We’re celebrating a milestone achievement this year. Susanne Desbrow Interior Design (SDID) has been in business for five years! Being a business owner has its challenges, and they make the victories even sweeter. Come with us to learn the story of SDID. It’s one where creativity meets functionality, and spaces tell stories. We’ll introduce some little-known facts about our founder and offer insight into what it takes to run a thriving interior design company. Let’s dive in.
The Roots: British Education and a Canadian Adventure
Before the inception of SDID, Susanne embarked on a journey that shaped her design perspective. Armed with a BA Hons in Interior Architecture from the University of Sussex-Ravensbourne campus, the journey began with a part-time summer placement at a small family-run architectural practice based in south London, immersing in retail and hospitality design for brands.
Post-graduation, an adventurous spirit led her to backpack across Canada with her now husband, tracing her grandad’s footsteps. They travelled from Quebec to British Columbia and fell in love with Canada.
Upon returning to London, a full-time position in the design realm ensued, followed by a contract job designing shopping malls and cinemas in Eastern Europe. The recession brought challenges, but resilience prevailed as Susanne moved on to enjoy five years of hospitality design. During this time, she had the privilege of being part of designing numerous award-winning hospitality projects. From small bars to large-scale night clubs
Susanne packed up her young family of four and travelled across the pond to embrace the Canadian landscape in 2008. During the first few years in Canada, Susanne focused on raising her two toddlers until her youngest son began kindergarten. As designers, we all know that a good foundation is critical, and children are no different.
She began freelancing and did that for four years before taking a full-time position with a local Calgary-based design-build firm, working on corporate office interiors across Canada.
The Evolution: An Interior Design Company
A relationship gained whilst freelancing opened a new opportunity that was too good to refuse, and Susanne returned to being self-employed. Taking the experience, she learned to work on national projects. She embraced her new role and hasn’t looked back since.
Challenges and Triumphs: Marketing, Clients, and Work-Life Balance
The biggest challenge for any business is marketing. How does one find new clients? Being a project-based business, everything has a finite timeline, and you must continually seek clients to ensure your future. Inorganic networking events can be challenging and often take years to realize their value. Breaking through to new clients remains a constant puzzle.
However, the silver lining lies in a strong base of repeat clients, a testament to the quality of Susanne Desbrow Interior Design’s work. Through these clients, we have met other clients. The network of referral businesses has been instrumental in our success. It has been privileged to have many return clients within the following sectors: senior living, hospitality and early education design. Return clients make our hearts happy. We appreciate the continued relationships that we have built over the years.
As any business owner knows, work-life balance is a challenge. Susanne resolved to refrain from working weekends in 2023. While the resolution faced a minor setback just before the Christmas break, the determination to prioritize personal time remains strong. Without that time to refresh, an interior designer can’t bring new ideas to their clients.
The Joys of Entrepreneurship: Flexibility and Unique Projects
The allure of working for oneself lies in the freedom to work from home, juggling work and family life. Susanne cherishes the diversity of projects, each offering unique challenges contributing to her growth as a designer.
Tips for New Interior Design Companies
The advice for those considering opening their own interior design company is simple – stick with it, embrace hard work, and be open to learning. Success is the result of dedication and an openness to new experiences.
Looking Ahead: Future Visions for SDID
As SDID continues to evolve, Susanne envisions growth that allows them to focus solely on SDID clients and reduce the number of sub-contracts with other design firms.
A brand focus is on the horizon, zeroing in on early education and senior living interior design projects. These environments, requiring a people-focused approach, align with SDID's design principles.
A Firm Sense of Design Principles
Accessible Universal Design for All
Sustainable Building Practices
SDID is grounded in three fundamental design principles – accessible universal design for all, sustainable building practices, and a commitment to people-first environments. These principles guide the creation of aesthetically pleasing, functional, and environmentally conscious spaces.
A Message of Thanks and Anticipation
Thank you to our past collaborators, clients, colleagues and friends. Without your belief in us, we would not be celebrating this monumental five-year achievement as an independent interior design company.
The journey of Susanne Desbrow Interior Design is a narrative of growth, resilience, and a commitment to creating spaces that resonate with the stories of those who inhabit them. As the next five years unfold, the vision is to expand the brand, homing in on design centred around the people-first approach for early childhood education and senior living environments for aging.
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