trade tales | Dec 22, 2023 |
How do you measure a successful year?

With 2023 coming to a close, we asked 12 designers—Bethany Adams, Helen Bergin, Joni Burden, Juliette Calaf, Lindsie Davis, Nikki Klugh, Kevie Murphy, Monique Nicole, Brian Paquette, Bailey Todd, Shelby Van Daley and Liz Williams—how they quantify a booming year.

How do you measure a successful year?
Juliette CalafCourtesy of Juliette Calaf

Dream Making
“Success, for me, is not just about the numbers or accolades; it’s about the immeasurable satisfaction that comes from turning my clients’ dreams into tangible, awe-inspiring spaces. A successful year is one where every project reflects a harmonious blend of creativity and functionality, and, most importantly, where my clients are not just content but genuinely delighted with the transformation of their environment. It’s the smiles, the gratitude and the shared sense of accomplishment that truly measure the success of my year. Each satisfied client is a testament to the dedication and passion poured into every design, and their happiness is the ultimate barometer of a year well spent in the ever-evolving and deeply rewarding world of interior design.” —Juliette Calaf, Juliette Calaf Interiors, Miami and Puerto Rico

How do you measure a successful year?
Helen BerginCourtesy of Helen Bergin

Growth Patterns
“I always look at year-over-year earnings to measure success and strategize how to keep a steady growth, even if it’s minimal.” —Helen Bergin, Helen Bergin Interiors, Palm Beach

How do you measure a successful year?
Kevie MurphyCourtesy of Kevie Murphy

Holistic Approach
“A successful year for my firm comes down to a mix of good press, solid sales and making a positive impact through such charities as St. Jude’s, Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It’s not just about the dollar amount when looking at each year—we look at the big picture, finding growth in the overall success and impact we make as a company.” —Kevie Murphy, K.A. Murphy Interiors, Manhasset, New York

How do you measure a successful year?
Brian PaquetteCourtesy of Brian Paquette

Supportive Spaces
“After my early years chasing everything I could and always wanting more and more, I now have many different definitions of success. In terms of my work, I think success is a calendar full of client projects that have come solely from referrals, work that I am proud of—not because I achieved some aesthetic milestone, but because our clients are happy, comfortable and supported in their spaces. Success to me is good health, good relationships and knowing you were kind to everyone.” Brian Paquette, Brian Paquette Interiors, Seattle

How do you measure a successful year?
Joni BurdenCourtesy of Joni Burden

Five-to-10-Year Plan
“I measure a successful year in many ways. A great bottom line is always important. Seeing forward movement in our future is also important—we updated our computer system this year, added amazing clients that increase our long-term relationships and referrals; added and promoted key team members; refined operational components of each area of our business; and continued working toward our vision, as well as both our five- and 10-year plans.” —Joni Burden, J. Banks Design, Hilton Head, South Carolina

How do you measure a successful year?
Liz WilliamsCourtesy of Liz Williams

Final Results
“I think typically one would measure a successful year based on productivity and profitability. I like to look at the end results of each project we have completed. Was the client thrilled? Would the client enlist us again for future projects? Is the project worthy of photography and publishing? If the answers are yes—hopefully many yeses—then it was a successful year!” —Liz Williams, Liz Williams Interiors, Atlanta

How do you measure a successful year?
Nikki KlughCourtesy of Nikki Klugh

Lasting Effect

“A successful year is measured by the impact we make in our clients’ and staff’s lives. I’m ending this year feeling very fulfilled. I feel in harmony with our staff. I am full of gratitude for the incredible work we produced this year. I am thankful for repeat clients and budding partnerships.” Nikki Klugh, Nikki Klugh Design Group, Chula Vista, California

How do you measure a successful year?
Lindsie DavisCourtesy of Lindsie Davis

Long-Term Relationships
“I like to look at two areas very closely, referrals and financials, with referrals being the most important. My number one goal is to always try to exceed expectations with my clients and industry partners. Their satisfaction and the success of a project far exceed any financial gains. This year, every project I had the privilege to be a part of was either a repeat client or referral-based. For me, there is no better measurement of success. When looking at the financial side of my business, I am always tracking my profits based on design fees and product sales. This year, I made a risky decision not to take on as many projects as in past years, due to not wanting to expand and bring on additional employees. At the beginning of the year, I took a deep dive into my past metrics and reevaluated my fees and pricing structures. As a result, I have found that my firm has continued to exceed the past year’s profits, despite taking on fewer projects. [And this] equals success.” —Lindsie Davis, Blueberry Jones Design, Wimberley, Texas

How do you measure a successful year?
Shelby Van DaleyCourtesy of Shelby Van Daley

More Than the Numbers
“The number of projects completed, design revenue, product revenue, profitability and new consultations are all big [metrics] for us. However, there are so many intangibles that we’re also evaluating and subjectively measuring: things like our customer service, team health, work-life balance and business relationships. These things matter just as much as the numbers, and in some ways even more. If the numbers are off the chart but the team is about to implode or everyone’s burnt out, that’s not success in the long run, and the reverse is true as well. We aim to have a healthy team, which can deliver exceptional service while continuing to grow our business each year!” —Shelby Van Daley, Daley Home, Cedar Park, Texas

How do you measure a successful year?
Bethany AdamsCourtesy of Bethany Adams

Fruitful Foundations
“Though I’ve been a designer for almost 20 years, I’m still relatively new to the business aspect. So, for me, a successful year absolutely includes money in my bank account to start the new year off on solid footing, a big project on the horizon, and a past project shot and ready to be promoted. I’m happy to report that by these standards, 2023 was a successful year, even if it took 11 months to get there!” —Bethany Adams, Bethany Adams Interiors, Louisville, Kentucky

How do you measure a successful year?
Monique NicoleCourtesy of Monique Nicole

Reaching Your Goals
“I believe true success happens when I am thriving in all areas of my life, including physically, vocationally, relationally, spiritually and financially, as they are all intertwined. So, I like to set small monthly goals that roll up to quarterly goals, which ultimately turn into yearly goals that I can measure. The way I measure a successful year is how I learned to measure campaigns [when I] worked in the advertising industry for over 10 years before working in the design industry, which is by setting KPIs (key performance indicators). For example, if I set a yearly revenue goal for my design and coaching business to generate $500,000, I’ll look back to see if I hit the monthly and quarterly revenue goals I set—and if not, I’ll ask myself why, and think about what I can do to reach the goal going forward. [It’s] all about setting small, actionable and measurable goals that ladder up to your idea of what success looks like for your business and life. And as you learn, you adjust and grow, while redefining what success looks and feels like for you.” —Monique Nicole, Monique Nicole Interiors, Hampton Roads, Virginia

How do you measure a successful year?
Bailey ToddCourtesy of Bailey Todd

Out of Your Comfort Zone
“[Success is measured by] having the freedom to do what makes you happy within your business, whether that means getting dream projects or having the luxury to reinvest in the things you care about and want to grow. As a business owner, you struggle and fight so much in the first few months and years. You never know if what you are doing is going to make or break you, and $100 seems like a big loss in the first days. So, I measure a successful year [as one] when I can confidently make business decisions and take risks that I feel push me as a creative. Pushing yourself is scary at any time, but if you aren’t scared, you aren’t growing.” —Bailey Todd, White Cliff Studio, St. Louis and Columbia, Illinois

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.