Over the last few days I’ve been doing lots of thinking. And as now is the perfect time of the year to look back and see what you’ve achieved, what’s changed and to evaluate your life and where it’s heading, I’ve decided to be the first to have a go and share with you my 2014.
So I thought about my highlights, highs and lows and decided to go by month by month. I must warn you it’s pretty long. Here is it:
Over Christmas I got my first so called “big client”. The project was to redesign an open plan space. It included moving kitchen into a guest room/office, making a new office corner in a living room area, knocking through walls, creating new fireplace and utilising a conservatory. You can read the first post about it here.
I also started my playroom/family office project. It was a small makeover redesign project which I did on a very small budget. My first blog post was about finding inspiration, functionality and storage ideas.
This is the month where I started to share more of my knowledge and experiences. This was the month where I decided that helping others is the best way forward for my blog’s purpose. I wrote a blog post about where to source samples for interior design projects beyond the usual places like DIY stores and John Lewis. You can read the full list here.
I had another small project starting. This time is was our master bedroom makeover. It’s been bothering me for a while because the room wasn’t working for us anymore. One day I woke and asked Paul if you could move our bed under the window. And bingo! We gained so much more space. I could NOT believe it. With the newly gained space I wanted more storage/bookcase and TV cabinet to hide our TV. You can read about my 3 design options here.
I also moved my blog from Blogger platform onto my own self-hosting one and in the process I’ve decided to have the name of my business changed from Lollipop Interiors to Karolina Barnes Studio. I found that Lollipop was used already by other businesses in the trade and thought that it might eventually be confusing for my clients. I was looking for other names but in the end I chose my name (yes, I was outvoted by Paul and the girls). After the decision was made there was no way of return. I had to make it on my own. After all if the business went tits up all future employers would know what I was up to. Anyway. It took us exactly one month to design the website and transfer the blog over. We used Joomla template but from the start I had loads of problems with it. I found it difficult to control and writing posts took me ages because the system wasn’t responsive enough. I had to resize all images in Photoshop first, which was very time consuming. Just nightmare!
I started another proposal for another project. This time it was for a brother and sister sharing their bedroom. I can’t believe that it was that long time ago because it’s not even in sourcing stage as I write this. I did 4 designs for the client. You can see them all here.
This was the month when I took blogging more seriously. It all started with listening to Jess Lively podcast interview with Erin Gates. She said that the way she started her interior design business was by blogging and sharing everything she loved doing – being creative, fashion, home decor, interiors. I totally could relate to that. So I started blogging everyday apart from weekends. Since then I write 5 posts a week. I started my Fashion series on Fridays. I finished my playroom/family office project.
I started my Biz Talk series on Tuesdays with my first post about my experience with a lighting supplier/shop and how unfriendly they were. I also did two DIY projects for my bedroom – one was a table lamp makeover and the other was DIY Mongolian stool.
In July we finally decided to move the website on WordPress. Again we had to create the whole new website and transfer all the blogs over. We managed to do all that within 3 weeks. Now I also had the option to have an online shop with my main site and blog site under one roof. I also got into listening to more podcast shows on self development, business and marketing. This is when I started to be more “socially” engaged. With my new site it was much easier to tweet, pin and Facebook my content. I studied online marketing and what the potential was for me just marketing my little biz online. I knew from the start that I wasn’t prepared to pay for traditional advertising because I learnt (from my previous businesses) that it takes months/years to get any return from it. I wasn’t going to exhibit at shows either so online marketing seems the best way to let other people know about me. To this day I’m still studying. It’s such a vast area and subject that it’s like a new world to me.
I completed my open plan project. I went over there and managed the builders and the architect for a few days and brought it all to the finish line. I slept on the premises upstairs in dust as the work carried on downstairs. You can read the full story here.
I did another proposal for a family bathroom design. My client wanted dark or black tiles on walls and floor. You can see the inspiration and design boards here.
This project was more about sourcing the tiles so I sold them all the materials at trade price. Unfortunately I haven’t got any images yet.
I also started our hallway makeover project for the One Room Challenge. This was just the preparation for October. I decided that I wanted some pink upstairs so when you look from downstairs it would look welcoming and uplifting. A pop of colour! I started to look at some wallpaper options but didn’t actually source them until October.
