Beth Smith: Transitioning from Side Gig to Full Time Interior Designer

Episode 12 July 28, 2022 00:51:13
Beth Smith: Transitioning from Side Gig to Full Time Interior Designer
The Interior Collective
Beth Smith: Transitioning from Side Gig to Full Time Interior Designer

Jul 28 2022 | 00:51:13


Show Notes

So many designers are straddling the fence between an interior design side hustle and a full-time career. Our season one finale of The Interior Collective features Beth Diana Smith discussing her career transition and lessons learned along the way.
Beth Diana Smith spent more than a decade working in accounting and finance with a hard earned Bachelor's degree in Business and a Master's degree in Accounting. Later, Beth earned a degree from the New York School of Interior Design while taking night classes working around her day job. Her interior design career started as a side hustle before she left accounting to start Beth Diana Smith Interior Design.
Her designs use expertly curated art, layered textured, bold patterns, and colors to create uniquely sophisticated, layered and luxurious residential designs. Beth has been on NBC and HGTV, and you've seen her work featured in various outlets, including House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Lonny Magazine, Domino, The Wall Street Journal, and the Business of Home.

In this episode, Beth and I discuss:

  • The career path into interior design
  • How a background in corporate shapes her business structure
  • When she knew it was the right timing to design full-time
  • Beth's signature use of color which she credits to design school
  • Finding the courage to make a career change


Show Notes

Mentioned in the episode:

Thanks for reading an excerpt of The Interior Collective Season 1, Episode 12: Transitioning from Side-Gig to Opening Your Own Firm featuring Beth Diana Smith. You can listen to our episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or access the full episode transcription below. You can follow Beth on Instagram or visit her portfolio for the latest reveals of her work.
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:02 Hi, this is the interior collective a podcast for the business of beautiful living presented by IDCO studio. And I'm Anastasia Casey. There are so many interior designers straddling the fence between side hustle and full time. Today's episode of the interior. Collective is diving deep into the transition to opening your own design firm with Beth Diana Smith. We'll chat candidly about her decision to attend design school while still working full time in corporate finance. If you are considering making the jump into starting your own business or ready to grow past solopreneur, stay tuned. Beth Diana Smith spent more than a decade working in accounting and finance with a hard earned bachelor's degree in business in a master's degree in accounting later, Beth earned a degree from the New York school of interior design while taking night classes working around her day job. Her interior design career started as a side hustle before she left accounting to start Beth Diana Smith interior design her corporate background, coupled with her innate creativity serve her well as the principle of her full service firm, Beth brings collected meets refined style and unparalleled efficiency to a variety of project types in New Jersey, New York and beyond her designs. Speaker 1 00:01:13 Use expertly curated art, layered textured, bold patterns, and colors to create uniquely sophisticated, layered and luxurious residential designs. Beth has been on NBC and HGTV, and you've seen her work featured in various outlets, including house beautiful, El decor, real simple loaning magazine domino, the wall street journal and the business of home. Hello and welcome Beth. I am so excited to be ending my Workday with you today, and we are so honored to have you on the interior collective. Speaker 2 00:01:46 Oh, thank you. The pleasure is all mine Speaker 1 00:01:49 To kick things off for anybody who's been living under rock and is not already familiar with your work. Describe to us what you would define your signature style as Speaker 2 00:02:02 I consider myself to be an eclectic maximalist with a heavy hand in Bohemian style. Speaker 1 00:02:12 Oh, I love that. Um, when you're, when you're reviewing and drooling over best work, I think just the way Beth incorporates color in a way that feels so warm and inviting and very high end is just such a gift that she has. And it's so refreshing as we're looking through, you know, sometimes designs start to look very similar over and over again, and you are just a breath of fresh air and I'm so excited to be able to showcase your portfolio. We'll have access to all of her portfolio images in the show note. So you can go ahead and look there and we'll also have everything linked to her Instagram, so you can follow along as well. Let's back it up. How did the initial design to start taking night classes launch because your background has not always been designed. Speaker 2 00:03:07 It has not. So I had started a new company in about 2000, February, first of 2008. I believe I started a new corporate finance job and I was, you know, I had a very big pay jump. Um, and I had purchased, I was 28 at the time, but I had purchased my home when I was 23. So as I got to closer to 30, I realized that I was really ready to get rid of all the stuff I bought from like that early two thousands Ikea. And we all remember early two thousands Ikea <laugh>. So I was like, I wanna, I wanna get rid of this, but I'm a really technical learner. So