seamless operations; Ivy allows us to achieve that in a streamlined way and we don’t know how we’d do it any other way!”

– Christine Turknett of Breathe Design Studio – Austin, TX

The 10 Types of Clients You Want to Steer Away From

Finding new clients is one thing. Finding people you really click with is another. But given how many hours you’ll spend together during the course of a remodel or renovation, it’s wise to learn how to spot the types of clients you’ll work well with… and those you won’t. Here are the 10 types of clients to avoid for seamless designer-client relationships.

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

1. Poor Communicators

Communication is key with any good professional relationship. But it’s especially important with clients who you’ll be interacting with often daily, in the intimacy of their home. 

If a client is a flakey communicator from the start (not returning emails or texts in a timely manner, neglecting to tell you they’re running late for a meeting or need to cancel), consider it a predictor of how they’ll interact with you and any contractors for the duration of the project.

2. Micromanagers

On the other end of the communication spectrum is the micromanager, the person who constantly needs to over-communicate and quadruple-check every detail of a project. 

The good news is they usually make themselves easy to spot by needing to control every aspect of a project right out of the gate, which means you can decide early on whether or not they’re worth the extra effort.

3. Bargain Hunters

If a potential client wants you to find everything for them on the cheap, it’s a warning sign that they don’t understand the value of well-made goods. 

Likewise, watch out for customers who ask you to discount your rates, as this is an indicator that they don’t value your services. As one Ivy designer warns, “If they grill you on your pricing and fees, they will grill you on your invoice – run!”

4. The Chronically Indecisive 

It’s normal for clients to take some time to make design decisions. But there are those who take indecisiveness to new levels. If you get the sense a potential client won’t ever be able to make choices between the focused design options you give them, you may want to cut ties.

5. People with Trust Issues

When someone expressions reservations about your abilities as a designer or implies they know more about the remodeling or renovation process than you do, it’s a red flag that they have trust issues when it comes to working with someone. Back away slowly.

6. Discordant Couples

Your job is to design a space, not to play couples therapist. So if during your initial meeting with a client, you get the feeling that they may not be on the same page, ask some follow-up questions. Delve a little deeper into their design aesthetic(s), goals, and ask who your main point person will be. According to one Ivy designer, “Discord in a relationship is never solved with a renovation, and often leads to trouble and slow decision-making.”

7. The Impossible to Please

Unfinished design projects in a potential clients’ home. Mentions of going through multiple designers, more than one “nightmare” experience, or claims that “no one” has been able to help them. These are all signs that a homeowner has unrealistic expectations, and may be impossible to please.

8. Failed Chemistry Experiments

If your chemistry with a potential client is off during your first meeting, chances are slim it will improve. That’s what first meetings are for, after all — to figure out if your personalities are similar or complementary. 

If they don’t, don’t feel like you need to pinpoint a specific reason to justify why you’re not a good match. Trust your gut, and move on to find a new client who you’ll have better, more effortless connection with.

9. Style Clashers 

Simply put: if someone’s design aesthetic doesn’t mesh with yours and they don’t respond well to the work in your portfolio, you’re not a good match. 

10. T.V. Dreamers

Call it the HGTV factor. But some clients’ expectations are founded in reality TV, not reality. If they’re wedded to an overnight transformation on a shoestring budget and refuse to recalibrate, it’s time for you to change the channel.

How Sustainable Design Business Practices Can Increase Your Bottom Line

The design community has always been forward thinking, so it’s no surprise that in the last few decades, it’s helped raise the bar for sustainable building practices. Here’s a look at how two aspects of the green design movement can increase your bottom line while reducing the impact to the environment.

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

1. Sourcing Sustainable Products

What it Means 

Sourcing wood, textiles, and other materials that are sustainably sourced can be remarkably complex. There are myriad issues that impact the environment to take into consideration, including emission levels and carbon footprints. For instance, it might seem like the greenest choice when selecting furniture is an option made with local wood. But even with the impact of shipping, an alternative from across the world may actually be a better choice if it’s a more sustainable wood, or a product that will last longer.

Thankfully, there are organizations that can guide you to materials made with the least impact to the environment. Namely: the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) requirements, Greenguard Certification programs, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. Look for these stamps of approval before choosing furniture, fabrics, and building materials.

How it Can Better Your Bottom Line

The reality of using materials that are sustainably sourced is that they do come with a higher cost. So be prepared to talk to your client about the issues that make these materials pricier, like environmental impact, fair wage and work practices, and product durability/longevity.

By educating your clients on why these materials are worth the higher price tag, you’ll be able to attract a high caliber of customer who’s dedicated to the same green building and fair business practices that you are.

2. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accreditation

What it Means

The first thing to know is the difference between LEED accreditation and LEED certification. Buildings can receive LEED certification, while people like interior designers and other design professionals can become LEED accredited.

