Happy Monday (and first day of summer)! Yay! Once it starts getting hot and sunny outside here in Chicago, some days I find it difficult to focus on my work. I just want to be outside basking in the sun, playing with my dog and eating ice cream. Anyone with me? Since that’s not really a productive way to spend weekdays when you’re trying to build your business and maintain client relationships (darn), I love to find new ways to get inspired and motivated. And one thing that really motivates me is reading about other successful business owners. So today I’m featuring Claire Hurwitz Staszak, owner of Centered by Design, an interior design studio in Chicago. I hope that it gives you a little boost of summer Monday motivation, too!
I met Claire last year through the networking group I’ve mentioned in the past called Creative Chics and then we found out we have some friends in common, so I’ve gotten to know her a little bit better. Claire is not only a talented and creative interior designer, she is also a savvy businesswoman with tons of ideas to grow her business and collaborate with others. Her approach and design philosophy is unique and matches perfectly with her laid back personality. Read on to find out what makes Centered by Design unique and for beautiful photos of Claire’s design work!
If you are new to CoChic Cool Chicks, welcome! CoChic Cool Chicks is an interview series, featuring women entrepreneurs who inspire me, who I am lucky enough to have in my girl boss network. These women are doing great things and whether you aspire to be an entrepreneur or not, I hope that they inspire you to do great things, too. I encourage you to check out their businesses, websites, and social media. And reach out to them, ask them questions, say hello. They’d love to hear from you!
Tell us about your business!
Centered by Design is a boutique interior design studio located in Chicago. I currently work from my home office, and I’m on the road a lot at my clients’ houses! We offer interior decorating services, along with larger remodel and new construction work such as kitchen and bath design. My design philosophy is influenced by my background as a part-time yoga instructor. I’ve been teaching yoga in Chicago for almost 10 years.
My Design Philosophy:
Taking the time to re-center ourselves and find a personal sanctuary is more important than ever in today’s fragmented and fast-paced world. I believe that sanctuary is much closer to home (literally!) than you think. My approach to working with clients blends my intuitive nature as a yoga instructor with my passion for interior design. I see on a daily basis how the connection between the body, mind, and our physical environment can have powerful influences on personal well-being. As a designer, my purpose is to make you feel at ease during the design process and help you discover your own idea of sanctuary. No one’s idea of an ideal space will be the same. Together we will design with intentionality and uncover what you desire to make your space functional, beautiful, and above all, personal. Whether your ideal space is an avant-garde apartment, modern family home, or innovative office, I would love to help you create your perfect sanctuary.
Follow me on Instagram at @centered_by_design and read weekly posts about home decorating on my blog.
What made you decide to take the leap and become a business owner?
Finances: My husband finally got a job! I was the main breadwinner supporting our family while my husband was in graduate school. Now that he is working full-time we have the flexibility for me to grow my own business.
Passion: I realized that everyone I was following on the Internet and looking up to, as role models, were women who owned their own creative businesses.
Talent: I learned that having a good eye for design, color, space arrangement, and the like is a unique talent that not everyone possesses.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Making my own schedule! And the varied experiences I get to have each day. You have to love multitasking and really that’s what I’m good at.
What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
You feel alone, and you worry you’re not “doing it right.” I try to surround myself with friends and other supportive business owners who make me feel better about the trials and tribulations of owning a small business and scaling it to work for my life.
What is your best piece of business advice?
Honesty, clarity, and compassion make me the best designer I can be. It’s important to be transparent with clients in a field like interior design, which often feels shrouded in secrecy. You are dealing with money, people and their homes – this is pretty personal stuff! I really feel like honesty is the best policy for business, people want to hire trustworthy and compassionate people. I try my best to make sure clients understand all the costs involved in their project, and prepare them for the inevitable mishaps that happen when taking on large-scale project. I find people respond better to all my openness and it actually makes them less nervous and more prepared, than if I said, “don’t worry about anything.”
What makes Centered By Design unique?
Everything above! The cool thing about owning your own business is that it is uniquely you. I named the company, and have done every single ounce of work to grow the company since giving it a name and web site. I try to cater my design work to my client’s aesthetic, but it will always have personal touches that are “me.” And that just comes from within; every designer sees things a little differently.
Do you have any tricks of the trade you could share with us?
The best place to see all my tricks and tips is on my blog: www.centeredbydesign.com/blog.
I share styling tips, favorite paint colors, and I’m currently renovating my vintage home here in Chicago, so lots of DIY happening too.
What has been your proudest moment in your business?
It’s hard to name one (always awesome to see your design work recognized in a publication), but I think what gives me the most satisfaction is continuing to stay busy and get referrals, nothing is better than a client who has a great experience and then passes that onto a friend.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Loved this before and after: http://www.designsponge.com/2016/03/before-after-a-unique-homestead-coach-house-makeover.html
How would you describe your personal style?
Here’s a little article that sums that up well:
What does being CoChic (comfortably chic) mean to you?
Feeling beautiful in my own skin with a little help from a good lipstick and great pair of jeans.