Corporate girl turned creative. Mama to 9 year old twins and a 6 year old. Owner of a daft labrador and sedate ginger tom cat. Colour lover creating happy spaces that tell a story.
So, once upon a time, I was a finance lawyer who then went to work in property finance for a Bank. I wasn’t looking for an out, I didn’t hate going to work. I worked long hours but I loved the buzz of transactional work.
Then along came my twins. I made the decision to take some time out, adjust to family life. We bought a house, it needed a LOT of work and it became my project. I loved the creativity and the project management.
I retrained as an Interior Designer and in a now-or-never moment, decided to set up my own interior design practice. It was time to do something different; to challenge myself creatively and put myself in control of my working week. The rest as they say is history and, several years on, here I am.
I know it’s a story you’ve heard before. Many before me have done the same, and I’m sure many more will follow. But you know what, I love hearing the stories of people that take the plunge, follow their dreams and try to create a life that works for them.
So what do I love most about my job?
The creativity, of course, but also the relationships I form with clients. I love helping them fall in love with their homes again, making sure their home reflects who they are and tells their story. I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients; their lifestyle, what they like, how they want their space to feel. Getting this bit right gives me the foundation to build up a design that they really love. It’s really satisfying to see how people start to re-engage with their homes when we’ve updated a space.
I also love discovering new brands, independent businesses who produce something that little bit different. Finding individual pieces from local artists, or fabrics from smaller designers is really exciting. It helps strengthen the design community, supports smaller businesses and ultimately means that I offer my clients a design with a story.
What have I learnt about running my own business?
It’s fun, but it’s not always easy. I work bloody hard. And often ridiculous hours. But you know what, it’s my business, my clients and my brand. There’s a balance to be had and admittedly I don’t always get that right. I need to learn to switch off sometimes, but I’m working on it.
You need to back yourself. Confidence helps, but you need to believe in what you’re doing and know that you’re good at it. Be prepared to promote yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
I was used to being part of a big professional organisation, with all the professional support that goes alongside that. And then it was just me. Retrained, and ready to go. But finding your tribe; a group of supportive business owners is invaluable. It may be on Instagram, it may be a local networking group but finding people in a similar position is really good to help build confidence and offer support.
My design practice continues to grow and I have some exciting projects in the pipelines for next year. I’m also working hard on my blog at the moment; I want to share my design knowledge, showcase independent brands I love and also support other creatives wanting to make a career out of their passion.
I’m just putting the finishing touches to a rebrand, which I’m excited to launch later this month. Caroline Ann Interior Design has served me well, but my practice has evolved and grown and it’s time to make sure my brand reflects that. Watch this space…