How Kimberley Runs A One Woman Interior Design Business

Being Interviewed




May, 2010


Cape Town

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Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business. Please do mention the monthly revenue for our readers as well.

My company is called Beautiful Spaces Interior Design. I offer a turn-key service of everything associated with interiors. It started as wanting to make homes aesthetically pleasing through decorating but from my first project I was thrown into renovating and it has just expanded from there to doing multi-million rand renovations.

I do the interior design of all the areas from kitchens, to carpentry and bathrooms and complete with adding the furniture. I also have a huge passion for furniture so I design every piece and have it custom made to spec.

I think clients like the idea that they deal with one person who manages the entire project for them in literally every area.

Most of my clients are incredibly busy or don’t even live in the country, so they appreciate someone who can just take care of it for them. I basically give the keys back when I have completed it. Some clients I have never met.

Kimberley Richmond

What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?

Initially, I studied graphic design and advertising at the Red and Yellow School of advertising. My background has always been art-related. I have always had a massive passion for homes and always used that energy in our own homes.

My husband and I have renovated many properties through the years and my passion was born from there. I did an online interior design course through the Regent Academy in London, while I was based in Spain.

It was a long time ago and looking back it didn’t really provide me with a lot of insight. It was more about getting a piece of paper.

I do think Interior design runs through your veins and you either have it or you don’t. Luckily I did. My journey to start the business was after 12 years of being abroad and raising three kids I decided I needed to do something for myself.

I took a leap of faith, although I was petrified, and decided if I didn’t try I would never know.

Kimberley Richmond

What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?

Once I made the decision to start, I set about designing a website. My only project to reflect my work was a beautiful home we did in Cape Town on our return to the country. So my one project was my home which no one knew.

I got a small office share in Paarden Eiland with another designer and Beautiful Spaces was born. It was a hard slog for 8 months and I felt like giving up as I had really didn’t have great inquiries and started to doubt myself.

I moved the office back home because I felt like I was wasting money having the extra expenses. You think you are going to start a business and the orders just come in but it isn’t like that at all. Almost at the point of giving up, I got my first proper inquiry and as they say, the rest is history.

Kimberley Richmond

Talk us through the process of the launch of your business

Interior Design is very specific and I also hadn’t been in the country for a long time, so getting my name out there wasn’t easy. I employed the services of a tech-savvy person who helped do my SEO, Facebook, and optimization.

This was great as I got myself on the first page but I didn’t have a lot of projects to compete with the bigger companies. Maybe the intimacy of my site made me more approachable and eventually, the inquiries started coming in.

How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?

The one thing I have learned is everyone likes a nice person. Doing Interior design you get to be in the client’s personal space and you go through the good times and the bad. I try to be approachable and just in general a good, kind person.

Do your job and do it well. Be there for your clients and go that extra mile all the time. Never come back with a problem, come back with a solution. Be someone they can trust. Make sure your suppliers perform well and are prepared to come to sort out issues if they arise.

That way people trust you and I have stayed friends with my clients. Most of them are Facebook friends. Allot of my clients have also featured in magazines so there is gratitude. So if they every require anything they don’t hesitate to recommend me or even get me back for their next home.

Kimberley Richmond

What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?

I always get nervous at the beginning of a year and think last year was so great, can I do it again. It is amazing as each year it just gets better. I improve, learn new skills and constantly push myself in all areas of design.

I try to be unique with my designs and I also connect with my clients so all jobs are different, which in itself is a skill. I continue seeing myself grow and offer a full turn around service of walking into a house renovating it, rebuilding, decorating and offering that full service to a client that not a lot of people do.

Gaining a reputation for being super-efficient and that one-stop-shop.

As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?

Not at all. The financial benefits are obviously a bonus, but I absolutely love what I do. Let that be a lesson to everyone that if you don’t love what you do, don’t do it. As my projects are so diverse the excitement is too.

I literally never wake up and go “Ugh I have work today”. I love my job and when I complete a project and walk away, my heart can literally explode. I have made a huge difference in someone’s life and that is a good feeling.

Kimberley Richmond

What tools or services did you use?

My computer is obviously a big part of the initial stages when it comes to designing the layout, kitchens, etc. So the main part of that is spent on design programs and getting my ideas across to the client.

Once that is accepted all those drawings etc are used to design into reality.

What are your key challenges today? How are you planning to tackle those?

I think my key challenges are people being intimidated by an Interior designer and A) thinking we are too expensive to make use of our services and B) unapproachable. I know the industry has set designers up for this but all I can do is be who I am, do a fantastic job and get verbal references to change that.

Some designers are expensive but I am very realistic about that and I offer my clients my interior discounts and charge a management fee. I think I am concerned at how much everything costs and I try to keep that into account.

I could easily walk into the most expensive shop and choose the most expensive item, but I think the art of succeeding is making it look the same without the cost involved.

Kimberley Richmond

Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers

I am more inspired by designers across the world which I follow. I get inspired by their ethos. I am constantly being inspired where ever I go. I call it stealing with your eyes. If I like something it is clocked in my brain.

I often admire someone else’s work which inspires me to think outside the box and push myself. I have also traveled a lot so I get inspired by countries too.

Many times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?

Not at all. I think woman have definitely earned their place. I think you sell that by how you are. I was initially received as a woman and a blonde! But I have proved myself that I am firm and can do business just as well as any man.

I sometimes think women are better at multi-tasking as we have children and responsibilities while we do this which takes a lot more effort. I think women are strong and if you put your mind to anything you can achieve it with hard work and determination.

Looking to kick start your own venture?

Hi! This is Misha.

I interview women founders in building profitable businesses?โ€?

My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell-all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.

I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackersStarterStory by Pat Walls, FailorySpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to get started.

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