Behind the Design: Christine Turknett of Breathe Design Studio
Designer Spotlight: Christine Turknett of Breathe Design Studio – Austin, TX
How did you get where you are today?
After writing and curating an indie fashion and design blog over the last ten years, I realized that I had a passion for interior decorating while building our custom home, designed by one of my favorite local architects, Michael Hsu. We built it from the ground up and I fell in love with sourcing and selecting finishes and fixtures. When we were done, I wanted to enhance the modern architecture by decorating and styling a clean, modern, yet cozy home filled with objects that reflect my personal style and how my husband and I live.
Prior to working in design, I was an academic in a doctorate program at an Ivy League school in Philadelphia but always knew deep down inside that design, more than anything else, guides the way I relate to the world. After assisting a few local designers, I knew that this was my calling and decided to take a leap of faith to start my own business. Truthfully, sometimes I feel like I didn’t choose design, but instead, design chose me. I knew that the one purpose I had in life was to help people in whatever way I could. As a result, I’m doing what I love and continue to draw on my experiences in fashion and design theory to help clients create tailored spaces that express their own creativity and personality.
After graduate school, I moved back to Austin where I attended undergraduate school. After being gone for 6 years, the entire city was transformed. Our skyline, our local economy, and the neighborhoods were expanding to accommodate the fastest growing city in America. It became clear that the real estate market was and is currently growing at unprecedented levels and many of the homes are new modern builds for new Austinites from large cities like Los Angeles and New York. The interior design scene now incorporates a new guard of young designers whose new ideas and youthful energy are revitalizing design standards in Austin through technology and other creative mediums. Austin has always embraced creatives and that’s why I love living here!
Breathe Design Studio provides premium interior decorating and curatorial styling services, creating stunning and functional homes. How do you tailor a “house” into a “home” while reflecting a client’s taste and lifestyle?
The most important part of the process that I keep in mind is to make sure a space is cohesive. There is always underlying albeit subtle consistency throughout each project. More so, I’m a big picture thinker when it comes to balancing a client’s budget and the visual pieces in a room. My goal is always to create harmony among different objects even if they don’t seemingly belong together. I typically ask my clients how they want to “feel” in their home and find a way to combine different genres so that they don’t compete with each other. My job as a “ stylist” is to put the finishing touches blending clients’ personal accessories with new decor to create incredible one-of-a-kind homes.
Who are some of your favorite Austin vendors you work with regularly?
How does designing make you feel?
Designing makes me feels like I can be my best self. I’m constantly curating my surroundings at all times so now it all makes sense. I believe that doing what you love best leads to more productivity and leads to personal satisfaction in your career. And sometimes, you’re just born this way.
What’s your business mantra?
Good vibes only and community over competition. Work smart, not hard.
Do you dabble in e-design? If so, which platforms do you like to use?
Not yet – we’re testing the waters.
How do you prioritize social media and marketing to build your business and brand?
From the beginning, I knew that interior design inherently depends on photography. I have plans to showcase our process, share tips, and offer inspiration in our up-coming design blog, which I knew I wanted to launch this year. Branding is also important because it defines our visual design identity. As such, from the beginning, I knew that I needed an editorial assistant and someone who runs PR on my team. It’s really important to remember the importance of marketing because we are in a visual industry!
You’ve been published in Dwell and Austin Home to name a few…what’s your secret to getting published?
I would say, mostly luck, but at the same time, I think one key to achieving your dreams and starting your own business is to create long-term goals for yourself, while giving yourself options. With that, I’m able to approach things with an open heart and mind, which I think attracted like-minded people like photographers, architects, writers, and eventually, editors. My tip to getting published is learning about the publication, making connections, staying organized, and creating a PR strategy that plans for both present and future timelines. The people we’ve worked with have also been incredibly gracious and we are very grateful that they have featured our work!
Other than Ivy, what other apps, platforms and resources do you use on a daily basis?
Aside from Ivy, we use Wecora and Asana as a project management software.
Why did you join Ivy?
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!
What have you learned from being part of the Ivy Designer Network?
I like that it emphasizes the idea of community over competition. We are all more successful in my opinion when we support and promote each other.
How has Ivy helped streamline your workflow?
It has helped me centralize all of my invoicing, accounting, and proposals into one platform. The fact that you work so closely with designers to come up with creative solutions builds my confidence that we can grow with your fabulous software. Our company places incredible value on workflow and project management as a way of increasing transparency throughout the company and with our clients. I spent a considerable amount of time creating systems and Ivy is integral. Work smart, not hard.
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
Invoicing with a beautiful template for retainers, credits, and of course, payment!