4 industry experts’ tips on being an Interior Designer

I spoke to an amazing line up of industry experts who provided a host of nuggets on starting and running an Interior Design Business.

Each guest has expertise in a different area of the interiors industry – and their advice is pure gold. Take a read and see what you can implement in your own interior design business!

First up was Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at AkzoNobel Dulux.

  • Find your specialism within Interior Design. That is where the joy is. If you do what you love, your enthusiasm will be infectious. This allows you to delight your customer.
  • Understand what your customer wants and put them at the centre of your creative process. 
  • Get work experience in an Interior Design showroom. Understand the business of interior design.
  • Whilst creativity is at the heart, organisational and business skills is about 70% of the job. The role is creativity combined with practicality.  Business skills such as project managing, problem solving, and communication skills are all relevant and valuable. 
  • Where’s the money? Sit down and do your sums – how much do you need to earn? Know your numbers. 
  • When you get busy – ask yourself “Am I expensive enough?” If you are too busy – put your rates up. Don’t be a busy fool. 

My second guest was Journalist Jenny Wood.

  • Always get ‘before’ pictures from lots of angles before you start your project. Take ‘after’ photographs to send in as a pitch so that magazines can decide if they will feature you (these don’t have to be professional). The photographs will give the magazine an idea of the space.
  • A magazine will likely use their own professional photographer if they decided to feature your work.
  • Look for the Homes Editor. You need to send your pitch and photographs to the right person at the magazine (you can’t rely on your email being forwarded on to the correct contact).
  • Instagram and blogging are great ways to build a profile. This is your shop window. Use it to show off your expertise and talent. 
  • Practise writing. Don’t over think it. Read it out. Does it sound like you are talking to a friend? That’s what you are aiming for.  You will make mistakes to start, learn from them. You’ll get better. 
  • Aim for a weekly blog post, but don’t do it for the sake of it. Don’t force it. Make it fun. 

My third guest, Interior Designer Emma Merry, also delivered a wealth of information.

  • Get niche. The more you do in one area, the more expertise you will gain as you encounter the same sort of issues and problems time and time again.
  • Find ways to add value to customers. Kitchens and Bathrooms require a higher level of expertise so you can really add value as an Interior Designer.
  • Think about specific, focused service offerings. Be picky about the work you take on and stick to your strengths. You’ll get a reputation for it and find more of the work you love. Doing the right work will reinforce your brand. 
  • Form a network with other interior designers, you can help each other out and pass business which is not in your area of expertise – they’ll return the favour. 
  • Know your customer. Regularly update your customer profile. This will help you to shape your brand and service offerings for your ideal client – and make marketing to them simple. 
  • Spend money on learning. Keep adapting, and investing in, your business.

Last up for the week was Emma Morten-Turner, Interior Stylist, and founder of Inside Stylists. 

  • An Interior Stylist can cover many aspects of interiors, but in general a brief is taken for a client, the concept delivered and photographed, and then taken down.
  • Styling is all about getting a hero shot.
  • Interior styling projects are ‘a moment in time’ rather than built to last. Whereas, Interior Designers focus on the whole room, and the many elements that make up the design. The focus is on creating a feeling and a holistic design – its long term. 
  • When considering shots for a magazine, you need to tell a story, leading the reader from one space to another. They need to be intrigued.
  • Check out Inside Stylists. You can find an Interior Stylist who can help you to get into a magazine or help you out with styling a shoot. 

I hope these industry expert tips were helpful and something you can bring into your own Interior Design practice.

Need more help?

I have a FREE handy ‘9 step guide for setting up your interior design business’. Get the guide here.

If you need a bit more detail or help to boost your Interior Design Business, I may have a course that can help you.

From establishing your business and brand, defining your service offerings, working out your pricing structure, the day to day running of your business, template Terms & Conditions to use in your business, to finding (and keeping) a steady stream of clients.

My courses are jam-packed. They cover everything you need to get your Interior Design business set-up fast! Check the courses out here.