Design professional who is transitioning from fashion to a career in Interior Design.

So that's the opening sentence and reality of my world! I have been a Children's Wear Designer, in NYC, for the past 23 years. I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and received a BFA in Fashion Design. It has been rewarding and considering I have worked 4 days a week much of my career, and make a good living, I shouldn't complain. BUT personally it feels like Groundhog Day! I should warn you now I will proof read this but English/ Spelling (thank goodness for spell check) and grammar have never been one of my strong points. 

Going back to my childhood, my mother for the first 12 years of my life was a stay at home super creative mom. She wallpapered, painted, sewed and could make whatever she wanted. My father had an aluminum siding and roofing business. Both my parents came from large families. My mom was the oldest of six children, while my dad was third youngest out of eight. Most of my uncles were in construction from small jobs, to full house remodels and rental properties. As a child I was up on the roof and always around some sort of remodel/ construction job site. If my families houses were being improved my uncles did the work themselves. I loved seeing the mess turn into beautiful spaces.

In High School, I was in the Fashion Design program and we had an annual fashion show, where I made several garments from scratch. I didn't know that Interior Design existed as a career option back then so my creative outlet was fashion. I took classes at F.I.T. on Saturdays and then during the summer for High School students. When I graduated (a year early), I ONLY applied to F.I.T. so THANK GOODNESS I was accepted!! I was married and had a baby from the age of 16 so I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn't been accepted. Luckily "it all worked out" and I graduated F.I.T. in 1996. I was only 5 years into my career when I realized  I wasn't going to want to do this the rest of my life. I owed a house by then and loved decorating and remodeling. I also pretty much only watched HGTV which is when I realized, I wanted to be an Interior Designer when I grow up!!

I attended night classes in Interior Design and in 2004 I received my degree. Around the same time we took on a huge remodeling project of our home. We added an entire second floor and extended the house out 10 feet. With the help of my step father and brother-in-law, I designed the entire remodel, which was given to the architect to draw up for the permits. My uncle was the contractor that did the remodel so I had hands on experience though out the entire process. Every morning at 7am we went over the plan for the day. The house went from a 1975 sq ft ranch to a 3800 sq ft 2 story home (including the basement). With my degree out of the way and the distractions of the house, I faux finished, applied venetian plaster, painted and designed my house. I LOVED every minute of it. Life happened, my son attended college and a career change was just not an option. So I continued on as the not so glamorous "Fashion Designer".

Fast forward to today.... Finally after dabbling here and there over the years in Interior Design projects, I am in a position to make a career change! I am super excited for what the future will bring. I hope you will follow me in my journey as I transition from Fashion Designer to Interior Designer : ))) I hope to aspire everyone to follow their dreams because I truly believe that if you put your mind to something and work hard ANYTHING is possible!!!


Nicole de la Cruz

(my alter ego since my husband spells it Dela Cruz but I told him de la Cruz is more glamorous lol a la Oscar de la Renta ; ))

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Why join ASID!

When I was attending night classes in Interior Design my mentor and Professor, Rosanne Scarpelli, told me to become a student member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). She said that it would be beneficial in the future. I listened and paid the student rate to be a member. I never attended events partly because my kids were younger and between going to night school, working four days a week in the city (as the not so glamorous Children’s Wear Designer) and being a mother and wife there just wasn’t enough time in the day. I stayed active for the five years following graduation but when the fee was increased to close to $500 I couldn’t justify keeping it active since I wasn’t practicing yet.

Fast forward to this summer when I realized I wanted to get back to making my dream of becoming an Interior Designer a reality. In July I started an Instagram account iqdesigngrp. Next, I created a website using squarespace Then in September I renewed my membership to ASID as an Allied member. The NY Metro ASID chapter I am in has so many amazing designers I admire! Vanessa DeLeon, Sandra Funk, Robin Baron, and Phyllis Harbinger are a few of those designers. To remain a member of ASID 10 CEU credits every two years are required.

In December I attended an all-day six CEU credit Design Summit at the A&D Building in NYC. Everything about this summit was amazing! The day was broken up into six-hour long sessions. So much information was presented that I have pages of notes.

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The first session was in the Hastings Tile & Bath Showroom. C. Jayne Berger a lawyer, who services Interior Designers, spoke about the importance of having an agreement between business partners, contracts, your business entity whether a LLC or Corp listed on your business card and letterhead. She mentioned that many people use a standard contract from a previous employer or from ASID but it's important to read it and make sure it's understandable and applies to your business.

C. Jayne Berger with Glenn Gissler

C. Jayne Berger with Glenn Gissler

At the next session held in the Cosentino Surfaces Showroom Charles Pavarini III spoke about the future of lighting and trends especially with the usages of LED lighting. His presentation had to be cut short because he shared so much information it couldn't all be covered in the hour timeframe. He explained how LED lighting is great for lighting artwork because it doesn't damage the pigment of the artwork or alter the color. LED lighting gives off 10 percent heat and 90 percent light. This lighting is also used in Green and sustainable lighting design. When converting from incandescent lighting 60 watts is equal to 820 lumens and 75 watts equals 1100 lumens. It is great for cove and ceiling lighting because it is bendable. When designing bathrooms, he explained it's most important to light the person in front of the mirror. There are new mirrors on the market with a build in light source using LED bulbs around it.