I'm like, okay, well let me do research there. Like there's these new things and they're called blogs and I'm out publications. And I started doing all this research and I was like, oh, this is actually really interesting. Speaker 2 00:04:10 Um, and I'm super, super organized in almost an annoying kind way. So I actually started off as a professional organizer. Um, right. So as I started working on my home and then like starting to like do things in other people's homes, I was just like, you know what? I really kinda like this design thing over here, but I don't have a creative brain. So I dunno how this is gonna work. Oh, I like technical education. I'm just look at some design schools cause I'm do this a side hustle. I wanna be like official. Next thing I, I was enrolling at the New York school of tier design and I was going school nights and weekends after my corporate job. Speaker 1 00:04:57 And this is after you already have a master's degree in accounting and you're like, let's just keep going to school. Let's just keep going. Speaker 2 00:05:04 <laugh> yes, it was a, it was a bit of a painful decision cuz I wasn't sure about it. So I started off, like I was gonna get my feet wet and I said, I'm gonna just take one like little mini class that they had. That was only like a, I wanna say it was like maybe a two or four week course. You can go a couple of nights a week and we give you like this broad overview of interior design. And I said, oh, okay, I'll get my feet wet. I'm gonna take one class. And it was, I think it was called introduction to color. And I was like, this is not what I thought it was going to be like when I look back at it now what my view of interior design was, was very, very ignorant <laugh> but there was so much more to it. So that color class, I'm glad I took it by itself because I'd go into that class a night or two a week. And then on the weekends I would be doing homework, mixing color, understanding, color, you know, learning like difference between like a tint and a shade and how learning, how to like mix my colors and understanding like how your eye reads color. And I was just like, where am I? Okay. Mindful Speaker 1 00:06:21 Is so funny. Like this is such a plug for this class because Gail Davis I chatted with earlier, she literally hyped up the same color class from the same school. So I'm like, apparently everybody needs to go take this class because she, Speaker 2 00:06:40 Yes. Speaker 1 00:06:41 The same reaction and same experience. And so that, that was like a game changing life altering class for her. Speaker 2 00:06:48 That is so funny. Yes, because Gale, um, she also lives in New Jersey. Also went to new school, interior design, but I met her after we had, I think we had both already graduated before I even met Gail and I met her inside the bathroom inside of the D and D building. I just saw her and I was like, hi, I'm Beth <laugh>. That was so random. Um, but yes, it was an amazing eye opening class and that's my very first class it had. And that was the only class I think I took by itself for a semester. It had such a big impact on me and, and how I view, how color makes you feel and what color can do. And it just gave me a whole new appreciation. Speaker 1 00:07:42 Oh, that's a I'm I'm like, okay, I'm signing up and taking the class. <laugh> Speaker 2 00:07:46 Do it. Do it. Speaker 1 00:07:47 I mean, I went to art school and I'd had a color theory class, but it sounds like this is on another level. So at this time when you were taking the single class, you still, at this point, thought that interior design was gonna be a side hustle, correct. Speaker 2 00:08:01 It was gonna be a side hustle. Um, you know, I was, I was gonna do it for fun as like my downtime because my corporate job was, you know, corporate finances, a lot of long hours. It can be very stressful. So I was just like, this will be what I'll do on my downtime. And I was just like, oh, check another ignorant mark off on my spreadsheet of life. <laugh> I didn't know any better. Speaker 1 00:08:31 So at what point in attending classes, so you took that first one, you took that class alone. That's a, that semester. Did you sign back up for the next semester? Like at what point did you pivot to like, you're going to school for this now? Speaker 2 00:08:46 So I, okay. So I started the class January of 2011. The class ended like mid may and then I was planning on taking a class during the summer, but then the end of may, my mother passed away. Um, and I had to, I think I was like, my family isn't from here, my family's Grenada. So it was like figuring out the funeral arrangements, like bringing her back to Grenada. It just conflicted was when I had the star class. So I sent nice to email, like, look, I can't, I can't do it. Can you please gimme my money back for this semester? And I'll see you guys in the fall. Um, so when fall came now, I was now the only person I had to be responsible for was myself. So I said, oh, well now I can take two classes. I could take one class during the week at night and I can take another class, you know, on the weekends. And that's when I ended up doing Speaker 1 00:09:54 Wow. Um, this is a controversial subject. <laugh>, <laugh> not all interior designers have interior design specific degrees. And while legally, a very state to state and some states absolutely require it. The majority of states in the United States actually don't what pushed you to decide that, getting that degree and going through that program was necessary when you were already an extremely educated and studied person, Speaker 2 00:10:34 Because