podcast | Sep 13, 2023 |
How a tough client prompted Courtney McLeod to take control of her process

Balancing creativity with a process-oriented approach has always been a cornerstone of Courtney McLeod’s design business—that’s why she named her firm Right Meets Left Interior Design, nodding to the right brain’s tendency toward innovation and the left brain’s leaning toward logic and analytics.

In practice, finding that balance has not always been so simple. The early days of McLeod’s design career brought their fair share of challenges, but none were quite as devastating as the early client who took charge so heavily over the design process that the final project was a disaster. In the wake of what felt like a failure, McLeod soon found a way forward—one that involved introducing new trust-building exercises to clients early on, which ultimately unlocked greater creative freedom. “There needs to be a bit of faith in the process, and if they don’t like the process, then we’re probably not the right firm for them. It took a long time to get there because it takes a lot of confidence to say that,” McLeod tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of the Trade Tales podcast. “I realized one day that I’m the one driving this bus.”

On this episode of Trade Tales, McLeod shares how her first showhouse experience provided her business with an unexpected lifeline, why she always asks clients to define what a successful project means to them, and how she’s finding purpose in creating opportunities for the industry’s underrepresented groups.

Crucial insight: When introducing clients to your firm’s design process, it helps to do so early and often. McLeod’s five-phase project process is communicated to clients on the very first phone call—and again at the first site visit, as well as in the welcome package when they officially sign on. “We’re establishing all the way through pre-project that this is what they can expect, so by the end of phase one, they’re like, ‘Wow, they really thought this through not only creatively, but practically,’” says McLeod. “That gives them a lot of confidence to take the leap and really jump into design.”

Key quote: “When you undervalue yourself enough times, it generates such frustration. I reached that moment when I said to myself, ‘I’m going to lose the love I have for doing this, and I don’t want to lose my joy. I don’t want to let something like this stop me from pursuing my dream.’ I realized that I need to make this work for myself—and it’s a hard lesson.”

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode was sponsored by High Point Market and Universal Furniture.

Homepage image: Courtney McLeod | Courtesy of Courtney McLeod

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