Meet Chantal! She’s a QC Design School graduate of the Home Staging & Redesign program and owner of Narrative Interiors. We caught up with Chantal to talk about her journey so far, what the future holds for her, and to get some advice for current students!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
It all started with a dream, ambition and a journal. As an Educational Assistant, I worked for our local school board for many years but always felt like I was working for the benefits and not towards fulfilling what I love to do. Knowing that my true passion was interior design and decorating, I took a leap of faith and decided to leave my secure position to start my business. I recorded every step of the process and little did I know that my journal was going to become a story of courage, strength, success, fears, failures, obstacles and doubts.
I started my journey by completing correspondence courses through QC Design School and helping friends and family decorate their homes. After a full year of preparation, I launched Narrative Interiors. I stayed committed to my goal while facing many challenges but accepted that loving what I do also needed to become valuable and profitable.
Narrative Interiors is a home staging and interior decorating/design business that focuses on reaching out to all budgets, tastes and lifestyles.
What first motivated you to get into the design industry?
When my two university bound daughters were unsure as to what their future was going to hold, I encouraged them to do what they love and the rest would take care of itself. To my surprise, they challenged me and asked me why I wasn’t pursuing what I loved to do. My initial answer was “because we have to pay for two kids in University” but then after a bit of reflection, I quickly realized that I would always have an excuse. I loved decorating and I knew that I had a talent that needed to be nurtured and explored.
How did you choose QC Design School? What did you like most about your studies?
I did some research online about different programs that were available and was very pleased with the information package I received from QC. I signed up and started my courses while I was still working full-time.
I enjoyed the feedback from the instructor and the flexibility of the course schedule. Seeing that I had a very busy life, I loved the fact that I could do the assignments at my pace. I also enjoyed that the course kit had everything I needed.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today?
I am where I am today because of extreme determination. The first six months were the hardest of them all. I spent many sleepless nights questioning my decision to quit my job to pursue a staging business and I feared that no one would buy the concept of staging and decorating. I would have risked it all simply for “pursuing a passion” and that was a lot of weight to carry. However, project by project I was able to create a demand for NI’s services. Within the first year I grew out of my home-based office and opened up my own studio to accommodate the increasing demands. I truly believe that NI’s success thus far has been because of the amazing team that I work with. I trust and have earned the trust of the many contractors, vendors, and suppliers I work with and for that I am extremely grateful.
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
The most rewarding part of my career is most definitely the amazing people I have met along the way. In our business we don’t sell a product, we sell a lifestyle. So in order to know what my clients need, I have to really get to know them. The relationships that develop during design and decorating projects are by far more rewarding than the successful end result. Also, working with a team of amazing contractors and tradesmen who are exceptional at their skills continuously amaze me. I CANNOT do it without them.
Many of our students have dreams of owning their own business as well. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in the design industry?
It is by far the most difficult thing you will ever do. Starting and owning a business is like the scariest roller coaster ride you’ll ever be on except it doesn’t only last a few minutes. The anticipation, the dips, the turns, the fear and the excitement will leave you exasperated at times but will mostly leave you excited. Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills so I would strongly recommend to first build a solid business plan, to get to know the basics of bookkeeping and to develop processes from the onset because the clients WILL be there… Just make sure you’re ready for them when they all come at once (which they will). Surround yourself with positive people and walk away from any negative comments that don’t support your vision. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours but worth every minute of it when you get to love what you do.
The whole office is buzzing about your amazing portfolio. Where do usually you find inspiration for your designs?
Wow… Thank you!! That means a lot to me. 🙂
I’m a big Sarah Richardson fan and I love her style. I try to infuse that fresh look in every project. I sometimes struggle when my clients like dark colours but I do my best to lighten up their space. I don’t have time to watch TV so magazines and fabrics are my biggest sources of inspiration.
We love your business name and logo! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the name?
I can’t take any credit for the name. My close friend had a huge part of the process and I also hired someone from Toronto to come up with the concept. I did not want my name on the business so that at any time I could sell it, grow it or reinvent it without my personal name being attached to it. He knew that I loved being a part of my book club and he took it from there. His idea was “that every home tells a story.” Homes have every element of a great story such as a plot, theme, setting, characters, style, point of view etc. Initially I was worried that the name was too long, too many chances of incorrect spelling, too difficult to say in French, but I took a leap of faith because I loved it! I find it is still too long especially when I have to give my email address but I try to focus on the brand and logo of NI instead.
What does the future hold for you?
That’s a loaded question! My “if I had no limitations” goals for Narrative Interiors would be to see NI become a national name brand. I do not want to be the face behind the business… I want the business to have its own identity. I would like to hire decorators in outside communities as sub-contractors so they would get to do what they love but under NI’s leadership. Somewhat like Decorating Den but a modified version. Technology has allowed us to reach out to as many people as possible so why not share the passion with thousands instead of hundreds! 🙂
My personal goal is to encourage women to pursue their passion and I don’t sugar coat “pursue your passion” because it’s HARD work!!! I’ve had many women approach me or email me to tell me that I’ve inspired them which I find ironic because they are the ones who inspire me to share my story! Until I reach those goals, my future holds many more home renovations along with many more exciting adventures.
Check out some more of Chantal’s work!