How to Be a Successful Interior Designer Without the Degree and Experience With Suzanne Manlove

Is it possible to have a family and be a professional simultaneously? How do you succeed in interior design if you lack both the degree and experience? What is the ideal approach when couples run the same company?

Fueled by the desire to be more available for her kids, my guest Suzanne tried different careers, including real estate and staging, but realized she prefers working with people who want to stay in their homes instead of preparing them for the market.

Her company may have started slow and it may have taken her a long route to find success in her interior design career but 15 years and 5 employees later, they now have a business with a great team that’s transforming people’s homes.

Why you’ve got to check out today’s episode
  • Find out the 4 things you should know as an interior designer when you are just starting out
  • Learn the 2 most challenging parts of her career and how she overcomes them
  • Discover the alternative paths she took to launch her interior design career
    About the Guest:

    Suzanne Manlove, Principal Designer & CEO, founded Manlove and Company Interiors (formerly Arlington Home Interiors) in 2007. Based in Arlington, VA, they service the DC Metro area, luxury vacation homes on the Eastern Shore, as well as Virginia’s Northern Neck.

    She founded the company on the heels of a career in top creative positions for Britches Great Outdoors, Time-Life Entertainment, and others.

    For the last 15 years, she has challenged her artistic vision and management background into creating truly livable homes for inspired, accomplished professionals. She loves the hunt for singular pieces and finding new, creative ways to infuse each client’s identity into their home.

    You can also find her exploring new cities and art events with her husband, Mark, finding her Zen at yoga and meditation workshops, and getting outside as much as possible.

    Connect with Suzanne Manlove:
    IG: @manloveandcompanyinteriors 

      Check out these episode highlights

      2.38 – How Suzanne’s career in interior design began and how it is going now

      4.00 – Her interior design path

      1.     Earned a degree in graphic design
      2.     Worked as a designer and then creative director
      3.     Needed flexibility to be with her children, so she quit corporate and then taught graphic design
      4.     Got a real estate license and worked with a brokerage, which she loved because she was helping people get their homes ready to sell
      5.     Still needing flexibility, she became a stager and worked with people who were selling their homes and getting them ready to put on the market, which gave birth to Arlington Home Interiors
      6.     Wanting a lifestyle business, she decided to be a decorator and designer and did color and room-in-a-day consults

      8.33 – How she gained confidence in getting clients and selling them her designs by creating a group of designers

      12.50 – The mindset that paved her way to success

      1.     Believe you can do it
      2.     Follow through on it and do an excellent job
      3.     Bring in the right people and follow through on being successful in what your commitment is

      13.33 – How a realist and a dreamer turned into a collaborative effort to get the work done

      15.47 – How to get hired at Manlove and Co Interiors

      17.46 – How to acquire the skills needed to be an interior designer without going to school for it

      19.41 – The 2 most challenging parts of her career and how she overcomes them

      1. Lack of confidence – by focusing on how much they’ve grown instead of what they’re lacking, and surrounding themselves with the right people who are pushing themselves
      2. Managing client expectations – through consistent communication

      22.35 – How to find the people you can be comfortable around and collaborate with and where

      1.     Surround yourself with other female entrepreneurs who are really pushing themselves
      2.     Connect with like-minded people who view the industry as a rising tide with the designers as the boats
      3.     You can find them in local organizations and coaching groups

      25.24 – Her transition from graphic designer to interior designer

      26.25 – Why traveling is important in interior design

      28.39 – 4 things every interior designer should know when just starting out

      1. You don’t have to have a design degree. Find out how to transition into it instead.
      2. You don’t have to know everything. Call on the experts to help and support you. Give yourself the time and grace to learn things because you’re not going to know everything on day one. Take baby steps and build them slowly. 
      3. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have it all figured out in the beginning. There are stages, and it’s gradual. Every year can be better than the year before.
      4. You don’t have to learn everything from the ground up. Get a coach. Coaching can fast-track your experiences. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to share their experiences with you and help you get to the solution a lot faster. They also help with the right mindset, which is the key to succeeding in anything.