A LEED credential is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council to indicate a design professional’s proficiency in sustainable construction, design, and operations standards. 200,000 professionals worldwide have been awarded this accreditation. If you want to become accredited as an interior designer, the LEED AP ID+C (interior design and construction) distinction is the certification you want to pursue. 

To qualify, you simply have to be an interior designer and be over 18 years old. You must also pass two exams: the LEED Green Associate exam (which covers basic LEED building practices and ratings systems), as well as the LEED AP ID+C exam (which includes knowledge of green building practices, as well as concepts specific to interior design and construction.) 

You can take the exams together or separately, and the total cost for the combined exam is $400 for USGBC members, $550 for non-members. To maintain your credentials, you’ll need to earn 30 hours of continuing education hours every 2 years, which can be earned through LEED project experience, authorship, education courses, or volunteering. To get started, visit the USGBC’s web site.

How it Can Better Your Bottom Line

As soon as you pass your LEED AP ID+C exam, you can begin promoting yourself as a LEED-accredited professional (AP). Becoming a LEED AP shows both the design community and potential clients your commitment and knowledge of sustainable business practices. 

The credential can help you attract new clients who are interested in sustainable building practices, and will allow you to compete for projects that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to pitch. 

It also makes you an asset to your design firm, and introduces you to a community of like-minded design professionals — all global leaders in green building practices  — who you can connect, network, and partner with for years to come. 

7 Simple Steps to Organizing Your Design Studio

As essential as all those pretty fabric, wallpaper, and flooring samples are to your business, they’re also bulky, heavy, and notoriously hard to keep organized. So it’s all too easy for the design studio that was perfectly tidy at the beginning of the week to devolve into a chaotic explosion of colors, patterns and textures by the end of it. But there’s hope! This 7-step process will help you reassess, reorganize and refresh your design studio so you can transform it into an easy-to-maintain workspace that showcases you and your talents.

Photo courtesy of Sarah O’Dell, Owner/Designer of Dwell Chic Interiors

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

1. Edit, Edit, Edit

Kick off your studio refresh with a clean sweep. Get rid of catalogs and old samples you don’t use anymore. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s safe to toss them, relegate them to bins in a closet or basement. (Then, create a reminder on your calendar for a few months in the future. What you haven’t pulled out of the bins to use by then, get rid of.)

Photo courtesy of @sisalla_interior_design

2. Take Stock

The most important step to any reorganization is assessing what you have and what your needs are. What types of materials do you have the most of? Are the samples you use most often kept in a handy place, or are they hard to access? Do you want mostly open storage so you can see everything at a glance — or is it more helpful for you to work in a space with closed so there are less visual distractions? Do you see clients in your studio? If so, you may need more materials to be out of sight than if it’s simply an office for your eyes only. Take a little time to assess your needs before you dive into reorganization.

3. Be Your Own Client

As an interior designer, one of your most valuable assets is being able to see your clients’ spaces through fresh eyes so you can determine what’s working…and what isn’t. It’s harder to look at the spaces where we spend our days through that same neutral lens, but try to take a step back to take in your studio anew. 

Do you need more lighting? Where do you need more storage? Is any of your furniture, flooring, or décor showing wear-and-tear? Does the space achieve the vibe that you want it to? If you see clients in your studio, does it give the first impression that you want it to, and that’s reflective as you as a designer? Considering these questions will help evolve your space in the way that makes the most sense for you.

Photo by @capturedbyelyse via @alison_giese

4. Get Inspired

Organizing bulky samples and other materials that come in all different shapes, sizes, and weights can be tricky. Get inspired by these clever tips and tricks from Ivy designers who’ve cracked the code on organizing their studios. 

5. Corral the Chaos

Channel that inspiration into picking the storage that’s right for you and your workspace. You’ll most likely need a mix of open and closed storage: bookshelves for catalogs and sample books. Baskets, bins, or hanging storage for smaller items like fabric swatches. And filing cabinets, folders, or the like for keeping all your paperwork like purchase orders, invoices, and receipts organized. 

Once you’ve sorted your samples into the storage options that work best for each type, it will be a whole lot easier to maintain a system of organization.

Photo by @laura.delacruz ⁣via @barbara_sweetser

6. Make a Designated Space for Messes

That said…let’s be real: there are going to be plenty of days when you don’t have the time or energy to put each and every sample back in its place. So create a designated space where you can drop things temporarily until you have a moment to deal with them. 

Maybe it’s a row of hooks where you can hang sample-filled bags when you return from a client meeting, a cubby for stashing in-process project folders, or a big basket for transferring wallpaper samples out of your work bag. Then if you go looking for a swatch and can’t find it, you’ll know it’s in your holding zone, and you won’t turn your whole office upside-down racing to find it in time for your next client meeting.

7. Stage Your Space

After all that hard work, reward yourself with a few of the flourishes you might reserve for staging one of your finished projects for photographs. Think fresh flowers, potted succulents, a pretty new objet, art print, or wall hanging. Then all that’s left to do is to enjoy and be invigorated by your newly refreshed workspace.

