When I was a kid I used to play with my Legos and only build houses. Everything had to be made from the same color blocks. No rainbow, mismatched block homes for me. I'm sure my parents invested hundreds of dollars into my yellow block collection.
When my mom took me to the bookstore I'd get those floor plan magazines and would dream about being in each home I looked at.
I always thought I wanted to be an architect. Then I realized there would be lots of boring math when I took a couple years of drafting courses in high school.
Out of high school, knowing that architecture wasn't for me I pursued my degree in Interior Design.
Dreaming Of My Designer Days Ahead, I Go To College
In college I had design project for a bed and breakfast which I called the Devil's Den. It had a coffin for the front desk, a sliding bookcase for the elevator and wrought iron spider stair railings.
I remember finding so much joy from being creative on this project and doing something that nobody else would do. I also remember my heart sinking when the teacher basically said that no one would stay at a bed-and-breakfast like this. Then he asked the class and the overwhelmingly said they would. Lesson learned: don't follow the crowd.
My dream was to move up from CAD designer, to a "Real Designer"
After college, I started to work at a model home company. I loved going through model homes and was determined that I was going to be a model home designer. I started as a CAD designer and had dreams of being one of the "cool" model designers who drove a BMW and had a leather Franklin Covey planner filled with swatches, deadlines and tons of important phone numbers.
But the writing was on the wall. I wasn't an OC wench, I didn't kiss ass and just not the type of girl who could move up from the bowels of the CAD department. Womp, womp, womp.
My Dodge Ram truck and I moved on to what I hope would be greener pastures.
My next job took me to a family owned business that was crazy town. It was designing, ordering and supervising the install of cubicles for mostly government offices.
Boring and tedious work was the norm, but I always had funny stories about the people I worked with to tell my husband after work. After many years, the family ran their business into the ground. They were losing money, and I was laid off.
That Time Money Flowed Like Fine Wine
My next job was as a senior designer and project manager for mortgage offices all across the country because anyone could get a mortgage!
I got to travel across the USA and see some cool things. It was at this job I became pregnant. We decided I would be the stay at home mom, so I quit.
That Bastard Caillou Made Me Want To Kill
It didn't take too long before I had enough of that bastard Caillou. A bald and whiny cartoon character that my kid loved to watch. This little prick drove me nuts and I was starting to get stir crazy. I had designing on my mind.
So I studied for the NCIDQ and passed it. I then took the CCIDC, a type of licensing in California that allowed me to pull permits on projects. Neither of those really came in handy for me when I started my own online interior design business, as my projects were all for decor and furniture, no structural projects.
But I was still following all the rules of what I was supposed to do. Get the street cred and clients would be plenty.
I Start A Business In The Worst Year Ever
2009. I started my eDesign business and didn't have a fucking clue what I was doing.
I was ready to have clients banging down my virtual door. And dammit! They didn’t. Like I knew I was fabulous and why didn’t they beg to work with me? I learned that there was a lot more to this online business world than I had planned on.
I now had a new mission: figure out how to get clients and make processes for my projects.
I couldn’t find a course to teach me how to do any of this online. Everyone was focused on teaching designers how to get “affluent” clients. #vomit
I followed all the advice that was out there and most of it was shit. I asked an industry coach for help with my online design business. They didn't think eDesign would ever be a thing. Glad I didn't listen to that person.
As I grew my business through my blog, guest posting and advertising on DIY decor blogs, interior designers started to pay attention to me. They started to ask me what I was doing or how I was doing all these online marketing things.
I also had some pissy designers sending me anonymous emails about how much I sucked. How white trash I was. How I should let "real designers" do the heavy lifting. Even the designers I met in the ASID meetings didn't like me.
I was devastated.
My business was going well. I had street cred. I did everything right, but my confidence was at an all time low. And right about then I encountered my only "client from hell". They used me.
I hated being a leper in my own industry. All for being my authentic myself. I shutdown my design business because I wasn't strong enough to continue on.
That's When The Ubiquitous "Aha Moment" Happened
I felt like an outsider in my own industry. I had to learn the hard way how to market my business online. And I knew that I couldn't be the only designer who felt shunned for being a rebel designer or not wanting to toe the party line.
I got inspired to help designers like myself. I started first by offering my first eBook about starting my online design business. I was finally on the right path.
A path where I was helping others and feeling fulfilled inside. I knew that this was where I was supposed to be.
I became the person I wished was around for me all those years ago.
Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in online marketing strategies.Her clients land more of their own dream clients and make more cash, period. Celebrity gossip whore. Elvis-obsessed.