Friday, September 28, 2007

The Glamorous Life of a Neophyte Business Owner

I picked up two piles of poop in my "office" this morning. I'm standing over my worktable, starting intently at the 100+ fabric samples in front of me attempting to pick a group of five or so to present to my client when my nose catches the offensive wiff. My friend's four month old puppy, that I enthusiastically agreed to watch this weekend, has unloaded about thirty minutes after I took her out. I grab the paper towels and the carpet cleaner and go to work. A minute later I'm back to my real work, where, after a few minutes of inner dialogue about whether or not this red is too intense for outdoor cushions, I look to my left and see another pile. This time my foster puppy Delilah has made her mark, probably trying to one up the guest.

To say that I am motivated to get more clients, to make more money, to get an office away from all this is the understatement of the year. Then again, nothing beats drafting in your pajamas.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Portland, OR- The designer's guide to...

I had the great fortune of being hired to work on a project in Portland, OR by a client who's house I completed in Hermosa Beach about 6 months ago. My client moved up there for work about a year, so I helped him set up his temporary digs at that time. He has moved again, so I had the chance to set up his new, and much improved, space. Located in the Pearl District, his loft like condo is fast becoming the hot new design template for the rest of the new construction. Luckily, the Pearl is also home to an abundance of amazing design shops, so I didn't have to go very far to score some excellent pieces. There also isn't any sales tax in Oregon, so my budget expanded quite a bit! So here's a list of some of my favorite spots in Portland. I highly suggest taking a trip there for everything from the food to the architecture and all the great design in between.

Bedford Brown- This garden/accessories shop is a spot that I could comb through all day and drop a lot of dough without feeling too bad about it :) They have an excellent selection of lamps, vases, and various decorative pieces that have a gorgeous handcrafted feel that works in a modern setting (my client) or a home full of antiques. I even took a bunch of photos of pieces I liked just in case they worked in a future project! Here's a shot of the lamp I purchased in the office of my client.

Cargo (380 NW 13th Ave Portland, OR 97209Phone: (503) 243-7804 )- This huge warehouse is filled with everything Asian. It's a treasure chest of antiqued painted furniture, funky Asian framed prints, endless accessories and a fun section of modern Chinese toys and party favors. If you're looking for a valuable antique, this isn't the place, but you can definitely find some fun pieces to bring a little life to your space. Below is a photo of a gorgeous blue dresser that, unfortunately, couldn't find its way into my client's space.
Hunt and Gather- I love love love this place! I'm a mirror freak (wow that sounds narcissistic), but only because they are usually less pricey than a piece of artwork and make for a very finished room (and it doesn't hurt to be able to check your teeth every once in awhile). This place is chock full of great mirrors, custom furniture, great accessories and art, and a totally relaxed vibe. I'm not sure why I didn't take any photos here, but below is a shot of a typical building in the Pearl.

This portion of The Designer's Guide getting lengthy, and I work for a living, so I will leave you with this last important bit of advice. Go to Everett Street Bistro. Don't question it, why would you question it? Just order the clam chowder and the braised short ribs and call it a night, and if you must, add the flourless chocolate cake, and if you're trying to really enjoy yourself, order a glass of the A to Z Wineworks Chardonnay (local Oregon wine) or perhaps the entire bottle. Of course, I wouldn't suggest the Chardonnay in the fall or winter, but in the last days of summer, it just felt right...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Salivating over these lanterns!

I just saw this incredible paper lantern on Apartment Therapy Los Angeles' Blog, and you know how I love my light fixtures. I've got a bit of a love/hate thing with Japanese design, sometimes it's just too sparse for my taste, but I've always been really into beautiful handmade rice paper which this company uses and can even customize. You can check out this lantern and others on the Miyako-Andon website.

It's Magic

I've always been a big fan of floating candles. I love putting them in my bathtub during parties even though it turns the facilities into a sauna! So this year for my birthday, I thought I would take it to the next level and put a bunch of candles in the pool. Great idea in theory except that it was windy, know. Anyway, I came across these Magic Globes online...presto-problem solved!

