Tackling Branding and Interior Design With Kim Kuhteubl
Spotlight: Kim Kuhteubl of MeByDesign
How did you get where you are today?
I’ve been living in LA for just over a decade and I started my company five years ago because I was looking for a change of pace from production. I had worked on a lot of lifestyle TV, but I also covered interior design, real estate and development for newspapers and digital outlets. In between production gigs, I usually worked with designers, and MeByDesign grew from that.
Why did you decide to start a branding company for interior designers?
We actually work across categories in the homegoods industry, but I have a love for interior design. For whatever reason, I’m very good at translating for visual communicators, often INFJ or INTJs; giving them clarity and helping them create action plans that are strategic but also really fun. I’ve also worked with quite a few young businesses, 1-woman-bands who are ready to team up, but are having trouble asking for help and structuring their value in a way that can sustain growth. You’d be surprised how many designers pay their staff but not themselves.
What’s so special about the interior design space vs. others sectors of the design world?
I’m all about transformation and the best interior design transforms. I’ve been into rooms that are fluffed to perfection but feel awful. A good designer changes the energy in a space and is a master of function, aesthetics and emotional intelligence.
Tell us about your new release, Branding + Interior Design…what’s your favorite part of the new book?
I’m excited about this book because I got to interview people who have had long careers in the industry, who have built incredible, international brands. People like Barbara Barry, Rose Tarlow, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Christiane Lemieux, Clodagh and Kelly Hoppen. My favorite chapter is called “interior planning”. Sixty-nine per cent of interior designers are women so I’ve really had the chance to look at women’s leadership and their blocks to being visible in-depth.
You are an award-winning member of the arts community – what are some of your proudest moments?
Right now, it’s all about the book. It’s been a real marathon, between the writing, editing, design and media prep but I have great people working with me. A team that fits is everything.
What’s your business mantra?
Trust your intuition.
Based on your experience, what do you feel is the most “essential element” for a designer running their business?
Master your calendar. When you schedule days for clients meetings, accounting, creative time and my favorite, marketing, you’re going to feel less out of control as you add projects to your slate. Your calendar keeps you accountable, not only to your clients but to the vision you have for growth.
How does beautiful decor have beneficial influence on our lives?
When you’re surrounded by things love, you open up to receive. That is powerful.
How do you get to know your clients?
My clients complete a vision and branding STYLESheet™(SS) before we work together. It’s purposely intense! They’re questions designers don’t think to ask of themselves because they’re too busy running their business but think time is essential for growth. One of my favorite parts of the job is sitting down with one to get inside a client’s world and do my analysis. It’s also fun to compare a repeat client’s old SS with a new one and to see how far they’ve come and how fast.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 things an interior design should consider when branding their business?
1. Vision. What is the vision you have for your business and your life? Are they congruent?
2. Story. What is your story? Who are you telling it to? Who do you want to serve?
3. Energy. Intangible is powerful. What is the quality of your work that makes it personally meaningful to someone else?
What’s your personal style and interior design aesthetic?
I just cut off my hair and went back to curly so I’m rocking the boho at the moment. I also have a pretty big ring collection and probably need to go into a white blouse recovery program. In my design fantasies, I live in sprawling mountain house surrounded by trees and designed by Kelly Wearstler circa 2006.
How do you spend your first hour each morning?
Meditation + Reading + Throwing the ball for my dog.
Within your own home, what’s your next project?
My dining room chairs. I bought a set on Chairish—in the style of Milo Baughman, a momentary obsession—but I’m admitting that I’m just not going to have them recovered. So I’m looking for a new set to replace them with.
How do you keep your mind refreshed and creative?
Reading is big. You don’t know what you don’t know and a book gives you access to new ways of thinking and being. I love that. Travel doesn’t hurt either.