Anthony Michael: Chicago Designer of High-end Homes and Yacht Design
On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Anthony Michael of Anthony Michael Interior Design. Anthony is passionate about design and shares his 30+ history in the industry, how he manages clients and his enthusiasm for yacht projects.
Getting to know Anthony
Anthony Michael is calling in from Lincoln Park, but didn’t grow up far from there. He loves Romantic Comedies, especially Under the Tuscan Sun. Anthony loves bracelets, shoes, and sunglasses – and owns an abundance of all three! Though Anthony can’t even think about not being a designer, he imagines that he would be a teacher, writer, chef, or even an archaeologist.
How Anthony got into design
Growing up, Anthony’s mom always had a project going. The house was in chaos, but he was always intrigued with the process and transformation. As a young kid, he found himself reading Architectural Digest and House Beautiful, not comics like his friends.
Anthony went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in architecture and ultimately a Master’s abroad, in Paris. His mindset totally switched from survival to expanding his knowledge. After school, Anthony worked for someone else but found it difficult to not follow his own thoughts and opinions. He understood the value of working your way up in a business, as his parents always owned restaurants, but found it tough in this instance. Anthony opened his own firm with a $5000 loan. His first client, Mrs. Banks, is one of his best supporters, and the rest is history.
What the business looks like today
Anthony mentions the ebbs and flows of the business. He currently employs about 8 individuals who work on 20+ projects at a time within the US and Puerto Rico. The projects include repeat customers, high-end residential, and restoring yachts.
Anthony believes in giving clients what they want but knows to keep in mind that he was hired for a reason- his expertise. He lives vicariously through his clients. Anthony and his team do not work in phases, but rather on whole homes. His firm does not stage homes to sell, but when a home designed by him is on the market, it is often furnished and sold quickly.
Managing a client
Anthony and his team have honed in a process for interacting with clients that includes: a first meeting to get an idea of each other’s personalities, budget, and expectations; then a presentation of image boards, textiles, and floor plans; next a follow up with all details, elevations, etc; followed by a budget meeting. Around week eight, project work begins. Anthony kicks the client out for about a week until the project is installed and revealed. He then meets with the client the next day to review and walk through tutorials. Anthony and his team take care of this client all year, even decorating for the holidays! The approach is very proactive and tends to eliminate issues that could pop up.
Growing up, Anthony’s parents had a boat that they restored over 15 years ago, Anthony found a boat in bad condition and ended up restoring it himself over the next nine months. People noticed the boat and Anthony. He was able to make a nice profit and continue the process every year. Each year, the project grows and Anthony continues to learn more and more about the materials and design for yachts. His next boat is launching on June 15.
Getting the word out
Anthony relies on word of mouth and repeat customers. He saw a need for keeping up with marketing and decided to employ an in-house team for social media, editorial content, and influencer relationship management. He cited the old adage, “Spend money to make money.”
Anthony and his business continue to evolve, and he hires people who are smarter than him! Learn more at Anthony Michael Interior Design.
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- Wrap Up
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