Mini Job Flood

I say "mini" flood because it's not as if I'm taking on huge jobs right now, but I have picked up a handful of little guys and it's keeping me busy. Just had a meeting yesterday with a woman in Beverly Hills who had previously worked with my mentor Merlene Bryant, which is how I was referred, and it went well. Simple enough-get a set of dining room chairs reproduced and reupholstered, so she could sit the whole family around the table at Thanksgiving. I haven't actually had antique furniture reproduced before, so I'm going on a hunt today. My first stop is Steven Thomas Antiques in Santa Ana. I was tipped off to this guy about six months ago during a little resource exchange in my Business Strategies class. It's always a great idea to write down any resource that people are recommending because you never know when you'll use it!

My second little project is a trip to Portland this Thursday and Friday to set up the apartment of a client who's house I recently completed in Hermosa Beach. This is interesting because I haven't seen any photos of the apartment, so I'm basically winging it when I get up there. I am preparing for the trip by looking up local resources, so I can do a whirlwind shopping trip Monday and set everything up on Friday. This is exciting because I don't normally design in this way...I'll imagine that I'm on Design Star and Kelly Wearstler, etc will rip me apart if I don't get it right!

My third small project, the details of which are still being hammered out, is a referral from my next door neighbor who connected me to a friend of his that lives right up the street from me-gotta love the convenience factor there. The potential client rents, which I don't normally love to get involved with because you're so limited in what you can do to the place, but it needs a facelift nonetheless. The space is your typical bachelor pad, which is to say there hasn't been an extensive amount of thought put into the design, and it doesn't exactly scream "home aka Nest". I like the idea of doing this because I know that with minimal furniture and accessory purchases along with rearranging the furniture layout, this place can be 1000% better. The client also has his own clients and colleagues over to the space, which makes it even more imperative to clean up his act.

My "diary project" the SoCal Nest is still moving forward. An issue came up that I've dealt with before, which is how much input can you or should you give to a client who asks your opinion on another designer's designs. Let me lay the story out for you more specifically... SoCal Nest is doing an outdoor covered patio which includes a BBQ area. I don't have all the details, but the design of the BBQ area came from another designer who was already on the job when I was hired. I don't mean to say that there is another interior designer on the job-there's just me-but this person probably works specifically for a BBQ/Outdoor area company and designed the space through that company. When my client sent me the plan for this and some of the inspiration photos, I didn't want to step on any toes, but I put in my two cents.

The design is pretty simple-curved counter, sink, BBQ, etc.-but I didn't think the curved counted worked with the lines of the house, and I told her so. I feel a bit weird about it now because I've had people undermine my design opinion in the past, granted it was a client's girlfriend who didn't have a design degree or taste is really irritating. Too many cooks in the kitchen really. I may be over thinking this as I tend to do, but I wonder if anyone has experienced this type of situation before?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Five Business Strategies to Live By

Anita Roddick ,the founder of The Body Shop, passed away on September 10th as I found out through my brother's blog at Plans For Us. This is significant because she based her business model on the following five points. This is significant to this blog because as a new business owner/developer these points can and should apply to what I do and what others should consider doing as well. It is also interesting that my brother posted this because our businesses could not be more night and day on the surface. He is starting and developing a web based business for teachers to collaborate on their lesson plans, and I am starting and developing an Interior Design firm. Just goes to show that we've all got more in common than we think. Again-network, network, network....with anybody!

1. Take your business personally: Business has, traditionally, addressed the world with profits in mind, which is to say: impersonally. We can no longer afford this. More than any other generation – [today’s] business people are in a position to lead in making the world a better place. We must take more responsibility, which is to say, take it personally.
2. Be daring. Be first. Be different: Or no one will notice.
3. Be good.: Because you can.
4. Business is not beyond morality. Business is no longer a cold-hearted, objective, pseudo-scientific project to manipulate customers…it can’t be that anymore. The future of the world depends on us doing business with heart. Without ‘heart’ the creativitiy of the human spirit dwindles, too.
5. Business is like activism: It is a way of saying what kind of world you want to live in. Protest is not enough. You need a vision.

