Is it weird that Nick May, your host, is not an interior designer? Well, it shouldn’t. Tom Brokaw interviews people all the time, and he is not a firefighter, a head of state, or a convicted criminal. So, I guess you could think of me as Tom Brokaw but better, because I actually do know a thing or two about the topics we discuss: business and interior design. I’ve been in and around business and interior spaces for over 15 years, and have worked with a few good designers, and lots of bad ones. Don’t get me wrong, most of them were great people, and at least decent designers, but many of them are a mess when it came to running a business.
My clients have asked me to do a lot of things over the years, and designing a few spaces has been one of them. I know I am NO interior designer, I’ve learned that, and I have learned that there is a TON to know about interior design and what it takes to design, truly design a space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. And the two do not always co-exist. What I do know a lot about however is building a business: building systems, marketing, managing employees, and sales. These are all topics that many interior designers need help with, and that is why I started The Chaise Lounge. However, I did not think for a second that designers would think that they could learn, or would want to learn from a painting contractor. As an industry, we don’t carry the best of reputations for running a business. However, I do know that designers love to hear from OTHER designers that are more successful than they are, so I figured that would be a better format.
A little about me…
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in an upper middle class family. My parents were country club members, my sister road hunter-jumper, and I played soccer. No white picket fence, but you get the idea. I was raised in a home where interior design was not foreign. My parents entertained a lot, and I was introduced to the art of conversation at a very early age. What does this have to do with painting? Everything. This was my training ground for being around successful people, leaning how to carry on a conversation, and build report. Almost networking 101.
In college, I started a painting business, and painted for many of our neighbors, and my parents’ friends from the country club. I did not know much about painting at the time, but the Benjamin Moore store that I bought from was always willing to give information, support, and product knowledge. Each summer, I would hire my friends, market and sell exterior painting jobs, and climb ladders. Each year, it got easier and easier, and my dad would say, “Now Nick, remember, you are going to school so you don’t have to paint the rest of your life.” Well, I showed him.
After having a few jobs out of college (one being a project manager for a large home builder), I decided working for others was not a great fit for me. So I decided I needed to work for myself. But, I did not know what I should do. After my wife and I bought our first house, on New Years eve, I decided we needed to paint our white walls. So, on New Years eve, after coming home from my cube (corporate inside sales job), we went to Home Depot, only to find that it was a very popular thing to do on New Years eve. Lots of people were going to bring in the new year with a paint brush in hand. And in true Home Depot fashion, there was ONE guys behind the counter, and lots of people waiting around. So, I started helping people decide on what paint to buy, what brushes they needed, and what prep tools to buy. On the way home, I had my Ah Ha moment…I needed to start painting again. We have since build a very successful paint contracting business in Denver, CO called Walls by Design with a staff of about 11. We work with lots of designers, are members of ASID, and I personally attend a lot of designer functions.
In 2013, I started a co-op with 6 other companies called IDI: Interior Design Initiatives. The seven companies pool resources to host a lunch and learn every other month for designers where we bring in a speaker and provide a fantastic lunch. It is always held at Builders Appliance Center on a Friday at 11 am. It has been hugely successful and was my inspiration for starting The Chaise Lounge to expand the idea. Today we are one of the top interior design podcasts, we are downloaded in over 100 different countries, and are excited to see what the future holds.