It takes some designers years to get their foot in the door of a design firm—Ramey Caulkins, however, was answering phones and crunching numbers for an interior designer before she had even entered junior high. To be fair, the designer in question was her mother, and the firm’s office was in the basement of their family home. Still, the experience gave her a front row seat to the ways in which professional design services could offer a unique sense of style to a rustbelt city like her hometown of Buffalo, New York.
Despite being enthralled by design, Caulkins decided to forge her own path after college—after concluding a very short stint in public relations, she found herself in the Ann Sacks showroom in Chicago picking up tile and stone samples for a family member. The errand turned into a conversation with a showroom associate, which turned into a full-time job that immersed her in architectural materials and design principles at their most elemental level.
After a move to Denver, Caulkins began to experiment with interior design in her own home and in small projects for friends. Soon, she scored the whole-home project that would catapult her career in full-service design. Since then, she has continued to scale up her business, learning along the way how to foster a team that can learn and grow with her, while adapting to an industry with an abundance of new business and new challenges over the past two years.
“I think we’re working in a very reactive climate right now, and that part is harder when you’re trying to be creative and thoughtful about the process,” Caulkins tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of the Trade Tales podcast. “I think it’s a condition we have to deal with right now. You can say, ‘I’m not going to work that way,’ or ‘You’re going to have to wait,’ but sometimes construction timelines or budgets—they just don’t allow for you to not be somewhat compliant to the project and its needs.”
Homepage image: Ramey Caulkins | Courtesy of Ramey Caulkins