|Photo by Tori Aston from Modenus BlogTourKBIS 2016|
It was 2011 and I was riding high on a phenomenal full house reno that had recently finished to huge success. I was one of the lucky ones. I had come through the 2008 market crash without my business following suit. I had clients who were either smart enough or wealthy enough that the market didn't effect our projects, and after a decade in business I was really starting to find my stride.
And then it happened. For the first time ever in a decade of business. 3 dishonest clients in a row stiffed me - a polite term for the financial and emotional trauma of what went on - to the tune of more than 10K. It wasn't the dollars of it, it was the absolute shock. It felt personal. I felt like someone had scraped out my insides and left me hollow. I was a house of cards just waiting to be blown over by a gentle gust of wind.
Well, the gentle gust of wind came more like a tornado in the form of two serious car accidents 6 months apart, right on the heels of my business betrayals. Suddenly I found myself in physiotherapy 5 days a week. For two years. It was a full time job. My whole world as a business owner came to a complete stop, and oddly, the business pain was almost as intense as the physical pain.
It was during my season of physical recovery that I launched The Curated House and started to look for a design sisterhood. The truth is, the business of interior design can be very isolating. Yes, we interact with wonderful suppliers and clients, but often we lack a trusted peer group with which to share our highs and lows - our best practices and horror stories - especially when we own our own businesses. And as I've learned, it's shared experiences that make us stronger.
It took some time for me to find the courage to start sharing my story in small doses. It was like testing the waters to see if they were too cold to go deeper. No one likes to go from designing and building/renovating 3-4 million dollar homes to landing flat on her badonkadonk. But there I was, and I needed a hand up.
Over time it got easier to share - bit by bit - and I found there were more kindred spirits out there than I'd expected. Turns out, I wasn't the only one. I kept whispering to myself "It's not just me" in amazement as I heard the stories of others. Many amazing designers, in fact, had been beaten and bruised along the way, and worst of all, left feeling like somehow it was their fault. Funny how a business that can appear so glamorous from the outside can be painfully otherwise behind the scenes.
My first real design sister - the kind who feels like family and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt would do anything to support my success - was Lisa Canning. This girl knows how to love hard, and she was God's hand reaching out to help me up off my ass when she came into my life in 2013. And because of my experience with Lisa, I knew that sisterhood was indeed possible.
Enter Veronika Miller and BlogTourKBIS 2016. Before even meeting her in person, she shared some of her hard-won wisdom with me. She said, "Here's the thing. I spent years being a woman and trying to 'handle it' or 'fight through it.' It's when I started to ask for help and allow others to see my weakness that the knot unraveled. It's actually what made me strong."
It was Veronika's vulnerability with me that gave me the courage to more than dip my toe in the waters when I arrived at BlogTourKBIS. And guess what I found? The waters were warm. I met 24 other designers ready to share not only in an experience together, but also to share the real stuff of what it takes to run a design business. The good, the bad and the ugly. Our five days together were another step in redeeming my design story. Five days of fun and wicked blisters and way too many selfies. Five days of amazing food and design inspiration and sharing our real selves with each other. I hate clichés, but this trip was one I'll never forget.
|All 25 of us slathered in mud masks as we experienced Mr. Steam's incredible steam therapy together|
I share all of this with you because I've learned over the years that a story that remains untold helps no one. I share this with you because I know that some of you out there are feeling like you've been knocked on your ass in business and you need a hand up. Well, I'm here to tell you you're not alone. And I hope you'll find the courage to tell the real story of who you are and what you've experienced with your whole heart. Share your story with someone you can trust so that you can experience the grace and kindness and hope that is waiting for you in the hand of someone ready to help you get back up again.
Let me clarify: Sisterhood does not require crisis. Sisterhood can be formed over glasses of champagne and laughter and mud masks and Chinese-Mexican fusion. But sisterhood (and brotherhood...real community) is what you'll need when the hard stuff hits. And sista, it hits. That's why I'm grateful to say that my design sisterhood got a whole lot bigger thanks to Veronika Miller, Modenus and BlogTourKBIS 2016.
Stay tuned for my favourite trends and highlights from KBIS 2016! I'll be sharing lots of design goodies with you in the weeks to come. But somehow this just had to come first.