Thursday, October 1, 2015

Journal entry: lessons learned

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Our blog is where we journal about our design business, what inspires us, our own homes and our lives.  Now that I have some time to breathe after a busy summer with design clients, I want to reflect on lessons learned and experiences that reinforce my love for what I do.

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Most importantly for me, is the wonderful people I have had the pleasure to design for.  I am a people person and that, along with my passion for interiors and art, is why I am an interior designer.
These past few months brought me some new friends and deeper respect for my craft.  From the lovely older woman who owns horses on 55 acres that she cares for herself, whose dining room is nearly complete, taught me that she is all about the process along with me and wants to put her personal stamp on the room.  When presented the design contract she had one objection, and that was our clause that says she is to leave the house for the several hours while we put together the room for the big reveal.  She said no, she can't do that, and is not into a 'reveal'.  I have never run into that before- who doesn't want a reveal? She wants to assist me in putting the art on the walls and adding the final touches, and wants them to be her own.  (Of course I brought a car load of goodies to aid in 'icing that cake'.)

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We are waiting for her custom roman shades to be finished, then we will photograph that room.  It is warm and handsome, with a bit of spunk on the floor with a hugely bold and colorful antique kilim rug on the floor.

The office clients that you have seen glimpses of on my IG account were 100% on board with anything I did from the initial consultation...it was a dream.  This was a referral from our photographer, Jen Dowell, who is an amazing part of our team.  We met with the client and learned the opening date was only a few months away.  So we quickly secured the approved plans, then flew through the procuring process, while meeting with contractors to configure walls and offices within this 700 sq. foot shell of a charming old townhouse in Warrenton, Va.  I couldn't buy things fast enough, and though there was a desk debacle and over 1000 miles on my car, it was so much fun, and rewarding.  This was just photographed so those pictures will be up soon, but the ultimate compliment came from my client:

"Thank you for everything—I do think that the d├ęcor has landed us several clients since we don’t look unprepared.  We look professional, classy, calm.  Thank you!"

Thank you Sarah and Nathan at Meridian Financial Partners.  Gretchen, their office manager, helped me immensely with shipments and meeting deliveries.  She is an integral part of that dream team.

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I am so proud that my husband made so many things for this office project; truly a family effort.


This next client was definitely a learning experience.  We love this couple and their family, who we know personally, and we were thrilled to design a living room and kitchen for them. After alot of work up front to knock their socks off, we presented the plans and clearly the husband was very enthusiastic and the wife not so much.  After delving deeper, we did a few edits and still no buy-in. Turns out we discovered the sticking points: she wanted to do it herself and on her own time, and she wanted to control the process. The exciting thing is that it ignited the fire under them to start renovating their home, they ordered some furniture and are going to redo the entire first floor hardwoods to a darker color and possibly include the kitchen floor. 

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I got more practice in on my hand renderings and we did some fantastic textile combinations (if we do say so ourselves), and got more up to speed on some product research.

Lessons learned: do more qualifying of the client up front, as well as  find out their decorating problems and their decision making capabilities.  Also don't put in too many hours until you know you have the job!  We did alot of background research, estimating with painters and cabinetmakers, etc.- all great experience, for sure, but we didn't get the job.  You can't win them all!

Our next client asked for living and adjoining room plans to incorporate turquoise and orange in with her existing furnishings, and thats what I did.  

After I presented the plans, she decided she wanted to pack up all her turquoise and orange and shift to neutrals, so that's where we are with editing her plans.

  Sales is an interesting thing: how people buy, their ability to pull the trigger, their budget in relation to expectations of hiring a designer, and selling the value of our services are all a part of this process and a continual learning experience! I have been in sales for 40 years and am still learning.  I absolutely love it though, and the fun thing about all of this activity is that I am super jazzed (again) about working on my own home and finishing painting my kitchen cabinets!

Life is good.  





7 comments:

  1. Great post. I remember that design board of the living room/kitchen from a few posts ago - I think you hit it out of the park.

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  2. I'm glad you always see the good out of everything, even the difficulty I bet, at times. I definitely would want to be hands on, but still would love a reveal if I can get one. Your clients are all lucky to have you guys on board - creative and wonderful talents and great people!

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  3. Thanks Nancy for sharing your thoughts...great post!

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  4. Beautiful work you all!! Nancy, I love that office project.....especially that gorgeous rug! Enjoyed the preview on your Instagram site. Good advice, as always. Cheers, L

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  5. Great advice and love your drawings - so pretty! And so great that your husband helps with the projects! Happy weekend ~

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  6. Your drawings are wonderful:) And believe me as a designer we have all had clients like that! I did love the inspiration board for sure....right up my alley as far as neutrals!

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