I’m so excited to be back with you again this week, and I’m joined in this episode by Shannon Aldridge. Normally, I follow up with my students after they have completed the Academy so we can see what they are up to and how their dreams have manifested. Today, you’re getting the inside scoop from Shannon, who is currently going through the Academy after enrolling around three months ago.
This episode, we discuss…
[2:39] Shannon’s decision to pursue an interior design career
Before Shannon had her two children, she was a counselor. When she had her son, who is now four, she decided to stay at home. She was home with her kids from that time until the time she found the Academy. What piqued her interest in interior design initially was the opportunity he and her husband had to get a beach rental property in Sanibel. As they made it their own and prepared it for rental, it reiterated for Shannon how much she enjoyed that process.
Their realtor was a friend, and they suggested that Shannon should consider interior design as her main gig. That suggestion started her down the rabbit hole of thinking about what that would look like, if she was ready, and how she would compete in the industry.
[4:13] What drew Shannon to the Academy
Before she found the Academy, Shannon decided to get a certification in interior design. It was an online course, and she took it because she read that interior designers with certifications were more sought after. Shannon completed the eight-week course, but she still felt like there were many missing pieces. She wasn’t confident enough to go out and take on clients, and she didn’t feel like she could compete in the industry. The Academy seemed to be able to fill in the missing pieces.
[5:17] Skills included in the Academy that were missing from Shannon’s previous program
One of the first projects involves getting a shopping list and sourcing items. Shannon had to think about where she would source from, whereas that never came up in the eight-week course. That course was more focused on time periods and color psychology – which are interesting and do apply on some level – but they aren’t the everyday “meat and potatoes” of interior design.
There is a lot of fun information to know about interior design, but ultimately you have to think about what makes you valuable to your clients. It is important to have a knowledge bank of standard sizes, contemporary softwares, and how to lay out a room for maximum functionality.
Shannon really appreciated learning more about the designing software, rather than using graphing sheets to draw out a floor plan as her certification course entailed. The Academy also taught her how to create mood boards, rather than bringing a poster board to present to clients.
[9:16] Working with clients while going through the Academy
Shannon has been working hard to balance her business, the Academy, and her family. She would wake up two hours before her kids in the morning to work or watch Academy modules, and then she would work again during their nap times. It was a priority for her to learn as much as she could. By the time she had taken on her first client, Shannon had made it through almost all of the modules and even gone back through some that she wanted to really focus on. She really appreciated having unlimited access to the modules, resources, and other interior designers in the Facebook group. There is a wealth of support, so no one has to feel alone.
[14:17] The value of joining the Academy at this point in time
The Academy has now been up and running for a couple of years, so students have access not only to the modules and resources, but also to the backlog of recorded coaching calls. There are amazing sessions with guest experts, and so many fantastic questions from previous students.
[17:11] Obstacles and challenges for interior designers
One of Shannon’s biggest challenges was learning the software, and being able to go through the modules helped her to make sense of it. While she still doesn’t feel like she has totally mastered it, she is willing to go back and keep practicing until she feels confident. These kinds of challenges will always pop up, but being able to manipulate the software in front of the clients is so helpful. It can really set you apart and give them that wow factor.
[23:42] The most interesting part of the Academy for Shannon
Shannon really enjoyed learning how to go about sourcing. She has had to think outside her comfort zone, and now she has a wide variety of places she can pick and choose from. Inside the Academy, we keep a list of our favorite resources. It’s important to curate items, without making things look like they’re a set from a display at Pottery Barn.
[27:13] Shannon’s advice for someone who wants to move forward with being an interior
When she first started this journey, Shannon was terrified. Being a mom made her challenge herself, just as she would challenge her children. She thought about what she would want for her kids if they were passionate about something. Would she want them to stop short of their dreams, or would she want them to push through that uncomfortable feeling and challenge themselves? Shannon wanted her children to see that you can do hard things, you can step out of your comfort zone, and it’s never too late to take on a new venture.
[31:43] Shannon’s next steps within the Academy
Shannon plans to continue to circle back to the modules, practice her skills, and make use of the resources and support available.
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