Book Review : Marketing for Interior Designers by Anna Kovalchenko

I had the pleasure of connecting with Anna on facebook a few years ago. She and I were on the same boat as far as business was concerned.

She mentions in her book “When I started my interior design business I had just moved to a new city and had zero contacts let alone anybody who would potentially help me to start my career. "

We stayed connected and have since then learnt so much from each other. She has shared her knowledge and expertise with me and so many others on various interior design forums on social media. She is all about helping another person achieve their dreams and I had no doubt in my mind that it was one of the main reasons she wrote this e-book.

Here's her response about the idea and inspiration behind publishing the book:

"The idea of writing this book came into my mind when I was just starting my interior design business on my own and I was really struggling on getting my first clients with no real accomplished projects in my portfolio. The advice I would get from my tutors from the design school was to find a design firm and get experience there or to find a mentor. Probably I was unlucky with finding a mentor and had little idea where to search for him as well as I didn’t want to waste time working for somebody else. I wanted to build my own brand based on my own vision and create my portfolio that would reflect my personal style. So I decided I will write this book dedicated to all starting entrepreneurs where I describe the marketing tools that helped me in the beginning to start and develop my business from scratch. 
My inspiration was the feedback that I got on my blog when I started to share things that I learned about marketing interior design business and I thought it will be good idea to unite all information in one small, yet very practical and informative book."
- Anna Kovalchenko

We all know that it’s not easy to get new clients in a so called "saturated market". And that’s where this book comes in handy. Basically it’s a “ How To” book. Yes, there are plenty of ‘how to market your business books’ ... so what makes this stand apart is that this is geared specifically towards an interior design business.
It’s a great list for the newbies to be armed with when they set up a business in the design industry because all they want is to get more clients and new clients. It also serves as a good platform to jump off of when you want to get to the next level in your biz marketing.

Each chapter in the book addresses one of the marketing strategies. Here are the titles :
1.     Create your website
2.     Start writing a blog
3.     Get featured on Houzz
4.     Facebook
5.     Home Staging
6.     Freelance Websites
7.     Get listed in directories
8.     Partner with Developers & Builders
9.     Partner with showrooms
10. Partner with Real Estate agents
11. Partner with Architects
12. Participate in a TV Show
13. Get Published in Magazines
14. Organize Workshops & Master Classes
15. Create your own YouTube Channel
16. Write a Book or an E-book
17. Write Guest Posts
18. Participate inforums
19. Participate in Exhibitions
20. Advertise with Flyers
21. Participate in Design Contests
22. Pinterest
23. Instagram

Here’s an excerpt from the book :


Organizing a workshop is a great way to promote your work, get more exposure and establish yourself as an expert in the field. 

Here are the steps for organizing an interior design workshop:
  1. First thing you need to do is to define your niche - answer the question - for whom are you going to organize it? Example : Non professionals, people who have genuine interest in interior design. Age: 25-45 y.o. Women
  2. Set your goals - what are you trying to achieve with your workshop? Do you want to do it mainly for advertising your existing work as an interior designer or do you want to make workshops a part time income?
  3. Set the date. Depending on your target audience, define an ideal day to conduct your workshop. Usually evenings during the working week are best for any seminars, since on the weekends people prefer to rest and spend time with their family and friends. 
  4. Decide on location. It should be quiet, private and an easily accessible place. Think of the equipment and facilities you would require (e.g. tea/coffee set up, number of seats, projector, etc.)
  5. Start to promote: • Print out the flyers and take them with you to all events which your target audience might attend. • Invite friends and relatives • Promote on Social Media and your blog • Buy Facebook ads 
  6. Preparation is the key.  Start to get ready at least 2 weeks before the workshop and make several rehearsals in front of the mirror (watch your body language, tone of voice, facial expressions). Print all materials for the workshop on quality paper. Think of giveaways.
How to make your workshop successful:

Tip#1 - Make it interactive
Forget about boring PowerPoint presentations with bullet points and lots of text on slides. Think of including diagrams, examples of actual interiors, make simple floor plans and furniture templates and ask participants to create their own furniture plans. 
Tip #2 - Engage with your audience.
Start discussions, ask people questions, make them think, smile, wonder!
Tip #3 - Be a problem solver. 
In most cases, people are interested in knowing how to solve their own decorating struggles. Ask participants to bring photos of their homes so that they can ask questions about their decorating challenges.
Tip #4 - Show actual examples of your work. 
If you include in the workshop examples of your own designs, people are more likely to perceive you as an expert in the field.
Tip #5 - Include information they wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Think about the theory you studied in design school or something that you have learned from your own experience - your audience will really appreciate it and be excited about learning something they didn’t know. 
Tip#6 - Make it personal. 
A friendly, informal atmosphere is a key point in making your workshop successful. People will come not only to learn something but to have fun and socialize.
Tip #7 - Be yourself. Don’t try to copy anyone! 
Develop your own personal style and approach. People like authenticity and will immediately notice if you perform unnaturally. 
Tip #8 - Invite a professional photographer. 
Beautiful photos of your workshop are an excellent opportunity to promote it - make this investment which will eventually pay off. 

