<b>WORK IN PROGRESS | </b>Herald staff
Dawn Ryan, of Everett, is an associate designer for Lynnwood-based Creative Kitchen &Bath. Her designs were named among the Best of Houzz 2012 by Houzz.com, a popular online platform for home remodeling and design.
Q: What convinced you that this was the job for you?
A: In college I had taken several commercial design classes, as well as general interior design classes. When the kitchen and bath courses came up I absolutely loved them. The balance between the technical and the aesthetic elements really appealed to me because it’s the best of both worlds.
On the client side, I get the opportunity to get to know my clients and build a relationship. To design functional and beautiful spaces, we have to get to know our client’s daily lives – how they live, how they work in the spaces as well as throughout their homes. We also learn what future plans may be for the space. Is their family growing? Do they plan to retire in their home? The personal relationships are my favorite and are the most rewarding part of what I do. It’s one of the main reasons I know this career is for me.
Q: What does it take to blend your passion with your livelihood?
A: I think it really comes down to being determined to do so. Anyone can turn what they love into a career if they really set their mind to it. Before design, I was in the contract accounting field. I knew early on accounting was not my passion. After much soul-searching I realized design is where my heart is. After I made the decision to pursue what I love I took the steps necessary to get myself there. It did require some sacrifice and hard work but has been worth it.
Q: What are the crucial elements for success for your business?
A: There are several crucial elements that go into making us successful. Client satisfaction and client relationships are the most critical. In our industry, repeat and referral business are extremely important. Creative Kitchen &Bath has been in business for 23 years because we have built a network of clients that continue to come to us for their remodeling needs and have given our name as a referral to friends, family and colleagues.
Quality is another crucial element. From the design, the products and materials used, to the craftsmen and trades who bring the design to life, we expect a level a quality that meets our and our clients’ standards. A project can look beautiful; but if it is not a quality project in all areas, clients will not be happy in the end.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you meet it?
A: My biggest challenge, like many others has been the downturn in the economy. Our entire industry has shifted and changed over the past few years. Our clients’ needs and wants have changed dramatically. We have had to make adjustments accordingly and have adjusted our thinking and approach in many areas to ensure we were meeting the client’s needs.
Q: How did your friends and family react when you told them you were getting into this business?
A: Both my friends and family were highly supportive. I think they realized this was my passion, and it is what I really wanted to do. Their support was crucial because my getting into the interior design industry required a complete life-change. I was essentially starting over by going back to school and changing my path.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Being able to use my creativity and skills to design beautiful, functional spaces that my clients will enjoy for years to come. I’m also motivated by challenges. In remodeling, each project presents its own unique set of challenges. No home or space is the same.
Q: What personal qualities do you think are needed to excel in this business?
A: First and foremost you need people skills. You need the ability to work with all types of personalities on a daily basis. Not only is each client unique, but as a designer I also work with all types of trades during the construction process. The success of a project hinges on a team working together well, including the client. On the client side, having those people skills and the ability to build a relationship also builds trust. As a designer I’m asking people to let me into their lives and into their homes. That requires a large amount of trust and understanding.
Another quality that is critical is organization. Every project – no matter how large or small – requires a lot of detail. It ranges from design and materials to the smallest details, like outlet cover plates or trim pieces. Without organizational skills those details could be lost and they are often what take a project to the next level.
Q: When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: I enjoy spending time with my husband and family. Currently my husband and I are spending most of our free time preparing for our first child. She is due in late September.
Creative Kitchen &Bath
WHERE: 13008 Mukilteo Speedway, Lynnwood