How I Became an Interior Designer: Part 5 (the end!)

>> Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I drank coffee after dinner. It's 9:45 and I'm ready to go to the club. Except I have three babies in bed and have not been to a "club" since Bryan graduated med school and I rallied for Raifords. But I. am. awake. So, let's blog.

Tap, tap, tap...is anyone still listening to this story? I fear I've let down anyone who may have been taking notes in the beginning. Might be a little late to clarify, but this is not How to Become and Interior Designer, just how I became an interior designer. And I really want to finish so that when I'm an old lady reading my own blog (and am finally over the fact that I accidentally deleted all the photos in posts prior to September 2009) I will remember this story, because none of it is important. But it sure did feel important at the time. And I have a feeling that is going to be the reoccurring theme of my entire life.

So in 2009 Bryan and I packed our bags and moved to Boston. But let me back up for a minute. I had planned this part of my life. I was going to have 5 years of "big firm" experience, a solid portfolio, and we were going to move to a big city and I was going to work for a big city firm. But just a month before I put my notice in, the firm I worked for in Memphis had a huge layoff. I did not get laid off, but the whole experience of my buddies being called to HR and then being told to pack a box, shook me to my core. It was horrible. And rumor had it, it was happening all over the country. So we move to Boston and guess what, no one was hiring. I sent out over 60 resumes. Crickets.

So I take it as a sign, I am supposed to take a break from design. I get a job at a coffee shop one block from our apartment. I think it's going to be like Friends, I'm Rachel, etc. etc. It was not like Friends. It was like working in an ER, except we were not saving lives, just making coffee. I also got a job teaching a drawing class for an inner city after school program. I am embarrassed to admit this, but again, I was Michelle Pfeiffer, they were all going to hate me at first, then they were going to love me. But, alas, they mostly just hated me. There were some sweet moments, but I got called the B word more than once and learned that teaching is the freakin' hardest job ever. Teachers and baristas, y'all have my lifelong respect.

Then one day in October this guy calls about one of the 60 resumes I sent out that September. He owns a small firm in Somerville, a town right outside of Boston, and he's looking to hire a designer with commercial interiors experience. I get the job. I work with a small team hired as contract employees on a corporate headquarters space over the next 6 months. If I did not mention, this firm was SMALL. And coming from corporate America, the lack of "standards" drove me nuts. There was no protocol for file saving, no CAD standards, some of the computer programs were pirated versions (ha!). It was the polar opposite of the structured corporate environment I had come from but you know what, he was still making money. The veil had been pulled back, you didn't have to know everything. You just had to confidently know something, and fake the rest. I mean, this man was being awarded HUGE projects in China and he had no CAD standards. Mind blowing.

So my contract ended and I take the train down to city hall and get a business licence. I had no clients. I remember crying in my car because I wanted to go to Ikea to buy something but I had no money (total first world probs) but while I was in my car, crying, my phone rang. It was a friend who worked at the small firm in Somerville, he was moving to China and wanted to know if I wanted to take over some work he began with Harvard's Stem Cell Institute. And the rest, as they say, is history. I taught at the Boston Architectural College the first year to help supplement my income (again, teaching, I'm pretty sure even the college girls called me a B). But four years later, I never could have imagined what a fun ride it would be.

And that's the story of how I became an interior designer, and then later a business owner. If you're reading this, you made it!!! I promise my next post, although it may be in 6 months, will have pictures.

31 comments:

Mary September 2, 2015 at 9:42 AM  

I think you need to add another chapter...how you first started your business. I'm loving this series.
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ss September 3, 2015 at 8:23 PM  

Ah, Mary, that's so nice. I will do another post on that for sure:)

Lili September 10, 2015 at 2:52 PM  

It is amazing how even things that were not our idea turned out to be the best for us and exactly the path we need to take! Enjoyed reading your story! Re-read now and be proud! : )

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Kelly Christensen May 6, 2016 at 10:30 PM  

I've been following you on Insta (LOVE your work) and just hopped over to your blog. Being a fellow designer/business owner, I loved reading this. Our paths were very similar...I took 'staging' photos of my room in middle and watched Designing Women!! It was a good reflection on everything and so true that everyone thinks our job is cupcakes and bunnies! Congrats on the 'New Wave'!

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