Tell us about your journey! inspire someone.
My name is Kate Marker and I own a residential interior design firm in Barrington, IL. I am married with two young girls and I love what I do. I have been fortunate to have my work featured in Luxe Home Magazine, architecturaldigest.com, One King’s Lane, and dominomag.com. I founded my business out of my home in 2007 and have grown my business to now have a showroom and 6 employees, both full and part time. I was originally a Fine Arts major but upon seeing the work of college friends in the Interior Design program, my interest was piqued and I transferred to a specialized design school in downtown Chicago to complete my Bachelor’s Degree.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I worked in commercial design and then a more sales-focused side of design for larger firms in Chicago. I then moved to the suburbs with my husband and started freelancing. Realizing clients followed me from the larger firm and referred their friends gave me a network of clientele early on. I enjoyed the flexibility and ownership of the projects.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
I became a new mother in 2007 when I launched my business out of my home. It was challenging but rewarding to have the scope of projects became increasingly larger and juggle my home life as well. The economy was also becoming increasingly unstable at this time so that was concerning but clients and referrals remained consistent so I was very fortunate in these hard circumstances that affected so many.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I definitely met some apprehension from friends when I planned to move from my home into an office/showroom in 2012. The economy was just recovering and I was optimistic about the future and my growing clientele. Once we opened, we have never looked back and my friends are very supportive. I’m ever grateful to my husband and parents for their unconditional support.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Confidence! Delivering my ideas is the key to my success so I need to sell the client on why designs work for them and how they were customized for their taste. Clients respond best to strong communication skills and confidence in the design direction.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Be willing to delegate the responsibilities that are not in your skillset.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Don’t assume that everyone else has the same skillset as you - be true to yourself that you can bring something unique to the table. Also, some business education or a strong sense of business acumen is crucial in running a business, no matter how talented you are.