It was nearly a decade ago in Las Vegas when I first met Kate FitzGerald-Wilks. She was a newer designer, just starting out, and in town to attend the first Design Camp Live event at Las Vegas Market. She was the winner of the Lamps Plus sponsored raffle to attend the event – without which, she wouldn’t have been able to afford to go. She hoped to learn from seasoned interior design professionals their tips and tricks to get her budding business off the ground. Fast forward 9 years and now she is the one offering the tips and tricks. We ran into one another at High Point Market and she caught me up about the current state of her booming business. Click play on the video below to watch our conversation to learn how Timeless by Kate FitzGerald-Wilks developed into the successful firm it is today:
10 Interior design business takeaways from Timeless by Kate FitzGerald-Wilks
- Develop a client avatar – her’s is a busy, professional woman who wants to be hands off in the design process. These clients are already used to the luxury of outsourcing daily tasks like housekeeping, dog walking, etc. A designer is just one more.
- She charges hourly like a law office and she’s very up front about it. ‘The more the client trusts you, the less reiterative conversations you have to have, the less we charge.’
- Everyone in her office is also charged out at the same rate for consistency and simplicity.
- Happiness begets more happiness. Kate is incredibly upbeat and that attitude is incredibly contagious. “You don’t get more business unless people are happy,” she says.
- Showhouses were a key to early success in design. It was a fast-track to press.
- There is enough work to go around – the more you can connect and network with your design community the better.
- Branding yourself early on is very important. You don’t want to look like every other designer.
- Photograph everything in the most beautiful way possible. Don’t skimp. Your portfolio has to be current and impressive. That’s your best sales tool.
- Outsource early – you have to roll with the punches and take chances but it can be easy to spread yourself too thin. Having support staff, especially someone on the ground with you will be tremendously helpful. “You shouldn’t be the one running to Lowe’s for light bulbs.” she says.
- Every Monday, their office is closed to their clients. That’s the day for her office-wide “crawl” where her and her staff comb through all of their notes and get organized.
More about Kate Fitzgerald-Wilks
Kate FitzGerald-Wilks has a lifelong passion for textiles, obtaining her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. Her journey began with managing a women’s boutique, where she found joy in traveling to New York City to curate clothing collections and design captivating window displays. Shifting gears, Kate worked for the U.S. Commerce Department’s Textile Office and as an international trade officer, which broadened her perspective on diverse world cultures.
After leaving Washington, she ventured into entrepreneurship as an antique dealer, honing her merchandising and design skills further. In 2001, Kate founded Timeless Design, and in 2004, she relocated it to Landenberg, Pennsylvania. Through her diverse experiences, she has gained profound insights into crafting unique and comfortable spaces that reflect her clients’ lifestyles, seamlessly blending her expertise in textiles and design to enhance their busy lives.