Mix & Match On "A Well Designed Business" Podcast & Online Course Announcement

Hear Mix & Match Design Company founder Chaney Widmer chat about her e-design business and upcoming online course on A Well Designed Business Podcast with LuAnn Nigara! // white office, home office decor, desk styling 

What a week it's been! With the scramble to close up shop before we traveled to see family last week in Virginia for Thanksgiving, I'm just now coming up for air to share two exciting announcements related to the business side of Mix & Match Design Company:

  1. I was a guest for the first time on an interior design podcast and...
  2. On that podcast, I shared a first glimpse into the soon-to-be-released online course and now I'm letting you in on the details right here on the blog! (*Update! Enrollment is now open! Head over to the course website for details and to sign up!*)

Let's chat about the podcast for a minute first. I was thrilled to be interviewed by LuAnn Nigara on her show called A Well Designed Business, which is a podcast all about the business side of interior design. I talk all about what it's like to run a 100% online interior design business, why I'm so passionate about making design accessible and affordable for a new type of consumer, and how I make it work from a revenue perspective. It's truly an inside look at this relatively new kind of interior decorating service, and I'm so excited about the positive feedback it has received so far.

If you'd like to listen, you can click the play button below (if you're on a feed reader or receiving this in your inbox, you may need to click over to the website to listen), or find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or find it here on the web. I know I don't usually talk business on the blog, but it was such a fun experience that I thought some of y'all might enjoy tuning in! 

At the very end of the episode, I made an announcement for the first time publicly about my online course called How To Launch An E-Design Business that I'll be releasing in early 2018. Now that the cat's out of the bag, it's time to talk about it here too! So if you've ever wanted to start offering online interior design services, but don't know how or where to start, this course is for YOU, my friend.

Here are some of the details: 

I founded Mix & Match back in 2015 and have learned a lot along the way. I'll take you through my journey, teach you about the world of e-design, help you figure out your business model, talk about how to get clients in the door, and walk you step-by-step through the nuts and bolts of e-design. We'll take a deep dive into very practical topics including workflow, tools, pricing, and marketing.

I've done all the hard work of strategizing, iterating, and going through trial and error so you don't have to! This course will provide an amazing foundation for you get your virtual interior design business up and running quickly so you can start working with your ideal clients. 

No matter if you're looking to launch a side hustle, make a career switch, add e-design services to your full-service interior design business, or want the freedom of being your own boss, this course will help you get there.

I'll be sharing even more about it soon with those who are on my launch list. Be sure to sign up using the form below to stay in the loop! 

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Meet The Maker: Royal Bohemian Home

White mudcloth pillows from  Royal Bohemian Home * via  Left & Level

White mudcloth pillows from Royal Bohemian Home* via Left & Level

Today I’ve got a very special post to share with y’all! It’s an interview with Bridget of Royal Bohemian Home - the beautiful handmade pillow shop that you may have seen pop on your Instagram feeds. She has lots to share with us today about her background in fashion, how she got started with RBH, and lessons learned along the way At the end, you’ll hear about her big dreams for RBH and what her favorite products are right now.

A very warm welcome to the Mix & Match Design Company blog, Bridget!

Tell me a little bit of your story. What’s your personal/professional background? And where are you based currently?

I am originally from Ohio and moved to the city of Philadelphia after college. I wanted to start a new adventure in a new city, so I packed up a U-Haul and moved myself to Philly. I was working as a retail manager for Urban Outfitters, when a job opportunity at their corporate office was brought to my attention. I interviewed for the position and ended up getting the job, which was in the Design Department of Free People. My job was to communicate with vendors overseas, to ensure each style was completed from sketch to finished prototype, as the design team had intended. I managed multiple seasons at a time, with hundreds of styles per season. It was fast paced and exciting for a newbie in the industry and I learned so much about textile, manufacturing, design, and construction of clothing. It was really my first break into the industry.

Years later I was offered a job as a Buyer, which catapulted me into a completely different direction in the fashion industry. As a Buyer, you are choosing the assortment of clothing that will be offered to the customer in your stores. Buying is a very analytical job - reviewing sales numbers and working with set budgets to create seasonal assortment, but it also has a creative side. Buyers work closely with Design to produce a collection that is both on trend and that your customer will ultimately want to buy. 

