Rachel Cannon: Classic Color
Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Rachel Cannon from Rachel Cannon Limited. Learn about her early days as a designer, her transition from commercial to residential design, and the game changer that ignited her successful business.
Rachel’s first exposure to interior design came in high school when her parents hired a designer to help them update her childhood home in Baton Rouge, LA. At this time design was not as accessible or prevalent as it is today, but she found the process to be interesting and it paralleled with her artistic and creative nature. Once she enrolled in college, she declared pre-med as her major but knew it wasn’t the best fit, so she transitioned to graphic design while taking design electives. She later found that she was captivated by her design electives and ultimately applied to the College of Design. She had the opportunity to complete an internship as part of her academic career and then started her career in commercial design after graduating.
Weathering the Recession
Rachel continued to work in the commercial interior business for 5 years. Like many interior designers, though, Rachel’s firm was hit hard by the Great Recession in 2007, and she was eventually let go. When deciding what to do next, she realized commercial design was much too regulated to suit her needs and commercial opportunities in her area were sparse. She decided that she had to do something and opted to start her own business.
The first few years were frustrating as all she had in her portfolio of work were commercial projects that she felt didn’t translate well into the residential market. In the beginning, she had small projects that she obtained from networking groups, and her turning point arrived when she went to Tobi Farley’s Design You course. She realized that she never clearly explained the design process to her potential clients, which she believes allows you to charge a liveable fee. When she came home from Tobi’s class she changed all her services to a flat rate and broke them down into clearly identified packages. She finds that people want to know how much everything is going to cost and how long it’s going to take right from the beginning. When all this information aligns you are not going to have to explain your fee. Once she implemented this strategy she was able to attract and maintain clients.
Rachel also realized that she was allowing the client to drive the process. Now, Rachel empowers herself to be the design leader. She came to the realization that clients contact her because they want someone to drive the process. As a result, Rachel sets a clear time frame, budget and expectations right from the beginning. As soon as she receives a signed contract, she goes ahead and sets dates for the next four meetings. It took her about 2-3 years to streamline her process, but she now knows how to who to their client is and how to best serve their needs.
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