Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I do interior designs, architectural colors, building design and coordination. I've been doing it for about 20 years. I moved the business to Ashland 10 years ago and work everywhere from Portland to San Francisco.
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I've been here for 11 years and moved up here from Mill Valley, Calif.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? My father is a contractor, and I grew up watching buildings being torn apart and rebuilt; that always fascinated me. What fascinated me more is our relationship with the environment. How it can support or not support the inhabitants, and how to make a building really work for the people living in it.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? Maybe getting my contractors license and learning computer-assisted design so I wasn't depending on others to do my drafting for me. I don't need the license now, but it would give me more width and breadth to provide service for my clients. I have done great without those things, but it would've given me more leverage.
What's the toughest business decision you've made? Maybe taking on a multifamily project. Now I'm comfortable with them. The first was three or four years ago. The challenging part was learning the differences between a single-family project and a multifamily project in the city of Ashland; it's a much more complicated application process. It was a great learning experience though, and I feel a lot more comfortable in taking on projects of that size now. I had to learn to deal with different city requirements. There are pieces in a multifamily project you never have to think about with single-family work such as bicycle parking or the way the parking area is surfaced.
Who are your competitors? I would recommend Carolyn Allman of 29 Design and Maggie Javna.
What are your goals? I'd like to be working with more high-end design builders, doing green and sustainable homes. I'm expanding my business now. With the downturn in the market, anyone dealing with construction suffered. Building slowed down in the past few years and is starting to pick up again, so I'm excited about it picking up again. I have a team of guys I enjoy working with, a group of people I can call on to do high-quality work. I often work with the homeowner and deal with whoever is doing their project. If I'm doing a full remodel, it is different than architectural color. One requires a team and the other working with their own painter or a painter I recommend.
What training or education did you need? I mostly trained in the field. My dad is a builder, and I was on site with him when I was a little kid. My mother worked on the remodels, and I was participating from the time I was 8. I did project management for Clarke Construction in San Rafael, Calif., which was one of the largest drywall, paint, plaster and stucco companies in the Bay Area. I learned a lot about texture and color through them and started doing design with them.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Be passionate about what you do. Hire people passionate for the parts you don't enjoy doing; for me it's bookkeeping. I would rather have someone do my books, and I get to do the part I love. Always work with people better than you so you can learn from them.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.