Kristen Thomas: Timeless, Simple Designs
Today in the Lounge Nick speaks with Kristen Thomas from Denver, CO. They chat about how she got into interior design, how she runs her business with her husband, and how she balances a successful career with family life.
Getting to Know Kristen
Kristen was born and raised in Utah and stuck around until the age of 19, when she moved out of state for college and left permanently with her husband several years later to move to California. She can’t emphasize how much she loves the Golden State, where she has raised her two kids. Kristen says that her house is still unfinished, but she adores her office and its floor-to-ceiling bookcases. When she’s not working, she enjoys listening to books on tape and loves to vacation in sunny Hawaii.
How Kristen Got Started in Interior Design
Growing up, Kristen learned a variety of DIY skills from her father, who was always doing projects around the house. Her Interior Design career began full-time about ten years ago when she left the real-estate world to attend Arapahoe Community College for her degree. While in school, Kristen worked as an assistant and even took her kids to classes. With a natural ability for the real estate industry, she expanded into interior design and launched a firm in downtown Denver with a trusted partner. She and her husband then launched a firm specializing in designing and flipping houses, Studio Thomas.
The Business Today
The firm has grown a lot since its inception four and a half years ago and has combined the trades of real estate and interior design — which Kristen says are both money makers. Now, she has a total of ten people on her team: marketing staff, CAD specialists, a personal assistant, lead designers — and she also just recently hired an architect. Her husband also works on the team, specializing in fixer-uppers, and he also uses his expertise as a former lawyer to develop best business practices. Together, they work hard on residential design projects, where they re-design the entire home and increase its value. However, Kristen admits that she has more of a creative personality type and didn’t naturally drift toward business and management. That’s why she focused on building the best team of self-sufficient, driven specialists, and she works hard to ensure that they are being their best selves — even if that means leaving the firm to pursue personal projects. For marketing, Kristen emphasizes connecting with her builders and developers — and she says that approach has been working out: every client so far has been linked to them through a referral. In addition, her marketing director has secured ads in magazines and other podcasts, where they communicate a unique design aesthetic: mixing timelessness, simplicity, modernity, and traditional design. In other words, doing less with more.
Kristen’s family is the most important thing to her, and she arrives early every morning to leave the office by three or four in the evening. She believes that being a mom trumps everything else, although she occasionally works in the evening after her family time. She and Nick both agreed that they’re able to have a great work-life balance because they trust in their team to do their jobs without them. Kristen also believes that establishing a solid work-life balance, trust, and persistent positivity are tantamount when running a business and that these things will naturally move you to your dream career.
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