My Interview with my Interior Decorating Biz Coach, Alycia

I was blessed as I was first pursuing building a business as an Interior Decorator that I stumbled upon Alycia Wicker. While I felt I had God-Given Talent, I didn’t have a clue how to actually run a design business. The “biz” part doesn’t even interest me much, I just want to Decorate, but having clients is kind of important! I adore this chick – she’s not your average hoity-toity type, she loves wine, loves pink, and was there to help guide me through getting started as an entrepreneur. She pushes me when I don’t want to leave my comfort zone, and recently she worked up this interview for me so that I could share it here on my blog.

An Interview with Crystal Ortiz of Bluestone Decorating

Why did you start your own interior design business?

Basically, no one in our local Harrisonburg/Rockingham County area is doing what I’m doing. There’s no one to go work for, intern for a few years, and learn the ropes of the game. I feel passionate about decorating spaces that are ready to be lived in, for local peeps like myself, and in order to do that I had to bring this service to my neighbors. Locally, there is a fantastic kitchen place, a lighting store, carpet stores, paint stores, furniture stores, etc. but no one to really focus on everyday living or whole-house decorating. Someone to help you find just the right sofa to go with that new flooring you just had installed.

What is the best part of being an interior designer?

My clients. I adore them. We may start out as strangers, referred by someone else or via a website search, but my clients quickly become my friends. I can usually tell at our first meeting if we’re going to be a good fit or not.

I also love being completely hands-on. While I’ll refer a painter for a perfect job, nothing will stop me from picking up a paintbrush, a drill, or whatever tool is necessary.

What’s your favorite type of project to work on?

Dining Room by Crystal Ortiz, Bluestone Decorating
A dining room I’m currently working on – just a sneak peek. Still finishing up the details.

I love Dining Rooms more than any other room of the house. Maybe because to me, that’s the heart of where a family sits down and spends time together without a million distractions. My own family has amazing conversations around the dinner table. But bedrooms would be a close second. That is the spot in our homes that we claim as “our own” and I love helping clients transform their bedroom into a relaxing oasis that allows them to shut out the world.

What’s it like to work with you?

I feel I’m pretty easy-going and easy to get along with. I have a quick wit and sense of humor. I don’t take myself too seriously.

I try to guide my clients to choices that work well, and give them some boundaries for making their own decisions, but in the end the interior design project is all about my client, not me. My style leans toward traditional/french country/cottage/farmhouse but not primitive, and rarely will I take on a very contemporary project, so clients know before they hire me whether the style I tend to use will work with their taste.

What’s your design process look like?

It always starts with a phone interview. I like to spend about 15 minutes or so chatting about the reason someone decided to call me. If I feel that it’s a project I can help them with, we schedule a Consultation. Some clients only want that much – some advice, an opinion, etc.

Most of the time, I work on what we call a ReDesign project, which is where I take mostly a client’s existing furnishings and accessories and rework them within the home. I suggest specific paint colors (when a client wants to paint the room), and bring in the samples to get the client to approve of them before it’s painted. I measure EVERYTHING and can advise on rugs, additional furnishings, lamps, and accessories, then give the client that information so she/he can shop on her own and pick out exactly what they want within their budget. Once everything is painted, or any other work that needed done is handled, and the client has done any shopping, I come back and spend an entire day (sometimes more depending on how much I’m hired for) perfecting the room from every angle. Clients who want a big reveal get one, others prefer to be involved in every detail. I work to my client’s comfort level.

Occasionally I have a client who wants a Blank Slate Interior Decorating project done. This is a longer process, but it’s still similar to what I do with a ReDesign client. The client who wants to be involved is allowed to do so, no problem, but most of the time it’s just approving a concept and a budget and letting me have free reign to create a custom space just for them.

Describe your favorite client.

The best ladies I’ve worked with have been empty nesters, usually they’ve put off getting to decorate their home “just so” because of raising a family. It’s finally time to create the space they’ve always wanted. We can chat about grown kids, visiting a vineyard, or where to shop for cool stuff. They are relaxed around me and I’m totally at ease with them as well, and they have great taste but aren’t 100% sure what to do with it.

What is the worst part about being an interior designer?

All of the business stuff. I love to decorate, and I’m a total extrovert so I love meeting new people, but I hate having to discuss how much time things really take and then billing for it. I’ve recently changed over to flat fee services because I dislike watching the clock when I’m with a client. This allows clients to also know upfront exactly what hiring me will cost them, there are no surprises later.

That's me, sanding away at some kitchen cabinets. Sometimes picking up a tool myself is the best way to get the job done.
That’s me, sanding away at some kitchen cabinets. Sometimes picking up a tool myself is the best way to get the job done.

How do you thank your design clients?

It depends on the client and what they’ve hired me to do. It could be something as simple as a bottle of wine from a local vineyard. I was in Williamsburg visiting my daughter a couple weekends ago and stopped in Christmas Mouse and purchased some wine-themed ornaments for a current client, to go with a collection she has. For someone else it may be a bouquet of flowers. It’s always thoughtful and customized.

Pick two celebrities to be your parents, who are they?

Oh, Lord, I don’t pay much attention to “celebrities”. I’d have to pick Todd Chrisley to be my dad, because I’ve caught his show a couple times and I totally crack up. And I would say Joanna Gaines as my mom, just because she’s so laid back and into so many things that I love, who better to hang out and learn from?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?

That I am not the Designer/Decorator for EVERYONE. I can’t be everything to everybody, and there is someone out there that can do what they want when I don’t feel comfortable taking on the job. To only work with clients that I feel could be my BFF, and when I’m writing my blogs, to speak directly to that client BFF.

What big goal do you have set for this year with your design business?

I’ve been doing this two years now, and it tends to be “feast or famine” with client work. My goal is to have a more consistent work flow and always be busy. I’m working to let people know that I’m here to help them.

Tangled Elf (1)And I want to pick up more jobs doing Christmas Decorations this year. I’m a total Christmas freak. I love how everything can feel so festive! I’m already plotting my own house this year. I overdo it at home, it has taken me as long as six weeks in the past to complete my own house. Everything down to the bathrooms gets decorated!

What do you want people to say about your design business to their friends?

That they were thrilled with the results. That they liked me, respected my opinions, and trusted me to do a great job. That we will still stay in contact long after the project is done. And of course, that their friend should consider hiring me. 🙂

Now it’s Your Turn to Interview Me

After you’ve spent some time looking around my website, you’ll know whether the decorating work I do fits your taste or style. Call me today at 271-2686 to Interview me, chat about your design project, and decide if you’re my next client BFF.

2 comments on “An Interview with Crystal Ortiz of Bluestone Decorating”

    • Thank you Jen! It was fun to answer, and some of the questions really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I’m glad to hear it does give you more insight into my personality and that it will help someone decide if they are interested in being that client BFF.

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