Not many interior design firms can land an A-list celebrity like Celine Dion as their very first client. Angela Reynolds considers it an act of divine intervention that she was introduced to Celine’s team at the same time she struck out on her own to start Angela Reynolds Designs in 2006. “I was going through a difficult time, a failed marriage, and financially needed to go back to work,” she says. “I opened up a company and boom, I got Celine. It was pretty amazing.”
Since then, Angela Reynolds Design has built a reputation for one-of-a-kind designs and 5-star service. We interviewed Reynolds to learn more about her creative process, how the interior design business has evolved over the years, and how she balances life as an interior designer and business owner.
Choosing Quality Over Quantity
Angela Reynolds Designs is a 6 person firm specializing in luxury designs and custom projects. Intentionally keeping the firm small has allowed Reynolds to run her business on an intimate level and bring her passion to every project. “We are not actively growing our business to where we bring in 20 designers and have 20 project managers,” says Reynolds. “I want to be able to design every project and deal with my clients one on one.”
Design by Angela Reynolds Design
In order to do so, Reynolds has chosen to be selective about the projects her firm takes on. “We want high-quality projects where the clients are willing to invest in that one on one experience and luxurious service,” she says. Not every project that comes along is going to be the right fit, and that’s OK. Reynolds has a clear picture of who her ideal client is and the level of service they expect.
Juliette Louis, a project manager at Angela Reynolds Designs for the past 6 years, has worked diligently alongside Reynolds to create a seamless process and exemplary customer experience. Reynolds says, “It's not unusual for me to have a client that's worked with two or three different design firms, and then they encounter us and say, ‘Wait, this is something different. This is so much more of a process.’” Through years of experience and a commitment to continuous improvement, Reynolds and her team have honed in on a creative process that facilitates trust with clients and promotes innovation.
Using Technology to Perfect the Design Process
A lot has changed in the 12 years since Angela Reynolds first designed Celine Dion’s house. Social media networks like Pinterest and Instagram have completely transformed the way designers find inspiration, communicate concepts to clients, and build their brands. Gone are the days of flipping through magazines and pasting pictures to mood boards. “Through Pinterest, we’re able to visually create a dialogue to hone in on the client’s likes and dislikes from anywhere in the world,” says Reynolds. “That level of communication is powerful. I don’t think you could do that 15 years ago,” she says.
Instagram has been another game changer in the interior design world, influencing the way designers find inspiration, connect with new clients, and promote themselves. Whereas popular design magazines highlight projects completed within the past year or so, Instagram is updated constantly and provides a snapshot of what’s happening right now in the design world. “In real time, you're seeing what all these top designers are doing across the country and around the world. You see what's trending now, not what was trending a year ago,” says Reynolds.
Personally, Reynolds follows more than 2,000 accounts on Instagram, most of them in the design trade. “There are some designers that I am always in awe of. Susan Ferrier is one of them. I think she is so beautifully dramatic in her approach to traditional interiors, where they are very current,” she says. McALPINE is another design firm Reynolds seeks out for inspiration on Instagram.
Aside from the creative aspect of design, technology has also changed the way Reynolds manages projects and runs her business. “As designers, we’re naturally very creative, but we’re also forced to be really business savvy,” says Reynolds. “The design part is only 20-25 percent of what we do, and the other 75-80 percent is running a business.” Since transitioning from Excel spreadsheets to Design Manager, Reynolds has been able to streamline her business processes and focus on what she loves best—design.
“Design Manager has changed how we do business in such a profound way,” says Reynolds, who uses Design Manager to track orders, create proposals, maintain accurate accounting, and more. “When you're handling millions of dollars of a client's money, you need to create a lot of trust and confidence, making sure that everything is accurate, accounted for correctly, and delivered in a timely manner,” she says. “Design Manager helps us maintain that credibility and confidence with our client base. I have confidence that everything is accurately accounted for and that it's properly checked. That peace of mind is huge.”
Remaining Open to Change
From her experience as an entrepreneur, Reynolds has learned that building an interior design business is an iterative process that requires constant vigilance in order to flourish. “I think it's a daily commitment to observing what works and doesn't work, and trying out different systems to figure out what the best solution is for the company,” she says. In order to grow, you have to be open to change. It’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to streamline business processes so that you have time to take on more of the projects you want.
“You could be the best interior designer out there, but if you don't have a system and a process set into place, you're not going to be able to grow your business,” says Reynolds. “You constantly have to challenge yourself.”