Over the last couple of months I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with work. Decisions that used to come to me naturally, were now things I agonized over. I was feeling a little lost, not confident in my abilities as a designer and as a result not feeling efficient at my job. I would be having a consultation with a client, thinking to myself, “When should I tell them that I’m not really good at this anymore and I’m thinking to take up tap dancing.” I wasn’t sure why there was this shift for me, maybe it was that I was taking on too many jobs so I wasn’t able to be as creative as I wanted to be with each one. Maybe it was the pressure to “preform” on social media & “get myself out there” which I was struggling with. I’m not a very loud person at all. I think before I speak and when I do finally speak, I don’t use any extra words. I literally only use the amount of words needed and nothing more. So putting myself out there in this fun and unfiltered way felt very uncomfortable. Interior design on Instagram is also hard to live up to. Every space looks really pretty & styled & bright which in reality takes so much time, money & effort. I could create five amazing spaces that when photographed didn’t look right because there wasn’t heavy streams of natural light coming through the windows. Most of my clients don’t live on hilltops (hashtag goals) and filtered interior spaces cheapen the look of the room. So I wasn’t having an easy time showcasing my work on Instagram. For a while I was done with social media and ready to get rid of it all – I was going to live my life free of any social media pressures. Of course, secretly I was scrolling through Instagram to make sure I didn’t miss out on any of my friends updating their lives, looking like a koala bear. My husband and I were hanging out one night, I was going on about how I’m above it all & I’m the only one truly being present (those words “truly being present” is starting to sound so pretentious these days, but my thoughts on that for another post) and he looked at me and said “you’re really above it all or do you just want more likes?” How dare he suggest I don’t have 100% pure intentions while I cleanse myself of social media. I denied it and called him a bunch of profanities but then I got tired and admitted my deep secret to this man I lived with.
I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine, telling her I’ve failed at life and if she was a real friend she would hand me a knife, and she told me I’m having some growing pains & it’s time to change things up – time for a new name. “Designs by Chana is cute, but you need something stronger. It’s easier to refer a friend to CW Design than to Designs by Chana and that’s the goal right?” Which got me thinking, she’s right. Designs by Chana is great until you start going to show rooms or trade shows and stand there uncomfortably while people try to pronounce the second half of your business name, “you gotta just get right in there with the chhh..” Finding something that was catchy & easy would help me feel more confident among new clients and companies & it would also give me more staying power, it’s something that will last. So once I turned the negative, narcissistic head space into a productive way to grow and become more of who I wanted to be, things started to fall into place again. Having said that, it was really hard for me to do because typically I LOVE the negative, narcissistic head space. (Btw I’m keeping my friend anonymous because I think I already gave her enough credit, letting you all know this whole very personal, introspective change came from her..)
Right now, I’m working on a few different jobs that I love and I’m also preparing for the future, trying to execute new ways to run my business that feels efficient and creative. This feels like a good opportunity to look back on the past 6 years & talk about some really good choices and of course some really not good choices;
Let’s start with a really not good choice,
This was one of my first jobs, I was designing a bedroom that needed to transition into a more mature space and double up as a guest room. The design of the room was simple, layered and playful. The focal point of the room was this art-deco inspired black and white wallpaper. This job was a lower budget job, so that meant two things- the handyman/ installation guy (let’s call him Joe) wasn’t as experienced as I would of liked him to be and because of the lower budget the wallpaper was self adhesive which seemed responsible at the time. It started off looking good & then Joe started having trouble applying it smoothly. We started to see a lot of air bubbles form, so first we tried flattening them out which led to a lot of creases in the wallpaper, so then we tried taking off the wallpaper and reapplying it. The more we tried the worse it got, before we knew it, the wallpaper started to look like one big ball of garbage – and we had a whole wall to cover. There I was standing with a huge ball of crumbled wallpaper that was sticking to everything because it was self adhesive so when I tried kicking it around out of frustration, I just ended up limping out of the room with a ball of wallpaper stuck to my shoe. The really exciting part was the client being there to witness me in that moment, made it that much more memorable. In the end, I ran out to get a really big canvas and laid the remaining wallpaper onto the canvas & we used that for a big art piece to anchor the room. It looked beautiful, client was happy & I was relieved to say the least. I learnt a lot from that experience, I learnt that you always need a back up plan- even if it’s not as good as the original- have other options in place. I also learnt that self adhesive wallpaper sucks & wallpaper needs to be applied by a professional while you sit back like a snob pointing your finger, saying “there shall be no air bubbles.”
One of my really good choices,
This was a repeat job for a client, so that made the process much easier. I knew what she liked, I knew what her budget was and she was open and eager to my ideas which is SO important in creating a good space. The goal was to create a guestroom that felt cozy and welcoming. The room had a lot of neutrals with a ton of textures to keep things interesting. Metallic bed, linen curtains, wood side table, pottery pieces used as accessories & a lot of greenery. This client of mine also happened to be amazing at scouring Craig’s list or eBay for quality pieces at a better price. I’m a big fan of mixing high & low and usually stayed quite reserved when buying pieces for this client; but with this room I found a statement piece (the bed) that was a splurge. Generally I don’t push clients to spend unless they’re comfortable with it but this time I nudged a little, a lot, until she agreed – and we were both thrilled with the end result. The whole room was elevated because of that bed, from the rug to the drapes to the table lamp. Everything about that room felt beautiful, cozy and peaceful. This job was also one of my better ones because I felt really confident which helped me come into my own, style wise. The decisions for the room felt true to the clients’ needs and felt true to who I was and the design elements that inspire me. I believe every designer has an element they bring to their work – a good designer is always able to accommodate many different styles – but a designer always brings a certain amount of themselves to a job. This job really honed in on what I bring to my jobs, which taught me a lot.
There are so many other examples that have challenged me, taught me, pushed me and inspired me. I’ve loved jobs, I’ve dreaded jobs, I’ve succeed with many & could have done better with probably all of them. I am so happy and lucky to be doing this and I am excited to be CW_Design on Instagram – let’s see what happens next.
Right now the most dominant thought going through my mind is what you’re all thinking. “Why did she need to write a whole post about feeling insecure.. a quick announcement about the new logo would have been sufficient.” Some of you might not have even finished it, which is OK, I spoke my truth and that’s all that matters. For the record, my therapist says eventually I will start believing that.
I want to give a shout out to the graphic designer who helped with my new logo- @chanabcohen- so talented and so good at what she does!