I am a firm believer in technical education. I mean, I like, I don't wanna say I like school, but I like school. So, and it's also the best way that I learn. Like for me to feel comfortable, I need to feel like I know all the things I need to understand the who, the what the, where the, and the, why someone to walk me through like all the hows. And that's always how I've learned. Like I'm very, very on, on sorry, hands on. Um, but not everyone is, is, is like that. Um, and I actually don't, there are some amazing designers who don't have an interior design degree and there are a lot of designers who are a much better designer than I am. I'm sure who don't have an interior design degree. I think it's just based off of like how we learn and how much time we're putting in. And because I knew for me at that time, I had like weighed all the options. And I said, if I wanna design the way I see other people designing. And if I wanna be able to like do my own construction drawings and I wanna be able to know the history of interior design, I have to go to school for this. Cause this is what is best for me. Um, but I only went back for my associates in interior design because they would not take my business school classes, um, Speaker 1 00:12:05 <laugh> Speaker 2 00:12:06 Towards Speaker 1 00:12:07 Which we will get into. Speaker 2 00:12:09 Right. Like they wouldn't take those classes and said, well, so it took me four years going nights and weekends to just get an associate's degree, interior design. So I was like, I have to really commit to this because I'm, it was exhausting. Cause weekends was like, I live in New Jersey. So at night I would get home at like, I try to be home by at least midnight and on the weekends. And I'm going back into the city, I'm coming back and I'm trying to get all my homework done for the week because I can't do it during the week. Cuz when I go back to my nine to five, I'm there way past five. Sometimes I don't leave work until like 11 at night because now I'm catching up. Um, and like doing all these things. So it was a lot to manage. I remember being very tired and very cranky. So I don't think it's for everyone to, to do that. I was exhausted. Speaker 1 00:13:10 Well <laugh> you may be the most impressive human being I've ever spoken to <laugh> cause I am like, wow, that is, that's not for me. That is not <laugh>. So that is just so amazing. And now you have finished the program and now you have this incredible thriving business. So I do have a couple more questions about school and then I promise we'll move on. But I know for a lot of designers, it is a internal struggle they have and that imposter syndrome fear creeps in when they're like, I don't have this degree. How could I charge that? Who's gonna take me seriously. So I really appreciate all these insights you're sharing about what it was like to go through a program of a formal program. What do you feel like you learned in design school that you wouldn't have ever been able to figure out just on the job? Speaker 2 00:13:59 I would've never learned AutoCAD and that's a huge aspect of my business now. Like being able to do my own drawings is huge. Um, how a client, I realize there are a lot of clients who view me having also an interior design degree. It almost quote unquote elevates my status to them in my, in, in their mind because they feel like, oh, she takes this. They, she takes this seriously. Um, the, the history of design that I learned, I feel like it would've taken me a lot more year to do that. Cause I'm not, I, the likelihood that I would've sat down and be like, Hey, from the Dawn of time, what happened in interior design and, and who did what and what are these styles and what were the ancient Romans doing? Like I wasn't gonna do that. You know? <laugh> Speaker 1 00:15:01 How do you feel? How do you feel that learning that history of interior design has shaped the way you design? Speaker 2 00:15:13 I, so I think the simplest example would be, I always tell my clients, like if they're talking to me about trends, I'm just like, we don't design based on that. We design on, we design based on what you loved, because a trend like the definition means it's something temporary and we are designing for something that will be in your life daily for an extensive period of time. So I wanna base your design off of who you are, how you wanna feel, how you wanna live and who you want to be tomorrow in five years from now, that's not a trend. You are a classic. And we design on that. Speaker 2 00:16:04 That's part of like what school brought into me. Like I just learned so much and it gave me such an appreciation, which is why I think I became such an eclectic designer. Cause there's like all these styles and all these things. And I, I think the history of design is really, really so interesting. Like, and even again, even with color that color class, I don't think I would view and appreciate and approach, color how I do and what I've been known for in my career. If I hadn't taken that color class, like I don't think I could have learned those things outside of school. What I've learned outside of school is built on built on that. But that became such a solid part of my foundation and like things like lighting and kitchen and like my, like my start and like kitchen and bath also started there. Like again, because my brain is like very robotic and very technical. I feel like going to school made me the, the best possible designer that I am now. And I sometimes I think about, um, even going back for my bachelor's, I actually had this guy, I ran into the president