I started my kitchen update. Our kitchen is seriously outdated. I want to paint the cabinets and have a geometric wallpaper somewhere.
One of the main things that I did in September was that I opened my online KB store. The vision I have is to offer bold and unique home decor products so you guys can have a designer touch at reasonable prices in your home. It took me about 3 months to create the collection of cushions, wallpaper, headboards and lampshades so the whole thing is cohesive and flexible to mix and match. I tested loads of fabric samples and in the end chosen the best combos at the price range I had in my head. I decided to give back from the start as well and picked charity for childhood cancers as my main charity for my donations. When you buy something from my shop, I give 5% to them. You can read the full story why I chose it here but because I live with my tumour until the end of the days it wasn’t a difficult choice to make for me. Children are our future and every child is entitled to a good start in life, right?
I also did our display cabinet makeover for our bedroom design. I gave Paul to chose from 3 colours and we agreed on Pavilion Gray from Farrow & Ball.
I took part in One Room Challenge with our hallway makeover. My blog was also nominated for Amara Interiors Blog Awards which was such a great achievement for me as I was in great company of other 19 designers and stylists. I didn’t win and I knew I had slim chances because my social media followers were still very tiny compared to others. But I was very proud of just “being on the list”.
I did another project proposal. This time it was through my online interior service, Room Design. My client wanted some help with her master bedroom. The brief was to work with existing furniture and make the room more cohesive. My shopping budget was EUR 150.
I also wrote a blog post about being in business for one year. My first year and what I have learnt on my journey. I started the business out of need and didn’t know how to get clients nor how to get into the market. It took me the whole year to slowly start working things out. I needed direction and focus. One day I sat down and created My Planner. I was desperate for something where I could write down my goals, tasks and organise my day better. Writing it down in pen and not on the computer or mobile gave me more official kind of feel.
I started to be more strategic in my biz and work/life/family balance. I’ve been implementing things I’ve learnt from listening to podcasts and started to create my KB Design Club. It’s been growing steadily over the last couple of months. The idea is that “my tribe” will benefit from my knowledge, experience and great offers from partnership with my trade suppliers. Now this isn’t sponsored or anything. I don’t take any sponsors on my blog nor generate any income from it. This is me working with my suppliers and offering these benefits to my “clubbers”.
I also started a modern family bathroom update. I’m in the sourcing stage right now so hopefully I will have some pics and more info in January.
I got together with other bloggers and exchanged blog contents with them. I really enjoyed it and I made some new friends in the process. My other highlight was an interview with an online interior design platform. A biggie! My first one! I was chuffed! The story should be published in the New Year but it was basically about my Room Design.
I started my Ask the Designer series which seems to be getting some good response and seems very popular on social media. I’ve been even more engaged and now I’m more focused on getting my name out.
Over the year I completed 8 projects including the biggie. This is my master bedroom. You can view the rest of my completed projects in my portfolio here.
I was also approached by a new client who actually found me through my online marketing. I’m also getting more enquiries from clients who seen my work online. I did a survey and a quick drawing for a family of 3 for their family room and hopefully the project will get started in the New Year.
I launched My Planner which is now available for purchase. I was very scared to go for it even though I got some orders and interest in it before I gave the printers the go ahead. This is my first upfront investment in a project of this kind before I see any return or financial reward. Which is very scary! I haven’t done this since my old business days where we bought stock before the season. Even though this is on much smaller scale and the risk is minimal compared to our previous trading, it is still a big diversion from my service and my shop products which are made to order. I hope that whoever bought it, will benefit from it as much as I do. So far the feedback has been very positive and really encouraging to make me believe that this is a good product! Everyone who contacted me and thanked me gave me so much confidence and much needed boost.
To sum up
Doing all these projects, blogging, being nominated for an award and being interviewed all gave me so much confidence in what I do and my style. I’ve been approached by people who complimented my work which is so reassuring to hear. Over the year I haven’t earned much but I covered my costs and mainly I honed my skills as a designer. I’ve climbed a mountain of knowledge, I’m probably past half way. But I’m getting there.
A big, massive thank you to you who reads my blog on regular basis. Thank you for sticking with me and my journey. I hope my blog offers you value and inspiration!
Now it’s your turn. Add your say! I can’t wait to hear your stories. Tomorrow is all about setting goals for 2015. See ya!