Monday, March 7, 2011

Murphys Law...

Recently I had to delivery a sofa to a client's apartment. With so many things that I am usually concerned about on a job, the size of the elevator for a standard sofa delivery is not generally one of them. Well, murphy's law reared its ugly head once again.

I got the call that the sofa was downstairs and on its way up.
"Great!" I thought.
So I wait.
I wait some more.

For some reason it was taking a bit too long for the guys to be bringing up the sofa. I go to check the status and see them in the hall by the service elevator.

Now, the problem wasn't the actual elevator. It was the fact that the elevator was in its own room and couldn't fit out of the doorway from that area. What brilliant architect or designer did not realize that items coming up in the service elevator were larger than normal and would need to also fit outside of this doorway!!

So I stay calm as I have learned to do. Think. This is a standard 86" long sofa with a standard depth of 36". I cannot be the only person in the 23 story building to have brought in a standard size sofa. I am sure other people have sofas. How can this possibly not fit?

I stand in the hallway while the two guys speak Russian to each other and try to shimmy my sofa through the doorway. They lean it on its side, they stand it straight up and down, they do everything we can think of yet still the sofa does not fit. We even look into using the regular elevators which are not in a little room, but the ceiling is much too low for the sofa to fit in them.

So I find the super of the building. At first he is no help whatsoever. I practically have to beg him just to come up and take a look in case he knows something we do not. I finally coax him to come up. He tells us that for some reason (vents, structure, stupidity...) this doorway was built lower than every other floor in the building. Wonderful! (sarcasm if you missed that.)

So we get creative. The guys go back into the elevator and go down a floor. Since the door to the stairwell was also in that elevator room, we manage to fit the sofa through there since there was more room to maneuver and fit it through. This way we can walk the sofa up to our floor and bring it out of the stairwell doorway which is higher than the elevator room doorway. Up the stairs we go... slowly, carefully...

Finally, we get to the top and need to turn in order to get out of the door on to our floor. With the tight turning radius in that vestibule, it seems like all may be lost. The guys try again to shimmy, shake, rattle and roll this sofa to get it out of this stairwell. They give up. I am not giving up!! There must be a way. I refuse to believe with every bit of my soul that this sofa will not get to it's final destination. Thoughts of a furniture cutting company having to come and chop up this sofa to fit it through the door are running through my head. What a mess that would be!

Finally, when the guys see I am not letting them off the hook, one of them tries one last thing. He is able, just by a hair, to stand the sofa up on its side so that it is almost at the ceiling. This way, they are able to push the sofa through the small vestibule area and get it lined up to angle out of the door. I breath again. So relived. The sofa fits into the apartment with no problem.
One of the most stressful events turned out one of the most important lesson. Yes, there are times to give up and move on, but when you know that it is not one of those times, press on calmly and thoughtfully and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Beginning...

Pivotal moments are so.... well, pivotal. I was remembering back to some of mine in the beginning of my career. My father, for those who don't know, is also an interior designer. He had called me up one day while I was still working at another company and told me,
"I got a message today from some company that saw my website and was asking if I would be interested in doing some show... It was HDV or HDGT..."
"Dad, Do you mean HGTV?!" I asked him.
"Yes, I think that was it... let me check the message again."
(silent eye roll on my end.)

Turns out it was HGTV calling about an opportunity to work on their Designer's Challenge show. They had a family in Wantagh, NY and wanted to know if we were interested in competing for the project against 2 other designers. My father told me that he would only take it on if I agreed to do it with him.

Pivotal moment number one.
Here I was, about 25 years old and all I ever thought about was having my own interior design business someday. No boss, my own interpretations of projects and relationships with my own clients. Yet here I was, completely frozen. Scared. I was afraid of failing. The overconfidence of youth drained out of me when a real challenged arose. Then, the excuses washed over me as to why I couldn't participate.
"I had to work, I lived in the city which was too far of a commute, No time (insert generic excuse here)..." Ya dah, Ya dah.

After I got that out of the way, something small inside, very deep down was whispering, "jump!"
So I did.

We ended up winning the competition against the other designers and completing the project successfully. So now what? I proved to myself that there was nothing to be afraid of. That I could complete a project on my own. I also saw how well my father and I worked together and we began talking about joining forces at some point. So why was I still working for this other company?

I was filled with a new set of excuses as to why I couldn't go out on my own. "I won't have health insurance, How will I get any projects and be able to bring in money?, The HGTV show was a fluke and I really have zero talent to pull this off, If I work with my father I will have to commute out to Queens from Manhattan..." Again, a sea of excuses washing over me.

So I made a list (as I like to do) and I wrote down all of the things I was afraid of that I felt I would need to address before I could leave my job.
- Have some savings
- Get health insurance
- Complete my current project at my existing job
- Make space for me at my fathers office so I could work.
and probably a few others I've forgotten by now.

Then one day a friend of mine met me for lunch and I was telling her about the status of my check list when it hit me... it was complete. I had taken care of everything on my list and I didn't even realize it! Talk about denial!

Pivotal moment number two.
At that moment I decided that I would give my notice within 2 weeks. And I did. Conceptual Interiors Inc. was born that year in 2004. What was I so scared of anyway?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hot Spring Colors

While we are all hibernating and waiting out the cold winter weather (at least those of us in the snow bound areas...), it is nice to let thoughts wander to the Spring season shortly ahead of us. Thinking about Spring cleaning and giving our homes a makeover to reflect the new season, color is one of the easiest things to change in your home.

