Watch the Full Interview with Maple interior Design
Maple Interior Design
Cardinal: Hello and welcome back to another episode of WCBC review, where we put the spotlight on small businesses. Today, we are interviewing Rachel Lape of Maple Interior Design. How are you today Rachel?
Rachel: I am good. How are you?
Cardinal: I am busy, but that is a good problem to have.
Cardinal: So I am really excited to talk to you about your interior design business.
Cause it's just recently sparked a whole interest for me. And I'm really curious. When did you start maple interior design?
Rachel: So it officially started a couple months ago, but it's definitely been budding in my head for many years. I've known that I wanted to start my own business. Probably for three or four years now, I knew I wanted to be out on my own.
It was just about gathering the right experience and then doing all of the startup things, as far as the backend business set up and, you know, getting photos for a website and all of those little things that tend to take a lot longer than you expect.
Cardinal: Right? Yeah. So what, what inspired you to start this business?
Rachel: I have a serious love for design in general, which has been a really fun career to be in and really rewarding at times too. I specialize in residential design. So that is doing people's homes and getting really close with clients and learning their likes and dislikes and something about that really excites me. To really see people's worlds be changed. I mean, I think a lot of people think of interior design as pillows and curtains and foofy stuff, but the way that your environment is around, you can really affect you and your moods and your mental state and really says something about you to whoever you bring into your home as well.
So I, I find that interior design is a really, really important thing. So I guess the answer to your question is I'm just really passionate about it. And I like the idea of helping others find their home and their space.
Cardinal: I love it. It's totally true that your, your outer environment affects the inner environment.
I am an artist and so my outer environment needs to have color and like little bits of inspiration, but it also needs to be simple enough that I have space to think if that makes sense.
Rachel: It completely. Yeah, that totally makes sense.
Cardinal: So it's interesting that you opened just a few months ago. That's. Right smack dab in the middle of the pandemic and you are not alone in that.
So many people have actually started a business during 2020 and 2021. And I'm curious, what was the toughest thing that you went through getting started in this last year?
Rachel: Um, I think the toughest thing, well, I did move cities. I was living in Chicago for a while. And that's where I did most of my work and in the design field.
And that's where I gained my experience. And my husband and I made the decision to move back to the West coast where we're originally from. So I think making that decision to do the big move was a big spark for me, deciding that I wanted to start the business and go off on my own. I have a bigger community here and more contacts.
So it makes sense that this is where I would want to kind of start this blossoming of the business.
Cardinal: Yeah. Yeah. That, that network is so important. Have you run into any issues getting new clients or getting your name out there and not being able to go out and about, or do you still go into people's homes to like assess or what is your your day look like there?
Rachel: It's still a thing to go into people's homes. We just wear masks. We do six foot. Distancing. Surprisingly, a lot of people have been okay with having someone in their home, believe it or not. I mean, actually, it's not that hard to believe. A lot of people are doing things in their homes right now because everybody has been home. So there's a lot of businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic, but residential interior design has skyrocketed because everybody has been at home and is looking directly at that room that they've hated. And now they're like, okay, I can't handle it anymore. I need to do something about it. So there's actually been a lot of interest in interior design, but as far as starting the business just a couple months ago, it is hard to get your name out there.
There's definitely a need for interior design right now, but it's it's confusing and scary to start because you don't know how to get that information to people that you are the best person for that job. So that that's probably one of the bigger struggles is just informing people about what you can do and that they do need you.
Cardinal: There's a word for that marketing, what we all love as business owners, right? Yeah. So if a customer or a client was looking at Maple Interior Design and three other interior design businesses, why would they choose yours?
Rachel: I think what sets me apart is I really listen. To a client. And that is something that doesn't always happen in this industry.
I have seen a lot of other companies. They have one look, this is the look you're getting, which works for a lot of firms too, because clients will come to them because they like their look. So, I guess it's kind of a two-fold, but I think something about the way that I run things is I want the client to feel like it's their home and what they like.
So I listen a lot. I'm open to all of the different, you know, I'm open to modern or transitional or traditional or boho. Whatever a client is wanting and what their vibe is, is what I'm open to do. I'm not going to stamp it as, this is what Rachel thinks looks the best. I want it to really be personal to the client.
