Before I answer that, I'd like to go back in time to how I got started...
B.C. - Before College
Other kids would read books and escape into the stories. I would escape into those floor plan magazines I got from the bookstore. Instead of dreaming about Sweet Valley High or whatever other shit junior series was popular, I would daydream about the beautiful life that I imagined only happened in those homes in the pages of the magazine.
My real life was a far cry from what I envisioned in those dream homes. I had an alcoholic father that I would have to mind when my mom was working nights as a waitress. The rental house where I grew up was shit hole that I only invited my super close friends to because it basically looked liked the bunk ass version of the Munster house with cracked stucco and a broken down car in the driveway covered in spiderwebs.
So escaping into those dreamy floor plans was where I was happiest.
It led me to thinking that I wanted to be an architect and create my own floor plans... but two years of my high school drafting class cured me of that thought.
I decided I would get a degree in interior design. I could still be in my happy space creating these dreamy spaces where people could live their dream lives.
D.C. - During College
My college years were filled with the normal classes, rendering by hand and getting high on markers.
But there was time that stood out for me... One project I remember fondly from college was an assignment for a bed and breakfast where I called mine the Devil's Den.
A ‘Haunted Mansion’ type of bed and breakfast, complete with a pentagram washed flames painted on the wall, a coffin reception desk and a dead body outline on the floor.
On presentation day I brought my stereo and played White Zombie music while wearing my cut off shorts, black tights and Doc Martens. I couldn't have felt more badass.
This was the first project that was something that I was really excited about. Something that I could totally get into.
A.C. - After College
I worked at a model home company. You can read more about that place here.
After the model home company, I worked for various companies doing the commercial designer thang. I picked colors, laid out cubicles according to codes and so on.
I found it super boring which always got me in trouble at work as I was always trying to make the work day a bit more fun.
My last commercial job was for a mortgage company. I got to manage the projects from beginning to install all around the country. I dug it.
And Here Comes Baby
I left my last job after I had my baby.
My husband and I were still living in the same town that we were raised in and realized the schools had gone to complete shit. So we had a choice - private school or move to a better school district.
We chose to move but also took on two mortgages assured by the smart people that it wouldn't be a problem to sell our current house in no time. #bullshit
We moved to our new home and I wanted to be that perfect stay at home mom but the other house wasn't selling. We now needed more than one income until we sold that bastard.
I got a job doing CAD work in the mechanical engineering department. But because that is not what I wanted to be doing and I knew I could do design from home, I started my own business offering eDesign services on the side while I was doing the mechanical engineering job.
I also took this time to go after my NCIDQ and CCIDC certs. Come to find out my clients didn’t really give a shit about the certs. You can read more about that here.
My eDesign Business Grew
As I worked on my business on the side, I learned about blogging, social media and the rest. I started writing about interior design in a way that made me laugh. I started to get clients through advertising my blog. And my business didn’t feel like I was I working at all. Things were on their way up!
We finally sold that other house and I quit my job in the engineering department. Now I was free to focus full time on my design business and take on more clients.
I was happy and working with awesome clients. My business was growing and I was happy with how it was all coming along. Other designers were watching what I was doing and emailing me about how I was growing my business. It seemed like a kumbaya virtual kind of life.
Then I Got Haters + The Worst Client Ever
It started with anonymous emails. Emails about my writing. Emails about my design work. Emails about my blog. Emails about me. Hurtful and nasty emails that literally felt like a knife to the heart.
I can't say why I let some anonymous hater get to me so badly, but it shook me to the core and destroyed what confidence I did have. I found myself weeping at lunch one day over these emails from a completely anonymous troll. It was pathetic.
On top of that, I can't forget the one and only shitty client I ever had... the internet guru asshole, who I still see online schlepping his bullshit, that delighted in swinging his virtual cock around like he was some big shot.
He dicked me around, changing his mind, getting multiple room designs and eventually wanting me to refund his money for the design project and threw in a legal threat if I didn't refund his money.
I was scared shitless, mad at the entire situation and didn't know what I could do when I (stupidly) had no contract in place.
I refunded his money and seriously wondered why all this negativity was coming my way.
It didn't matter that all of my other clients loved my work. That asshole client and the anonymous haters brought me to one of my lowest points emotionally. I figured I wasn’t meant to be an interior designer.
I was an interior designer who only wanted to create dream spaces for people. And that dream was crushed because I didn't think I was good enough and allowed the thoughts of these pricks decimate my self worth.
The Path To This Thing Here
Before I started my design business, I had this celebrity grave hunting hobby. I'd go to cemeteries in the Los Angeles area, take pictures of the final resting places of celebrities and upload them to my website with a little biography.
A website that I learned how to code and design on my own back in the old days of 1999.
For years I also designed websites, logos and graphics for my friends and family. That work was easy and I could bust out the projects in no time.
I knew that I was good at designing websites, creating graphics and growing a business online. I also knew designers were following me, still emailing me for help and that's when the light bulb went on for me.
I started a business with my husband offering website and graphic design for interior designers. He could handle the back end website stuff and I felt emotionally safer starting a business with him. I could point any assholes his way should they show up. I thought it would be perfect.
Except that his full time job responsibilities meant he didn't have enough time to devote to that business as I had hoped. I was running the business alone and he was getting burned out working on the weekends for the projects I had lined up.
So that version of the business had to go away and that is why the focus of my business now is on the branding and online business strategies. A business I run by myself.
I wouldn't be here doing this though if I hadn't done some major mindset work first.
So, Why Did I Close My Interior Design Business?
I know now that my lack of confidence and thin-skin are what killed my design business.
It's not scandalous as much as it is sad.
Sometimes I wish I didn't close it, but everything happens for a reason. And I do get to design for my very special clients from time to time.
But this is where I am supposed to be. Being the person that I wished was there for me when I was growing my business. And that's why I always push you to keep going and not to give up.
You're so talented, the world does need what you have and I'm not going to let you ever forget it. If you ever need help with growing your own business, get your booty in here.
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.