As a successful furniture/furnishings designer and CEO/founder of EcoChic Lifestyles, I’ve taken what started as a dream grow into a massive company. It’s a requirement to possess the artistic vision and entrepreneurial spirit in order to create your own business in this industry but the most overlooked aspect is the psychology of what you do in your business practices. The manner in which you direct your efforts can be just as important as having a great product.

It was very important to me that the products I created for EcoChic Lifestyles were environmentally responsible. The wood we use is reclaimed from boats in Southeast Asia that are no longer seaworthy. The fishermen and their families have a tradition of painting these boats very bright colors and they are made by craftsmen with great integrity. Even though the boats couldn’t be used for fishing, I found a way to use the wood, help the economy of the region, and create something that brightens any space that it occupies. I’ve had a very successful professional relationship for five years now with South Street Development Group, a diversified real estate company specializing in the zoning, development, and construction of multi-family and commercial properties. South Street Development Group builds homes for the modern family that are both functional and aesthetically intriguing. EcoChic Lifestyles provides many custom indoor and outdoor features, as well as furniture for both their spec and luxury custom homes. This multimillion dollar company understands the impact that their projects have on the community they strive to design and build in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way. EcoChic Lifestyles has provided thousands of beautiful pieces to complete the design of the multi-family homes that South Street is known for. While we’re both exceptional at what we do, I’m convinced that it’s this common environmentally conscious perspective that has strengthened the bond of this union. I’ve found that when companies care passionately about the environment as I do, we share a streamlined communication. Being on the same page with these ideas often lead to anticipating the needs of the other party and thus a better professional relationship.

Don’t be tied to what you already know you do well; accept the challenge of possibly failing. As with most things in life, pressure can produce greatness. I’m not saying you need to be stressed but rather, I’m saying that you should take on projects that genuinely push you rather than the ones you know you can already do expertly. Since I started working with Carnival Cruise Lines the original project has broadened to encompass Seating, Dining, Outdoor, and Décor. We’ve even moved into designing pieces for some of the island destinations they frequent. Each time that I’ve had to expand my designs has led to growth. Even when you’re very successful, it’s important to embrace risk and being uncomfortable. Carnival Cruise Line carries millions of passengers every year, departing from every coast in the U.S., as well as Canada, Puerto Rico and Barbados. That’s an enormous amount of new people every year who are exposed to EcoChic Lifestyles because I was willing to customize and create for environments I’d never considered. I have learned that design is essentially problem-solving, and a successful designer needs to be creative, innovative, and quick to develop solutions. Think outside of the box and find ways to show your versatility. Problems arise no matter how far in advance you plan. Stay on top of things and be prepared for a few issues.

Finally, relationships are all about expectations and whether or not they are met. While accepting projects and create designs for them, you’ll do well to always be aware of the budget and schedule. You want to be clear and honest with your clients, but also strategic. The key is to under promise and over deliver. Strive to always exceed expectations and your clients will never be disappointed.

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