Spotlight on Audra Miller, DI Graduate
From a young age, Audra Miller had the calling of an interior designer. Her childhood pastimes included setting up her Barbie house, as well as rearranging her bedroom furniture on a regular basis. Her first professional pull was for fashion, which she majored in during college, thereafter working as a visual merchandiser for several department stores. However, she craved more of a challenge, and knew there was more for her to do with a professional career.
While working for the motivational speaker Tony Robbins, Audra became inspired to "recharge her creative juices" and go after her dreams. She had heard about Design Institute of San Diego from a family friend who was an interior designer. After helping the designer on a couple of projects, Audra knew that interior design was her next calling. She quickly enrolled at DISD, and her education and career in interior design began!
What were some of your favorite classes at DI?
I had several favorite classes. History of Interior Design, Materials and Applications, and Color Theory are just a few! I really enjoyed the classes and learned a lot from the instructors.
How did DISD prepare you for your career?
DISD prepared me for my career by teaching me the important tools of a professional interior designer. I have to say that when I submit project drawings to my clients and contractors, they are always impressed by the thorough detail: dimensions, scale, as well as materials and placement. Your client and contractors are saved a ton of time and money when this step in the process is done properly the first time!
I specialize mostly in residential design, but I have done a few commercial projects as well. Most of my business consists of kitchen and bathroom remodel projects. I enjoy the whole process of remodeling; selecting new materials with my client and working with them to coordinate a feeling in a space. As their designer, I pride myself on providing a full-service experience for my clients. I walk them through each step and decision to make sure it's the right material and product the first time. I educate them on the entire process and what makes the best sense for them, their budget, and the vision for the overall project. I work with their chosen contractors to project manage every order, delivery and installation. In the end it is so rewarding to see my client happy with the finished product. Their home becomes their haven and they are surrounded by all of the elements that they love!
Audra does not hesitate to thank those that have helped her along her journey to becoming an interior designer. She has received mentoring by successful business women and business owners, many of whom are designers and have shared their business practices and tips. To stay abreast of the ever-changing world of design, Audra regularly attends seminars and conferences. She admits to enjoying the learning process, as well as educating others of the importance of hiring an educated interior designer. She is an active ASID member, and attends the monthly meetings and educational seminars.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job as an interior designer?
The most fulfilling part of my job is seeing the satisfaction of my clients when the project is complete. Sometimes it's a challenging road, but the reward is always worth it.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the deadlines. I have to keep everyone on schedule to be sure that the installation date is met. At times the client has a hard time making a decision, and it is my job to tell them what they need—it's expected. Sometimes contractors are challenging as well. It is also part of my job to make sure my client is staying within their target budget. This is sometimes difficult when a client wants a high-end look but cannot afford the cost. It is my duty to know what manufacturers to specify to meet their budget requirements so we can stay within a realistic margin while achieving the look the client wants.
What are some things you've done to improve yourself as a designer?
I have educated myself in today's marketing world. I've hired a graphic designer who helped me rebrand myself, a website designer, a social media person, a business coach to keep me accountable to my goals, and I've learned about blogging, and social media in general, in order to keep up to date with the world wide web!
What kinds of projects are you currently working on?
I am always reaching for my next goal. Always striving to do something different and learn about how I can target my perfect client. I am currently designing 8 bathroom vignettes for an appliance and fixtures showroom that is opening here in Orange County in September of this year. Therefore it will be my own personal showroom to take my clients to. My goal is to invite the public and have monthly speaking engagements at the showroom to help educate people on the process of design and the importance of working with a professional. I'm working on creating my celebrity voice and excited about my future plans.
Audra offers her advice on how to be competitive in today's job market. Networking, attending business mixers, meetings, and seminars are all ways to meet new people, especially those looking for an interior designer. She recommends creating a brand for yourself, to pinpoint what you want your design niche to be and set yourself apart from other designers.
Another important principle to abide by is to get paid for your time and knowledge. Audra reminds us that much time and effort went into our design education and experiences, and that we are not "decorators," but trained professionals, that deserve to be paid for our time and efforts.
If interior design is your passion, never give up! You will go far by riding out the bumps in the road, and there will be many in climbing to the top or starting your own business. The rewards are huge, and when you love what you do, the money will come! I wish each and every one of you the best of luck in your future endeavors!
Check out Audra's Blog at: http://www.audramillerinteriors.com/blog/
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