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DI Details Newsletter June 2010 Design Institute of San Diego

Another DI Alum We're Proud Of!


Surviving the 1:2 Student Design Charette


LIBRARIAN'S CORNER - Art from Around the World


Kristy Kropat - Another DI Alum We're Proud Of!

2007 DI graduate Kristy Kropat opened her own business for the same reasons so many others do: control, flexibility, and a desire to benefit from her own efforts.

We're happy to report on her success!

"For as long as I can remember I've had a love for art and enjoyed painting," she laughs, adding "I just knew I didn't want to paint for a living."

The casual observer might be justifiably puzzled about her computer/electrical engineering degree from UC/Davis. Kristy's answer to that? "Well, a girl's got to eat, right? I figured a career at Adobe would be perfect for my interests...only to conclude engineering and computers weren't enough for me."

Then came Kristy's "Aha!" moment. "I discovered the field of Interior Design and realized it would be the perfect combination of left and right brain to suit my needs. I hustled to get through DI in 3 years and opened my own business in 2008. And ever since then I've been having a blast!"

"It all started for me because I believed in myself. I never gave up, and discovered if you open yourself to opportunities, other opportunities will make themselves available to you."

Creating Opportunities

Kristy's ability to do all her work using AutoCAD seemed to provide that first opportunity, as well as a big advantage over designers who weren't computer savvy. She confides "If you have good CAD skills you can do work for older designers who only draft by hand, since computers are the future of this industry."

With two young children at home, Kristy reveled in the flexibility provided by setting her own hours. Plus she had an additional edge from years of managing engineering projects. This helped her a lot in overcoming the biggest challenge all entrepreneurs face getting that first client.

Two years and 25 clients later, Kristy realized residential design was where she excelled - custom furniture, bedding, bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and window coverings. "I generally prefer residential assignments because you're in touch with the end user and have a chance to really learn about their needs." she reports, adding "It's important to fit every design so that it's functional. After all, if it isn't functional it's no good to anybody."

As part of her self-assessment, Kristy recognized the formula for making a successful business: Good quality, good service, fair prices, and non-stop marketing. She found three things she recommends to those coming behind her:

  1. Word-of-mouth marketing from current clients will help pre-sell potential customers to the value you can provide to them.
  2. Being open to new experiences in industry groups can open doors, since "You never know who you might meet."
  3. Always promote yourself, since there's a lot of competition in the world today. "Nobody can afford to be shy."
Following Her Own Advice

Kristy's willingness to promote herself has started paying off. "I redesigned my kitchen and entered it into the ASID Kitchen Tour, then watched as it got picked up by San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles and the San Diego Union Tribune," she reports.

When she tackled her front yard that project was also profiled by San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.

Her work will also soon be appearing in Kitchen and Bath Makeovers.

She says "I risked rejection by entering one contest and found a lot of people liked what I did." Some of Kristy's work that caught people's attention included the following:

2nd place in the ASID Design Excellence Contest - 2009
(Bathroom Design )

2nd place in the ASID Design Excellence Contest - 2010
(Single Space Residential)

2nd Place in ASID Design Excellence Contest - 2010
(Product Design)

Kristy commented that her DI experience contributed to her success. "The professors are wonderful because they're actual designers involved with the industry every day. And they give you a realistic view of life after school."

Asked for one aspect of her education that she found to be helpful, Kristy points to the internship program. "It can give you wonderful exposure," she says.

What's Past is Prologue

As a San Diego native, Kristy had roots to help get her business started. However, it was talent, gumption and a willingness to give back to the community that has helped her firm to grow.

"I volunteer my time, and in turn find people going out of their way to help me. More importantly, I keep my business and family life balanced. These are the keys to my success." she says. She also calls the balance in her life and its influence on her design style "very satisfying."

Kristy's ultimate goal is working with children's textiles and starting a custom furniture line. "Thanks to my two sons I've seen how much I enjoy doing children's bedrooms," she says. Kristy also has a simple long-term view for her career: "I want to stay in design no matter how much my business grows."

We look forward to hearing about her continued success.

If you are a DI Alum and would like to share your success please contact Corine Maggio

Visit our website:
Design Institute of San Diego | 8555 Commerce Avenue, San Diego, CA 92121
1-800-619-4337 or 1-858-566-1200
CIDA Accredited Interior Design BFA Degree Program