 The third session of the day was with Phyllis Harbinger. She spoke about the importance of representing your brand. She discussed your brand logo, marketing, advertising, identity, trust, design, value and strategy. She said you must analyze your brand and who is your ideal client. That we must evoke emotion, create transparency, tell a story and that it's all about trust and the importance of managing your pipeline. Also interesting is that Millennials and Gen Z will find you through social media and that if this is the client you are trying to attract you must have a presence. You also must support the vendors who are supporting you. Important point she mentioned was to define your client, set boundaries including office hours and that the people on your team matter and should represent you. She stressed the business of Interior Design is 90% business and 10% design. I have heard this repeatedly as of late and it's really sinking in. When running your business, you are a designer, marketer and salesperson. You should strive to have a high net worth of clients. Another point she stressed was to let people know what's different about you. You must create a mission or directive for your company, find an avatar and know what you want to accomplish. Another great tip Phyllis had was to send an email to the 10 most important people in your life and see what they think about you. The email should read something like this "Hi, I'm rebranding and would love to hear from you in a couple sentences: How do you think of me? What do you think I represent? What message do I portray? This was great advice which I followed through on and was very helpful in determining my brand. At the end of the session she revealed that she used WeCora and Design Manager which is a virtual collaboration platform for keeping organized. She also said that she only purchases using her clients credit card not her own. A professor told her that doing this would keep her taxes cleaner. A lot of the designers in the audience found this very interesting since most don’t do this.

After the first three sessions we broke for lunch. I was in the same showroom as Barbara Ostrom. As she was telling her story of a Showhouse she designed I remembered hearing it on one of the earlier episodes of LuAnn Nigara’s Podcast, A Well-Designed Business. I asked her about it which led into lunch with Barbara and two other designers! It was awesome and at lunch I was even taking notes as I listened to her stories. She does a lot of Showhouses which she said cost $5000 just to be in one. She told the story of the one she was in that burnt down as a result of poor electrical decisions by another young design firm. She also told me that Virgos do not make good clients because they are meticulous (note to self).

Barbara Ostrom's Book: Curtain Up!

Barbara Ostrom's Book: Curtain Up!

After lunch the fourth session Traditional PR in the Age of Social Media was in the Carlisle Floors & Rugs Showroom. The panel consisted of Robin Baron, Katharina Plath, Head and Hand PR, Jennifer Powell Tumpowsky, Moxy Media, and Beth Dempsey, Images and Details PR. They said you should “Do what you do best and when you can afford it hire to do the rest!” That your social media content starts on your website. Then Instagram which is the eye thru which you present yourself. You should know who you are and use social media as a tool. The importance of having beautiful images and the need to invest in photography. Magazines won’t take images if they are on Instagram or a social media platform. You need to have a specific look and you will get work from it. By the time the client has reached out to you they already researched you, looked at your website and found out all about you. They mentioned that a PR relationship takes a year or two to build, you have to invest money into it. That it takes time and will not be overnight. You must always Do the things that make you happy. Be Authentic! You need to be and stay active. To have a really good business you only need a few clients a year to do that. Hiring in house PR doesn’t work because they don’t come with connections. I found this session to be very informative!

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The fifth session was The Science of Color with Gillian C. Rose in the  Showroom. She mentioned that people are either introverts or extraverts. She went over color and the different schemes and how they affect you. She also said that gray is under stimuli and it lowers the heart rate, saps energy and feels calming but is also numbing. This was interesting since so many rooms (including my daughters) are done in the gray trend! She said the shiny and fuzzy pieces we are now seeing is a direct response to the gray trend.

Gillian C. Rose

Gillian C. Rose

The last session was Global and National Trends in Designing for Living in Place with Michael Reichert, Hafele. This was held in the Edward Fields Carpet Makers Showroom. This was also very informative but being it was the last session I don't have many notes lol.

Michael Reichert, Hafele

Michael Reichert, Hafele

At the end of the day there was a Cocktail Reception in the Fisher & Paykel showroom. While there I sat at a table and chatted with two talented designers I met that day. Kim Mitchell of KAM Design who I learned was a ghost designer for several episodes of HGTV’s Property Brothers. I never knew that was a thing?!  The other designer Sara Touijer of Touijer Designs spoke about her experience designing for Home Polish. She had a room at the Holiday House NYC where she was going after and invited us to join her. The three of us walked to the Showhouse to see all the talented designer rooms including Sara’s. A highlight for me was seeing the powder room designed by one of my idols Vanessa DeLeon of VDA. Visiting the Showhouse and seeing the beautiful rooms was very inspiring and the perfect ending to a perfect day!

Sara Touijer of  Touijer Designs , Holiday House NYC

Sara Touijer of Touijer Designs, Holiday House NYC