of nice, um, a couple weeks ago and I was telling him, I thinking my bachelor come. Speaker 1 00:17:42 So you touched on it a little bit earlier. I'm sorry. They did not take your business classes. <laugh> I think, I think that we can pretty universally say design school does not teach you how to run an interior design business. And I think that that is one of the pain points people feel, or those kind of shocks they feel after they do complete a program. And they're like, okay, I'm doing this now. And you're like, wait, this is so not everything that I learned. There's so much more to the job than what is taught. Um, you have, obviously you had a business background, so you were able to bridge that bridge, that gap beautifully. Where do you advise people who didn't have a bachelor's and a mathematical and brilliant brain background to, to fill in those gaps? If they have gone the route of like, they went to school for interior design right away, they knew that that's what they wanted to do. And now they're looking to run this business, where do they fill in those gaps? Speaker 2 00:18:53 I would say the biggest resources are designer, friends, designer, Facebook groups, the amount of resources in there is incredible. And organizations like a S I D that are basically built to teach you the business of design. Um, I think those are incredibly incredibly important aspects. Something that even though I have this background, I still, you know, talk to designers. What, how are doing this? Um, like even, even with design to face group, Facebook groups, I don't comment often because if I comment I can go down the rabbit hole and then I feel like I gotta take all this time having these conversations. So I really don't, but I do read all the posts and I try to read all the comments and I'm like, oh, this is actually really interesting. This person is doing this because a lot of this, I mean, especially as technology changes in our industry, like, oh, what's that new program you found a faster way to do this or this happened? Um, I feel like in business of home, um, I feel like it's an amazing resource and I read their newsletters religiously. Speaker 1 00:20:11 Yeah. Um, for those listening, I will ping Beth later and get a list of a couple of those Facebook groups if she's willing to share. And I'll include those in our show notes below for you. But that sounds fantastic. I know that's how I grew my business understanding when I first started IDCO and I'm sure it translates beautifully over to the interior design world. I also think that things are really changing the, in the interior design world. I think that things are starting to become more transparent if you're willing to work for that transparency. So we'll get into that as we talk about networking a little bit more as we venture into you making this shift and going full time, what are three things about owning your own interior design business that you particularly love? Speaker 2 00:21:03 I love my freedom of doing things when I want to do it. Um, I love that I can do whatever I want creatively. Um, I feel like that's probably my Nu my number one. Like I don't have to get, get anyone else's like feedback I'm taken to the client is like, this is it. And this is what I need you to do. And it's going to be amazing. Um, and I would say the third is there's a satisfaction of running your business successfully where every day, like every day that you get up and there is money still in your bank accounts and your P and L is looking good. And your accountant says, he's proud of you. Like there's, you should be greatly proud of yourself because it's not easy to own a business. I mean, because a lot of times you have, you are all the roles. You are the accounting department, you are the marketing department, you are the social media, you are the legal department. Um, you are admin, you are all these things. And even if you have a staff, you should still know all of those things. Um, so I think there should be a great pride in being able to, to run a successful business. I feel like that in itself is like, wow, gold star to you. Speaker 1 00:22:37 What is your favorite difference from leaving your corporate role? Like the biggest does that just go back to like having your own schedule and being in charge of how and when things go, Speaker 2 00:22:50 I would say it's putting, there's a, almost like a joy in putting forth all that hard work for your benefit versus someone else's that I feel like. Cause when I was in corporate, like I worked a lot and I'm the first to say, like I was a really hard worker and in corporate or when you work for someone, I don't care if you work for like, if you are, you know, the CFO versus like the manager at McDonald's, like there, there are gonna be two types of bosses, the ones that show that they appreciate your hard work. And then the other ones who make you feel like, Nope, you gotta, you know, you gotta touch the cloth of Jesus for you to like get this next step. And that's not a good, that's not a good feeling. So I feel like I enjoy putting forth that much effort for myself versus some, someone or a group of people who may not even appreciate that. Speaker 1 00:24:02 I resonate with that. So profoundly when I started IDCO it was only because I was laid off, not even laid off, I was fired for a, from a director of marketing position because I had received a job offer from someone else. And I wanted to talk to my boss about it and they felt like I was being disloyal and they didn't want me there anymore. Then they called the person who offered me the job and got them to