Ingrid Porter knows good design when she sees it. When she isn’t working in the world of home interior design, she’s studying the fashion industry. We asked her about her career evolution, what made her decide to go into the design industry, and what advice she’d share with people considering bringing their business into the remote world.
Here’s what she had to say.
I’d love to hear about your career path? How did you become an interior designer?
I studied how to run a business while making custom window treatments for clients. As soon as our youngest started school, I joined a mastermind with designers and hung out my shingle as an interior designer. That was back in 2007.
What drew you to interior design?
My mom and dad. He used an interior designer when I was small, and I thought he had the best job in the world. I always wanted to be a designer from that time on. So I went to college and graduated with a textile design degree and a concentration in color.
I admire how you bring your love of fashion into your career of designing. How do you stay current in both the fashion and interior design worlds?
I follow the trends in fashion and in the home because they are woven together through social media, print media, and in film. There are upper-level groups who scour the planet finding interesting things to bring into fashion. They study color trends and predict the fashion trends for the year ahead. Home fashion always follows clothing fashion, and I find this fascinating.
As an interior designer, have you always worked remotely? And if not, tell me how you transitioned into being a remote worker?
I worked for a few larger companies over my career, but always l found the noise and drama in the workplace too much for me. I am an introvert who needs quiet time to do deep thinking. Design for me comes when it’s quiet and I can play with texture, shape and color.
I have been working remotely for 20 years and I love it. I get in my people fix with my vendors and clients, and then I get to come back to my office and recharge.
Do you work with your clients in person or online or both? What are the pros and cons of each way you can work with clients?
I work with clients in person and online.
The pros of being in person is that I can read body language and use the space to demonstrate the design in person. Having my eye in the space helps the client see what I am proposing. Working in person can be fun. We can work together as a collaborative team and bounce ideas off each other.
Working remotely helps to save time because there isn’t any travel time involved. I can send the design to the client and we can discuss via Zoom.
What’s your favorite way to work with clients?
I like to be in the space so most of my clients are local. However, with the technology today we can meet on a Zoom call, and it’s like being there in person. One challenge I have is trusting clients to measure correctly for the design when working remotely.
What is a typical day in the life look like for you?
Wake, stretch, pray, water, and coffee to start.
I hit my office around 9:00 and see what client is on the calendar for the morning. I try to block schedule to keep on task and this helps me with deep thinking and designing. I schedule to see clients and vendors during the week as well.
I am always in my office on Monday, I use that time to get organized and run through all the things clients will need from me that week. Friday afternoon I try to do a wrap up for clients so they know what I have done for them during the week.
What do you like about working remotely?
Mostly, I like that it is quiet. I am a self starter and a motivated person so that part is easy for me. I listen to podcasts to help me keep a positive mindset.
What are the challenges?
It can be lonely working by yourself all the time. Sometimes not having another person to bounce ideas off of can be a challenge. I use my clients and vendors to keep me active with people, and I schedule meetings with other designers to be inspired.
Oh, and I visit clients and pet their dogs to get my dog fix.
I’d love to see the workspace of an interior designer. Tell me about how you set up your office and what choices you made to make it work best for your business.
I have a very large desk that can hold large blueprints and samples for projects. Each client has a bin to keep their samples organized. I faced my desk to look out a window so I could see the outdoors. My desk is white so the color doesn’t interfere with the designs for clients.
I also have a ton of light in my office. Sometimes I play music but mostly I prefer quiet.
As a solo business owner, how do you get business social interaction?
I am a member of a mastermind program that meets weekly with a coach. I also attend industry classes with designers and attend trade shows twice a year to keep up on trends.
What advice would you give to a professional who was about to start a business where they’d be working remotely?
If you like to have quiet time, are introverted and a self starter I say go for it. Develop a network of “co-workers” to keep you motivated and on task. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people who have done this before and they can be a great resource for you.
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