I co-owned a clothing manufacturing business for 7 years, that was started from nothing. It taught me EVERYTHING I know about running a company, financial management, marketing on a shoestring... When I decided to do something different I did not want to work for a big company. The best part of being an entrepreneur is the freedom. No one to say when you have to show up for work. No one telling you how to do things. There are many downsides to running your own business, but these aspects are a HUGE upside.
My husband - an attorney - told me that it would behoove me to work for a big company. Just to show that I could "play in the sandbox" with others. No one would ever question my credentials if I had the approval of a big company. I was randomly offered a freelance project with the President of Pottery Barn Kids. The turnaround was really fast, and the project was intense. But after owning your own business, this was like a vacation. She and I hit it off... and immediately she wanted me to come on board (thanks, Sandra).
About two months later I started working for Pottery Barn Kids in Visual Merchandising. My department did everything visual for our stores - photoshoots, store display, store marketing, gift registry, promotions, store architecture, signage, etc. I had a big, wonderful team who worked really hard for me and the aforementioned Sandra put a lot of trust in me.
My husband was offered an amazing career in Boston; we moved when our son was 6 months old for this opportunity and to be near our family. I freelance, both as a graphic designer and an interior designer, utilizing the skills that were honed from these last two jobs. People are always so interested to hear about working for such a well-branded company as Pottery Barn.
Even though I was only there for a third of the time that I had my business, the brand name of Pottery Barn outweighs all of that experience. I have to thank my husband for that one.
You might think that products from big box retailers are not as special as those found in your Design Center. But this isn't necessarily true. The product designers at PBK were unbelievable - go Allison - and many of the crafters were ex-Martha Stewart employees. Even though what you BUY may be made in China, I can assure you that its inspiration was from an antique, or a furniture artisan's design, or a dedicated crafter. And then sent to China so that you could afford it - or find it.
Today as I work in interior design, I still look to Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Williams Sonoma Home. Because I know intrinsically that those products were created by an incredibly talented (although underpaid) group.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Don't be afraid to tell your interior designer that you like Pottery Barn. Or Restoration Hardware. Or any of the catalogs that are selling you a wonderfully comfortable lifestyle. So it's not custom and doesn't cost $10K. Good for you - you just saved $7K on that couch. And for those of us with small children who inevitably decide that cream cheese and jelly looks much better smeared all over white matelasse... the Pottery Barn version is even better.
Your interior designer can sign up for the trade discount offered by many catalogs, and then purchase products for you (so email if you need something). I myself am partial to the following: Sundance Catalog, Serena and Lily, Restoration Hardware, Dash and Albert, Velocity Art & Design and of course, Pottery Barn.
Don't be afraid to love them too.
Sandra is now the President of Pottery Barn, so the above images are under her direction. I think she's doing an amazing job, don't you?