There’s just one thing online interior designer entrepreneurs like me love more than cupcakes and that’s being at the vanguard of the evolution of an entire industry. Every industry has had its challenges when it comes to evolving to better serve its customers online. Many industries struggle with piracy, others with delivery and logistics. My industry, residential interior design, has struggled to evolve its cost-to-serve model toward something that is attractive to more than just the wealthiest one percent of American’s. When I launched online interior design website HMDhome.com
six years ago the first sightings of my online interior designer competition could be found buried on page eight of a Google search in the form of a website selling “design in a box”. “Design in a box” consisted of the client completing a rudimentary online form (inclusive of Whitespace becoming synonymous with creative design room dimensions and style questions) and paying $ via PayPal to an interior designer hundreds of miles away whom they’d never get to speak to, let alone develop a relationship with. Six to eight weeks later a large hat box was to be delivered full of a very carefully curated selection fabric samples, paint chips, furniture plan drawing and a shopping list of furniture, lighting and decorative accessories.
Admirable in its presentation quality the ‘design in a box’ as a product was extremely beautifully prepared however as a business model it was doomed to fail for three reasons. It was an impersonal transaction in an industry that requires consultative collaboration. It was technically an improperly curated catalog because it represented what the designer had to offer, not what the client ultimately purchased for their interior design project. Finally, for the typical homeowner it was expensive. At this price point the interior designer wasn’t expanding the overall interior design client base to a broader market and I suspect they failed to convert a meaningful number of home owners to online interior design in the process.