March 23, 2010

Lessons learned…

A couple of weeks ago I put together a proposal for a new client of mine.  Its for 3 window treatments – living room window, dining room patio door and a kitchen window.  We had decided on the styles of the treatments and the general colour scheme.  The proposal included a couple of fabric samples that we decided would be perfect for all the windows, a couple of coordinating pillows and table runner.  I had pricing and specs confirmed from the workroom and after reviewing the fabric and pricing with the client, we agreed to the fabric and specs.

The next step was easy right?  One would think so, but NO!  Turns out the fabric we picked wasn’t available in the quantities I needed.  A mad dash all over town in the next few days came up empty handed too – couldn’t find it anywhere.  Now I must start over with my fabric search. 


I consider this a rookie mistake – one that I won’t be repeating you can be sure of.  Lesson learned – confirm the available quantity of a fabric when acquiring samples.6362dfbc48e3aff17d82f9161908

This was a lesson learned the hard way.  Luckily not all lessons are learned that way.  In early March I was fortunate enough to learn many lessons in a much more pleasant way – through attending Kimberley Seldon’s Business of Design I seminar.

Along with several fellow design professionals I spent the day learning about running a design or design related business.    There were many lessons learned during that day, by all of us, ranging from setting goals for both yourself and your business – and making them happen, to establishing network groups with other design professionals to provide not only a common platform for discussion, but also establish a support relationships with peers.


But, by far the lesson with the most impact to me was this one:

Charge what you are worth! 

How often, when asked in a social situation how much you charge, do you respond with something like “Well, I’m just starting out, don’t have much experience, so I only charge *some meagre amount much less than what I’m worth*”?  If you asked another professional, let’s say an accountant, the same question in the same situation – would they answer the same?  Not likely.  We have worked hard to get where we are, taken the training courses and established the connections, and offer valuable services – we are worth every penny we charge.

secretAs a side note, at the beginning of our discussions about money, it was interesting to see how we were not comfortable revealing a lot about our rates, even though we all wanted to talk about money :).  The more we talked though, the more comfortable we became and by the time we left, we were much more open to having these discussions.  Of course being in a room of people who all faced similar challenges in relation to setting rates and fees certainly helped.

At the end of the day, I left with much more confidence and energy than I started the day with.  Not to mention the great contacts I made with fellow design professionals. 

It’s unfortunate that I was unable to attend the remaining two sessions, but I understand they were just as motivational and informative. magnifying-glass

All good lessons learned, which is what life is all about anyhow… 

Now back to fabric hunting … 


  1. You'll pick up a lot of lessons as you go along, Donna, and not all of them are something on your end. It sounds like a wonderful seminar and I've always heard that about charging accordingly ~ not cheaply just because you are just starting out. I think we all do that in the beginning.

  2. Hear! Hear! I think we all learned alot in that seminar and that fabric being not available could happen to anyone.

  3. I so totally understand... the "fee/rate response" newbie-designers/decorators often feel inclined to say is one I've used countless times myself! And you're so right = our services are worth a competitive rate. We mustn't short-change and undervalue ourselves! Great lesson, Donna!

  4. Hi Donna,

    I'm curious what other designers charge across Canada?


  5. Hey, on the last episode of Sarah's House, Sarah and Tommy based the entire colour scheme for a bedroom on a paisley fabric that they loved. Only then they found out it wasn't available. Well, they managed to get a couple of yards for cushions. But the point is, this sort of thing even happens to Sarah!! So don't feel too bad :-) And as you said, you learned from the experience.


  6. Good question Susan. Seems to be a taboo subject, but Kimberley encouraged us to post rates on our websites, which some of us have done.

  7. We have an award for you on our web site :-)


  8. Hi Susan! Congrats on the Beautiful Blogger award :) I love your blog and wanted to say thank you for adding me to your blog roll. I am going to go add you to mine right now!!


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