Designer Spotlight: Megan Wunderlich of The DesignDot – New Canaan, CT
How did you get where you are today?
I am from Western Illinois and grew up in a small, state college town. Becoming a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or professor were the kinds of careers surrounding me. Or, you owned land and farmed, and worked in sales or trades to support agricultural businesses. I had always wanted to work in an industry that afforded me independence to have my own life. I never studied art since I didn’t see it as an avenue for a career that would afford me independence and a steady income. I studied psychology, communications, and business instead. After graduating and working with IBM in HR for some time, I bought my first house with my college sweetheart in Fairfield County, CT. I realized how sensitive I was to my environment and that I needed to learn how to make a nice home for myself. I considered working in the industry of interiors to contribute my business skills while learning something that could enrich my quality of life.
I followed a typical path to becoming a residential interior designer. I began classes at the New York School of Interior Design once I realized I did not want to trade-off raising my children for a career that didn’t value me. IBM was a performance based culture that was constantly hiring and laying off. I thought it was in my best interest to take better control of my career and become specialized in something that I cared for so much that I would fight to perform my best.
Choosing the Interior Design Industry was a life decision I made nearly 12 years ago. From design coursework, to photo stylist, to residential design assistant, local house tours, and then retail boutique + design assistant came the industry experience to open DesignDot. At the time, I didn’t see a design practice in Fairfield County that provided honest, homespun interior design for residences at fair prices. It didn’t make sense to me that it didn’t exist because luxury design was everywhere, and the rest is history. I opened up shop with DesignDot to offer luxury design for everyone.
DesignDot values the diversity of design perspectives and greatly respects the collaborative process. How do you ensure your approach is tailored and client centered?
We begin with shared images that the client finds using Pinterest or Image Sharing on our Apple devices. Then, as designers, we break apart the design elements and advise on curating new goods, or a design scheme based on the individual’s tastes, lifestyle desires, and the context of the home. It’s really not about the designer at all. We designers use our design skills the best way that we can for a particular client.
How do you maintain healthy relationships with the vendors and tradespeople you work with?
I try to always respond to emails and phone calls! If someone writes or calls, I try to take the time to call back, even if it’s just to say “hey, thanks for contacting me”.
Who are some of your favorite New Canaan vendors that you work with?
All of the local boutiques. I believe in sharing quality of life with everyone. Having a strong local boutique culture creates beautiful little towns. We all need to shop local when we can, enjoy picking up small goods, or larger items that can add to your lifestyle.
How does designing make you feel?
What’s your business mantra?
Go slow to go fast.
When you start a new project, how do you get to know your client and the space?
I look and listen. It’s pretty simple. I try to be present in the space with the client and ask questions about how that person lives and how they’d like to feel in the space, and use the space.
How has your team embraced technology with both your client-facing affairs and back-end project management?
DesignDot can only design affordably if we do it more efficiently than most high-end luxury designers. So, we have to always be on top of technology that works to make us faster at what we do. That includes using Pinterest with our clients, Image Sharing for our photos, and IvyMark for our design business. All of these applications work wonderfully on our iPads and iPhones. We are a mobile device design business. It’s really wonderful. Our workday can be anywhere.
Considering the proliferation of online tools for clients to source and purchase independently, what value does Design Dot bring to the table?
Our value is that of design. DesignDot offers a community of designers to the client with no obligation to purchase goods. We create schemes, and advise on space layouts and the specification of goods. We do not re-sell goods, we are service-based and charge hourly for our service. Or, we offer flat-fee services like our StyleDiary or Marketplace Design at our partner local boutiques.
How do you manage your accounting?
With the help of my wonderful office manager and bookkeeper, Tasia! Plus, IvyMark and its capability to feed into QuickBooks Online.
Why did you join Ivy?
It is such an efficient tool that allows a service-based practice like DesignDot to keep track of work hours on projects and billing out to the client immediately with the option to accept payment from the emailed invoice. The tool also allows us to keep good track of goods for our larger residential jobs where we purchase items as purchasing agents with an agreement that everything will be stored and installed on a specified day.
How has Ivy helped you get a better hold of your business?
It is so simple and efficient. We enter our goods, hours, proposals, and invoices one time, and Ivy takes it from there. We are not spending hours trying to track or communicate client and project information, especially since we can use Ivy from our mobile devices!
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
Hours tracking and proposals.
Are you an interior designer in search of an easy interior design software and project management tool to run your business? Learn more about Ivy here.