My husband and I moved to California, and I continued to work as a Buyer for several large retailers in Los Angeles.  After having my son Liam, I found the job and hours were too demanding for me to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. It was at that point that I made the decision to take a break from the fashion industry and stay home with my son. This was definitely one of the hardest decisions of my life, but in hindsight, it was the right decision for me. We moved back to Philadelphia years later, and most recently we settled down in the darling city of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Vintage indigo pillows from  Royal Bohemian Home  via  Anita Yokota

Vintage indigo pillows from Royal Bohemian Home via Anita Yokota

It's fun to chat with another creative entrepreneur who is based in Philadelphia! Tell me about Royal Bohemian Home - how did you get started and what made you want to launch a handmade pillow company? Where did the name come from?

In 2015, my daughter Margot was born. As a stay-at-home mother of two children, I was very much consumed by the day-to-day duties of caring for my them. While I loved having these precious days with them, I felt a deep desire to find a creative outlet. My interests had naturally shifted from fashion to interiors. I was busy making my house a home - decorating and coming up with creative ways to show my personal style through decor. I was looking around for decor inspiration online one day, and I came across the most lovely textiles (African Indigo Mudcloth and Batik Hmong textiles from Thailand, specifically). I have always been a textile junkie and when I saw these gorgeous fabrics, I instantly wanted to know more. 

I began doing research and was blown away by the craftsmanship that went into these handmade textiles. For example, I learned how the indigo mudcloth textiles are handwoven and dyed by placing the textile into indigo pits (passed down in families from generation to generation) for weeks, soaking in the natural pigments of the indigo plant to achieve that beautiful blue hue we all love. The black and white mudcloth textiles (another one of my favorites) are hand painted using fermented leaves - each one telling a story through the symbols the artists draw on these unique pieces of cloth. 

I was excited about the opportunity to use these newfound treasures in my own home and thought, how great would it be to introduce others to these textiles? I instantly thought of decorative pillows, since they are a favorite of mine for bringing pattern and color into the home.  It was at that moment that Royal Bohemian Home came to life. I knew the business end of retail, but I didn’t know how to sew, or how to go about starting a small business (very important pieces to the puzzle!). I am quite a perfectionist, so I knew if I was going to try my hand at this, the product had to be perfect in order to do these fabrics justice. I reached out to a local business owner who specializes in printing fabrics and manufacturing home décor items. After meeting and showing them my vision for Royal Bohemian Home, she agreed to collaborate with RBH and to “show me the ropes” of the pillow business, training me on cutting and sewing, and everything in between. 

I had no idea how much went into creating these incredibly beautiful textiles! Why did you choose to use vintage rather than new for your products? They’re so lovely, but I imagine they’re more challenging to find. How in the world (literally!) do you go about finding the perfect ones to use? 

Initially, I fell in love with the look of these fabrics and the story behind how they are made. The decision to use vintage textile over new textile is just a personal preference. I have always been a lover of vintage, be it clothing or furniture. I love the idea of upcycling and reusing things in a different way than they were originally intended. The Hmong Batik fabrics I use from Thailand are intended for tribal costumes (skirts and vests), and are also used to make traditional baby carriers. I love the natural wear and patina of these textiles that were created 50-100 years prior. When I choose fabrics for my collection, I am thinking about the person who hand-embroidered the fabrics and the person that designed the amazing shibori pattern on the piece of indigo before me. I am proud to be able to preserve these textiles in a way that makes them usable in modern, everyday life. 

Sourcing them is not always easy. With global textiles growing in popularity, it is harder to find good quality vintage pieces. I do love the hunt and searching for the perfect pieces of fabric. I will pretty much buy my fabrics wherever I can, but I mainly source them from a few vendors I have befriended, flea markets, and I plan to start attending textile trade shows this year. In the future, I would love the opportunity to travel to the countries where these textiles originate and make direct relationships with local artists and families who have been making these textiles for generations.

Mudcloth pillows from  Royal Bohemian Home  via  Left & Level

Mudcloth pillows from Royal Bohemian Home via Left & Level

I feel like your gorgeous pillows have been blowing up my Instagram lately (in the best way possible!) and showing up on a lot of my favorite feeds - what do you think has attributed to the excitement around your products, and how have you gotten your name out there?

