Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Work on Designing your OWN Interiors (find your soul)

I understand that Mercury in Retrograde just ended on the 22nd. Well, things haven’t picked up much for me since then. Not from my current perspective anyway.
If you're unfamiliar with the lunacy that occurs, please have a read. Also you might want to be aware of when the next cycle is due to hit this year. You know, so you're prepared. 

So here's what's going on in Penny-Land:
Earlier this year I went into business for myself. I landed a few clients and in doing so I was able to leave my nightmare of a job at a "celeb" interior design firm within 3 weeks. A new gig was totally priority numero uno for me in 2016. I was completely burned out and beyond frustrated with how the firm was being run or more accurately, not being run. The stress brought on frequent migraines and I was seeing a doctor regularly for those as well as my depression which had grown so bad I'd spend entire weekends in bed.

My idea was to teach design firm owners how to successfully put into place procedures that would eliminate much of the stress for both the owners and their staff.
It's a tried and true plan and I have had so much success with these practices, most of which were learned over many years of trial and error.
What's that saying though? You can't teach an old dog a new trick?
Well, that completely applies to one of my clients.
This past Tuesday night after several psycho emails from this client (aka design firm owner) I “fired” her.
I did.
And I lost twenty four hours of pay a week by doing that.
How did this happen?
Why did I intentionally wait one hour (to really mull the sitch over) before I responded to this designer’s emails and still cut her loose?
Has nothing changed and am I still a "quitter"??
Cuz I don't wanna be a quitter!
AND I just don't believe that my own craziness was a factor in this.
My "Crazy" has been sitting quietly on the sidelines throughout 2016; she's been a good girl.
Ahhh, but has she come out to play again?

A bit of background:
I've worked in the design industry for many years. It's had its ups & downs, no doubt, but for the most part I have found the work to be rewarding even in times of absolute chaos, up until two years ago that is. (Chaos, by the way, is one of the best ways to bring my depression on full force so at times it was quite the struggle to get through those situations.)
I've been fortunate enough to meet some amazingly gifted designers who are generous with both their time and resources. The designers and firm owners I admire are not only beyond talented and dedicated to their clients, but mentors to those coming up in the industry. Running their businesses in an honest, open book kind of way. These designers (and many like them) can still be found for sure, but over the past ten years  I've watched the design world take an ugly and unbelievably tacky turn for the worst.
These are my experiences.

WTF Happened?!?
HGTV and the "Do-It-Yourself" generation. Martha Stewart. 
Bravo introducing Jeff Lewis to the masses as well as Million Dollar Decorators.
Oprah bringing Nate Berkus right into your very own living room! 
It was all brand new & exciting for the viewers to see professionally designed rooms and catch a glimpse inside a designer's life. So glamourous designing a rock star's home!
They ate that shit up!
Then this crop of designers started receiving lucrative licensing deals to develop products. These lines would introduce an entire lifestyle of luxury at prices most could afford. There was tons of promotion in both print and on television. Book deals followed complete with whirlwind tours so the celeb designers could meet their new fans across the country.
And the consumers bought it all!
All of the sudden designers everywhere went mad! They decided they wanted a slice of that pie right along with lots more zeroes at the end of their bank balances!
No one actually seems to understand just how much work it takes to be any of those celeb designers.
No one takes a moment to consider the consequences any of this fame seeking will render on their existing business or just how slim of a chance anyone has of becoming the next Kelly Wearstler.
We are now stuck with an industry full of self absorbed, prima donna wanna-bes and talent ain't necessarily a prerequisite.
The Kardashian phenomenon has oozed into our culture like none other.
-Sidebar: Nate Berkus (if the word on the street is correct lol) is as decent of a human being as he is talented, but Oprah wouldn't ever knowingly introduce us to an asshole, would she??? Nah!

In the past our clients were the celebrities and a designer was considered for a project based on their body of work or what style they were known to excel in. You were hired based on your reputation and enthusiastic references from previous clients. Yes, yes....there have been very well known designers over the past one hundred years, but I'm pretty sure my mother couldn't pick Dorothy Draper out of a "Deceased Designer" line up. My next door neighbor has no clue who the fuck Arne Jacobsen is. I just asked.

