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Emily Esposito | California | Be Dedicated!!

My journey is a bit of a crazy one. I was born and raised in Southern California. I originally went to college for Marketing and spent several years working in radio for Clear Channel Radio. I had started out in sales then moved to the assistant promotions director and then eventually became the Promotion Director and Digital Content Manager for my market in Lancaster, California. Clear Channel went through some big changes, which meant restructuring and layoffs. I went back to school at night taking interior design classes because it sounded like a career that might be up my alley if I was ever to be laid off. As a kid I loved architecture, but did not pursue it as a career and interior design was closely enough related that I really enjoyed it. I eventually did get laid off so I continued to push forward with my new degree in interior design. I was blessed to intern for Sarah Barnard a LEED AP and historic preservation designer in Los Angeles. Her guided training led me into a position with Celebrity Designer Steven Cordrey also based in Los Angeles. Under both of these amazing designers I worked on commercial, hospitality, high-end residential and historic preservation projects. Under Steven Cordrey I learned about furniture design, running a designer showroom and being a project manager. Eventually my husband and I relocated to Lake Tahoe, California where I worked for a lighting showroom, then I became the designer for an architectural firm and then a builder. Under each of these companies I learned many valuable lessons and many different ways to look at design problems and how to come up with a solution. Coming up with solutions often times requires more professionals to walk through the problem and to discover the best possible solution. I always look to those that are the professionals in their field to help me to accomplish the overall goal so my client gets what they want in the end. I remember in the midst of my first layoff looking at my mother-in-law in frustration because I felt like a jack of all trades and a master of nothing. Here I had a marketing, advertising, graphics, home staging and an interior design background and so many potential employers I had applied to seemed to be repelled by my vast background. She looked at me and said "someday all of your skills, education and training will come together and will make sense." Well she was right. I have used all my backgrounds to not only improve my value with other employers, but I use them everyday running my own company.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?

The spark that initiated me branching out on my own was another layoff. This time from my last employer that was a builder in Truckee. I had thought maybe in a few more years I will be ready to jump out on my own and instead I faced the reality of working for someone else or starting my own company much sooner. I had several clients including several spec homes that I was working on for the builder so going out on my own seemed like the best move to ensure those clients were properly taken care of and to finally get me to spread my wings and head down a path I always thought about taking. I started my own full-service interior design firm January of 2018 and still based in Truckee, California. I work primarily on high-end residential full-time and second homes.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

The first initial hurdles was deciding what the best business type would be for my company and all the legal and tax ins and outs. I got legal advice and spoke with my accountant before pursuing the path I felt was best for me and my company. From there I knew I needed to brand my business and strategically place ads where my clientele would see me. Word of mouth and recommendations are the best ways to earn business for my line of work, but I am still hoping that the ground work I laid in print and event marketing will be beneficial in the long run. I jumped into social media like most people do as well as creating a profile on Houzz and began submitting my work to HGTV through their professionals network. I am still struggling with social media but working on it. I entered one of my recently completed projects into several contests and so far have won 3 of the 4 contests. At the beginning of the year I won the Interior Design award by Tahoe Quarterly Magazine and then this summer I won Best Multiple Residential Project of the Year and Best Custom Furnishings/Product Design of the Year award from ASID CA/NV (American Society of Interior Designers Central California & Nevada Chapter) and LVDC (Las Vegas Design Center). I am currently a nominee for Residential Project of the Year by CATT (Contractor's Association of Truckee Tahoe) This past August through September I was one of 14 designers in the US that was nominated as a finalist in the HGTV Faces of Design contest in the Countryside Escapes category. The contest was held on their website for 5 weeks. I did not win but the exposure and being included in a national contest with so many talented designers and architects was a such an honor. I know that any positive exposure that I can gain will help me not only to grow my company, but will also help to grow me personally. I am still learning as I grow and having to make adjustments as needed since I am still in my first year, but if you never learn from both positive and negative experiences then you will never move forward and achieve your goals. Another hurdle that I think most entrepreneurs run into is self doubt and negative thinking. I have to catch myself and turn my thoughts around so I do not sabotage myself. Sometimes we are our worst enemy and can do more harm than anyone else can. I read a lot of inspirational quotes and have gotten involved in a few woman entrepreneur groups. I am currently taking Julie Solomon's Influencer Academy and a member of Boss Babe to help me further with my business and personal growth. I have also joined a local networking group called BNI-Business Network International.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

A book that I am currently reading is Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis she is such an engaging and relate-able author and the book is aimed at female entrepreneurs. Some books that I recommend are Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by Harv Eker. I have several other books on my list to read and one that I know will be a great read is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Grant Cardone and Jen Sincero also have books on my to read list. Reading is power and you never know what will spark an idea or help you improve your business.

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 actually was heavily encouraged by my husband, family and close friends to go on my own. They all believed I could do it and would love the freedom it could provide for me. I had to talk myself into and not let into fear of the unknowns.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

At the moment the most influential factor in the success of my business is not giving up even though I wanted to several times. I had to pause take a deep breath and look for another path to take. Networking and being around positive like minded people has been a huge factor in keeping me on the right path.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I wish I had known when the busy and slow times were going to be because working for someone never seemed to have a season of slowing down. I am at a slower time at the moment so I am looking for new ways to create business like taking on small odd jobs or decorating for the holidays.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

The advice I would give to any young entrepreneur is to find a mentor. Someone that is way beyond you and someone that motivates you to be better. You should want to be like that person and then when you get to their level find another person that can take you higher than that. Network in your community and beyond. Think big not small. Give yourself the room to grow and accomplish big goals. It is a great idea to have goals that are different sizes with different time lines attached. Always write down your goals and post them so you can see them every day. Have a time line of when you want to accomplish each of your goals by, whether that is within one year, 5 years, 10 or 20 years. Keep a notepad with you to write ideas down, things that inspire you, motivate you, you never know when something could be helpful and you wish you had a way to write it down at that moment. Lastly, being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It is not a get rich quick process and requires many hard worked hours to get to where you want to go. Putting in all the time and effort eventually pays off and means accomplishing your goals. There will be people that will not understand and will not support you that is when you adjust those that you allow to influence your life. Think positive, be positive, work hard and be dedicated to yourself and your dreams because no one else will.

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