Home & Design / 18.02.15 / BY Victoria Honey

DESIGN INDUSTRY INSIDER: Surviving with the Creatives

If you are thinking a job in the design industry might be for you, here are a few tips to get by in the creative world.

Coming from a corporate background, I thought the creative world might be a little easier to navigate in terms of personalities. Wrong! Sometimes I think going back to having two male bosses with my harbour view would be much easier than dealing with creatives, but then I remember how much I hated sitting behind a desk all day, staring at a computer screen. Since taking the jump I have learned that networking is far more important than in corporate as most jobs are word of mouth and then there is dealing with and finding suppliers. I have witnessed cattiness that that rivals a girls high school and watched that type of personality fail. Sure, it’s a beautiful industry with lots of great people and nice things to look at so here I will give you my top 3 tips on staying alive in an increasingly more competitive industry.

1. Get connected

I cannot recommend this tip highly enough! Chat to your suppliers, maintain relationships and go along to as many industry events as possible. If you are studying or attending workshops make sure you stay in touch with others in your class. You never know where they will end up and how that will help you in the future. This is how I got one of my jobs and then paid it forward to someone else I met through studying. Once you have developed relationships with industry suppliers you will always hear of various jobs going or get tips for great upholsterers, curtain makers etc. My curtain workroom recently closed and I asked around for some recommendations receiving a few great ones that I now use. It saved me time researching and having a disaster of a curtain job. The same would apply for upholsterers, fabric houses, joiners, painters…the list could go on forever. Being connected will make sure you always have work and that you are using the best in the business to achieve the results your clients require.

2. Always, always be nice

My fathers favourite quote in life, “its nice to be nice”. I’m not saying this is always easy as you will encounter some people who you find it really difficult to be nice to. Unfortunately, that is a reality of the industry. There will always be someone who thinks they are above you. Rise above it and kill them with kindness. Some showrooms are notorious for having unhelpful staff unless you are one of the top designers in the city. Everyone has encountered this treatment and in return, I do not even step foot in those places. There are plenty of other suppliers who are great to deal with and I prefer to give my business to those that deserve it. Every time you enter a showroom or supplier you should identify yourself. Unless you frequent this particular place once a week and have a very good relationship with them, chances are they won’t remember who you are. It is also just polite and good manners. You will find you will get much better service, they will start to remember you over time and you will be invited to launches which is a great opportunity to network and see the latest and greatest before other designers. In addition to being nice, don’t get involved in gossip. Bad mouthing another designers work is so disrespectful.

3. Say yes & work the rest out later

We have all done it and those that haven’t shouldn’t be working. No matter how daunting this seems, just say yes. If you say no then why are you in this industry? What is the point? I have a favourite quote “be all in or get all out” and I try to live by this as much as possible. Once you have said yes to a job, call on your suppliers and peers. This is one of the reasons I say to ‘get connected’. If you feel like you can’t take on the job alone, ask another designer you know and trust to come on board with you. Two heads are always better than one and who knows, it might blossom into a fantastic partnership. Create a plant, stick to it as much as possible, document all of your work and save emails. Trust me, it will save you! I have done all of the above and gotten through it. It’s tough work but so rewarding and will often result in other work which is exactly what you need to build your profile.

Take these tips on board, use them and it will make your life that much easier. Each industry has their own issues so don’t be put off by creative as 90% of the time it is a fun and rewarding job. Most of the people you come across are going to want to help you and enjoy doing so as it is a very collaborative industry with lots of moving parts. I wish someone had told me to network and connect with people in the beginning, that is something I have had to work out for myself. Be excited to embark on a new journey as you will never, ever look back. Creative allows you to learn something new every. single. day.


Author / Victoria Honey