After 14 years in business, I have finally uncovered my niche – interior design for executives and entrepreneurs! It was right in front of my face this whole time!
In November 2015, I was asked to give a presentation about “Client Service” to the Design Trust Ltd (a collaboration of executive-level interior design practitioners from all areas of the United States). As a group, Design Trust members had previously gone through a day-long exercise of defining “touch points” of superior service to their clientele.
In a desperate attempt to add something new to the conversation, I decided to analyze my “ideal” clients since the formation of Sharon McCormick Design in 2002. Bottom line – “ideal” means we’re on the same page 95% of the time, there is great mutual respect, and when their project ends, I mourn, and wish there were a hundred more exactly like them.
In an effort to find some common denominator among my “ideals,” I decided to research their job titles. I knew who their employers were, but not exactly what they did.
Well, I blew my own mind! To a person, my “ideals” were all left-brained thinkers. Chief executive officers, chiefs of staff, chief financial officers, a former Presidential Cabinet Secretary, senior vice presidents, partners in major accounting firms, other executives with budget responsibilities, entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers. In real life, I had just looked at each person as an individual.
This also explained why my “touch points” were so different than other designers’. Mine involved reports, spreadsheets, budgets, deliverables and talk of investments, ROI and other executive lingo, rather than “designery” gifts in beautiful wrappings. I have since sent some pretty gifts, though!
Before my career in interior design, I earned an MBA, was a CPA with PriceWaterhouse, and later became a CFO. Executives and entrepreneurs are a natural fit for me because I’ve been working with them in some capacity since I was a green 24 year old auditor shaking in a Fortune 500 CFO’s office.
The saying is “like attracts like,” and this gravitation of left-brained relationships seemed to come about as a matter of natural selection. Now I know that this wasn’t an accident. Somewhere along the way, I became equal-brained, with 30,000 hours of experience in accounting/ finance and 30,000 hours of experience in design. My niche is to be able to create inventive designs with the right half, while analyzing and explaining their practicality with the left half.
In keeping with my revelation, in December I moved my office from rural Durham, CT to beautiful Pratt St. in downtown Hartford. It feels like home, back in the professional atmosphere where I started my career!