This table is delicious, don't you agree?

I love Hudson Furniture, of course, I've never had the pleasure of using it in a client's house because it's on the expensive side, but someday I'll have a client who appreciates running their hands over exquisite solid wood...yes, pun intended :) On a more mature note, this company is really amazing, and this Falo coffee table is an organically sculptural piece that I wouldn't be embarrassed to have the parents meet. At around $2,500, pieces can be customized, it's a lot to throw at a magazine/cup platform, but think of it as functional art or come up with some other creative floor for one perhaps?

Meetings and Networking....aka Getting Action.

After a long stretch of minimal new project action this summer, the fall seems to be looking up-minus the "flaky client" mentioned in a previous post. Yesterday was a windfall day, with two meetings set up (one of which was taken this morning), a trip to Portland, OR scheduled for the following week to set up the new apartment of a former client, and most importantly, an invitation to collaborate with a fellow student.

I say this is most important because involves several factors, which I think are key to developing a business and which are sometimes undervalued.
1. Selling Yourself- I try to sell myself whenever possible-it's that simple. During class one day I got the opportunity to explain what I do and how I got into it. It was incredible to hear the reactions of my fellow students who had previously not thought of starting their own business as a real possibility.
2. Networking- This is pretty much the same thing as selling yourself, but I went beyond explaining what I do and actually spoke to individuals about the realities of the business-what they could expect if they got into it and also learning about their background. I had a woman email me saying that she would love to get involved with a project of mine, which I will put into my notes if I find myself in a situation where I need an assistant or collaborator.
3. Collaborating- My fellow student explained that he was approached to do a project by some acquaintances of his and asked my advice on certain things-how much to charge? where do you get your vendors? etc. and then he asked if I would consider collaborating with him. When it comes to business, I don't have a huge ego. I absolutely believe in the power of two (or three or four...) minds coming together. The benefit of collaborating for me is that I will pick up a new project, make a little money, make new contacts, expand my creative repertoire, and mentor a fellow designer, which is a total trip. The benefit to my fellow student is a having a mentor that can guide him in the basic business aspects of the project and give him a boost of confidence in executing his, what are sure to be fabulous based on his work in class, designs.

Speaking of the three tenets above, I had a lunch meeting with my electrician David Bernstein yesterday, and we had a really great meeting where both he and I explained why we were in business, why we liked what we do, how we got in business, etc. Because of that exchange we are now both looking out for the interest of the other. At this point, quite frankly, he could do a lot more for me, but as I grow and establish a larger client base with larger budgets, he stands to benefit as well. It illustrates what I always say to anybody asking about what I do- your vendors and your tradesmen are your best friends. If you've got a good team behind you, you can be a better designer, plus, if you're a decent human being and they like you, they may even promote your work. This has happened several times for me where a vendor has hooked me up with a client.

So if you're just starting-network shamelessly and if you've been in business for awhile and have hit a slump-network shamelessly. So get out there, take two business cards and call me in the morning.

Monday, September 10, 2007

From the Beginning....And a New Puppy

I thought I would take my readers through a typical job-giving updates and anecdotes on one project from start to finish. All the highs, lows, and the craziness and satisfaction in between. Not that I intend to say anything in bad taste about my clients, but for the purposes of this project "diary" I will refer to them as the SoCal Nest. I met with SoCal Nest this weekend off a referral from my Interior Design mentor, Merlene Bryant of Chestnut Street Interiors in Costa Mesa. This client is redoing their back patio and want to turn it into an outdoor living space. They're already working with a contractor, so I have been hired to specify moldings and other architectural finishes as well as do the lighting design and the furniture layout and design. The style is traditional with a Cape Cod feel, so I'm planning something simple, light and inviting. I'm already thinking about doing Holly Hunt's new Great Outdoors line of outdoor fabrics. With her crisp lines and gorgeous colors, I'm sure I'll find what I'm looking for. I will start looking into materials this week and touch base with the contractor on the architectural details, so he can get the construction started. I'm psyched about this project, and the client also wants work done on the interior after this is finished, so it will hopefully turn out to be a great relationship.