Cardinal: That's great. That's great. Yeah. I feel like someone, two designers are like, I know best. Yeah. It's a collaboration. It's a dance between two, two people and two needs or a whole family's needs.
Rachel: Yes, exactly. There's a lot of other things besides just the look that goes into it, it needs to be functional as well. And that. Has to come all from the clients. I have to be able to listen to how they use their space.
Otherwise I might throw out a really beautiful design, but it doesn't work for them. And then, then none of it mattered at all.
Cardinal: Yeah. So true. Yeah. So has the internet played much of a role as you've tried to get launched in this new pandemic world or post pandemic world?
Rachel: Yeah. I mean, the internet is where I have done basically everything.
I have a website and social media is huge and really the main thing that I'm using other than word of mouth and my connections that I already have. But yeah, the internet is huge, especially in this pandemic. And normally there would be industry events and things that you could do to market in person.
But that's not a thing and probably won't be for awhile. So online marketing and networking is really what is available to us right now.
Have you found that that can increase your scope of area that you work with or are you still trying to stay local?
No, I I'm definitely open to working in other areas. And interior design I can speak for. It is definitely something that can be done completely virtually, which is another reason why it's doing well during the pandemic is you actually don't really need to be in person for certain things. If, if it's a remodel, which I can do, then you do some, most of the time need to be in person.
You need to take some measurements and those kinds of things. But if someone just was in Florida and needed some furniture. That's not hard to do virtually.
Cardinal: Hmm. Interesting. Would you like hop on zoom with them and have them show you around their house? Or how would you do that?
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. Zoom is a huge thing. Pinterest is something that I use a lot of clients sharing their Pinterest board. Everybody, most, everybody has a Pinterest board of if not homes that they like at least things that they like, which can give me a really good idea of what their style is. And I can go from there, but yeah, zooming and just them turning the camera around and showing me the space that they're trying to fill.
It's, it's pretty easy to pick out some sofas and some chairs based on that.
Cardinal: Neat. That is pretty neat.
Oh modern technology!
So, I know you're pretty fresh, so I'm excited to hear about where you're wanting to be in a year or five years from now. Where do you want this business to go?
Rachel: Oh, that is a question isn't it? The reason I wanted to start. My own company was ultimate goal is I want to be able to work from home because children are in my future. And unfortunately, the world that we live in childcare is expensive. And I want to have a family that can have two incomes, and I want to be a working mom is what I'm saying.
But I also want to take care of kids because I love kids. And so I basically want best of both worlds and something I realized a few years ago was that this was a really good direction to be able to have the best of both worlds. So I think in a year's time, I would love to be, you know, just still building my company.
I don't expect it to be huge and a year, it takes a while to build something like this, but I want it to still be in the building stage. At that 0.5 years, I would love to be full-time working from home, probably with children at home as well, and have that flexibility to meet a client at 9:00 AM. Take the kids to soccer at 3:00 PM and be able to have.
That flexibility. That is something that really appeals to me and seems like what I want out of my quality of life.
Cardinal: Yeah. This is the Holy grail. Right,
Rachel: right. I'm really shooting for it.
Cardinal: Would you ever like hire things out and get help or do you plan on doing it all yourself?
Rachel: That thought honestly terrifies me right now.
I obviously, if it gets to a point it would be necessary and I'm obviously open to that possibility, but I am a little bit of a control freak, so, and that's something I admit to. So I think right now, and probably for the first few years, I like doing everything myself. I like to design and do all the little details as well.
But every business might come to a point where they might be dying by doing everything themselves and it, it could be not enjoyable anymore. So I wouldn't want it to get to that point. So I definitely would consider it if it ever got to that point. And maybe I'm. Working from home now and, and planning to in the future.
But maybe if that was something that came up, I would have to get an office and really start thinking about my growth. But yeah, right now that's a little bit of a scary thought.
Cardinal: Well, it could really help you grow. I feel like there's a lot more to business than just providing your service.
There's was accounting and marketing, like we said earlier and taxes and customer relations and onboarding and getting feedback and managing websites.
