All this month I’m interviewing real-life designers about what it is like to run a design business. As you’ll see these ladies have all different backgrounds and experiences, but one thing they all have in common is that they have taken my course, The Golden Blueprint.
About Corrine Wilbur
After earning a Bachelors & MBA in International Business and working in International Trade for 9 years, Corrine left her job managing a team in exports/imports and customs documentation. She got a certificate from the Interior Design Institute and started Boo and Rook in July 2016. In addition to her residential interiors work, she does interior and creative design work for a consulting and branding agency as well as designing cases and displays for a jewelry company, styling several sets for a photoshoo for the same jewelry company, and she'll be styling a launching event coming up in the next several months.
How do you charge?
Typically a Flat Fee, but I have done a few projects that were hourly.
What is a typical project like for your business?
I have been working more in interior decorating vs interior design so I work a lot with working moms who want a home that is kid-friendly but still inspiring. It’s a lot of 1-2 rooms at a time -bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, etc.
What traits or talents have made you successful?
The biggest traits and talents are the ability to relate to each client on a personal level, actively listen to their wants, needs, troubles and then translate that into a finished design – however big or small. Another key trait that has made me successful is relatability. All of my clients have told me how they felt like they were working with a long-time friend. And some of my clients have grown into really strong friendships!
What has been your biggest sacrifice in running your business?
The biggest sacrifice has been financial. I left a good corporate job, not making a ton, but a comfortable amount. And, right now in my business, I am making less than that income, but we’re making it work and I know my clients and the income I want to make are out there. I’m doing what I love and putting myself out there so it’s well worth pinching pennies for a little while.
What is the biggest lesson you've learned from running your business?
It is so important to take time to both focus ON yourself and your business. It’s a lot like being a Mom. You are constantly taking care of everyone else’s needs and it’s so important to take time for yourself, be a little selfish a couple hours a week and make yourself a priority. The same goes for my business. I’ve had to learn to take a few hours or 1 day a week and make myself and working ON my business a priority. I’m better for it and so is my business.
What does success mean to you?
Being able to support my family with doing something that makes me happy! I worked the 9-5 corporate in a completely different field for almost a decade and came home stressed and miserable every day and it was starting to affect my home life. I might not make as much in my business now (yet) as I did in that corporate job, but I’m happy, I still contribute to bills, I’m here for my husband and kids whenever they need me and I love getting up in the morning.
When you stumble how do you pick yourself up?
I remind myself of how far I’ve come and that every mistake or failure is an important lesson learned. Now let’s move on to the next!
Do you have a favorite quote, motto, mantra, affirmation?
I have a few, but this is what I resonate with the most often with taking the leap to start my business. “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down Happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life” – John Lennon
What drew you to interior design?
My mom told me when I was little that I would take pages out of magazines and make my own houses and rooms. I don’t remember this, but I guess that love has always been there. As an adult, my Husband and I bought a church that was later a candy factory and we spent a year gutting and redesigning it. He is an architect, and through the process of seeing his creation and vision to come to life, I knew I wanted something like that. I fell in love with being able to see a finished result, a space bloom and grow into something different and spectacular. And at the end of the day be able to sit back and say, “Yeah, I did that”.
How do you wish the design industry was different?
I wish it showed people that it is more accessible to the everyday person. There are different levels of designers and I think a lot people that would hire a designer and want our help, think it is going to be too expensive and is completely out of reach. There will always be high end designers, and we need them, but overall I think the stigma needs to change.
Looking back, is there anything that you wish you could've done differently running your business?
I wish I would have taken The Golden Blueprint first, haha. I really wish that I would have focused on the business side first: registering my business, getting systems and processes in place,
establishing how to pay taxes, marketing, strategies and all of the boring stuff. Instead, I focused on the fun stuff like branding, logos, and a website and feel like I’ve been playing catch up.
What are you most proud of?
Taking the chance on myself to do what I love after establishing myself in a completely different field, not giving up when I’ve felt like a failure or an imposter, and the relationships that I have built with my clients and the connections I’ve made through my clients.
What is your biggest struggle in running your business?
Marketing. Social media is so huge and you need it nowadays, but I very much have a love-hate relationship with it. And also focusing on the day to day while also thinking big picture and future. There are several “projects” that I want to and am working on for the future, so staying present while organizing my thoughts and goals so I don’t get off to a slow start again is hard. Being a creative is amazing, but sometimes there are so many ideas you think you’re going to burst and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
How has your business changed since The Golden Blueprint?
The Golden Blueprint opened my eyes to the backend of starting a business, so I’ve really focused on establishing my company and getting systems and processes in place.
Any sage advice or words of wisdom to fellow designers?
Yes! If you are at all thinking about starting your own company, whatever that might be, DO IT! Another favorite quote of mine is by Fabienne Fredrickson, “The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling”. Don’t let fear stop you, please. Don’t wait until you have everything perfect and in order, that doesn’t exist. Do your research, spend the extra to invest in courses and coaches, take the necessary steps to prepare yourself and your venture for success (as much as you can, there will always be a huge learning curve), do the boring stuff because it’s the building blocks for your business, and TAKE THE PLUNGE. And be open to change once you’ve started, you never know who you are going to meet and what opportunities will present themselves.
What is on the horizon for your business?
I’m working a lot with my client’s branding company on a multitude of different projects,
so we’ll see where those experiences lead. I was inspired by one client I worked with and she and I are in talks for starting a non-profit together. I also am looking into starting an online shop that will someday, hopefully, become a brick and mortar. But through this all, I am enjoying having my own company and growing that as well.
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