For over 30 years, Keith Granet has led the helm of one of the industry’s cornerstones, Studio Designer , the leading digital project management, product sourcing, and accounting platform for the interior design industry… & one we couldn’t live without. Keith recently sat down with Circaphiles founder, Genevieve Trousdale, to share his insights into the design world, how he got his start, and his recommendations to new designers.
Read on as Keith shares a wealth of knowledge and experience that we consider your mini-masterclass to developing a thriving business in interior design. But first, meet Studio Designer.
Interior designers, like most entrepreneurs, often begin their endeavors full of high hopes, big dreams…and overflowing to-do lists. Drafting proposals, managing accounting, scheduling appointments, and a whole slew of administrative tasks can take up more than a few precious hours during the workday. Enter Studio Designer. A fully integrated platform that features an all-in-one project management system, client collaboration portal and designer-specific accounting software- there are few things Studio Designer can’t do. The main objective? To allow designers to spend more time designing and less time worrying about administrative tasks.
We sat down with Keith to learn his secrets to running a successful business for over 30 years…
keith granet, CEO of Studio designer
Q. Keith, how did you get into the interior design business?
A. i had the opportunity to have an internship during my junior year at Gensler. That internship was an eye-opening experience about where my talents lie and what the road ahead looked like for a career in architecture. After graduating, Gensler offered me my first job as an office assistant. Eight years later I was reporting directly to Art Gensler who would become my mentor in learning the business side of design. In fact, Art wrote the foreword to my first book, The Business of Design, balancing creativity and profitability.
DESIGN BY studio designer client & Circaphiles ambassador Timothy corrigan
Q. Tell us how you got into product licensing?
A. I was working with Barbara Barry in building her business plan and she mentioned she wanted to expand our product design/licensing business. I told her I did not know much about that field and she said, we will learn together. And we did, I helped her with her first license with Baker Furniture, which became the most successful license for Baker at the time. That was over 30 years ago. Since then I have worked with many designers and the products that we licensed have sold close to one billion dollars.
Q. What is the smartest investment you made within the first year of starting your consulting business?
A. Renting my first office. I started my business at home like many people do but then quickly realized I needed to get far away from the TV and refrigerator. It also enabled me to hire my first employee and have a place where clients could come to talk about confidential subject matter that they did not want to discuss in their own offices.
Q. How do you recommend managing your spending in the first few years of launching a new business?
A. I always say you can’t cut your way to success, sometimes you simply need to invest in yourself to be successful. That being said, I would be careful about who you hire as your first employee. That will be your greatest expense and you should make sure they are a good cultural fit for you.
Q. I’ve been a Studio Designer user (and big fan) for 15 years. How do you work to cultivate brand loyalty?
A. Providing the best and most comprehensive product in the marketplace. We invest millions each year to keep the product relevant and serve the needs of the changing environment.
DESIGN BY studio designer client & Circaphiles ambassador marea clark
Q. Have you ever been resistant to a specific marketing trend when thinking about your business plan? Was your intuition proven to be true?
A. Yes, there are two, what I will call shiny objects that attract interior designers. first, fame, not everyone wants this but with all the design shows on the air many people think it will jump-start their careers. Most of the time it kills your career because what television is looking for is sensationalism, not professionalism. The second, licensing a product line to a big box store before anyone knows who you are and if you are relevant for the market. With most big box stores you will be the “flavor of the month.” It will feel good first, but it will be gone in a flash. Also, I am a big proponent of never going low too fast. Most successful fashion designers built a couture line before they offered a bridge line. Rarely is anyone successful with starting with ready-to-wear first.
Q. What are your top tips to finding new hires for an interior design business?
A. The problem with hiring people is that you don’t get to date you have to marry them first. So there needs to be a leap of faith that the fit is right. I always say “fire fast, hire slow.” Two tips, make sure the person is the right cultural fit for your company and second check references. It amazes me when designers don’t check references. This is a small world and you can find out a lot about a potential employee but simply by asking.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT NEXT?
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