We are super excited to bring you this week’s Métier Member story, which is all about our lovely member Anna-Marie Bennett of Grove Design. Anna, as an Interior Designer, has been going through the most interesting time over the last year, something that perhaps not many of us would even contemplate….. She purchased an established Interior Design company! As I’m sure many of you might imagine, this might be a rater daunting consideration for some. So we caught with Anna recently to hear all about the process and how she is getting on.
Having come from a Project Management background, who or what inspired you to change careers into Interior Design? Was there a “lightbulb moment” and what initial first steps did you take?
I’ve always been a serial renovator throughout my life. I’ve bought, developed and sold a number of properties in London and the South East. There was a point where I seemed to be living mid-project! I never really contemplated making a career out of it until my partner pointed out that I have a real eye for design and pulling colours together. I always thought everyone saw things the same way as me but now I know that’s not the case.
Having recently made the extremely brave decision to purchase an established design business, what are the key benefits to this process?
Buying Grove Design has effectively accelerated the growth of my business – I would say by 5 years. I’ve walked into an established business with a whole myriad of established suppliers and specialists ready to go. The history and existing client base is extremely valuable.
When you were hunting for a business to purchase, what were the Top 3 criteria, that were important for you as an Interior Designer entrepreneur?
I wasn’t especially looking to buy a business – it was a distant idea in the back of my mind. I was casually browsing the internet one weekend and came across two potential options – one was Grove Design.
Was there anything in particular about Grove Design that caught your eye?
When I met the previous owner, Sue, we had an instant chemistry – we had a similar professional background and interests and it was almost like our lives where taking a similar path. I liked the type of projects that Grove Design had worked on could see the potential to build on this history. Sue has stayed on as an Interior Design Consultant as she and I work well as a team together on projects.
What office tools do you find indispensable for accomplishing your day-today typical tasks?
I use an online software package called Monday.com to organise all my project work and general admin tasks. It’s not free – and I know there are free options out there. However, this is incredibly powerful for managing projects and team tasks. You can tailor it to a multitude of purposes. It works for me and my style of working. Monday.com keeps me focused on my priorities and allows me to delegate tasks to others. I keep all my files on Dropbox which means I can work on the laptop or iPad when I’m on the go.
Where and how do you work at your best?
In a tidy and orderly space! I work from home and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by green fields and views of the countryside.
As many designers are aware, working from home can be quite isolating – what do you like to do to combat this?
Plenty of dog cuddles and lots of networking.
Would you have done anything differently if you knew 10 years ago, what you know now? What’s the best advice you ever received?
I wouldn’t have done anything differently – I wasn’t ready to run my own business 10 years ago. Now I am! In terms of advice – life is short and you only get one shot. So follow your heart and do what you love!
What are you finding is still your biggest challenge within your new business?
Building up the client base and regularity of projects is still a challenge, however, we have a new brand and website and we are starting to see more enquiries coming through.
What do you love most about being an Interior Designer?
I love being involved in the nitty gritty details and completely detail-orientated! Its really important to be that we are delivering the best possible outcome for clients. The best part for me is the transformation that tangibly changes clients lives.
What elements make you a stand-out designer? Why should your clients choose you?
One of my passions is to help clients discover their own design personality so that they are not led by trends or what their neighbours have done. We take time to discover this and I incorporate applied colour psychology into the design scheme. I am extremely focussed and outcome driven (a bi-product of my high pressure career in Finance!) and I’m all about delivery!
How long have you been a Metier Member and have you found it useful to help you in your design career?
It’s been just over 2 years – where has the time gone?! I have learned so much about the business of design from my peers and other Metier Members. I’ve also met some really lovely people who have become friends. Metier Rendezvous a great support network – always there when you need it!
What’s next for you and Grove Design?
There is quite a lot going on which we are really excited about. The Grove Design Academy is work in progress and we are planning to start offering workshops next year. (shhhh, we are looking at possibly extending this to an online offering.) Grove Design workshops will be aimed at home owners interested in interior design. However, we want to engage with those who specifically want to discover their own design style and personality. The difference here will be – It won’t be another “how to” of interior design. We really want to our participants to tap into their creativity and have the confidence to not simply follow trends.
We are also developing the boutique where I’m working on sourcing some unique and beautiful items.
In terms of projects, Grove Design currently has a large project underway for full home refurbishment. Our clients, have cleverly crafted a 4 bedroom house into a spacious 6 bedroom 4 bathroom house. Installation is planned for October so we are super busy helping our clients pull together the last few elements. Grove Design also has a few smaller projects including bespoke upholstery and few space planning consultations.
However, moving into the next 6 months, we are ready to take on larger projects. We are also hoping to eventually expand the team beyond the two of us. There’s a building project in the pipeline to convert my own run-down barn to a dedicated studio and training space. So as you can see, there’s plenty to keep me busy over the next couple of years!
My dream commission would be a boutique hotel – so watch this space!
Watch this space for more chats with Metier Member and for more insights into the Interior Design industry.
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