retract the offer. So in one day I went from having a job that I really loved to a job offer that sounded really exciting and was something I was considering to nothing. And I remember I called my dad before I even called my husband, as I walked out, like crying from this. And I was like, I just don't know if I can work for someone else again, because like they loved me there. I loved being there. And for someone else to have that kind of control over literally your livelihood and like every, every ounce of sweat you've put into it, I was like, I just don't know if I can do that. <laugh> so I certainly feel that so much. And it's the, I'm glad you reminded me of like how, how much that contributes to the joy of owning a business. Speaker 2 00:25:19 I first, let me say, like, I'm so sorry that that happened to you. And I hope that that old boss and old company follows ID co and I hope they feel like we, you know, did we fire the Beyonce of like your design marketing? And I hope that they feel terrible and that they know they messed up, but it also needed to happen because if they didn't, would you like, where, where would your journey now be like, you, you know, like I, I utilize your services, you guys have done my website and like 5 million are the random things that I've emailed you guys about. Like I've used your, I, I use your templates. Um, and I'm, and I'm happy to do so. So thank you old company for firing the Beyonce of interior design marketing. Cause it's totally our game as designers. Speaker 1 00:26:18 Can I change my like Instagram bio to that? And I'll just like, quote, you <laugh> Speaker 2 00:26:23 Feel free, feel free. Speaker 1 00:26:26 I will say that I would never have had the courage that you had to leave your corporate job. Like that was never owning my own business was never in the agenda. That was never the plan. And, um, being someone who's listening now, who's considering that jump. Like I applaud you because it was only out of necessity that this grew, and it was not a courage that I had to like make that leap myself. And so listening to your story and how strategic you were about it and how thoughtful and intentional you were. I just think that that's an incredible journey that I can never say was mine. Speaker 2 00:27:07 Oh, I thank you. But trust me, it was never supposed to be the plan. I just felt like if I stay in court one more day, my head is gonna snap off my body. I, I have to go and I don't wanna go to another finance role. And I feel like it was like, I was at the end of my, and I feel like the universe kept on like aligning things and was just like, I get it. It's it's time to go. Um, but so Speaker 1 00:27:40 Did you already have clients like you who were already freelancing, did you already have clients or was it like you made that jump and you're like, okay, anybody wanna hire me? I'm here. Speaker 2 00:27:50 <laugh> um, basically that, so I had, when I started design school, I had one client. Right. And it was a, a super small project, like teeny tiny didn't even know how to charge properly. Um, and then when I started school, I realized that I couldn't take on any more clients. Cause I had, there was no more time left in the day. And then I never forget this was may of 2014. Um, I, it was my last day at my corporate job was going to be May 8th. And I was planning on being a full time student, the fall of 2014, just so I can finish off my degree. I had like four or five classes left and I met a group of women, including Sheila bridges on a rooftop. Um, and she put together like this small group of women and Sheila referred my very first client. Once I was done with design school, like we, we had everything set up and I told him I would start his project January of 2015. That's that's how it started. Speaker 1 00:29:12 Wow. Since making that jump, what are three things that have surprised you to be particularly challenging of having your own design business? Speaker 2 00:29:27 Oh, wow. Three things. I would say constantly feeling stretched like, oh my God, I have 5 billion things to do. Who's going to do them all when I want them to be done. Um, and I always feel like that. Um, <laugh> literally walking around with a planner in my bag. Um, then I would say, wow, with running a design business, um, not suffering from imposter syndrome is difficult. I feel like the only people and I say this to friends all the time. I feel like the only people that don't suffer from imposter syndrome have to be like sociopath and narcissist. I don't know how it's possible in the age of social media where you see, even though I, I consider social media to be like scripted reality, you see all these people doing all these amazing things and not feel at least once, even for a second, like, damn, am I not doing something right? Is there something more I could be doing? Wow, how are they doing that? I'm so impressed. Like imposter syndrome is, is a real thing. And I feel like it's normal. Um, and so easy. And the third thing I would say is making sure that I am not only working in my business, but that I'm consistently, still working on my business and being able to bounce back and forth. I always find to be very, very challenging. Speaker 1 00:31:13 I'm impressed. You came up with three. Thank you for doing that on the, Speaker 2 00:31:17 Thank you. Speaker 1 00:31:19 That said two of those seemed to rely really around time management and like just getting all the things done. Can you talk us through what your firm looks like? What is the breakdown? Do you have contractors? Do you have any employees? Are you doing everything's