Tina Irani is the founder of Irani Interiors, which is based in Austin, Texas Tina moved from Seattle, Washington to the area, as her family had relatives living nearby in Cedar Park, Texas. Tina has worked in the field of interior design for the past two decades. Her aunt, who had a design studio, was the one who first introduced Tina to the designs and interiors. She worked as a receptionist and then as an apprentice with her aunt when she was a high schooler. Her aunt provided a solid foundation in the field of design, covering everything from the principles of color theory to more advanced concepts like color psychology and how it affects people. Tina became enamored with design at this point and knew she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her aunt. Tina took advantage of a dual enrolment program during her senior year of high school to jump start her career. Tina was already a sophomore when her peers were freshmen the next year. Tina graduated from a local institution with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in record speed. Her first job after graduation was as an assistant to a design firm owner. As a result, she gained significant experience with color selection, furniture placement, and window treatment ideas. She rapidly developed a loyal following. Irani Interiors was started by Tina in July 2011. While life was stressful at the time, she felt fulfilled in bringing other people’s dreams to reality through the use of color and space as mediums. The company now employs her and her assistant designer, as well as an office administrator and a part-time apprentice that Tina teaches. Her biggest project right now is for a client in Austin, who has asked her to completely remodel six rooms in her house. Two bedrooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom, as well as a family room and kitchen, are included in the renovation. Tina’s highest-grossing project this year is likely to be this one, and it will take 18 weeks to complete. Tina is ecstatic to have converted her passion into a profession. She enjoys engaging with her customers and experiencing their excitement when their decorating dreams come true. How did you get started in your industry?
While still in high school, I was assisting my aunt at her Design Studio. I loved it so much that I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career. So, I began learning everything I could about becoming an interior designer and a business owner. In order to one day become the owner of my own business, I made sure to earn a degree in business from college in New Jersey. I knew I wanted to work for myself, just like my aunt did. After college, I spent several years working for others so that I could develop my clientele and gain expertise. Then, when the studio’s director decided to retire, I seized the chance to acquire a studio at a fantastic value, and there was no looking back. How do you make money in your field?
I charge an hourly rate for my skills which are that I create beautiful, colorful designs that utilize space with the expertise I have acquired over time. I also provide advice to clients on how they can make their homes more efficient and maximize their space for storage and functionality.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
While it took several years for my business to become profitable, I had the financial benefit of working for others first. So, even though I started my own practice in 2011, after several years of paying dues and gaining expertise, I acquired a studio at a great price because the director was retiring. All that hard work finally paid off!
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When I was fresh out of college and started working for someone else, I had doubts at first that the clients would like me for me, but those doubts were soon replaced with confidence as they started to love the work I was doing, and they told their friends about me. So, I overcame the doubt by persevering.
Do you remember how you got your first client?
As they say, it’s not what you know but who you know. I was fortunate enough to work for someone whom everyone in the community knew. For example, they would come up to her and tell us that “my sister told me about you.” So, word of mouth became my first source of new business.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I think it’s important to be active in your community as well as on social media. I volunteer as a board member for several local not-for-profit organizations. In those capacities, I have been privileged to meet people that eventually become my customers because they see me serving the community and genuinely enjoying what I do.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?
I had to decide whether or not I was ready to take the leap and purchase my studio. There was a lot of uncertainty since it came at such a fantastic price because the director wanted to retire, but I decided that if she needed me to work until her retirement was complete, then I could wait six months longer.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think to be successful you have to be a team player. While I am the leader of my business, I realize that if I don’t have a fantastic support system in place then it doesn’t matter how good I am at what I do. The results are just not going to happen because no one is going to know about me and my business. So, I surround myself with a great support system that includes my husband and family, as well as friends and clients who recommend me to their friends and peers.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Landing this job in Austin was so satisfying. Just knowing that someone trusts me so much that they want me to re-design almost their entire house, is so motivating. Of course, it will be even more satisfying to complete this job though, as it will be the biggest one for my business to date.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am so excited about all the opportunities that I see as a result of taking my business to the next level. Being at the studio has allowed me to meet and accommodate incredible people who come from different areas of Texas and beyond. Meeting with clients over video connections has made me wonder if there is an opportunity there for me to expand my business even more. I am always thinking of ways to grow, but I am also a cautious planner so that I do not get in over my head too soon.
What business books have inspired you?
It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know by Terri Lonier. I read this book when I first started my business, and it gave me some valuable insights on how to establish myself as a professional in my field. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, I found it very helpful in winning clients over before even knowing what they want or need.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry about what other people think, just do your best.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Of course, I am happy to help someone learn about the industry and how to run a business. Just contact me through the website.