Adding a few pillows or painting a wall or two can brighten up and rejuvenate any room. According to Pantone's Color of the Year, the new hot color in home and fashion is Honeysuckle which is actually a pinkish red color.
So how do you incorporate this bright pop of color into your home? Well, just like your wardrobe, it depends on how adventurous you are. Unlike your wardrobe however, you can't take it off at the end of the day so if you are going bold, make sure you can live with it day to day.

Above is an example of going bold. Mixing this hot modern color with traditional accents for a bold, modern look.

For a more tame look, mix in bold pillows with this hot color on a more neutral background. Easy to change come the Fall season for a more seasonal look.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bar Stools

I came across these bar stools from Pottery Barn and thought they were worth a mention.

The style is a nice, transitional look that would work great in many homes. It can lean towards cottage or beach house as well as mix in with more modern, eclectic looks.
Additional cushions are also available for a more comfy feel, and they swivel which is always great! They are offered in 2 sizes, medium and tall and price ranges from $299 - $319 each depending on the size you want. Enjoy and have a happy Monday!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Marketing - Advertising and Social Media Continued...

Some time has past since I last wrote about ways to promote my business and how to proceed with the many options of social media. Here is the update. I am still overwhelmed by the may options that the internet provides in order to promote, grow, conceptualize, market and advertise my business. I realized that as wonderful as it is to have options, not every one of them will be helpful to my business. Now, that may seem obvious to some, but when every entrepreneur around me is tweeting, creating fan pages, blogging, creating Google Ad words, hoping on to foursquare or whatever the next craze is, it is hard not to feel the nagging guilt that you must also be keeping up with the "Joneses." Constantly.

I decided to evaluate my business model again and try to get rid of this social cloud tweeting around my head. (pun intended.) I realized that although it is great to develop myself as a brand, my time is better spent and my sanity is better saved if I choose a select 2 or 3 mediums to develop instead of spreading myself and my time too thin by developing too many networks that go nowhere.

What I have chosen to focus on at this time is:
1.) My blog, of course. It is a great medium to discuss relevant business topics, and give design advice to my readers.
2.) Twitter - At first I didn't really get Twitter, but now that I have a blog, what a great way to promote it along with be able to connect with my readers in a brief and succinct manor.
3.) Linked In - I do have a linked in profile but until recently have not really gotten involved with groups or discussions. I think it may be a great way to network with other business professionals.

I had also previously mentioned that I have tried paid advertising on a site called Interior Design Directory.
So far, I have not received any calls or leads that I know of from that site. I will let it play out of the year and see if anything comes of it.

I also started a Facebook page for Conceptual Interiors Inc., but haven't been able to keep up with the updates (fortunately because I have a lot of work at the moment.)
This will remain on the back burner until the other 3 can be developed and managed more regularly.

Although I am working on those media outlets above, I don't believe that they will bring me any direct business for awhile. It is more about building a name and a brand, which I do think pays off in the long run if handled correctly. What I do think will work and what I plan on working on next will be Google Ad Words. This way, I can manage my own advertising campaign and hopefully reach a targeted and specific client looking for my services as an interior designer.

Now that I have decided on a select few outlets for the time being, I hope to be able to strongly develop my brand while having time to actually do real business.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Modern Colorful Photograpy For Your Home

I have been busy shopping for artwork for a client of mine and I found a great company that I thought I would share. They are called Art:Addiction and they have some really interesting photos of flowers, wildlife, and architecture that have a unique modern twist to them. The images are extremely high resolution and can be modified to any size within proportion. They can also be cropped to your liking.

Another great use for this artwork are their headboard size images which are great over your bed. They come about 60"x18" and again, they can be altered in size to accommodate your room.

I love the rich, saturated colors that really come to life on the wall. They have a great way to mount them on acrylic boards so that you don't need a frame which gives the artwork its more modern look. If you do want a frame, you can look through their selection of wood frames in order to add a more traditional or transitional touch to your space.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Someone's got a case of the Mondays!

Monday is here and surprisingly I always look forward to it. It is a great day to get my week organized, make some plans for the business and get my projects in order. This Monday is no different. I start the week with an overview of what I need to do for the entire week as well as for this specific day. It may be cliché, but when I have a task list and I can cross each item off as I accomplish them, I find I am 100% more productive than when I just jump right into work without planning. I even put a star next to the few items that I must do that day even if nothing else gets done. That way, I am my own boss and assign myself tasks to keep me on track.

Once I make my list, I find it is best to start with the items that are nagging at me the most. Usually the ones that have been rolling around in my head all weekend like a fly buzzing around that just won't go away. That way, if I can take care of those first, I find the rest of the day is much smoother sailing!

Being a designer there are two mindsets I need to get in to. The creative mindset and the business mindset. The creative usually includes starting out a design for a client like a furniture layout, apartment or home layout, or selecting decorative fixtures like tiles or lighting. The business mindset deals more with the organization of the business, billing, taxes and finances, and even project coordination and administration. Being your own boss in a small business means wearing all of the hats!

Mondays are usually better for wearing the business hat. It keeps me focused for the rest of the week and get's a lot of those nagging issues taken care of so I am free to design my heart away on Tuesday! :) Today's list looks something like this:

1.) Review Project 'A' and create punch list of outstanding items that need to be taken care of in order to complete job.
2.) Speak to custom furniture shop about Client 'B' regarding which wood samples we will need to get going in order to finalize selections with client.
3.) Continue selecting plumbing fixtures and vanity along with tile layout for presentation to Client 'C' this week.
4.) Set up any networking meetings for the coming week and next. Time is valuable so who is top on the list to meet and do business with this month?
5.) Quick check of bank account balances and client invoices. Who needs to be invoiced and what payments are still outstanding? Does the bank account match Quick Books? Reconcile!!

Well, that's the start to my day and week... Have a great Monday and check for more business development info next Monday.