How to Say No to a Design Project Without Burning a Bridge

Accepting a design project you’re excited about is easy. But saying no to one with grace and tact so you avoid burning any professional bridges? That can be trickier. 

That said, it’s perfectly okay to turn down work for whatever reason you see fit, be it a disparity between your style and the client’s, a realization that the scope of the project will stretch you too thin, or a gut feeling that a homeowner will be high-maintenance and impossible to please. 

Of course, you always want to be professional and polite in your communications with clients, and should leave out any negative personal feeling about the project or the person behind it. Thank them for the opportunity, and wish them success.

Beyond that, you can decide how generic or personal, cursory or detailed you feel is right depending on how much time you’ve spent together, as well as any other factors like if they’re someone you’ve worked with in the past, or a referral from one of your top clients. 

Read on to find the strategy that best fits the individual situation, then free yourself up for meeting new clients who you’ll mesh with more easily.

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

Blame Your Bandwidth

It may be the most generic refusal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not legit: the “I’m sorry, but we don’t currently have the bandwidth to take on additional clients” line. 

If you feel compelled to expand further, you can explain that you’ve had some projects get finalized since you met with them. Or say that you’re contractually committed to other work that prevent you from accepting theirs, and that signing up to lead their project would be doing them a disservice.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

The classic breakup line can be useful with clients too. Avoid placing any blame on the client by telling them you regret that their project is out of your specific area of expertise. 

Give a Referral

Just because a client isn’t right for you doesn’t mean they won’t be a fit for someone else. So think on other designers in your network you could refer them to: an established interior designer with a strong, no-nonsense personality could be the right fit for a difficult homeowner. A hungry-for-work newbie might be willing to take on a project with a tiny budget. 

Take a little time to do some design world matchmaking, and the good karma will come back to you.

Short, Sweet…and Honest

In some cases, there’s no need to over-explain. Simply let the client-that-never-was know that you appreciate the opportunity, but you don’t think you’re the best match for the project based on budget, timeline, or aesthetic. Done.

How Designers Use Influencer Marketing to Grow Their Business

No doubt you’ve heard of influencer marketing. But do you know how to define it? What makes someone an influencer, who can become one, and how it can boost your design business? We asked Laiza Cors and Anne Sage, industry experts at influencer marketer agency Embello, which matches influencers in the design field with home brands, to break it down for us. Here, the two share their tips for harnessing the power of influencer marketing.

Photo courtesy of Light Lab, Photo by Jeff Mindell

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

What is Influencer Marketing, Anyway?

“Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive brands’ message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, brands instead inspire, hire, and pay influencers to get the word out for them,” says Laiza. 

Whereas traditional marketing casts a wide net, influencer marketing (IM) can create a more authentic and organic brand campaign by tapping into an influencer’s niche audience.

IM might seem like the Wild West of marketing strategies, but in fact it’s big business. Here are the numbers: there are over 1 billion people on Instagram alone and 2.2 billion on Facebook. Pinterest has an audience of 200 million people, and YouTube boasts a staggering 1.9 billion. On average, we spend over 2.5 hours per day on these social media and messaging apps.

Considering how much time we spend on these various social media platforms, it’s no surprise that 86% of today’s marketers have a dedicated budget for influencer marketing. For every dollar brands spend on IM, they get an earned media value of 5.2. That means every dollar allocated to IM is 5 times more impactful than if dedicated to traditional forms of advertising.

Who Qualifies as an Influencer?

You might think you need an Instagram following of 100k or more to be considered an influencer. But Anne says a following of as little as 5,000 can be enough. In fact, she says a smaller audience is usually more engaged because each follower is likely one you earned, not bought. Interested? “Embrace the idea that you’re already an influencer and start acting like one,” Anne advises. 

What Are the Benefits to My Design Business?

According to Laiza and Anne, IM can boost your interior design business by:

  • Creating and building relationships with brands
  • Growing your own social presence
  • Creating content; gaining access to new products and bigger budgets
  • Becoming a trusted source in your industry
  • Earning compensation 

How Do I Get Started?

To get to the moneymaking stage of IM, you first need to create a winning media kit that will inspire brands to pay you to endorse their products. 

Think of a media kit as a quick snapshot of why the brand should work with you. An agency like Embello will create one for you. But if you’re DIYing, your media kit should include:

  • Your name, front and center
  • A headshot
  • A punchy tag line about who you are and what you do
  • A longer, more detailed bio that allows your personality to shine through
  • All your social media accounts, blogs, etc., with stats and demographics
  • Sample work and any previous partnerships
  • Your contact information

Hopefully this primer has given you a good idea of how influencer marketing works, and how you can get started. For more tips from Laiza Cors and Anne Sage of the home-focused influencer marketer agency Embello — including how to price your work and best practices for working with brands, click here to watch the complete webinar.