Thank you so much! We are a small company, so we don’t have a huge marketing budget. I use social media (specifically Instagram) to showcase our pillows and to share a little history of the textiles themselves. I love that Instagram is such a visual app. It allows our followers to get an up-close look at our products and to follow along as RBH evolves as a company. I really enjoy engaging with our followers and customers, and Instagram has provided an amazing platform to do so. Their comments, product feedback, and words of encouragement motivate me and make we want to make RBH the very best I can. I have found a huge community of artists/craftsman, shop owners, interior designers, and bloggers on Instagram that are so supportive of one another. It is refreshing to see people encouraging and inspiring one another, rather than bringing them down. I am inspired daily by the people I follow on Instagram, and I hope Royal Bohemian Home does the same for our followers.

As far as the excitement over our products, global textiles are definitely having their moment  in interior design. Even the big retailers such as Pottery Barn and Target are creating home décor collections from fabrics inspired by African Indigo and Mudcloth. With so much mass production out there in the retail space, I think more now than ever, people are appreciative of the handcrafted goods Royal Bohemian Home has to offer. People want quality over quantity. We source the best vintage fabrics we can find, and include a plush down feather insert with every pillow. Our high standards have not gone unnoticed, and I cannot tell you how many customers write me raving about the quality of our pillows. RBH customers want something for their homes that is one-of-a-kind and that tells a story - something that has a little history and meaning.

In the interiors world, we often talk about fashion trends influencing home decor trends and vice versa. As someone who has been involved in both of those fields, how do you see them interacting with one another? Also, would you say your own personal style (fashion or interiors) aligns with RBH’s style?

There is an undeniable connection between fashion and interiors. Both are fields where personal expression and creativity are the drivers. They follow similar trends in color, textiles, and design principles, making the correlation even stronger. I think a person’s home almost always resembles their fashion sense. It wasn’t always this way, but more and more I see people expressing their personal style through their home decor choices. It seems natural for someone who loves colorful clothing to have a colorful home. I would say that Royal Bohemian Home’s aesthetic is a reflection of my personal fashion sense and decor style, although both are ever-changing, so it will be interesting to see how RBH evolves through the years. Royal Bohemian Home is about natural earthy textiles, bright cheerful color, and streamlined design; all the same words I would use to describe my fashion sense. I created Royal Bohemian Home from the heart. It is all the things I love and put in my own home. 

I love that! Your passion for this business is so inspiring. When you imagined your career path, did you ever think it would involve becoming a small business owner and creative entrepreneur? What are your favorite parts about being a small business owner and what’s most challenging?

When I stepped back from my career to stay home with my children, I never thought that was the end. I am a “reach for the stars” type of person. As long as I can remember, I have always had a dream of having my own business doing something creative - one that is fulfilling and makes me happy. I think a lot of people have this dream, but most are scared and don’t act on them. It is not easy to take that leap into a new venture with so many unknowns ahead of you. I can recall many moments during the initial month of RBH, when I would start to have cold feet and let self-doubt creep in. It is natural to have a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster when starting your own business. I am so grateful for the support and encouragement from my husband, George, during moments like these. He is the owner of a software startup, so he is familiar with the ups and downs of starting a business from the ground up. He would offer me words of wisdom, but mainly he would remind me of why I wanted to start this business in the first place and reignite that fire in me. Having the support of family and friends is super important to a small business owner. 

My favorite part of owning my own business is that it is just that, it’s mine! 😊 I can call the shots and make decisions for my business, on my terms. Royal Bohemian Home is my creative outlet. I want the processes of my business to be enjoyable and something that I am excited to do. This is my playground to experiment with different fabrics, products, and design. I like being in control of the pace of how my business grows. The hardest part of being a small business owner (especially in the beginning) is that you wear many hats. I am basically a one woman show, so I do it all; fabric sourcing, pillow-making, photographer, shop owner, marketing, and accounting. It can be a challenge to do it all, and to do it as well as you would like, especially when you are a self-proclaimed perfectionist.

As a small business owner myself, I can identify with so much of what you’ve said. Running it certainly can be a challenge, but it’s the best kind of challenge in my book. 😊 You mentioned that you left your high-stress job in the fashion industry to stay home with your kids. How do you manage running RBH, maintaining family time, and keeping up with other parts of life? Are there any strategies or methods that have worked well for you?

