Welcome back! Today on The Student Lounge Trish speaks with Catherine Hersacher of Bespoke Fine Interiors in sunny South Carolina. It’s a real, raw, and brutally honest interview that dives into the challenges of a career in interior design. This one is not to be missed.
“A Career in Reverse”
Catherine grew up riding horses and went off to the University of Maryland — only to drop out and return to riding horses. Now down in Florida, she was “forced” back into school and, late one night, she saw a T.V. ad for the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She enrolled and never looked back. That program prioritizes cooperative learning and, through her experiences as an intern, actually decided to drop out again to take a job with Christopher Peacock cabinetry. After six months, she took another amazing job with Jack Phillips, a relationship she still values. She later went back to schools for degrees in Environmental Design and Industrial Design and planned to work for a hospitality firm with an intricate knowledge of architecture, which she says is invaluable.
A Few Misconceptions
She says that success in interior design is not necessarily based on experience in school. There are also a few misconceptions: design is only about 10 or 20 percent creative, and the rest of that is actually delivering through sales, problem-solving, organization, and so forth. When starting you’re career, Catherine says that you’ll probably have to start at the bottom of a company and work your way up or slowly climb the ladder elsewhere.
A particularly rough period for Catherine was leaving an established position at a firm to start her own company. All of the sudden, the accountants, marketers, and executives behind the company were gone and it was just her at the helm. In other words, it became so much more than designing. The business management aspect in particular was very challenging in the beginning – and balancing accounting and designing can be, in her words, “brutal.”
More Wisdom from Catherine:
- It’s important to know when to stop creating ideas in order to produce and sell a product. Designers who know when to stop become most successful in design school and beyond.
- International work is a big challenge that can bring good experience and big rewards.
- For residential design, clients look for designers who they have a connection with. Commercial clients typically don’t have the time.
Thanks for listening! Students, reach out to us here and connect. We’d love to hear from you and get your questions answered!
Connect with us on Instagram @TheStudentLounge_ and stay tuned for next week’s episode!
To learn more about the business of interior design and life as a designer after school, visit The Chaise Lounge Podcast.