Our membership community is bursting with exciting creative talent. Here we meet the Founder of interior design company I Want To Stay Here, to learn more about her experiences as a Creative Entrepreneur.

Name: Donna Casey

Business Name: I Want to Stay Here

Creative Sector: Interior Design

Location: London

How many years have you been in operation?: <1

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today:

I worked in film for 15 years which never really satisfied me creatively because I worked in the accounts office!  After having my daughter I didn’t want to commit to long hours, and wanted to work on my own terms - I decided to start my own business.

Interior design has always been a passion of mine and the realisation that I could actually turn it into my business was incredibly motivating.

Before I took the leap I continued with film jobs and in my spare time managed to complete an interior design course at UAL, set up a design blog and  attended as many design shows and business talks as I could.  I tried to prepare myself with as much information as possible before walking away from the stability of a regular salary!

Talk us through a recent workday:

I spend the first part of my morning catching up on admin and replying to emails.  Then I might visit a client’s house or hold a Skype consultation to discuss ideas for their space.  My afternoons are often spent working on mood boards or out and about sourcing products.  I’m also still in the early stages of setting up my business so I am having to spend far too much time on tech and marketing - neither of which are my strong points!

What inspired you to start your own creative business?:

The main reason was to be my own boss. I wanted to have more control over my time and spend it doing things I actually want to do. I realised that life is too short to spend 12+ hours at a desk, surrounded by relative strangers, doing work got zero satisfaction from. 

What has been your biggest achievement to date?:

My biggest achievement was securing my first paying client!

What has been your biggest challenge with starting up?:

The biggest challenge has been becoming my own IT, finance, admin and marketing departments!  I wasn’t quite prepared for the amount of time required to devote to these elements initially.

One word that best describes your experience of being a creative entrepreneur:

Freedom!

What apps, gadgets or tools can’t you live without?:

Creatively, I use my camera and Photoshop everyday.  On the business side of things I am discovering the value in apps such as Mailchimp for managing my contacts and auto-emailing, and Typeform to collect feedback. Typeform questionnaires have been really useful in refining my business direction, particularly during the startup phase.

How do you keep motivated and inspired?:

My motivation comes from reminding myself that my business can’t exist without me and that I have to get through any challenges that I’m faced with and not give up. My normal solution is to step away for a while - go out for a walk, visit a gallery, flick through a design magazine, read a book or play a game with my daughter - all of which are also great sources of inspiration. I am also trying to avoid getting caught in social media black holes because as well as being a source of great inspiration they can also very easily demotivate!

What’s the best/worse advice about starting a business you’ve ever received?:

I normally refer back to Seth Godin when I need some constructive advice or a kick up the backside - one particular quote of his really pushed me to go from being an eternal ‘start your own business’ student to actually making things happen “Studying entrepreneurship without doing it is like studying the appreciation of music without listening to it’.  You’ve just got to go for it and get yourself out there to be able to grow and learn and get to where you want to be.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of Creative Entrepreneurs?:

I have really enjoyed attending the talks and courses. The speakers have always been so knowledgable and the workshops so relevant to the needs of people at the beginning of their own business journeys. 

Want to meet and hear the stories of more entrepreneurs like Donna? Learn more and join our membership network.

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