top to finish yourself? What is that structure? Speaker 2 00:31:40 Painfully, painfully right now, it's just me. Um, I had an assistant and I don't someone asks of a girlfriend always says that I'm like 18 and a half people and I'm just like, I might be, cuz I don't know how it's possible. I'm getting everything done. Um, I had an assistant that I let go the beginning of last year and now it, I realize it gave me, I don't wanna say a fear, but like a fear. Like, am I gonna spend time training someone else? And I feel end up feeling like I wasted my time. Um, and then like, I was like, I was going to, I was getting myself ready end of last year. And then Kips bay came up and I was like, I can't hire someone and train someone properly and give them like my real attention and be rounding around like a crazy person trying to juggle my projects with Kips bay. So now I'm looking for a junior designer and what looks to be like an admin assistant type of role. And that's what I'm looking for now. And I'm looking for office space. So I am looking for all of these things and I'm just hoping that the universe again aligns in my favor and brings me like an amazing space and some amazing my and, and help me complete my current project. Speaker 1 00:33:17 Really. I really appreciated what you just said about how you previously had had an assistant. And now you're looking for a junior designer and an administrative person. What I always try to coach our clients through and what we talk about at design camp and just something I have learned and made the mistake is that you hire someone cuz you need a body and you're like, I just need someone else to help. And what I have found is that when you do so, a lot of your day is spent coming up with a to-do list for that person. When you are just hiring a person, you're just like, I need help. I need an assistant and you leave it pretty broad like that. It's always managing a to-do list that already lives in your head that you've already been figuring out and planning. And now it's about delegating that to-do list versus looking for these people to fill these specific roles that you are in the journey of right now is the absolute best way to go about it. Speaker 1 00:34:17 You need someone who can completely take X, Y, and Z tasks off of your running to do list forever. And that's where I found the most growth at Ideco and where I found me finding time to take a breath in my day when it wasn't about just, I have all these things to do today. Can you take a, B and C? And it was like, you're always gonna be managing this. So I am excited for that change for you. I'm excited for, hopefully someone's listening to this and they're like, I have to work for <laugh> and they're like to work for her other, send Speaker 2 00:34:52 Your resume. <laugh> <laugh> Speaker 1 00:34:56 Um, because that is just like such a sweet spot to have a team of three. And I just hope that you like really, um, appreciate that moment in time because it's somehow it's like, then it's three and then suddenly there's 10 and it's a skill to be able to keep it small where you are still designing for your own brand. Speaker 2 00:35:16 Yes. That's perfectly put, thank you. Speaker 1 00:35:20 I know a lot of designers feel guilty charging their first clients. Typically those are gonna be friends or family as they're building that portfolio. How did you handle it with your first clients? Speaker 2 00:35:33 Oh man. So with my very, very, very first clients and this would've been like pre design school. I don't think I charged friends anything. I think I just wanted to like, Hey, be my test case. You're my Guinea pig. Give your feedback. And then my first client that wasn't like a friend or family member, I felt like, okay, I can start the charge for this. Oh my God. I'm embarrassed to say, so this was maybe like 2009, maybe 2010. And she wanted her living room like redone, but she wanted to like keep her furniture and I think ID her, like, I didn't know any better. And I also thought like, and this is probably terrible, but I also thought of it like play money because I'm making all this money at my corporate job. My side house was to be fun. I didn't take it like seriously in that aspect. Speaker 2 00:36:44 And I, I just didn't, it was really again. And so it was like a place of ignorance. And through that experience, luckily that was my only client before I said I can't take anymore clients because I just don't have the time. Now with design school, I learned my hard lessons like Beth you're dumb. Cause when you calculate the amount of hours that you actually spent to complete this project, again, the amount of money that you spent, um, the amount money that you charge, you paid yourself. So below minimum wage, my, my mind was blown. I was like, how much you just was that like $2 an hour? Like what was that? Because there was all this time, but I would not have known that without the experience. And that, that time I also hadn't connected with any other designers yet. I didn't really get to know or meet other designers until until 2011. Speaker 1 00:37:50 Mm-hmm <affirmative>. That is a perfect segue. Cuz I do wanna talk about how you navigate. I mean, you're in a super competitive market. Like there is not a shortage shift designers where you're at. And I also know that you have a great network of friends in the industry. It's really well known that everyone adores you and that everyone considers you a close personal friend. How did you begin to cultivate those relationships? Speaker 2 00:38:23 Um, first it started, I started attending events and I remember