Finding balance between running RBH and other parts of my life is an on-going struggle. I think all working moms (whether in the home or out of the home) deal with this challenge. For me, I try to remind myself that my number one job is being a mom and making sure the house is running smoothly for my family; everything else comes after. Even knowing and believing that, I still have moments when I feel the tug-of-war between home life and work. I tend to do most of my work for RBH when my youngest is napping during the day, or late at night when everyone is asleep. I sneak a little work in here and there, like checking my Instagram while on the elliptical at the gym, or while waiting in line at the grocery store. 😊 

Two small strategies that I have found help me with balancing family and work are to stay super organized and to allow myself plenty of time for project deadlines. I like to be proactive and work on projects little by little, so if there is a day when I can’t do much work for my business, I won’t fall behind on deadlines. 

I am also very fortunate to have a supportive husband who pitches in around the house and with the children whenever he can.

Indigo pillows from  Royal Bohemian Home  via  Anita Yokota

Indigo pillows from Royal Bohemian Home via Anita Yokota

What’s coming down the pipe for RBH? Any insider knowledge you’d be willing to share? 

The beauty of Royal Bohemian Home pillows is that we use one-of-a-kind fabrics, so our inventory is always changing and looking fresh. I am constantly on the hunt for new fabrics, so you will definitely be seeing new global textiles coming into the mix. I also plan on introducing some new products for the home in addition to our signature pillows. Our Indigo throws (which are mended by hand and finished with a clean edge) are currently made to order, but we plan to start carrying them regularly in our shop, as well as some other fun accessories for the home. RBH is always partnering with local shops, interior designers, and bloggers on fun projects, so make sure to follow us on Instagram to be the first to hear about our new arrivals, sales, and giveaways!

If you were to dream big, where do you see your company in five years?

That is a great question - big is the only way I know how to dream. In five years, I would love to see Royal Bohemian Home become a recognizable brand in the home decor arena. It would be fabulous to partner with one of my favorite retailers for a collection or two. I would also love to see RBH start to design our own fabrics, inspired by the global textiles we love so much, and create exciting collections for the retail market. 

Indigo and mudcloth pillows from  Royal Bohemian Home  via  Left & Level

Indigo and mudcloth pillows from Royal Bohemian Home via Left & Level

Do you have a personal favorite product right now?

African indigo and white mudcloth will continually be favorites in my shop. They always look fresh and brighten a room. We also have a new textile in our shop, Peruvian Frazada, that is insanely gorgeous. Made from handwoven and naturally dyed wool, each textile takes a month to create. We offer a variety of pillow sizes in this textile, but my absolute favorite is the 30x30 floor pillow. Perfect for lounging and ready a book, extra seating for hanging with friends, or take them outside for a picnic or to stare at the stars at night. Best of all, they look amazing stacked in a corner of a room, even when not in use. They are a must for summer!

Peruvian Frazada pillows via  Royal Bohemian Home

Peruvian Frazada pillows via Royal Bohemian Home

I love that the shop is ever-evolving, and that you’re developing and bringing in new products all the time. Where can everybody find your products and follow along with you?

You can find Royal Bohemian Home products on Etsy at www.royalbohemianhome.etsy.com/  and follow us on Instagram @RoyalBohemianHome.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, and for telling us more about RBH, Bridget! I love reading about small business owners’ backstories, dreams, and everything in-between - it’s so inspiring and lets us in on the human side of the biz. Mix & Match readers, let's show RBH some love today! Make sure you visit the Etsy shop and Instagram account, and let her know that I sent you when you say hello!

*This post contains affiliate links. That means when you buy through my links, I'll earn a small commission from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting Mix & Match in this way!

 

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This Is Not Your Grandmother's Interior Design Service

Find out more aboutMix & Match Design Company's philosophy and goals, and read about why this business is so passionate about bringing interior design to "normal" people.

After sharing a little bit of my story a couple of weeks ago about who I am and how I got started in the interior decorating world, I thought it would be a good time to follow that post up with a deeper dive into Mix & Match's philosophy and goals. I want you, my dear readers, clients, and friends, to get to know why this business exists and why I'm so passionate about making interior design accessible to everybody.

An alternate title to this post could have been Interior Design For the Rest of Us, because that's exactly what I'm trying to do here with Mix & Match, but I decided to stick with the slightly more offensive one (sorry grandmas out there! I mean no harm.). I want to prove to you that you don't have to make millions of dollars to get the insights of an interior designer and make your home beautiful.

Before we dive in though, if you missed the post titled, "Hello. It's Me." - you might want to start there, then come back over here and continue reading. :) That post covers the more personal side of my background and how I got started, and today we'll get into more about the business side!

