Categorized | Business Authors

Books: Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer

Tom Williams

Tom Williams was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to his undergraduate studies in English literature at the University of Tennessee, Mr. Williams studied Interior Design in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1977 he formed T. Lawton Williams Interior Design in Philadelphia. In 1981, he moved to England and, along with partner Robert Hale, founded Erithbond, Ltd., an interior design firm located in London. In 1987, after returning from England, he and Mr. Hale moved to Baltimore, Maryland and founded Federal Hill Interiors, Inc. In early 1992 to meet the needs of their Baltimore County based clientele, Robert and Tom moved to a larger space in Ruxton and became Hale-Williams Interior Design. In May of 2000 he and Mr. Hale opened Hale-Williams Interior Design in Carmel, CA. Mr. Williams is a Past President of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and an adjunct instructor in Interior Design at Monterey Peninsula College. Mr. Williams also writes for the Pine Cone Newspaper with a series of articles entitled “Ask Mr. Williams “. In the summer of 2004 Tom Williams appeared with his partner Robert Hale in a segment of the popular television show on the national channel HGTV called “ Designers’ Challenge “ and were the selected design team from the competition.

A book synopsis:

Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer is a “how-to” book for entrepreneurial designers interested in succeeding in the ultra competitive world of modern interior design. It is an edgy and informative read which shares fundamental lessons and innovative solutions to any issue an entrepreneur might face when independently launching a design firm. Learn from the best how to innovate, adapt and prosper without loosing your soul or losing the farm. This is a book for artists but also for realists. It is a book for those who want to see life as an adventure and work as fulfilling.

Why did you write this book?

While working as an instructor at Monterey Peninsula College I realized a need for a more “user friendly” book about the business of interior design. My class, Business Practices for the Interior Designer, was populated almost completely by women between 22 and 55 years old. They worked with the very good text I had researched but still needed more information from someone actually in the business. Many of these women were single mothers and/or recently divorced. They needed a “mentor”-style book and I realized there wasn’t one on the market. My partner and I decided to fill that niche. That is how I decided to write Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer.

Do you have a blog, what is the link, what do you talk about in your blog?
The blog is entitled: Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer

As you might imagine I talk a lot about the business of interior design. I also talk about entrepreneurship and the great pride many of us have in owning and operating our own businesses.

Do you do speaking events? What are some common ones that you do on a regular basis? What do you talk about?
I regularly do speaking events. My firm actually creates our own events in which I am able to speak directly to potential clients in a Q&A setting. I also speak at industry functions in the area. I have also spoken about the business and marketing aspect of interior design at conferences in Mexico, Dallas, TX and New York City.

Do you do your own marketing or PR?

We have for many years created our own marketing and PR. I know there are many qualified professionals out there but in our particular instance I believe we have the experience to manage this aspect of our business. I also very much enjoy creating the “buzz” needed to succeed in this profession.

What is a good marketing / PR strategy for a budding author?

The most important thing to remember is writing, like so many other things we do in life, is a BUSINESS. It’s just great to have a wonderful idea for a book and to even write it but a business plan is essential to publishing; even if you want to self-publish. So many of the same rules of business plan creation apply here. First and foremost have a very clear idea of what you want to say. Organize your book to flow form topic to topic or scene to scene. A book doesn’t’ just happen as you sit in front of your computer. A plan is essential. The next step is to plan for maximum exposure of your creation. That may mean creating a blog or website for this particular project. Whatever is decided it must still be part of the plan. Be prepared to talk to anyone who will listen about your book. Send press releases to as many people, publications, blogs and websites as you can.

“See my answer to What is the Best Advice You Ever Got?”

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social
media to get the word out?

I did when the book was first released. Not so much now. After all, I do have an interior design business to run and we are in the process at this moment of opening a new studio in a 12,000 square foot retail space in Carmel, CA.

What free online or offline tools do you use?
I use TypePad for my blog. Otherwise I still tend to be more comfortable with the tools I have used for years.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

Since 2001 we have had two people on staff at all times. We actually closed a business back East that employed more but we were ready for less stress in our own lives with the business.

What is the best advice you never got?

My great-grandmother once told me “Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket”. That advice helps me on a daily basis. It means not to boast but to make sure people are aware of your abilities and accomplishments.
What is the one thing that you did right?

In September of 2007 I created a blog called The Business of Interior Design to help promote the book we were writing. It was a way to draw attention to the upcoming book. At that point I had no publisher. In early June of 2008 after I had been sending out proposals for about 4 weeks I received an email from the publisher of Allworth Press, Inc., Tad Crawford. He explained he had been reading my blog, liked the way I wrote and would I be interested in writing a book. Needless to say he had a proposal, cover letter and three chapters emailed back to him in less than 30 minutes. By July 25th we had a signed contract to publish Starting Your Career as an Interior Designer.

What book(s) have you read that you would recommend to others?

For Business read:
“Shift How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times” by Gary Keller
“Why Johnny Can’t Brand” by Bill Schley
“Your Business or Your Life” by David Shepherd
Then, for a really good read
“The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet

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