like the first event that was like impactful. This was, oh my God. It was may, may of 2008 was like May, 2011. Um, clearly like a lot happened that month. Um, I private used to do this thing called blog Fest and we did three of them in the very first year was 2011. Um, and I went and I met some really great people. And then I went back the next year and a lot of those same great people were there and then continued. So I started meeting them. Then I started like meeting their friends and I learned it just it's funny cause I hated networking when I was in corporate. Um, but it taught me like the importance of building genuine relationships. It taught me what I consider now to be my motto. Like I'm only going to network from a place of giving and never from receiving. Speaker 2 00:39:27 Like, I don't need you to do anything for me, but I'm I, well, absolutely. Like what do you need? How can I, I help you? And I feel like then the universe just pays me back cuz then people are going to do the same for me without me having to ask. So, you know, meeting people, meeting people and always just attending like industry events I've and, and social media has also been great for that. So there's some people I consider like friends that I've actually probably never even met in person or I've only met a couple of couple of times. Speaker 1 00:40:02 Totally. All my best friends came from Instagram. It's just Speaker 1 00:40:08 For me, it's so pivoted when I had my own business, like my best friends now all have their own businesses cuz it's just like another level, like talking about business. I'm sure to any of my other friends is so annoying and they're so over it, which is why I had to like find my group of people who wanna talk business with me all day. Cuz it, I love it so much. It's all I wanna talk about. And from creating those friendships, I've gotten to the place where I can be like, Hey, what are you charging for this? Or how did you navigate this? Or did you add this to your contract? Because I had this like hip hiccup come up. And how did that, how did you navigate that? How I'm also really interested in after attending those events, how do you maintain those relationships? Like you were able to create and cultivate those, but like how do you maintain those onward after you know, the magic and the warm fuzzy feelings of whatever that event is, is over? How do you continue it? Mm-hmm <affirmative> Speaker 2 00:41:13 Now I would say I'm gonna call it like current times. <laugh> cause current times is now like the, the world of like social media, um, you know, like following on social, staying engaged, commenting, DMing, text messaging. Sometimes it's like the simplest things where it's just like, Hey, talking to my mind, just, just checking in hope all is well. Or if there's like something coming up, I'm like, Hey, are you going to this thing? Am I gonna see you there? Great. Let's meet there. Oh great. Let's do dinner after. It's like all those things. It's like making that conscious effort. But I mean, there are times like if I'm in a busy period, I may have to send like proof of life because I will be quiet. I'm not, I'm not checking in. I'm hoping that they would like check on me. Um, but it's, it's not, it's not easy. Speaker 2 00:42:14 It really is like a very conscious effort to do that, to make sure that you are showing up in the places where you want to be seen and that you're taking, you're taking it seriously about, um, it's almost like it's like dating the same way. Like you have to. And this is something a designer friend says like you are basically dating your client. It's like the same thing. Like I I'm dating my designer, friends. Like let's do dinner. Haven't seen you in a while. Let's catch up. Are you still alive? Send proof of life. Like all like all these, all these things. Um, and building like those organic relationships and technically that's only the relationships that I want. Like I don't wanna force it if we're friends. Great. Um, but I just feel like you just gotta be comfortable and organically yourself and then your tribe will, will find you and you'll find them. Speaker 1 00:43:14 This is a kind of personal question. But would you say that you have a lot of friends outside of the industry? Like do you have to balance your work friends and your non-work friends? How, how has that shifted? Cause just as a business owner, there's only so much time in the day. Speaker 2 00:43:34 It's difficult. Um, I had <laugh> I had a close friend say to me like a couple months ago and she was just like, she sent me a text. She said, look, I haven't seen your face. And if I don't see your face soon, we're gonna have a problem. And I said noted. Um, but then I was also traveling a lot back and forth to Florida for tips. So I completely understood it because at this point I was like, I haven't seen my friends in a, would felt like a few months and that's abnormal for me. So it's not easy. But for like my real friendships, I know that it will be a two race street and they'll send me a text like that and I'll take offense. I'm like girl, you're right. When I come back this date, let's make a date, I'll bring the wine. Speaker 2 00:44:27 Um, and that's what I try to do, but it's, it's a constant kind of give and take. I'm trying to be better now that like I'm dedicating more of my weekend. Like Beth, you're not allowed to work, not allowed to work more than like 10 or 20% of the day. Um, and you're gonna dedicate that time to like, you're gonna make dates with friends. You're gonna make time to make a date with yourself and do the things that