Design Institute of San Diego alumna Jaki Yermian is having a great year. With recent features in both San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine and Discover Magazines, a television spot on local show “This is San Diego,” and a new lease for a design studio in Leucadia, she is poised to take over the interior design community. We interviewed Jaki recently about her journey from DI student to a business owner, and her story is guaranteed to inspire.
A: I always knew I wanted to major in art and took a few prerequisites at a local community college, but I had no idea that my calling was interior design until I toured DI.
Looking back, I now see there were signs that this was my path. When I was younger, I used to build elaborate forts, not to play in them, but to layout spaces and make them functional.
A: I actually had a co-worker who was attending DI at the time. I vividly remember walking through the halls, looking at student work, and realizing this is where I needed to be.
A: I did because I had worked throughout all 4 years of school. I got experience in large firms, small companies, and residential and commercial design. Although DISD’s program sometimes felt overwhelming for me, I was quickly able to apply those skills in the real world since I was working and learning simultaneously.
A: Although it was always in the back of my mind (I have a lot of family members who are entrepreneurs), I was somewhat content working for someone else.
I was bartending while in school, and one day met a contractor who asked me to help design a large corporate office space. I was sort of thrown into it, which forced me to get a business license and figure out how to invoice, etc. From there, it really took off! I had no idea what was in store for me.
About a year ago, I transitioned from working for a large local firm to working for myself full time. It was a really difficult and scary decision because, like any business owner, I had a fear of the unknown and what my future would be. Something in me told me it was my time, and I never looked back.
A: Juggling all aspects of a company such as accounting, client meetings, and actual design work. Especially since there are no 9-5 hours when you’re a business owner.
A: Seeing my clients’ homes transform and building client relationships. Nothing beats seeing your clients happy with your work.
A: Mostly residential. Right now, we have a lot of jobs that are remodels and new construction.
A: It was such a humbling and rewarding experience. I was able to work directly with the photographer to collaborate on shots and angles. The editor was wonderful and so easy to work with. It really helped me feel like I was getting accurately portrayed.
So far, I have found that I’ve gotten more magazine / media offers based on that article than clients.
A: For me, this has been such a whirlwind and I consider myself very lucky to be able to pick up so much exposure so quickly. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to make sure you love what you do, and that passion will be contagious, whether it’s through clients and referrals, or marketing opportunities. No exposure is too small, and always say yes to every opportunity!
A: That’s always been such a tough question for me to answer. Of course, I’d love to continue expanding and growing as a business. However, as long as I’m doing what I love, I am more than happy to ride this wave, wherever it takes me.
A: The architectural background and computer skills are really what have set me apart from others in this industry. AutoCAD skills have really been a strong basis for my company. It helps communication through contractors and architects but also helps your clients see your vision.
I also think being in the inspiring and challenging environment DI provides, helped shape me into the designer I am today.
A: Sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself! We are growing so rapidly, I have hired 4 designers, going on 5. Shortly we will be launching an e-commerce portion to our website where clients and shoppers can buy from us directly without having to hire us for design services.
It’s been such an incredible experience to watch my dreams come true! If I could tell my past self one thing when I was in school, it would be to keep focused and work hard, because it really does pay off. Good things happen to those who work for it!
Follow Jaki Yermian on her interior design adventures:
Instagram handle: @jydesigninteriors