See what I mean … She not only introduces the method, but she also gives you all the details you would need to reach your goal to make that strategy successful. My Home Staging & Interior Business is all about Checklists. And this is one of the few checklists I wish I had when I started out here in Austin TX.

3 reasons why I would recommend it to anyone starting out …
  1. Simple Language & Easy to Follow Ideas: You don’t need intense technical skills or large financial resources to actually start on any of the methods.
  2. Clear, Practical & Precise Marketing Tips: She doesn’t leave you hanging after she suggests something. She actually goes through the step-by-step process and gives you ideas and resources from start to finish.
  3. Tried & Tested Tools: She has personally used and implemented each one of the tips and marketing strategies that are mentioned in the book.
You can get a copy of this book @ L'Essenziale Home Designs - Books & more info @ L'Essenziale Home Designs . And for sure you will want to follow her on pinterestL'Essenziale Home Designs on Pinterest .
Please do share with us if you have any other marketing tips and ideas that have worked for you. 
Until then... Happy Styling !

Minol Shamreen
Certified Professional Home Stager + Interior Stylist , B.Arch
Real Estate Staging Association ( RESA ) Central Texas - Austin Chapter Board Member
Studio M Designs | 408.858.1438 | Austin TX

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Hygge - The Danish way of enjoying Life's Simple Pleasures !

What is Hygge ? 
It's the lifestyle trend that is catching on real fast ! Pronounced as Hoo-Gaa , there is no one definition to this Scandinavian term. It said to have no direct translation in English either , though “cozy” comes close.  It is often described as a warm feeling of contentment ... a happy state of mind perhaps. And I think it sums up to being a concept about enjoying life's simple pleasures. 

Hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered " A defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA," according to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. This national obsession with all things cozy is credited as one of the reasons why Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world's happiest countries, despite their infamously miserable winters. Now the rest of the world is beginning to catch on to this wonderful way of life.   - House Beautiful

So that means ... when I am enjoying my fav' latte in a local cafe or reading a book on a lazy sunday afternoon { yeah right...that happens once in a blue moon } or when I am baking desserts with my daughter ... I guess I am living the hygge lifestyle . 

Originally considered only for the chilly winter season { picture you sitting by the fire , in your fav' sweats & sipping on hot cocoa } , this style is very IN for the summers as well { picture you at outdoor soirees & dining alfresco }. As a decorating style, it is predicted to go strong in 2017. 

Here are 6 decorating & design elements that I think that are essential to this concept ...

  • Candles & Fireplaces
  • Natural Materials & Neutral Palettes
  • Textiles & Fabrics
  • Layering with Rugs, Throws & Pillows
  • Cozy , Comfortable & Intimate Vibe
  • Simple Styling 
Sharing some of my fav' inspiring snapshots of my version of the Hygge style ...

3 reasons why I like this decorating style so much ...
  1. Neutral backdrops with pops of colors : I personally love using grays, whites & blacks accented with the pastel-y shades. Make the spaces feel so bright & light !
  2. Effortless & Casual styling that is so warm & inviting. Brings in a feeling of being welcomed into the space.
  3. The style suits everyone. You can show off your personality ... either with muted tones or bold decor.

The best part of creating the hygge look in your home is that you don't have to go buy new stuff for it. Start by rearranging your existing furniture & layering accents to create intimate settings , a nice conversation area or a cozy reading nook. It's all about having what you like and enjoying the space with your loved ones.
Will you be taking on the Hygge style this year ? Let us know. 
Until then... Happy Styling !

Minol Shamreen
Certified Professional Home Stager + Interior Stylist , B.Arch
RESA Central Texas - Austin Chapter Board Member
Studio M Designs | 408.858.1438 | Austin TX


Best of Houzz Award 2017 - Studio M Designs : Home Staging & Styling

Got back home after a wonderful { long } vacation in India & was all ready to kick-start 2017. Sat at my desk & as always, logged in to check my emails. There it was ... an email from Houzz ...We had earned the Best of House award - Customer Service . 
Our goal { for every project ... no matter how big or small } is to provide Excellence in the Home Staging & Styling experience to our clients. So this award is like a testimonial that lets everyone know that our clients enjoy our work and have benefited from it. Needless to say ... I am thrilled & it is no doubt a wonderful start of the new year for me. 
A big 'Thank You' to all my amazing clients & realtor partners. 
Wishing you all a fabulous 2017 !

The official press release from Houzz :

Studio M Designs of Austin , Texas : Awarded Best Of Houzz 2017
Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World.

Austin, USA, January 13, 2017
Studio M Designs : Home Staging + Styling of Austin, Texas has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. This Austin based Home Staging & Design firm was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.  

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Studio M Designs,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

About Houzz :
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. For more information, visit houzz.

About Studio M Designs :
Minol Shamreen is the Owner & Creative Director of Studio M Designs in Austin, Texas.
She offers customized Home Staging & Interior Styling solutionranging from Consultations-only to Turn-key projects. She has partnered with Homeowners, Real Estate Agents, Brokers, Investors & Flippers to help bring in top dollar & faster sale of the property. 
An HSR certified professional Home Stager, she also serves on the Board of RESA ( Real Estate Staging Association ) of the the Central Texas - Austin Chapter. 
For all your design & staging solutions call Studio M Designs @ 408.858.1438 today !

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