After Amanda Lorenz garnered some major press in a national design publication for her work on a project in Minneapolis, the client, a business investor, was very impressed – and also slightly perplexed.
“Why are you working for someone else?” he asked.
Amanda had recently moved to the area from Denver to be closer to her family and wasn’t sure if it was a place she’d be staying long term, so initially, working for someone made sense. Plus, she says, “I hate business! I’m a creative, and I just felt like it was tough to do both.”
But this client kept questioning. After a while, Amanda decided to explore what it would look like to step out on her own, and hired an employee to help her get started. Enter Jamie Otte, the business-minded sidekick she needed. Amanda founded Henri Interiors in early 2019 and they are taking the Midwest by storm with a team of seven (and counting).
We chatted with Amanda, owner and Principal Designer, and Jamie, Operations Manager, as part of our Creative Conversations series, talking to them about their newly established business, taking on the Covid-19 era, and what they hope to provide their clients and employees.
The name Henri Interiors was born out of the fact that Amanda wanted to be inclusive to all of the designers on her staff, present and future.
“Our brand is about empowering our employees and watching them be recognized in this field,” Amanda explains. “I feel this is not the case in the majority of the interior design world.” Henri, which means “home ruler,” was also charming with an Old School vibe, so it perfectly fit their professional and personal bill.
Along with its eloquent name, Henri Interiors’ signature style — contemporary yet very textural — is one that has caught the eye of many in their area. One of the firm’s ideologies is layering various species and color tones of wood, plus textures and materials that are found in nature, because those elements are the basis of longevity in design.
Henri Interiors not only decorates, though. They strive to be experts in the construction process, typically starting projects from very heavy remodels or new builds. And this is one reason why Design Manager works so well for them.
Why Design Manager Was “It”
Both Amanda and Jamie had used Design Manager at previous firms, but they started Henri Interiors with an industry competitor because it was being heavily advertised. At the end of the day, they realized that although that platform is pretty, it’s more suited for a decorator.
“The organization of Design Manager on the back end for a volume-based project is so important to us and is second to none,” Amanda says. “For instance, we price our bed with all of the bedding on it, but we still want to see all of those items lined out.📷: @judithmarilyn
From Jamie’s perspective as Operations Manager, having reference numbers for every item is a key benefit of the program. “When I print the POs, I can pinpoint exactly what specification it is. The way everything is tied together on the back end makes it so seamless and professional.”
Jamie remembers when the team got its first big furniture shipment while using their previous software. “I was horrified to go into this big install because I just thought ‘How in the world am I going to keep track of all of these items and all of the moving parts?’ That’s precisely when we switched back.”
Henri Interiors also loves Design Manager’s time billing function, as well as using its accounting component to their advantage in vendor relations. “One thing I like to do if we’re having an issue is to pull the reports to see how much money we’ve spent with a particular vendor and say ‘Look, we’ve spent this much with you this year, can you work with us?”’
Although Covid-19 has thrown many small businesses for a loop, Henri Interiors has never been busier.
“Honestly, I think Covid has brought back the value of home,” Amanda says. “People are realizing all the things they haven’t done to their space, so they’re spending their vacation money on projects.”
Right now can seem like a scary time to think about becoming a solopreneur, but Amanda has some advice for those looking to go off on their own: Take the leap, but make sure that you put processes in place — like utilizing Design Manager — that will allow you to be successful if you grow quickly, which is what happened with Henri Interiors.
“My mantra lately is ‘I get to, not I have to,’ if that tells you anything about the post-apocalyptic world we’re living in,” Amanda says laughing. We’re excited to have a front row seat for Henri Interiors’ next achievements.