If this is your first time on the site, welcome! As a quick intro, Mix & Match Design Company offers affordable one-on-one e-design services along with (free!) design advice, tips, and inspiration through the blog and social media outlets like Instagram and Pinterest. Developing and growing each part of the business brings me such joy - I'm grateful to be running a company that suits my gifts and talents so well. 

Let's get started!

WHY DID YOU START MIX & MATCH WHEN THERE ARE PLENTY OF INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICES OUT THERE?

Simply put, it was a combination of realizing that there was a whole, huge group of folks who weren't being reached by the traditional interior designer, and the fact that I believe everyone should live in a space they love, that inspires them, and that feels like home. My goal was to create a company that would help "normal" people create spaces they're proud of, which is why my tagline reads affordable and approachable interior design services for everyone. I wanted to be able to help the busy young professional, the couple who just got married and is creating a new life together, the DIY-er, the person who just bought her first home, the family with rambunctious young kiddos, and so many others who value a beautiful, welcoming home, but don't know how to make it happen. E-design (my one-on-one service), the Mix & Match blog, and social media are my primary methods of serving these folks.

WHAT IS E-DESIGN, AND WHY GO THAT ROUTE INSTEAD OF THE TRADITIONAL IN-PERSON MODEL?

E-design is a tech-enabled, all virtual design service - that's right, I never go to your house! This flat-fee service is carried out primarily through email and the occasional FaceTime or phone call. I provide a design plan, and you implement it when you're ready. This type of service gives folks all over the world access to great design services at an affordable rate. There are a few main advantages to working this way:

  1. COST. The model provides simple and straightforward design services at a fraction of the cost of a traditional interior designer. 
  2. EFFICIENCY. It's convenient and efficient for both the client and me, the designer. Since everything is conducted primarily through email, we can work on the design when it's convenient for you, which is perfect for folks with limited time or long work hours. Your time and mine are both valuable, and I want to make sure we're using it well!
  3. STRAIGHTFORWARD. There are no hidden costs. A single fee, paid upfront is all I'll ever ask for from you.
  4. YOUR TIMING. You can make furniture and decor purchases on your timeframe. I provide the design and an itemized shopping list, and then you're free to shop when you're ready - you're in the driver's seat.
  5. FOR EVERYONE. E-design allows me to be an "equal opportunity" designer when it comes to the size and spend of the project. Many designers turn down smaller-budget projects because their business is based on markups on furniture and decor. Whether you've got $1,000 or $10,000 to spend, I charge the same flat fee per room, and you pay retail prices on items. I may earn a small commission on your purchase through affiliate links, but this doesn't affect what you pay. 

WHY WRITE THE BLOG IN ADDITION TO OFFERING THE ONE-ON-ONE E-DESIGN SERVICE?

I love to educate, I love writing, and I love to cultivate community! I realize that not everyone needs or wants individualized design services, but they still want to learn how to decorate well, and be inspired along the way. I want to point people in the direction of well-designed furniture and decor that suits all budgets (hello, Best Of series!). The blog provides an outlet for all of those things, and it allows me to foster a community who understands and believes in the importance of creating a home they love. It's meant to be interactive, so feel free to leave a comment or ask a question! 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE STYLES TO DESIGN?

My favorites are all mashups of a couple of styles - cozy modern, mid-century eclectic, and modern farmhouse. I didn't name the company Mix & Match for nothin'! On the whole, I gravitate toward rooms with clean lines, a light and airy feel, and loads of texture. I want them to feel lived in, but not cluttered.

WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU OUTSIDE OF THE BLOG?

All over! My favorite places to hang out are Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I also have a newsletter, which you can sign up for at the bottom of this post! You'll get monthly updates on what's going on in the Mix & Match world, along with insider tips and information.

That's all I have to share with you today, friends! Deep down, I believe that having a home you love is an incredibly important part of having a happy, joyful life. Notice that I didn't say it had to be perfect or immaculately curated - it's more about the feeling you get when you walk in the door. Your home should make you smile and make you proud. 

I hope that today's words gave you a little bit of insight into why I'm so passionate about my business, and that it resonated with you in some way! If you're ready to get started on that one-on-one e-design project, or if you have a design topic you'd like for me to cover here on the blog, feel free to contact me, or connect with me on Instagram!

 

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