This week I’m joined by a special guest, Courtney Clark. I love bringing you inspiring stories of people who made a major turn in their lives and decided to pursue their passions in interior design. Courtney is a recent graduate of The Academy and I’m so excited to have her on because I know her story is going to be filled with messages and ideas that will resonate with you. They might even inspire you to start your own journey toward becoming an interior designer!
This episode, we discuss…
[2:34] Courtney’s family and background
Courtney lives outside of Tampa, FL, with her husband, two daughters (ages 12 and 10), and a pug.
[3:15] What inspired Courtney to pursue The Academy
Courtney shares that she needed something for her. She started out as a meeting and event planner, which she loved. She traveled a ton. Then they had their first daughter, and Courtney had the opportunity to stay home with her. She then stayed home with their second daughter, and she ended up being home for about 10 years. As her daughters got older, she realized it was time for her to do something to fill her own bucket a little bit more.
She didn’t want to go back to school, and she was trying to figure out what she loved to do. Courtney realized that interior design and decoration was what set a fire underneath her. Since she was a little girl, she would annoy her parents by rearranging her room to make it more cozy. Her husband would go away on a work trip and come home to new paint in the dining room. She always wanted to change things and make their home feel right for them.
Courtney found this podcast, and so many things fell into place for her. Around that time, she was fortunate enough to work as a design assistant for a local interior designer. When she realized that it was really what she wanted to do, she was ready to take the next step in The Academy.
It was scary for her, because she had no formal training. Courtney didn’t know if she could do it, and she thought it would always be just a hobby. She really enjoyed working for a designer, but that initial struggle to figure out what she wanted to do with her life at age 40 was a tough time for her.
[7:44] Courtney’s experience working for a designer
Courtney began working with the local interior designer because she felt as though the stars aligned for her. She knew that was what she loved doing, and when her friend’s business was expanding there was no way Courtney could say no. The opportunity couldn’t have been more perfect. Courtney worked there for a few years, and she continued to enjoy the work. She had a constant yearning to learn more, and she wanted more responsibility and creative freedom. She wanted to be like her friend and own her own business so she could really see a job through from start to finish.
As hands-on as Courtney was in her friend’s business, she really wanted to work on something all the way through. She wanted to hear the client’s needs, solve their problems, and create concepts for them based on their tastes. In addition, Courtney wanted to challenge herself. As much as she learned in her experience as a design assistant, she needed The Academy because she needed the foundation and the fundamentals of standard sizes and spatial planning. She needed to be confident that she knew that information in order to serve clients and design spaces correctly.
[10:46] Jumping into interior design based on passion
Courtney listened to this podcast and felt drawn to it because of the energy and the information. She related to the story of not having a formal degree in design but still building an amazing and successful business.
[12:23] The foundation of education for an interior design business
Education is important for the reasons Courtney mentioned, and also because you can avoid some of the common mistakes when it comes to starting a new interior design business. Everything taught in The Academy is based on things I did wrong. I made the mistakes and figured it all out so that you don’t have to waste your time.
Courtney shares her appreciation for the fact that she can go back to the modules whenever she wants and refresh herself on anything she may have forgotten. Every time she meets with a client, she is more and more confident with what she says. She has the ability to learn over and over again, rather than her education being a one and done thing. The access does not expire, and the modules are often being updated.
[18:42] The trajectory of Courtney’s interior design career
When she first started, Courtney had a handful of clients. As she has progressed, she has learned something new from each one. There have been mistakes that made her cringe, but she has worked the kinks out the whole way through. She is now a little bit more selective with her clients, and she focuses on the scope of work that lights her up. Courtney has created the business of her dreams, and she can learn as she goes.
While it was scary for Courtney to make the jump into business ownership, she is so proud of it now. She has happy clients, and she is happy she took the plunge.
[23:15] The elements of interior design that are lighting Courtney up right now
Courtney always enjoys bringing color into a space. Sometimes she gets some pushback, as people are scared of colors outside their comfort zone. If she can add some personality to a space and give it more visual interest, she loves doing that.
[26:35] Courtney’s favorite furnishing in her home
Courtney’s favorite pieces in her house include the artwork. It is meaningful to her and they make for excellent inspiration pieces. She inherited many floral prints from colonial Williamsburg, and those are her favorite pieces of decor. There is one for each woman in her family, including her mother, her sister, herself, and her two daughters.
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