Today, I’m so excited to introduce, the second designer feature, Gina Rachelle from Gina Rachelle Design. She’s an entrepreneur and interior designer in San Francisco, Ca.
She went to school and worked in fitness management for fifteen years, before rekindling her love of DIY and design, and eventually starting her own firm in 2012.
Read on to learn about her design process, her advice to aspiring designers, and whether she thinks design school is necessary.
1. How did you get into interior design? Did you always know you wanted to be an interior designer?
I made my way into interior design through passion and curiosity while actually developing a career in a completely different field. I studied Kinesiology and Sport Management throughout undergrad and graduate school. I was a competitive athlete growing up so the human body – how it moves, how to heals, how it energizes us – intrigued me.
Her aha moment
I was so focused on my studies and athletics that I didn’t reflect and recognize that my whole childhood was full of creativity! I can recall my mother having beautiful organizational skills and my father always building and fixing things. Together, they would spend the weekends playing with new furniture layouts, bringing something new into our home or starting a DIY project.
Throughout my years devoted to fitness and health, design was my creative outlet. My hobbies of reading about Frank Llyod Wright and Charles and Ray Eames, watching House of Style, Trading Spaces, HGTV, collecting Domino and House Beautiful magazines and taking online courses with Justina Blakeney were just that, hobbies.
I was always strategizing, sketching, organizing, researching, and changing things up in my own home as well friends’ spaces. As I started to work with more and more friends, my work organically evolved into a business. Gina Rachelle Design took shape in a 650 square foot one bedroom apartment in the Presidio in 2012 and before I knew it, it was gently turning me into an entrepreneur and shifting my story.
2. What’s your favorite aspect of design? And why?
I have this love-hate relationship with the design development portion of interior design. I often have a vision of how I want a space to come together. I can see it perfectly through my eyes. However, when I begin to source and start to pull together a digital look, I often ride the wave of excitement when I find an amazing piece to the next wave of frustration when I have missing pieces to the design puzzle.
It’s this constant up and down of highs and roadblocks. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenging moments and question your design. However, I have learned that it is often the third, fourth, or fifth iteration of a room where EVERYTHING comes together and there is pure joy. All of sudden you’re filled with this confidence and satisfaction and you’re reminded that this is why you do what you do. It’s THAT part of design that I love.
3. How do you go about designing a room? Does it start with a mood board, a piece of furniture?
Her design formula
I have developed a system that Gina Rachelle Design tries to stick to: – Creative Brief + Quote – Initial Schematic Design – Design Development – Install + Styling Day I’ve created this outline so that my team and I can be as consistent and efficient as possible.
The Initial Schematic Design phase always starts with a questionnaire I have developed to get to know the client better, learn how they want to use their space and discover if there are likes, dislikes, pieces of furniture they want to keep and more. There may be furnishings that inspire the room or even vintage and sentimental items that make their way in as accents – every client, space and project is different.
Following the questionnaire, my client and I start using Pinterest together. As we pin, clients are often discovering their style but pins can often be all over the place.That’s where I create an Inspiration Board that helps to narrow down these pins and create a themed look. Once we settle on the style, energy, and function of a space we begin the design development phase. This is where floor plans start to take shape, sourcing begins and spec and budget sheets are developed.
4. Do you believe one needs schooling in order to pursue design as a career?
I definitely don’t think it is necessary to go to design school to pursue design as a career. I’m living proof. For me, design is instinctual, it gets me jazzed, it keeps me curious. It should do the same for you too. With all of those elements you have to take the risk of executing and find out if you enjoyed the process.
At the same time, constant education in design and business should always be a priority. I always discover that the more I learn, the less I know. This then drives me to uncover and go after bigger goals and dreams. I often research ways to make my business more efficient and in turn more successful. I use apps and software tools to keep projects organized (Asana, Evernote, Dropbox, Xero).
I hire out professionals to assist me with tasks that I don’t excel at or don’t have the time for such as a bookkeeper and executive assistant to manage my schedule, email and events. I also take time to learn programs and hone skills that are going to up my game like Google SketchUp, photography, and spending time with contractors to truly understand the physical process of construction management.
5. What would you recommend to those that want to pursue interior design as a career?
Immerse yourself in it. Watch the home shows, read design magazines and blogs, attend creative conferences, and set up informational meetings with other designers and business mentors. The more you are in it, the more it becomes your reality.
Think about how you want to pursue design. Do you want to work for a creative company, a design firm or start your own business? Write down the steps that you need to take to make this happen. Getting all of those questions out of your head and writing out notes to make it happen will give you the momentum to take the next step, and then the next, and then the next.
Finally, start designing. Style your home and document it. Volunteer your time designing spaces for your family and friends so you can learn the ins and outs of a consultation, your creative process and your design style. You’ll also start to build your portfolio with every room you complete. As you build your confidence, you’ll know when you are ready to apply for that design job or start charging clients and launch your business.
Gina, thank you so much for sharing your story and inspiring us!
If you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out Christina’s as well.
Stay tuned for an upcoming designer feature next month!