43. Quin Gwinn: How She Made Her Mark as an African-American Woman Interior Designer
Quintel Gwinn studied interior design in college and worked for several major furniture and architecture firms before deciding to start her very own residential design company. Her ability to work on the technical and conceptual work as well as creative concepts sets her apart in her industry and provides her clients with an unmatched experience.
She discusses her initial challenges with learning the business aspects of entrepreneurship and in finding cultural resources and support in a field that seemed less diverse than others. Quin also delves into her customer base and how her role as an interior designer extends beyond providing services to high-end clients but filling a need and making interior design accessible for everyone.
- Currently pursuing her master’s in interior architecture
- Came from a very technical background in commercial work; worked for a commercial firm focused community based spaces
- Quin explains the technical and conceptual work aspects of planning spaces
- We discuss how culture differences in regards to accepting or rejecting careers in the arts
- Worked at large and small architecture firm while in school
- Found a black architecture firm to work for in her hometown of Atlanta; discussed how rare it was and is to find a predominately African-American firm or to hear about black architects being discussed in courses
- When she was laid off, she decided to move to Charlotte, NC, and start a residential design business
- To get her name out in Charlotte she did a lot of networking with designers and she shared her work on Instagram
- She discusses the normalcy of her life, saying “she’s a wife, with three kids, and five younger siblings.”
- Instagram and Periscope were instrumental in helping her acquire clients
- She discusses the transition of going from going 9- to-5 to a full-time entrepreneur
- Things she had to figure out before becoming full-time entrepreneur were (1) maintaining (2) getting new work (3) handling business; those things included:
- Developing a process for how she worked: onboarding new clients, invoicing, sending updates, emails, putting together good contracts
- How to handle an increase in workload: networking and putting herself out there
- 85% of her business is new construction builds and renovation
- 95% of her clients are African-American; her clients are looking for someone to help them develop their style personally and culturally; she feels she’s able to fill a need
- The industry (interior design and architecture) struggle with representation
- “Design should be for everyone” – Quin
- She implemented CEO Mondays
- sends weekly updates to clients
- business-related administrative tasks
- doesn’t schedule appointments for that day
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: client meetings, field visits, site observations, going to show rooms, material selection, etc.
- Friday: schedule is open; tries to not schedule work and reserves time for family
- TIP for introducing color:
- choose a pop a color
- add it in threes (i.e. vase, rug, and a frame)
- The Finance Bar [ listen to her interview]
- Evernote (to capture ideas, client files)
- Sharpie Pen
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