Rachel: So, yeah, there's a lot.
Cardinal: I think I, you did already touch on this, but I'd like to dive further into it on what is the number one way that you currently bring in new customers?
Rachel: Right now? It's serious word of mouth.
I've done a lot of social media posting and I have a lot of friends and followers that were like, woohoo good for you. But it didn't translate into a lot of business. But I do have contacts that are in the builders world and the real estate world that are definitely helping me out. And also just friends, and friends of friends and, a lot I'm in an age group right now where a lot of people are buying homes and buying their first homes.
And people are starting to have some money to spend, maybe not a lot, but more than we did when we were 18. So it's starting to be something that people are really thinking. You know, I, I want to spend a little bit more on a new sofa and not keep getting this Ikea sofa that falls apart every two seconds.
So I think I am just taking advantage of the word of mouth right now and hoping that it can grow from there. I have some contacts that can be very helpful in that way.
Cardinal: Nice. Yeah. Word of mouth is so valuable, especially since if someone's referring somebody to you. Then it's a warm lead already. It's a friend of a friend and they trust their friends and they're like, Oh yeah, for sure.
I'll check out Maple Interior Design. Maybe I won't even need to Google them. I'll just call them up right
Rachel: now. Exactly. And there's something really nice and fresh and easy about that too. That I really like. I like. You know, a random call from Google is awesome too, but there's something about somebody calling me up randomly and being like, Hey, I'm a friend of blah, blah, blah.
And I'd love you to come over. So it's yeah. That's definitely something
Cardinal: nice. Yeah. Those people who refer out, you got a treasure them. Treat them special!
Cardinal: Christmas cards, the whole nine yards. So we are nearing the end of the interview and the question that I love to wrap up with, and I, and I'm curious about how would you, how you would answer this since they're so new.
But the question I always ask is if you had a new business owner in front of you, what advice would you give them?
Rachel: That's a funny question. Yeah, because I am pretty fresh as well, but I have gone through a lot of the backend setup stuff. So I think if I had to talk to somebody that maybe was thinking about starting a business and hadn't done any of that, I would say, get the right people on your side and have somebody to talk to and go to. I have Past employers and people in the industry that I talked to before I started anything to get their feedback on how I should go about this, how long it took them to get started.
So I think sitting down and having almost an interview- like situation with somebody that you trust that has done something similar to what you're trying to do is really important. And then the other piece of advice I would give is try to set up as much as stuff as you can on the backend before you officially launch.
That's what I tried to do. I, I set up a website and did some staging photos and, and got some photos of my past work before. And so I had I have a whole backlog of things I can post on social media and it doesn't feel like a stressful thing every day to be like, I really need to put something on social media, but I don't have anything right now.
It's, it's a little bit relieving to have something already set up and to know that when the clients do start coming in. You already have everything set. I got files set up already how I want to have my organization of the files set. So there's something to be said about being really, really organized and on top of everything and, and knowing what to expect before anything even comes through the door.
Cardinal: So you're a systems kind of person then.
Rachel: Absolutely. Like I said, a little controlling.
Cardinal: Oh, that can be, that can be really helpful.
Rachel: Yeah. It can help in ways that being organized is something I really treasure.
Cardinal: Yeah. So Rachel, where can people find you?
Rachel: You can find me at Maple Interior Design dot com or you can just Google Maple Interior Design.
I'm also on Instagram as Maple Interior Design and Facebook. Nice. I love it. Yeah.
Cardinal: Good. And I'll make sure to put links for anybody watching. Those links will be down below for you to click on because we're not going to make you do the hard work of typing in all of those who wants to
Rachel: do that.
Cardinal: Okay. Rachel, thank you so much for coming on. This has been really fun to talk to you and I hope these dreams come
Rachel: true. Thank you. Thank you so much. It's lovely to meet you. Bye
WCBC Review interviews Rachel Lape of Maple Interior Design, a Washington-based interior design service.
In this episode we discuss going virtual, the challenges of building your network, and dreams of being a work at home mom. Rachel can be found on her Maple Interior Design website. On Facebook and Instagram.
Find Maple Interior Design Online
How Maple Interior Design Adjusted To A Socially Distanced World
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