As for something completely unrelated to design, I took on a foster puppy this weekend through the dog resuce I volunteer for, Ace of Hearts Rescue, and am now looking for a home for her. If you're interested send me a comment with your info.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bathroom Mini Facelift



Not that I will claim this as the most
"wow" before and after of all time, but I wanted
to illustrate the effect that something as minimal as changing the tile can make quite a difference. The dark linoleum had been there for over twenty years and after the installation of a new lighter colored toilet, my client wanted to tweak a few things to make it all flow together. Although it's hard to tell in these photographs, in addition to changing out the floor, we also repainted the door to brighten up the room as well. My client was not up for the effort of a total bathroom makeover, but both she and I were happy with the mini "face lift". My fabulous tile guy, Andre Richie (626.926.1769), got in and out in two days-almost instant gratification!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Freakin Great Mirrors!

I've been singing the praises of this warehouse downtown, Olde Good Things, ever since I discovered their treasure trove of antiques, particularly their mirrors created from vintage tin ceiling tiles. Not only are they fabulous and unique, but they bring me back to my years in NYC when the very best apartments (in my opinion), however dilapidated, had uneven hardwood floors, exposed brick and tin ceiling tiles! I've used these mirrors in several projects, and my clients freak out over them. In the photo above of my client's nest in Hermosa Beach, I used two different styles in the same white finish to mix it up a bit. If you're wondering where to get that fantastic sink was designed by yours truly. ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lunchtime Adventure to RPM Clothing Store

So I took a walk today, with my dog Morris, into town to visit my good friend Chelsea at her store in Brentwood. She owns this fantastic little men's clothing shop RPM Clothing , which I always shop for the men in my life. Besides the fact that it has amazing clothing and accessories, the lighting is the best I've seen almost anywhere. All of the fixtures are antiques provided by her Mother and Father's shop in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Lights. I particularly love this one fixture in the rear of the store where the children's clothing is displayed. I feel that lighting is highly undervalued when people go to design their space, and they always leave it for last, when inevitably they've gone over budget. Such a shame because unique lighting can really set a space apart from the rest! If you're looking for a great electrician in the Los Angeles area, and I know it's hard to find a good one you can trust, give a shout to David Bernstein at Bernstein Electric 310.386.4581.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Logo Ideas

I'm working on a few ideas for logos...I know, I know, why don't I have a company logo after a year and a half in business...but I just didn't focus on getting one decided on, so I'm asking for opinions...let me know!

The Inaugural Post

After much prodding by my older brother Tyler to join the ranks of online bloggers, including himself (, I have finally given in and admitted that it might not be such a terrible thing...might even be great. A little background and an introduction to get you all hooked (and me, a starting point)...Basically, I've been a designer one way or the other since as far back as I can remember. Back in the day it wasn't very sophisticated...doing my own "inspiration boards" with Laura Ashley catalogues was hardly cutting edge, but I was on my way. Flash forward to now...I've been enrolled in the UCLA Extension Interior Design program for the last year and a half, and very shortly after beginning the program I decided to start my own residential interior design company, Nest Interiors. I go to school full time and have been getting consistent part-time work through my company, so I've been pretty busy for awhile now. I thought about working for another company, but scratched the idea because 1) I'd prefer to run the show (I'm probably too stubborn on that point for my young age, 25, but there it is... 2) It's so much more flexible 3) Finishing a project and making my client happy is the biggest high there is and 4) I get to spend a lot more time with my crazy dog Morris. I'm looking forward to posting my ideas, my thoughts on starting and running a business as a mid-twenties woman, and a lot of links and photos to great products and some ongoing and finished work of my own. This first set of photos will be my visual intro- a photo of my dog, a photo of my first finished project, and a photo of me, just so you know what Nest Interiors looks like.