Sharyn McBride: Where Travel and Design Collide
Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Sharyn McBride of Belson Design and Design Tours. Sharyn is located in beautiful Melbourne, Australia and is driven to expose her fellow Aussies to a design education that reaches far beyond her native shores. Find out more, in this episode of The Chaise Lounge.
Breaking the Ice
First and foremost…Nick wants to visit Australia and he isn’t shy about sharing it! After making that point clear, he learns some interesting fashion tidbits from Sharyn. She is a big fan of shoes as a go-to statement accessory. Her faves are colorful ankle boots. Though not necessarily a fan of the Ugg boot, she is happy to share that these are originally from her native land and that it was interesting to watch them evolve from house slippers to full-on streetwear. Her favorite room in her well-designed house is her master bedroom. It is truly her sanctuary. The only spot that is off limits is her garage full of finds from her travels abroad, which can get a bit messy! The best advice that she received from her parents growing up was to never give up and her mum’s especially sage advice: don’t leave the house without lipstick!
Getting into the business
Sharyn McBride started her career as a buyer in the fashion industry. She noticed a gap in the market after welcoming her own baby boy and created a line of embroidered bespoke baby blankets. Sharon fell gravely ill in the early 2000’s and faced a two-year climb back to health. It was at that point that she decided that she would exclusively pursue creative work. She knew that all of the efforts and hard work would give her that sense of joy and satisfaction; as long as she pursued her passion. Her interior design career began in her home and friends’ homes. It was also at this time that she realized that exposure and education equaled really great design. She traveled to around her native Australia and to the US; New York specifically. There she was able to learn more about show homes, such as Kips Bay and the design markets available to designers in the US. Belson Design was launched soon after in 2016.
The Development of Design Tours
After having the opportunity to travel to the US, Japan and other parts of the world, Sharyn realized just how little exposure the Australian design community was getting. There were so many more resources to discover beyond her borders. There was an opportunity to give Australian designers access to show houses and masters of design such as Frank Lloyd Wright. Sharyn developed tours to the US and Japan that she now runs three times a year! Nick gave a great suggestion to set up US tour groups to come down to Australia…let’s see if this takes off! Sharyn is all for being a part of orchestrating culture absorbing trips.
Making time for Design
Despite running three 7-9 day tours a year, Sharyn still finds time to serve her clients through Belson Design. Her upcoming projects include a mid-scale home renovation and her very first commercial gig at tile showroom in Melbourne. She is mainly a one-woman show but has the helping hands of a part-time tour assistant and design assistant. She also has built great relationships with contractors, so her clients have that additional option if they do not have contacts of their own.
Sharyn is adamant about being confident as a designer and not being afraid to value your services as they should be. She charges per service for her initial contact with clients. She has differing fees for consultations, mood boards, and full design plans. Never let a client rush you into decision making. As creatives, we need time to absorb and create our plans.
Sharyn really believes in great presentation. That starts with a great website and business cards. These are just the initial tools, however. The magic is in pounding the pavement…network, network, network. Get as much exposure as you can. Our industry can be grueling with long hours and a lot of effort to get the ball rolling. Find avenues to shake hands with people; go to showrooms, design events, etc. Get savvy with your online exposure too. It’s easy to backlink with fellow businesses in the industry so that your website can be more attractive to Google. This is a great way to improve your presence online without a lot of monetary investment.
Belson Design has received most of their clientele through word of mouth and website hits. This leads to another important topic; photographs. Photos are critical in the design industry to showcase your work. No matter how small a project is, always takes photos. Even if you don’t have access to professional photography, visually documenting your projects is a must. Social Media is another visual platform for showcasing your behind the scenes work. Sharyn stresses the importance of authenticity on social media. Be present to doing what you’re passionate about and persevering even when the going gets tough.
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