you wanna do. So sometimes for me lately, like it's me a glass of wine and a puzzle. And that's like my Zen time for myself because I need that. I need my me time. Um, but it's not easy and I don't want anyone to, to think that it is because we're all trying to, to still figure that out. Speaker 1 00:45:16 I wanna be super conscientious of your time. So I've got two more questions for you. One, I love, love, love your office reveal. It was such a creative, amazing, beautiful space. And I'm curious, is there a favorite thing you have in that space? Speaker 2 00:45:33 Ooh. Um, well first thank you. Um, I dunno if I have a favorite thing, that's a hard question. Um, I would say that I love that. I decided to wallpaper the office. It just makes me so happy every time I walk in here. Um, and I love that I did a gallery wall because I love art and I'm just a maximalist. Like it just makes me so happy to, to see those things. So I would say it would be those two. I can't really narrow down the one Speaker 1 00:46:14 <laugh> I'm gonna tell you my favorite thing. My favorite thing in your office, please. I love the gallery wall, but what I really love is that you freaking hung your degrees, you framed them they're up and they're there. And I love that because it is such a fun, fundamental part of you. And I feel like in design people kind of strip some of those things away cuz like it's not traditionally pretty and I love that you kept that and it just looks so amazing. I just think you're so impressive and such a badass. Speaker 2 00:46:48 Oh thank you. That actually makes me so happy. Cuz they had been like sitting, I have like, um, like a little safe where I keep like important documents. They had been like sitting in that safe for probably a few years. At least I'm like, no, you have to go up because one for, for like my bachelor's and my master's, I still owe student loans. So I'm gonna hang these degrees. Um, and, and for nice that luckily that got, that all got paid for. Um, I'm just really proud of that accomplishment and like being able to navigate that. And I feel like we need a reminder of all the things that we've accomplished. So I'm like, you could just be part of the wall. I'm gonna frame you pretty. It was like a DIY frame job and I'm gonna frame you pretty and you're going into this gallery wall and thank you. That makes me happy. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:47:42 Lastly, as we're talking and those listening are possibly considering about making the actual jump to go full time to like really say I'm making this a business, it's not just a hobby. What would you like to say to those who are not currently feeling fulfilled in their present careers? Speaker 2 00:48:07 Oh wow. Um, I feel like that's a big question and a tough question. What I can say is if you're not being fulfilled in your current career, my first question would be to figure out the why, because there is a reason why there is an entire Reddit thread dedicated to terrible companies and terrible bosses. Are you not being fulfilled because you are now in that Reddit thread, um, versus you not loving what you do because it's too very, very, very different things. Um, because technically I still love finance and accounting and I still do those parts of my business. Cause I, sorry, I'm a girl that enjoys an Excel spreadsheet. I like doing a formula. I wanna go. And I wanna look at my P and L I wanna figure out the strategy for my business, how to best maximize not only my company's budget, but my clients. Speaker 2 00:49:15 So I still like that. I just wanted to figure out a different way and be able to build upon it. Now that I discover this other part of my brain. So I would say make your list of pros and cons. Why I don't feel fulfilled because if it's, because you think that if you change careers, it's going to fix what the issue is. I feel like that may be some denial. Um, it could be just, you're looking to find something new and then you think the grass may be green on the other side, but the interior design grass is not greener. It's just different grass, Speaker 1 00:49:58 Just different grass. Right? That is so well said. You are so wise. I I'm gonna like start sending you invitations to be on a podcast every week, just so you can coach me through Speaker 2 00:50:07 My life. <laugh> the Beyonce marketing does not need live coaching <laugh> Speaker 1 00:50:16 Well, Beth, this was such an immense pleasure. It was so nice to chat with you face to face. I will have everything we covered in today's show in the show notes as well as pictures from best beautiful portfolio. You can follow her on Instagram and also view her website at the links below. Thank you so much for joining us today. And I hope to run into you soon. I'm gonna be in New York a few times this summer, so I'm hoping we can line it up. Oh Speaker 2 00:50:43 Please, please, please. I would love Speaker 1 00:50:45 That. Well, thank you so much and we will talk soon. Speaker 2 00:50:48 Bye everyone. Speaker 1 00:50:50 If you weren't able to write down everything you heard today, you can find all the links, projects, and images we referenced and other details from this episode of the interior collective on our website at ID Be sure to follow along on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletters. Stay up to date on what we're talking about next week. If you love our podcast, please leave us a review. If you have questions or topics you'd like to hear next, go ahead and email me at hi, the again, that is I, the interior dot C.

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