It’s the fourth quarter of the year (and eight months since I wrote this post). I’ve been busy with quite a number of interior design projects at the Studio. There are a few redecoration projects, a couple renovations, and several other projects in the pipeline.
Thankful that there is work to keep us busy, as well as opportunities to help me scale my business.
What if no interior design projects come in?
When you’re a freelance-working mom with baby mouths to feed, an entire household to manage, and numerous financial obligations to think of, it doesn’t make sense to rely on just one income stream. I found this out the hard way after finishing most of my interior design projects in the first quarter of 2019.
I had just moved my office out of the house, and hired two super-awesome assistants and an artist.
But somehow, all my leads for new interior design projects didn’t pan out.
The inquiries slowed down, because summer time meant vacation time, and who wanted to renovate their houses or condos while the kids were at home, and not in school? Summer time, too, meant travel time. So that was more a budget priority for my clients than, say, a renovation or redecoration.
Needless to say, those were pretty dry summer months for Gal at Home Design Studio.
And when the rainy season did kick in, the rain also literally poured into our office—via a decades-old gutter that flooded into the ceiling. Haha huhuhu. So I had to bring my office back into the house (to my daughter’s delight).
I took the projects lull as an opportunity to work on my business. I put on my CEO hat and explored ideas on how to make my interior design business more sustainable. For my family’s sake, if you know what I mean.
How I improved my interior design business strategy and processes
I took a three-day business retreat to really focus on how I could improve my strategies and processes. I met with my team and suppliers, and formalized trade partnerships.
How I’m able to manage multiple projects at the same time
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I also invested in digital tools that I knew would help me automate more tasks. I now use Mydoma Studio, an interior design project management system that allows me to send deliverables, invoices, contracts, and product lists to clients. It is a godsend.
Here’s a screenshot of the Mydoma Studio platform. If you’re an interior design studio or business, you can find out more about it here. Or better yet, try it for free yourself here.
I also integrated Slack, Asana, Google Suite, and Dropbox Professional for my team. These tools considerably lessen paper work (no more printing out of forms and writing down to-do lists), and enable us to manage our files even while on-the-go.
Asana took a bit of time to learn, so I took a productivity-management course that would help me take full advantage of the platform. I LOVE ASANA. I even use it to schedule my meetings, my personal events, as well as personal household tasks like depositing at the bank, or printing out invitation cards for my daughter’s birthday party LOL.
Try it if you want to break free from purchasing all those Starbucks planners.
What my new branding now looks like
I also revamped the Gal at Home Design Studio brand—something I had been wanting to do for a very long time now—with the help of Katwo Puertollano, global design director of Rezonate, a motion-design production company based in New York City and Manila. It was such a seamless process working with her. Even with the time difference (12 hours between my base in Quezon City and hers in Stuy Town, NYC!), we were able to hold several ideation and feedback meetings without glitches.
I love the logo she made, which she actually hand-wrote herself. Katwo and I have very similar handwriting (thanks to our same Catholic-school penmanship training lol), so I particularly appreciate that the new word mark and logo is very reflective of me and my personality (casual, approachable, Catholic-school-y??? Haha).
I asked her to include more colors in my branding palette, because the previous palette of sea-foam green and white just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. We had several back-and-forth discussions about the colors and I’m happy with the overall palette we finally ended up with.
Below are some more executions of our new branding, which I have now rolled out in my website, my social media accounts (here, here, and here), and my client and marketing collaterals.
What do you think? I LOVE IT, NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK. Haha. No but seriously, let me know your thoughts about my new Gal at Home branding in the comments below.
How I changed my brand new website
Remember my old website? No?
Neither do I.
I made the best decision of moving my old free WordPress account into my own, self-hosted website, and I have and shall never look back.
It was quite an expense, though, but I think of it more as an investment. I first thought of hiring a web developer to migrate all my old content and create a new site for me, but then I discovered Siteground and Bluchic.
Siteground is a web-hosting platform that, to put it simply, provides WordPress hosting and management, free WordPress installation and migration, email, and daily backup, among other things.
The thing I like best about them is their super-fast and reliable support team. I am non-techy at all—like ZERO KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE—so I had a loooot of questions. You would think the time zone difference would be an issue, but I often got responses within the hour, or at least a few hours, give or take. And they gave such detailed responses that I was able to do a lot of tasks myself.
Disclaimer: Self-hosting is not an easy task, and it does require a lot of research on my part. But after comparing all the pros and cons of self-hosting vs. maintaining my free but limited WordPress site, the pros more than outweigh the cons in the long run.
When the Siteground team and I finally had my website back up, I then purchased the Maggie theme from Bluchic. They also give super-detailed instructions that enable any non-techy person like me to set it up and get my website to looking the way it does now. What’s even better is that Bluchic offices are based in Malaysia, so hurray for instant replies and customer service!
Bluchic is used by a lot of bloggers and female entrepreneurs like me, so their themes are mostly feminine-themed. I love how it makes my website look so professional—even if it only took a few hours to set up.
Okay, fine, it took me a few days because I don’t have time to sit down and set everything up in one go. There still are some broken links from old blog posts, which I need to comb through and edit.
But still. I love Bluchic, I love my Maggie theme, and if you need a pro-looking website in a jiffy, I highly recommend that you check it out.
What I did with a photographer and a makeup artist at a coworking space for creatives
I needed to get some branding images for my sparkly new website, so I hired my go-to’s: Pro photographer Toto Labrador and makeup artist Pam Robes. We went to Make Space Today, a new coworking space for crafters and creatives, and which, coincidentally, is just a block away from my house.
You may think this was just an exercise on vanity. But I think every business, regardless of industry, needs proper images that show “who we are” and “what we do.”
Also, I tried using photos I shot on my phone on the new website, and those just ended up looking crappy. Haha.
Here are some of the behind-the-scenes shots from our fun and intimate photo shoot!
I now have interior design projects! Finally!
Okay, so that header doesn’t really capture my true feelings about this topic.
Kidding, it does. As I was working behind the scenes to improve my business, it seems the Universe was conspiring with my efforts by sending my way a bunch of lovely clients who needed my services.
A business owner-mom who needed help renovating her very first brick-and-mortar store.
A newly-wed couple who wants to furnish and decorate their new one-bedroom unit.
A young mom who wants to infuse a little more warmth and personality into her family’s three-bedroom condo.
A US-based lola of two looking to change her old condo furniture.
A young family of four who wants to renovate their inherited two-storey home.
An executive mom who wants to fix up her tween daughter’s bedroom.
A mom and dad who requested I create a cleaner and more efficient space for their teen sons.
And finally, my first two out-of-town projects since my major provincial project in 2016-17:
A busy, entrepreneurial dad building his very first home for his family of four.
A couple looking to overhaul an old property they purchased into their new home base in the province.
I’m glad I was able to fix my processes before the projects started pouring in. I’m still a small team of 1 (plus 2 part-timers), but at least things are more or less ready to be scaled, if and when the time comes!
Want to start your interior design project?
So while I’m fully booked out until November, I am more than ready to accept new projects for December until March 2020.
(Hint, hint, this is where you come in!)
Are you looking to refresh, redecorate, or remodel your home? Message me here or email me this info here.
I can’t wait to hear from you!
Book a design consult today!