Behind the Design: Ivy Interior Design Firm M. Swabb – Decor + Style
Ivy Design Firm Spotlight: M. Swabb – Decor + Style – San Diego, CA
Maegan – how did you get where you are today?
I live in the wonderful city of San Diego. I am a true California girl and was raised in Redlands, CA which is nestled between Los Angles and Palm Springs. I initially wanted to be a fashion buyer but fell into working for a few luxury home furnishing companies. I represented all of Southern California, Nevada and Arizona so I was introduced to some of the most influential interior design firms and manufacturers. When the economy took a dive in 2009, I found myself at the disposal of many designers I grew close to, many who had to let go of most of their staff in order to survive. I was able to learn more about the design process and really found myself during a hard time for most. Things just progressed from there and I was able to land my very own first design job, which led to more and more, and now I have 5 designers on my team. I am truly blessed and enjoy what I do immensely.
How is San Diego unique from other major design hubs?
San Diego unlike most cities is very casual and it can be a challenge shopping for furniture, whereas Los Angeles or Chicago has a pretty good design district. We really depend on our reps to keep us up to date. What I love about San Diego is the intimate design community.
Who are your favorite local vendors, installers, and people of the trade in San Diego?
We love shopping at Pigment, the local wholesale nurseries, and shopping at vintage shops like Mid Century. We also throughly enjoy coming up with creative ideas and collaborating with either Cameron from Helvey Design Studio or FLB Laser Cutting + Engraving.
What trends, colors, materials and styles are you particularly into right now?
We are really inspired by hygge right now. I think we stay true to using organic materials and plants. Living in San Diego allows us to bring the outdoors in. Generally, we gravitate towards more modern clean lines though we love juxtaposing surprise “found” pieces in each room or vignette.
How does designing make you feel?
I always say the best part of the design process is when we gain our clients’ trust. I find design to be very therapeutic and I love flexing my creative muscle. When that light bulb turns on, there is no stopping me or my team.
What’s your business mantra?
Get shit done – but seriously, I would say that there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t take a moment and express gratitude for all we have. That’s the most important.
What are some creative ways your firm creates spaces with a definitive “Wow” factor?
Greenery always makes a space feel more warm and instantly more authentic. When we are designing or stylizing a space, we do our best to stay true to using natural materials. We also allow ourselves to have fun throughout the process and I think that is reflected in our design. There are pops of personality and a not-too-serious vibe that I think the average person can relate to.
How much time do you allocate towards blog and social media marketing?
Never enough time – that’s a constant challenge. We post on social media daily but blogging is tricky. I feel like once a month I can really take a moment and focus on our blog – I usually feel the pay off right away when I do it.
You have a major Instagram following – what’s your secret?
The overall feeling of the page is important. When most people click onto our page, they don’t look at an individual image, they look at the entire page and decide if they are inspired by what they are seeing. We post every day and have a lifestyle photographer on the team. She is our secret weapon.
Can you offer rookie interior designers some sage words of wisdom regarding business and project management?
I highly recommend Ivy not only for the software component to leverage time and business, but for the community which has acted as my day-to-day support system. Stay true to yourself and try and put blinders on to what everyone else is doing. Focus on your clients and let their personalities shine; having a diverse portfolio is important.
How do you prepare your clients for the holiday season?
This is our specialty! We have seen such an increase in the demand for holiday décor. We love shopping at wholesale nurseries for seasonal plants and florals and we try to purchase holiday décor that will last such as florals or foliage that dry naturally. We love using pomegranates and nuts and elements with a strong fragrance. The girls and I usually take a day trip to some of our favorite holiday shops to get us in the mood and it all comes together from there.
Why did you join Ivy?
We were actually on the hunt for the perfect interior design software for a while. I fell in love with how user friendly the software is and now I feel like we are a part of the Ivy Family. It’s been great seeing the software evolve, and in my opinion, it is really the best the industry has to offer.
How does Ivy make your life as an interior designer a bit easier?
Because we are in San Diego, and we don’t have much of a design district, we depend a lot on shopping online. The Ivy Product Clipper makes our lives so much easier, and now that the software has been enhanced, we love it that much more. It’s great being able to shop for a client and just keep on moving – then refer back to everything when we’re ready to put that invoice together.
Another aspect I love about Ivy is the support from the community. The resources shared through the Ivy community has saved me so much time and money. I couldn’t be happier.
What have you learned from the Ivy Designer Community (Facebook Group)?
I recently came across a challenging situation with a client and wasn’t sure how to broach the issue. I posted about it on the Facebook group and was instantly put to ease by so many designers offering advice and having my back. Because this is a creative industry, and most of us love what we do so much, it can be a challenge standing up for the business aspect of what we do. It’s important to remember that our individual expression of good design is valuable while also being supported by such a creative community.
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
I love the Ivy Product Clipper – we are usually working on several projects at one time and it’s so nice to be able to click and store so much information from the comfort of my desk.