How We Launched Our Interiors Business by Anne Wall, Course Director.
When Rachael Kilby-Tyre (BIID) and I launched My Interior Design School in 2009 we never imagined that our business would reach a global audience, get us on stage at The Ideal Home Show, give us the opportunity to meet some of our design heroines (including the Dulux dog) and talk about Christmas trees with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen!
It all began at the school gates. Rachael and I had daughters at the same primary school and we would chat about our jobs, lifestyle and what we wanted from our careers.
Rachael was already a glamorous interior designer, teaching part-time in local colleges of higher education and running her own successful design consultancy.
I had my own marketing agency helping small, local businesses grow. And whilst I loved my varied portfolio of clients – from builders to beauticians – I longed to run my own business, with a partner, and in something I was passionate about.
When Rachael and I were on a stall together at the school fête (not so glamorous after all) we discovered we had something in common. A passion for interiors and wanting a better work/life balance.
Rachael was fed up commuting and I was longing to ‘prove’ (to me and to others) that I could use my sales and marketing skills to launch and manage a successful interiors business.
I had worked for years at London’s Earl’s Court and Olympia on consumer shows, including The Country Living Fair and an inaugural event called ‘at home’ – now the incredibly popular House and Garden ‘Spirit’ Shows.
During our chat, it became obvious that Rachael and I had very different but complementary skills and if we combined our talents, we could run our own workshops and courses. I would attract the students to enrol and Rachael would teach them.
It seemed so simple. And tempting just to give it a go. So that’s what we did.
Within a matter of weeks, we had hired a venue, promoted the event to anyone and everyone we knew, produced the teaching material and ran our first ever 1-day workshop, Colour School TM. Which we still run today!
We were immensely lucky that Fiona Fullerton, ex-Bond girl, author, property developer and Strictly Come Dancing star (!) came to our first event. After a fabulous day teaching a group of interior design enthusiasts how to use colour in the home, Fiona was kind enough to give us a lovely testimonial endorsement and the first photo for our new website.
“Thank you for a really inspirational day. I’ve learnt so much and am impatient to learn more.”
The success of our first workshop gave us the confidence to make My Interior Design School our full-time careers. And we have recently celebrated 10 years in business. Since then we’ve taught hundreds of future interior designers.
In 2015 we launched our online interior design courses and have students from as far away as Ecuador, Nepal, The Bahamas, Hong Kong and the USA. The ethos of My Interior Design School is to ‘unlock’ the creativity of our students, because we strongly believe that the creativity and the talent is in them. Rachael and I just help them discover their ‘inner designer’.
We’ve seen the challenges our students face, juggling children, careers and the expectation of others. But the best thing about our jobs is to see them flourish. By learning new skills and then gaining the confidence to go and use their new design talents.
We hope by telling ‘our story’ it will help those dreaming of a new career to ‘go for it’ like we did and then tell their own story.