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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Network, Network, Network!!!

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post networking for Interior Design is extremely important. During the last two weeks of February I attended four events. Two of those were a result of listening to a Podcast, one was through ASID and the other was an IDS CEU that I was invited to by a designer friend I met at a previous event.

Luckily the first event was held on Presidents Day so I had off from the day job! That Monday, I drove to Livingstone NJ to the Window Works Showroom for the Lunch and Learn event. It was hosted by the amazing LuAnn Nigara and featured one of my idols Blanche Garcia of B. Garcia Designs. LuAnn hosts a podcast called A Well-Designed Business and Blanche was on episode #282. Both of these women are down to earth and so giving of their knowledge. Blanche gave so many useful tips and advice during her podcast interview and continued the discussion at this event. Some take-always for me were that she uses quick books because it’s easier to hire book keepers since they know the program. If a project doesn’t feel right don’t do it! The importance of your contract and that you can add to it as your business grows. Most importantly have your systems locked down!!

There's me front row lol!!

There's me front row lol!!

I must also mention Blanche wrote a book which I of course I read called Empowered Design. It is a quick easy read packed with lessons and exercises to help you find purpose and overcome your fears. I recommend everyone reads it and goes through the exercises. Also, at this event, I connected and chatted with three designers at different levels in their business. We then all connected through Instagram and have since kept in touch.


The next day, Tuesday, I attended the 2nd Designer’s Way Episode 2 which was with Elena Frampton of Frampton Co. The event was held at the Duralee showroom. There was a video of her process and inspiration featuring the room she did for the Brooklyn Show House.

After there was a question and answer session. A lot of students were in attendance as well as industry professionals. Some of the questions asked were how she started, where she draws her inspiration from, how she deals with budget issues, finding clients and her process for selecting art. My question was “Do you use a design software to keep organized like Mydoma, Ivy, or Studio Webware? Her answer was Studio Webware. As I listened to the questions by many of the student it just reiterated the fact that you don’t learn the business of Interior Design in school. Elena mentioned that I had asked a good question because one of the complaints she hears from clients about other designers is that they are not organized and don’t have a system. This led to two designers coming up to me after the Q&A was over asking the names of the programs I mentioned. Had I not found and obsessively been listening to LuAnn’s A Well-Designed Business podcast I would have never known to ask this! Again, I exchanged business cards with one of the two designers and followed her on Instagram. During the interview, Elena also mentioned the importance of photography and to find a great photographer and use them over and over again so you have the same look for all your work. I also asked what cad programs they used and Elena called over one of her designers. Clearly, she is not doing the cad work herself! The designer told me they use Rhino for custom furniture, Photoshop, Auto Cad and Sketch Up. I learned from another designer that night that she uses Revit and AutoCAD and the bundle cost her $2700  a year for the package.

Wednesday night I attended the 2nd Birthday Party of LuAnn’s podcast. This was an awesome event! I took a picture with LuAnn as I walked in and proceeded to meet up with one of the designers I met on Monday, Debra. She was already talking with another designer she met who worked in Brooklyn at the Painted Swan. Later in the evening the owner of the shop and designer also joined us. As she told us about her shop she explained a lot of the pieces she carried where painted using Annie Sloane chalk paint who was the originator of the paint. I did not realize that any other brand could not call their product “Chalk Paint”. This was very interesting since I plan to paint my kitchen cabinets this summer.

LuAnn and I when I first arrived at the event

LuAnn and I when I first arrived at the event

Debra and I who I met at the Lunch and Learn Monday

Debra and I who I met at the Lunch and Learn Monday

The following week I attended the IDS Benjamin Moore Event at the Toto Showroom. This presentation was a lot of information I was familiar with having taught INT104 Color for Interior several years ago. Some new things I learned was there is new scuff proof paint available in flat and eggshell. Semi-gloss in the works. During the Q&A at the end I asked "How many years do paint wands last"? Mine is over 10 years old so I was curious to know if I should buy new ones. Asking this question got me a freebie which I love! It was a new Color Preview wand which was one of the ones I’d need to replace. At the end I found out from my designer friend that if I went the Benjamin Moor showroom in the D&D building and gave then my business card I could get the entire set for free! Uggggg I had no idea of course and over the years have always purchased my wands : / So I’ll be making a trip there for that soon!

Maggie Vergara who invited me to the event, Gregory Allen Cramer and myself

Maggie Vergara who invited me to the event, Gregory Allen Cramer and myself

Hopefully this information is helpful to up and coming designers. Sharing is caring people!!