“The” Designing Woman

Apr 16, 2011 No Comments

kate-maloneyKMI Designs was born out of owner Kate Maloney’s passion for interior design. Kate grew up around fabrics because her parents had owned a custom window treatment business. After going to school for business, she enrolled in interior design classes and got a job working for an architect. As Kate began to dabble in the design world, her eyes were opened to the possibilities that this industry could offer. Eventually, Kate opened her own business out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, her business began to build. Her clientele began to expand, going as far north as New York and Maine, as well as the local cities around her.

“My business started from love and passion that I have for all things home related,” Kate explains, “Discovering little treasures from different market places is my favorite thing to do. It adds a touch of personality to every room.”

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Kate tells us that her best learning experiences came from trial and error. “We had a trunk show one time where we had people come and buy things,” Maloney exclaims, “I invested a lot of time and money in it and it flopped. I didn’t market the event well enough or get enough people to come to the event. This led me to the website concept, where you can have a store, invest in technology, and clients can see our vibe and flavor, which helps them understand who we are as a bigger picture.”

As her business began to pick up speed, Kate realized that she wanted to move forward and create something more permanent. So, she opened her website, KMIDesign.com. What makes this website so different from other interior design companies is their eclectic choice of unique items. Ranging from furniture to wall décor, each piece has been carefully considered and hand picked. In addition, you can also find Maloney’s personal portfolio, which gives you a taste of her company. Now that the site has become more popular, she is able to invest more time and energy into the site and product component part of the business.

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Having tried everything from direct mail and print ads, Maloney has learned that the best way to market herself is by word of mouth. “Nice people refer nice people,” Kate shares, “If you’re accessible, people talk more and gain a comfort level with you. With Comfort being the most important aspect of this business, your clients have to want to invite you into their home, which is taking a big leap of faith. But, once you tell them that you want to help them because you love doing it, they tend to open up.”

Kate is a perfect example of what happens when you devote yourself to something you strongly believe in. After going through some challenges, she tells us that the most difficult part of owning a business is hiring and building a team of people to work for her. “For the amount of time, energy, and money it takes to hire someone and not have them work out is absolutely devastating,” Kate says, “I once had a problem when I hired someone to help with the financial aspects of the company. After working for me for six months, I went on the computer to check up on some things. After realizing that all of the things I asked her to do were ignored, I had to rebuild my entire system of daily purchases for the last four to five months. It caused me to stop everything I was doing at that time in my life and completely restart. It made me feel like I failed.”

However, Kate did dish that she learned to never take anything for granted. “Don’t assume that the person you hired is going to care about it as much as you do,” Maloney explains, “it’s something you tend to forget when you own your own business.” Another piece of advice that Kate shares is to “hire swell and fire fast.” Priding herself on treating her employees with respect, Kate also emphasizes the benefits of being good to your employees because it can help you leaps and bounds. “Also, never tell someone that business is bad,” Maloney dishes, “You’re always busy and willing to accept new clients.”

If you’re scared to go through with a business idea of yours, Kate advises that you have the guts and jump off the cliff, because you’ll regret it later on in life if you don’t.

Tips from Kate Maloney:

  • Color – Don’t be afraid of it! …and you don’t have to paint an entire room to make an impact. Paint a wall, a table or a chair and watch your room be transformed! Then add a pillow or a lamp in the same color and you’re well on your way to a new scheme.
  • Metallic – Add some sparkle! …and all it takes is a gorgeous lamp or special vase to make a room feel special.
  • Organize – Nothing makes me feel calmer then an organized room with everything in its place. Once you clear the clutter you can actually enjoy your décor.
  • Change it up – New bedding or a new shower curtain is a great way to change the feeling of a room with the season. Spring is in the air so go for something lighter and brighter and welcome the sunshine!
  • Vintage Charm – There is nothing like a “found” piece to make a special spot all your own. Estate sale season is upon us! Next time you see something to love in your travels go ahead and bring it home! Dust it off a little and place it next to something clean and fresh. An antique piece of pottery on a fresh white linen table topper…Voila! Charm at it’s finest!

Written and edited by: Blair Cassuto

KMI DESIGN

www.kmidesign.com

Cities, Create, New York, She Walks The Talk
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