Not anymore. Clients want "The Famous Designer from that TV show".
And even if you can't afford to hire a designer, you most likely can recognize them now.
Interior designers are to the new millenium what comedians were to the 1980s-ROCK STARS!
Is the client in love with that particular designer's eye for style OR does it simply feed their ego hiring a celebrity/semi-celebrity designer?
I get it if you truly dig their portfolio of work, but how would people feel if they were aware of what goes on behind the scenes at some firms?
What would a client have to know in order to bring their project to an equally talented, but better run firm that will yield the same result they want, on schedule, at or below budget? Famous or not.
What's the priority here?
Does anyone give a shit?

Why doesn't it seem to matter anymore that, often times, the designer being hired does little to no work on your project? Yet you're still being charged $350 an hour for fifteen hours of "designing" they've done each month. The bottom line is that their underpaid, overworked assistant designer made 95% of the selections you approved for your home. The celebrity wanna-be designer no longer has time for those decisions because they're way too busy coming up with cool names with their PR gal for a new line of sofas! 

It doesn't seem to phase potential clients that many of these firms are completely disorganized, and that they are going to be billed for at least four times the amount of hours it should take an experienced, focused team to accomplish a task. Keeping a seasoned designer on staff is yet another challenge. They like to split after six months because they're fried from working twelve hours days with little to no design direction because the firm owner has been out of town for weeks at a stretch doing photo shoots and interviews in order to promote their new line of poorly made, overpriced accessories. When the promo work ends the designer then usually requires a vacation somewhere that isn't their design office due to their exhaustion. It's never ending.

It should matter to a client that some designers are marking up what they sell to them based on how low the designer's bank balance is that particular week-especially after dropping 60k at Barney's on clothes for those photo shoots. 
One must Keep Up With the Joneses on those promo tours, darlings!
Fame, fame, it any wonder?

Here's some horror stories to skim if the mood so strikes ya:

Interior Design Scams

NY Times-The Secret World of Decorators-Charging by the Glance

I totally understand uber temperamental artists, but it does not give anyone free reign to be a prick to everyone around them. Sorry, it doesn't. Try to keep in mind how you would feel having your self esteem eroded day after grueling day. Imagine how doubly devastating that is when it's coming from someone you had nothing but respect and admiration for in your industry. I know too many people in the design business suffering from debilitating anxiety and depression after years of this abuse. Therapy, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers have become our crutches in order to get through another day. Amazingly enough so many co-workers I've encountered grew up with at least one narcisstic parent & I wonder if that's what allows some of us to continue on and accept being treated like shit. We are all dispensable to the the firm owner. We're all just bit players to their fame and fortune seeking now.

In Summation:
So, no, I'm  not a quitter. No, the "crazy" hasn't returned to play. I just will no longer tolerate people who refer to themselves in the third person, compare their celebrity status in life to that of Madonna or Barack Obama (Two different designers made the comparisons, but one hundred percent true), speak to me as though I'm mentally challenged or who lash out at me via phone, text, email or Post-It. I will not be kissing anyone's ass in order to get along and collect a paycheck. I am well aware of what the difference is between excellent and piss poor business ethics and I will not be involved with the latter no matter how much you pay me.

A decision has to be made by some in this industry. Do you want to stick with residential/commercial design or do you need to dial it back and become a boutique firm in order to put the time necessary into honoring your licensing agreements? In most cases, your residential clients are the ones paying the price for your lack of availability. And guess what? They're pissed off because they don't like being ignored and they're complaining about it to all of their friends.  Oh, and FYI-most of your staff is interviewing elsewhere on their lunch hour. 
Seriously, designers, check yourself. The egos are so far out of control! Most of you are living way the fuck beyond your means to keep up the illusion of wealth.
Stop spending your client's money on shit for your country house you can't afford (the shit AND the country house!) and order their damn window treatments like you're supposed to for the love of mohair! Hold off on the 10k yoga retreat, sister, and go on an installation, look over a floor plan. Your clients would like to see you once every ninety days.
Show some self restraint because you only have $25.00 left in your Money Market account.
In other words....GROW UP!
This is a damn business.
Is it about the notoriety or the work?
Start acting like your name's on the door, bitches, or close the damn door!

At the end of the day I have to be able to close my eyes with a clear conscience.
I'll never comprehend how some people in this business sleep.
Wait, I know the answer to this.....
On 1000 thread count sheets from Frette they bought after gouging their clients!

 I believe I'll stick with my Nate Berkus 300 thread count sheets from Target, thank you very much!

Looking to get out of your nightmare of a job? Make a plan and do it!
Life is too short to spend it working for pretentious narcissists. (aka assholes)

Check this out: