Ambassador Feature: María Fernanda Olaya - QC Design School

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is María Fernanda Olaya! I’m Colombian and have a degree in Architecture, with a Specialization in Interior Design. I’ve been working in the home design field for over 8 years. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to work on hospitality, residential, office, and well-being projects.

I’ve always been passionate about interior decorating. I also believe in the power of energies; the influence of spaces on our wellbeing. On a personal level, I consider myself a disciplined and committed person. I like order and having healthy habits, such as exercising and meditation.

How did you get into the world of professional design?

I started my professional career with architecture projects. However, very early on in my career, I realized that my passion was in the field of interior home design. I’m especially interested in customizing spaces.

Following my passion, I’ve had the opportunity to work in one of the most well-known interior design firms in Colombia: Rodrigo Samper & cia. As I worked for this company, I developed my skills in decoration, among other areas of expertise.

Living room decorated by Feng Shui expert, Maria Olaya

Why did you decide to pursue your Feng Shui Design certification online, rather than in-person?

This past year, everything has gone online for everyone around the world. Before that, however, I’d decided to pursue my Feng Shui Design certification online because it allowed me to train while also continuing with my work here in Bogotá. I quickly discovered it was the best decision, because I could do different things at the same time. I could start my own business alongside my studies and current job!

Why do you feel Feng Shui is so important for the spaces we live in?

I’ve always wanted to make a difference and impact people’s lives in a positive way. Earlier in 2020, I was lucky enough to travel to India. There, I accomplished one of my dreams, which was to be in an ashram (a spiritual retreat).

After this trip, I started my design business. Suddenly, the unexpected COVID-19 arrived. Very quickly, our living spaces became all the more important. It was then that I realized Feng Shui and holistic design were my contributions to the well-being of people during this difficult time.

Why did you choose to enroll with QC Design School (compared to the other design schools out there)?

When I was doing my research of the school, I knew I wanted to pursue a course that would give me professional knowledge. We can find short courses from all sorts of schools and websites, but QC Design School gave me confidence because of the way they present their programs. I was also impressed by the course materials I was going to receive. In the end, once I actually got them, I was happily surprised with all of the tools provided to me!

Living room put together by Feng Shui professional, Maria Olaya

You’ve recently joined QC’s team of Student Ambassadors. As an Ambassador, what is the #1 reason you would recommend QC Design School to aspiring designers?

I recommend QC Design School because I consider their methodology very professional. At the same time, everyone is very friendly and the course materials are easy to understand. The knowledge and the lessons are clear, while also still being challenging.

The assignments bring out the best of your creativity, and the tutor feedback is always very useful for the learning process. You’re able see which aspects you excel in, versus which you need to improve upon.

In addition to your Feng Shui certification, you’re also enrolled in QC’s Professional Organizing Course. What is it about professional organizing that interests you?

When I was choosing my two courses, I knew I wanted to take the Professional Organizing Course. Organization is a basic concept of Feng Shui, so the two programs complement one another very well.

Plus, I’m passionate about getting things in order. I prefer to have everything clean and tidy. That’s why I decided these two courses were a perfect match for what I wanted to achieve in my own business. They allow me to provide a complementary service!

Let’s build on this a bit more. Why DO Feng Shui and professional organizing services complement one another so well?

I consider professional organizing to be a fundamental Feng Shui principle. We can create spaces where the balance of the elements is correct. We can use the right colors and move the furniture in an auspicious way. But if the space is cluttered and disorganized, the positive energy (a.k.a. the Ch’i) of the space will still be blocked.

As a result, these two services undoubtedly go hand-in-hand. I would even go so far as to say that professional organizing could live just without Feng Shui – but not in the other way around. At the end of the day, Feng Shui relies heavily on organization.

You are located in a capital with over 7.4 million people. In such a large area, and in such a competitive market, how do you feel your business stands out?

The home design market in Bogotá is not easy. There’s a lot of competition and plenty of talent. However, in this business, we can stand out in different ways.

First, it’s important to remember that design is a very visual field. If you have a portfolio that shows off your skills, that will be a plus! However, we can’t forget that if a business has a strong concept behind it, you will probably be even more memorable to your clients.

The process is slow, but you have to be consistent and disciplined. Always believe in your unique message!

Tell us about the kinds of design services you offer your business clients!

Thanks to my vast experience, I can offer a wide range of services. I love interior design and decoration! Particularly, I enjoy choosing colors, fabrics, and pieces of furniture.

But I also wanted to offer more, so I decided to offer a service beyond that. I go deeper into peoples’ lives and I rediscover their essence. This way, I can help them reflect it in their spaces so they can live a full, harmonious life.

At this point, for a more holistic approach, I offer a Feng Shui consultation. In the future, I also intend to offer my professional organizing expertise. I’m very excited about that, because I think it’s very complementary for a harmonious life!

How was your experience in QC’s Feng Shui Design Course?

Being a QC student is very satisfying! Even though it’s an online certification, I felt very guided in the whole process. It’s a community that enriches my career. Doing my course online was also a challenge, particularly when it came to making some of the assignments. But it was a challenge that stimulated more of my creativity, so I’m grateful for that!

How valuable were your course materials, assignments, and tutor feedback? How have they helped you to grow as a designer?

I was really excited when I received my materials. They were very professional and complete. I especially loved the color palette and all of the Feng Shui elements. The assignments were useful and helped me to embrace the knowledge I was learning.

My tutor, Ivy Ellerby, was very clear with her feedback. She always made it known when I was doing things right or when I had something to improve. The entire process helped me to be more disciplined. With online schooling, the results you’ll get depend on your will and mindset. You’ll always get exactly what you put into it!

What was your favorite assignment in the Feng Shui Course and why?

I enjoyed the assignments where I had to create specific Feng Shui solutions in each space of the home. I think it was very realistic, and something that we can actually apply to the real world after we get our certification. Whenever I receive projects from clients, I remember my QC assignments. To this day, they help me suggest the right solutions.

Additionally, the assignments where I had to change things within my own space were very helpful and constructive!

In the midst of COVID-19, how has your design business been impacted? How have you adjusted to this ‘new normal’?

I know this has been a very difficult year for all of us, but this historical moment is actually what led me to start my own business.

At the beginning of 2020, I has considered it, but I wasn’t brave enough at the time. It’s not easy to get out of your comfort zone when you already have a good job that you love. However, the sudden pandemic didn’t leave me with many options.

I knew I didn’t have anything to lose, so with my Feng Shui knowledge and additional marketing skills (which I had to learn), I started this exciting journey… and I haven’t looked back!

What’s in store for you and your business, Coerenti, in 2021 and beyond?

This year, I’ve been able to work on two projects located in Paris. This opportunity has allowed me to think beyond my physical limits. I believe that now is the time to think globally. Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve all become connected in a way we weren’t before. I don’t think this will change anytime soon.

My goals for Coerenti in 2021 are to:

  • Structure better my design services
  • Create a system
  • Expand that system

Additionally, I would like to spread my concept and launch Coerenti as a strong brand.

What’s the proudest moment of your career to date?

I feel very proud of all the things I’ve achieved until now. But when I was able to travel to Italy and get a Master’s Degree in Interior Design, I felt very pleased with myself. That had been always my dream.

After that moment, I realized that I could achieve even more. I enjoy studying and continuing to learn. I don’t think I’ll ever stop – at least for now. I’ll be very proud when I get to complete my Professional Organizing Certification.

Finally: what is YOUR definition of “success” as a professional designer?

The word “success” is an inspiring one. It’s a very personal concept. But from my point of view, it’s a positive feeling of having accomplished your goals with discipline and passion.

Furthermore, this sensation increases when you know you have a positive impact on other people’s lives. You feel successful when you look back and see all the obstacles you have overcome. This feeling will help you to know you’re capable of obtaining everything you aspire to, appreciate it, and remember it in the hard times.

Inspired by María’s story? Start writing your own by enrolling in a QC Design School course today! 

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