Recently I had the absolute pleasure of guest-hosting the Business of Design podcast, and interviewing my dear friend and colleague, interior designer Jennifer Jones, principal of Niche Interiors.
In preparation for that talk, we also had an email discussion and Q & A. Jennifer shared so many wonderful thoughts, I wanted to give you a chance to hear more from her about building a design firm, from her perspective.
Q & A with Laura Martin Bovard and Jennifer Jones
Laura Martin Bovard: As an interior designer, what would you say are the superpowers that enabled you to build your business? And what challenges have you had to overcome?
Jennifer Jones: Organization and process are definitely my strong suits. At Niche, we have developed a very focused and streamlined design process that we use for all of our projects.
My biggest personal challenge in running a business has been getting used to putting myself out there and asking industry colleagues for their time. I used to feel uncomfortable making cold calls or emails and I always felt like I was imposing. With the help of my business coach and a lot of practice, it’s become more natural for me.
LMB: What would you like up-and-coming designers to learn from your experience? What advice do you want to impart to them?
1. Organization and project management are equally (if not more) important than the actual creative work! You cannot have a successful project without all three.
2. You are only as strong as your team.
I’ve slowly and intentionally grown our team from one employee to five over the years because I knew that finding the right people was more crucial to our long-term success than growing quickly. I feel so fortunate to have this amazing team of women to collaborate with every day.
LMB: Who have you had to become or how have you had to grow, in order to grow your company? Did you ever envision it this way — that it would become what it has become?
JJ: Letting go of second-guessing myself and just taking action every day towards my goal has been a game-changer. I try to break down all of the larger long-term goals into actionable items for each day, week, month — and that helped to keep me going.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit has also given me the courage to try new things and be bold.
I could never have dreamt of the caliber of projects and the incredible clients that we have the honor of working with today. I’m forever grateful to a few special clients that trusted us early-on with their homes and helped propel us to the next level.
LMB: What is one piece of advice that impacted you early on, that you’d like to share with newer designers?
JJ: This really comes full circle. Laura, you once told me:
“There is no perfect way to run a business.”
This one simple piece of advice has helped free me from over-thinking decisions and focus on how to run the business in a way that feels right to me!
Jennifer Jones is Principal Designer and Owner of Niche Interiors, an award-winning residential interior design firm based in San Francisco. A native Californian who studied Art History in Rome, Jennifer’s designs achieve an elusive blend of sophistication and sustainability. Jennifer is frequently quoted as an industry expert in sustainable living and is an Ambassador to the Sustainable Furnishings Council and a Founding Member of the Good Future Design Alliance. Niche Interiors has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Luxe Magazine, Elle Decor, and Forbes.