Today's designer profile is super exciting because I adore this girl. Those of you in The Paid Decorator have read her success story before, as I am always so proud and inspired by her career. Allison Crawford is like the poster child for chic eclectic style and in my opinion, she works harder than most designers and decorators I know. I love watching her soar.
Educational background: Bachelor of Arts from Southern Methodist University
Current city: Austin, Texas
Astrological sign: Aquarius
Did you always know you wanted to be a decorator/ designer? Learning to paint at the age of five, I was always creative and knew that I wanted to be in a creative field. Out of college, I was in marketing and advertising but renovated properties on the side. Eventually, I went full time into design and remodeling houses and never looked back.
What gave you the courage to go for it? I was tired of working for other people and playing by their rules. Now, I make my own rules. I work harder than I ever had, but I’m building my own business and my company is a reflection of me. I take my professional reputation very seriously and want to be known as a hard worker and innovative designer.
What lessons have you learned along the way? Be yourself. Don’t take NO for an answer. Work harder than everyone else. Take risks and don’t worry about being different. I beat to my own drum and it shows though in my work which makes it authentic and interesting.
Do you have a signature style? If I had to categorize my interior design style, I would call it Eclectic Modern. My favorite projects are the most challenging ones, regardless of the aesthetic. In my personal projects, you will find mostly vintage and antique furniture, clean lines, pops of color, some bold patterns, and crazy art.
What have you found works for you as far as organizing your business and time? Quickbooks and my Moleskin are my everyday office necessities. Without them, I’d be lost (and broke).
What do you wish you would have known going into this industry? I joke that running an interior design firm is only 10% design, but it’s true. I wear so many different hats; therefore, I’m purely designing a small amount of time. I thrive on the challenge of growing my business and creating unique, thought-provoking interiors.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting your own business? The most rewarding experience? I love that every day is different and each project presents new challenges. I’m constantly fixing problems and honing my communication skills. Sometimes it’s difficult owning a small business and having to wear many hats, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I do everything from accounting to design and employee two wonderful women to help me. One of the most satisfying parts of the job is inspiring my Junior Designers and encouraging them to grow professionally and giving them to confidence to make their dreams come true.
Highlight of your career so far? Photographing a project for a national magazine. They flew in the crew from all over the US and it was an extraordinary experience. I’m still friends with everyone on the set!
Looking back, what would you do differently? It’s not glamorous, but I wish I had Quickbooks and a bookkeeper from the very beginning. Both are a must for entrepreneurs.
Do you ever miss the stability of working for someone else? Sometimes, I miss the consistent paycheck, 40-hour work weeks, insurance and benefits. Then, I remember that I wasn’t creatively fulfilled and I wasn’t building my own brand. Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak. In my early 20s, I was living in Manhattan, selling copiers door-to-door on Wall Street. That was an extremely difficult job but, if I can sell copiers on Wall Street, I can do anything!
Any business books you think other gals aspiring to run their own design business should read?
Branding + Interior Design by Kim Kuhteubl (READ TODAY… it’s amazing)
What parts of your work do you love? Do you NOT love? I love the client relations aspect of running an interior design firm. I’m constantly honing my interpersonal skills and solving problems. I don’t love the accounting and invoicing part of my job.
Best advice you’ve been given? Any advice that you’d give other entrepreneurs? Read as many non-fiction books about business and starting a company as possible. Find a mentor. That’s something I wish I had from the beginning, but I figured it out on my own. Take people to lunch to learn more about them and ask them a lot of questions. If they are too busy, ask to stop by their office for 5-10 minutes.