Name: Patricia Poohachoff
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario
QC Courses you’ve taken:
Your Website: https://www.blinginteriors.net/
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, though my husband and I also spent 15 years in Edmonton, Alberta. I have a diploma in Arts Administration, and previously worked in media/marketing for non-profit organizations. My husband, Jamie, has his Construction Engineering certification, and worked as a site manager for a large condominium builder.
It was visiting Jamie’s buildings and seeing their beautiful showrooms that prompted me to change careers! I then enrolled in the Residential Interiors Program at the University of Alberta. After our second child was born, we decided that we wanted to come home, so we could be closer to family and friends. We moved back to Thunder Bay, settling in O’Connor Township and purchasing his family’s country property.
Today, we live literally in the middle of a forest. It’s me, my husband, our two children (Makayla and Jayden), our dogs (Max and Guiness), and our cats (Belle and Harley).
Why did you decide to start a professional design career?
When I was young and considering college options, Interior Design was always my first choice. However, I thought that there would be no opportunity in Thunder Bay for a career in such a field. But when I was in Edmonton, I started to learn more about the opportunities available, and realized that there are actually so many possible options for employment!
When we moved back to Thunder Bay, the environment had changed. I saw quite a few boutique shops, designer showrooms, and new home building companies popping up that simply did not exist when I was in my 20s! So I finally decided to follow my original plan. It was much later in life, but it was what I always truly wanted to do.
You moved from a rather large location to the much smaller city of Thunder Bay, ON. What sort of effects did that have on your schooling and career?
I was 2 credits short from graduating from the Residential Interiors Program at the University of Alberta. To my surprise, there were no options to complete the program long distance from Thunder Bay. Even more challenging was that the Thunder Bay area did not even have an Interior Decorating program available anymore at the local college.
But I was undeterred, and started researching other schooling opportunities. I found QC, and was pleased that I could indeed get my formal interior decorating certification in an online format. I needed something flexible – it’s tough working, running a business, and being a mom! QC offered all the things I needed to complete my education at home. It was also during that time that my husband and I started our own decorating and home renovation business.
What’s the story behind your business’s name, Bling and Bang Interior Decorating and Home Renovation Services?
I started my business first, and it was simply called “BLING” at that time. My husband then started working for a builder who was constructing a condominium. The owner didn’t have anyone to assist in choosing the units’ finishings. Jamie told him that in bigger cities, there was always a decorator on-staff that met with clients to help pick paints, flooring, counters, etc. So the owner hired me. That was my first professional gig as an interior decorator!
During this time, I was at a local flooring and granite shop looking at options for this condo. The lovely woman who was assisting me said, “You sure like your bling in these designs!” That comment stuck with me. Within that year, our business became “Bling and Bang”. I thought the name was a great definition of Jamie’s and my role in the company.
To this day, we still have a chuckle when we give out our business cards. See, we have separate cards: one just says BLING, the other says BLANG. On the back, there’s an acknowledgement of the other missing word. We chose to market ourselves this way because we have both worked with other designers and/or contractors, and we’ve found this strategy has helped us broaden our client base.
You and your husband started this business 7 years ago, and have been going strong – congrats! Can you tell us a bit about the process of starting a new business, getting it off the ground, etc.?
Honestly, we started working together out of necessity, because things didn’t go as planned for Jamie in the construction industry. Trust me, it was stressful – especially with two kids at home! I first went for help at the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise. They help entrepreneurs start businesses. I was able to learn about our community, meet other like-minded people, and understand the basics of business planning.
From there, websites and social media platforms were created, flyers were distributed, and business cards were handed out at every networking function. It took a while, and we almost threw in the towel a couple of times! But we kept going and today, most of our clients are referrals. Currently, our business is shifting in an even more positive direction (stay tuned)!
Describe your favorite project so far—what made it exciting for you (i.e. design style, clients themselves, the scale of the project, etc.)?
There are so many projects, it’s hard to choose just one! But this year, between my business and also working at Reid’s Furniture, I have designed for over 100 clients. If I were to choose a project, I think it would be creating the In-Home program at Reid’s Furniture. I have to say I LOVE my job there.
I visit our clients’ homes, and then conduct an interview with them about what their needs and wants are for the room. After creating a detailed plan for their room – including furnishings, fabric and wood stain choices, lighting, area rugs, and accessories – I pull the design together in a 3D rendering. Lastly, I complete a product selection sheet. The program has been a great success!
What is your biggest career accomplishment so far?
I think my biggest accomplishment was the In-Home program at Reid’s. I have traveled and met some amazing people. Working at Reid’s has also brought in work for our own business. In turn, I’ve also been able to bring in my clients to the store. It works out perfectly!
Do you have any tips for those who wish to become a designer in a small town?
There are many opportunities to learn and meet people. There are business groups that will help you start a company, and will offer networking opportunities. I spent the first year attending every Chamber of Commerce mixer and business seminar. I’d go to special events, like the Home Show.
Also, it’s very important is to visit and introduce yourself to various suppliers and professionals. Personally, I made a point to drop in at every paint store, flooring supplier, and furniture store, so I could introduce myself to builders and real estate agents. In fact, it was a random visit to Reid’s Furniture where I met the owner, Scott – and eventually ended up working for him!
What’s on the horizon for your career in interior decorating, for 2020 and beyond?
Our company will be changing in the New Year! It’s going to become even bigger and better. I’ll keep you posted on the progress!