The timing couldn’t have been worst.
While closing out 2014 and prepping for 2015, I realized that my business site mysteriously started to have problems. Missing images left unsightly holes in the site and for some reason the ones that remained took too long to load. I spent late night hours trying to repair what was broken, but my efforts proved to be unsuccessful.
I came to a conclusion, which was my initial thought from very beginning.
I needed a new website. STAT.
I’ve always built my own sites out of necessity—translation, not enough money to pay for what I really wanted. But this time I really could afford to pay someone else to do it; however, I needed it done now.
After contacting several web designers looking for help, it quickly became clear that I would have to do it myself. It took longer than I expected, about 10 days to be exact, but I couldn’t be happier with the result.
Seven of the 10 days I spent trying to figure out the website “trend” being used by other designers. None felt like me.
The last three days I spent blazing my own trail. My new website screams, “Erika.”
The overall aesthetic, from the colors to the typeface and fonts, and most importantly the words.
Oh, the words…
In the three days it took for me to put the site together, I spend the most time on the web copy. What you read on the site now was originally a letter I wrote to you, my potential clients.
The letter wasn’t about what makes me so great, though it does spotlight my strengths. It however communicates my core values and what I can do for you.
“We believe luxury doesn’t mean expensive.”
Let me tell you. It took courage for me to publish that sentence on my site. There’s a little war going on behind the scenes between individuals who are labeled as high-end designers versus those who, like me, provide what I consider approachable design. The attitude is almost that of “If you aren’t spending $50,000 on each room, then you really aren’t a designer.”
I beg to differ.
Interior design has always been a service provided to the elite and naturally so. They are the ones who have more discretionary income to use on design services. Don’t get me wrong, hiring a designer isn’t cheap. But what I’ve done for my clients is to educate them on the costs while also helping them with creative design solutions to ultimately getting the look they want at a price they can afford.
It’s a process called value engineering. I learned this from my days in building construction. Which leads to the next question I get asked all the time by aspiring interior designers,
“How did you get started in design?”
I’ve answered that question in the MEET OUR TEAM section
Truth is I struggled with a few insecurities like not having a formal degree in interior design or a portfolio full of professional images. Only three of my projects have been shot by a professional, My home office, Broughton Square and United Methodist Children’s Home. The others I did myself.
Another thing that I was concerned about was not having a stand alone office. I currently work in a designated home office which works perfectly for my lifestyle. I needed to be ok with that. Now I am.
My degree is in Finance with a concentration in Real Estate. It was a college major that my grandfather chose for me. I’m forever indebted to him for it.
One of the biggest problems I hear from potential clients is how a previous designer mishandled their funds.
That’s no surprise to me.
Could it be that some interior designers (like other artists) fall short in being able to manage the financial side of the business. Unfortunately business is not taught in design school. I guess it’s because you’re expected to go work for a firm, not launch your own business. There’s been a influx of seemingly successful interior designers who are now offering business coaching and mastermind groups (some upward of a $10,000 membership) to assist other designers in perfecting their business practices.
For me, having a business degree and growing up in a family of entrepreneurs has allowed me to provide a sweet bonus to my clients. I know how to communicate value and know how to manage their money. So starting out as an accountant, a former insecurity, has actually become one of my biggest assets. It’s proof that God always makes room for your gifts!
On the website, I’ve also outlined the three cornerstones of my business:
These are the three things that really set my business apart from other firms. It humbles me when each time a client cuts a check for my services. I know that they will get great service, but for them it is an act of faith to entrust me with their hard earned money with the expectation a pleasurable client experience. How could I ever take that for granted?
Thanks to many of you who have already visited my site and provided feedback. To others of you, I’m extending a personal invitation for you to visit my other home on the web, www.erikaward.com. Click here to visit. And please if you feel moved, then share it with a friend.
Thank you for reading and for your unwavering support!