What is your full name, title, and business name?
Erin Hackett, Owner & Principal Designer, Hackett House Studio
Give us a summary of your business.
Hackett House Studio is a full-service residential interior design studio. Using a combination of your exquisite taste and our creative know-how, we bring your vision of a beautiful and balanced home to life. Here at HHS, we use science-backed research to design carefully-styled spaces that have a positive influence on your health and wellbeing.
Our processes have been carefully refined so that we can fully appreciate our clients’ personalities and aspirations from the outset. After gaining an understanding of your goals and wishes, we get to work creating functional interiors that enhance our clients’ quality of life. HHS designs are timeless, elevated, approachable and, most importantly, a reflection of the beauty and opportunity you desire to bring into your life.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I have had a passion for interior design for as long as I can remember! After almost 8 years working in the financial services industry, I quit my job to turn my passion into a reality. I started Hackett House Studio because I believe that our homes have an incredible influence on our everyday health and well-being and that beautiful, well-appointed spaces can have a significant impact on our happiness and success.
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
It takes a lot of courage and confidence to move on from a lucrative career and enter the world of entrepreneurship. I knew that I had the creative talent to succeed in this industry, and felt like I had learned enough from my professional endeavors to be successful with the business side of things. Although creating beautiful interiors comes naturally to me, every time I hear an overwhelming amount of praise and gratitude from a client I am delighted and my confidence to succeed is reinvigorated.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
It means no sleep! I kid, but in reality, it’s true what they say; “Entrepreneurs will work 100 hours a week to avoid working 40.” This couldn’t be more true for me, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Although you can never truly be prepared for how many hats you’ll wear as a new entrepreneur, it’s all worth it in the end and you just keep plugging forward.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
With the exception of a short few months in LA during college, I have lived in in Columbus all of my life. My favorite thing about Columbus is that, as a city, we are always moving forward. However, I think in terms of interior design, we tend to lag behind the more art-forward regions like New York, Chicago, and the West Coast. I hope to elevate the design mindset of our city and bring in new ideas that keep us fresh and relevant.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
Don’t wait! Although I’m so grateful for the experiences that brought me to where I am today, it’s hard not to think about where I would be if I had started 5 or 10 years ago. Whatever excuses you’re making now that are stopping you from doing your thing, ditch them. Excuses will always exist. You’ll know you’ve got the stones to be an entrepreneur when you throw excuses in the trash can where they belong. You have to just do it.
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
I knew it was going to be hard, but I wish I knew just how hard. Especially if you’re a solopreneur, you’ll spend a lot of days doubting yourself and have no one to invigorate and re-motivate you. Don’t let hard discourage you, though. Challenges are just another way to grow and adjust, and over time you will add people to your team and things will get easier.
What’s the most challenging part of your business?
Not being able to get it all done. As I’m growing my business, I have to be the marketing department, the bookkeeper, the project manager, the salesperson, the account executive, the office manager and the HR rep. Oh yeah, and I have to occasionally design things too! It’s so much, and some days you just feel like you don’t get enough done.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
Anxiety and stress. I’m working on letting things roll off of my back, because every day as an entrepreneur presents challenges. Challenges are the only constant, so stressing out about them isn’t going to help a darn thing. It’s hard, because every small decision feels life-changing and enormous, but I’m working on it!
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
I don’t tend to look at failure as a bad thing, so I would hate to make assumptions about why some businesses don’t make it. Ultimately, I think things just aren’t always the right fit, and I know plenty of business owners who have started businesses only to abandon them when a better opportunity (or new business idea) comes along. I think “failure” as an entrepreneur is subjective. With that said, I’ve always been a meticulous planner and my background in finance has given me an edge to understanding what my goals and expectations should be (and how to achieve them). As a creative service professional, my talent alone is enough to sustain this business so if Hackett House Studio ever ceases to exist, it will be because it was planned and/or for seen, while another opportunity was on the horizon.
What was your biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
My biggest mistake was not starting sooner. I work in a very visual creative field, and had I been doing this work in the early days of social media (or even just five years ago) my competition would have been 1/10 of what it is now. Social media is currently incredibly noisy and oversaturated, which means your content has be almost perfect to perform. Reaching clients organically is harder now than it has ever been, so it’s costing me time and money to make sure that not only is my work up to snuff, but also that it’s reaching the right people.
What tool has helped you the most for your business?
This is very industry-specific, but I recently started using an interior design software that is an all-in-one product that eliminated my need for Quickbooks, Canva, and other paid platforms. It has made my life easier, and saved me money.
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
Every time I sign a new client, I take an inventory of my time and availability. If I know I’m going to have to sacrifice the client unless I offload some responsibilities, I seek out a professional to help ease my load. In the last months, I’ve enlisted the services of a bookkeeper, CPA, virtual assistant, and marketing firm. I currently hire out for these services, but when it makes, I’ll bring them all in-house.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
Learn to time-block and make extensive lists. My days are never not packed from sun-up to sundown, so it’s important that I know how to manage my time well.
What was an idea that you spent a lot of time on or thought would make a big difference in your business that didn’t pan out?
So far, I would say everything I have done has served a purpose. There are very few things that worked out exactly as I had hoped, but nothing has resulted in a negative outcome. I’ve spent a lot of time creating and analyzing content for marketing purposes, and did a lot of things wrong at first. But it has been a learning process, and I’m happy to report that I’ve learned from my mistakes and can do things a lot more efficiently now.
What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
Client service. I invest a lot of money into materials samples for projects and a lot of time into meetings with trades people so that I’m sure I’m bringing my clients the best in the business.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
I’m currently in the process of getting RIDCQ certified and getting LEED accredited. I am also taking advanced kitchen and bath design courses so that my projects can feature the most up-to-date technology and materials.
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
Social media. All of my clients that weren’t referrals came from instagram.
Who is your best Columbus resource? Please provide name and business name so we can give them credit!
I couldn’t do my job with out my trades people and showrooms! Rick Dennis at Painter1 is one of the most professional, attentive and responsive contractors I have ever worked with. The whole team at Hamilton Parker is amazing, as well as the team and ownership at Trove Warehouse.
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
My soon-to-be husband. But he’s an amazing listener, and also works in the home improvement industry, so he’s an incredible sounding board.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to be working on 12 projects per year, have a beautiful showroom/office, and manage a team of around 7 or 8. We’re already working on an e-commerce operation, so that will on the horizon in a year or two.
What is your revenue range?
Under $50,000 (but we’re growing)
When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this feeling?
I’ve never found an instant trick to overcome feelings of stress and overwhelm. My methods are usually to power through. It’s like riding a bicycle, you have to keep moving forward to not fall off. It’s not easy, but these feelings WILL pass if you keep moving.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
Both of my parents were self-employed, so I get a lot of my inspiration from them. Any other interior designer who runs an amazing business is someone I definitely look up to and try to emulate.
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
I love the Columbus Museum of Art and think it’s an amazing place to spend an afternoon. You can get a crisp salad and espresso at the cafe, then enjoy the exhibits, followed by a glass of wine in the courtyard. It’s an incredibly beautiful and calming space.