Mix and Match Design
How to launch and E-Design Business
Jess: [00:00:17] All
right. So in this episode I speak with Chaney Widmer of Mix and Match
Design.com. She went from premed to following her passion in home design. she
shares with us how she got started in the industry and why she chose to run and
e-design company as opposed to a traditional design business. She also shows us
how she finds her clients and what's been working for her and her business.
Also we talk about her new course how to launch an e-design business. So if
you're just starting out in the industry and you don't know exactly how to get
started. Listen up because she has a ton of great advice. All right. Let's get
Jess: [00:01:12] Thanks
so much for being on the show today. I'm excited.
Chaney: [00:01:16] Yeah
I'm glad to be a part of that.
Jess: [00:01:19] Yeah
I've been I've been following your work I know we're part some part of the same
Chaney: [00:01:26] Yeah
definitely. It's fun to kind of like watch that journey happen. I feel like
we've both been a part of this for quite a while now. Yeah. Yeah that's true. I
know I have. I have.
Jess: [00:01:37] I
saw that you launched your e-design course and I follow you on Instagram too.
And I just wanted to talk to you today because I think a lot of designers
starting out can can learn a ton from you. So you are in Virginia is that
Chaney: [00:01:57] So
I was I grew up in Virginia and that's my phone number still is OK. But I live
in Philadelphia now actually. So we'll see. Ok yeah moved up here about three
and a half years ago. My husband went to business school up here. So that's
what brought us to this area. We really like it it's been great.
Jess: [00:02:20] How's
cold is it called out there.
Chaney: [00:02:23] It
is actually flying to Florida today I think for about a week. I'm excited
Jess: [00:02:32] Nice.
Jess: [00:02:58] So
can you tell us how you got started in the design industry. I read about your
blog. I know you were premed before is that right.
Chaney: [00:03:09] That's
right yeah. So I actually started out in biomedical sciences that was my major
in college and went to grad school for a genetic counseling which is like a
tiny little subspecialty in medicine and practice for about four years. But on
the side I had always been pursuing creative things.
Chaney: [00:03:29] So
it kind of varied over the years what I was doing exactly. But it was mostly
geared towards kind of home design DIY projects crafts those kinds of things.
And so over time I had started another blog that had some good traction and
good following and people started asking me for help for their own homes. And
so over time I kind of figured out like I want to be more in the interior
design niche but I need to figure out how to make that work with my lifestyle
and my goals and all those kinds of things. And so eventually I launched mix
and match design company which is where I am today. And that took some time to
develop. I didn't go to school for design but I knew I had a good eye. And that
was just a matter of figuring out how to make that work for me.
Jess: [00:04:21] Great.
So the DIY blog. Was that just your own personal projects that you were working
Chaney: [00:04:28] It
was. Yeah exactly. So we moved into an apartment we were and we at the time
looked into a tiny little apartment but I just knew I wanted to kind of make it
my own. So I spent a lot of time working on that and that was really what the
blog grew into was focusing on those kinds of projects in my own home and then
started to help friends and family out on the side.
Chaney: [00:04:52] As
a result of that was kind of gaining a following and stuff like that and how
long did you have that blog before you started to see people come through and
ask for you know for your advice or you know or to hire you for certain
projects. Sure. So I had been writing the blog for about probably two and a
half or three years okay for that started happening. And it was mostly just you
know personal blog to try and track my journey if you will and then keep
records of what I had done in our house and stuff like that. And then I ended
up shutting that blog down and it's still it still exists but not actively
writing it anymore. In order to start the interior design an exclusive focus Mix
and Match Design company so that has its own blog of course. And then I started
formally offering my services back in 2015 through
Jess: [00:05:50] I
saw that you offer edesign as well. Is that's something that you started doing
right away with Mix and Match.
Chaney: [00:05:57] It
was. Yeah I actually started my business to focus on e-design exclusively.
Jess: [00:06:03] Why
e-design if you don't mind me asking.
Chaney: [00:06:06] Yeah
sure. So I did a little bit of testing prior to really launching my services. I
did one full design project. I did all the install and ordering the products
everything a full service firm would do. And I really didn't like it to be
perfectly honest I didn't enjoy that part of the process and e-design or online
interior design had started kind of coming around. It was still pretty new in
Chaney: [00:06:36] Like
some of the larger matchmaker services were starting to kind of get their names
out there and right start to hear it started they hear about e-design through
those and then realized that you know I enjoy working from home. I like working
with people online for different in general and my last job was actually
completely online healthcare and so using all of those things together I
decided to focus on the e-design part of design.
Jess: [00:07:05] Got
it. Okay. And then with your clients we just communicating to them through
video chat or how does that work.
Chaney: [00:07:15] So
it's primarily through e-mail and then some other digital platforms. So it's
you know through some different things like Ivy software and designfiles things
like that do a little bit of streamlining of the communication and processes.
But it's mostly through e-mails how I you know get in touch with people and
pull them to work with me and stuff like that.
Jess: [00:07:41] Okay
got it. Yeah and know these big companies started popping up one a couple of
years ago. Like you said and then they started to e-design started to become
really mainstream where everyone you know kind of knew about it but it was a
new thing for me when I when I first heard about it through these bigger
companies have you always worked on your own or did you ever partner with these
these other big companies as well.
Chaney: [00:08:11] I
did a little bit of partnering with them at the beginning of my business and I
used it to kind of get some reps and get some more experience with working with
different kinds of clients. But I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to be on my
Chaney: [00:08:26] I
didn't want the restraint of someone else kind of controlling what kinds of
services I could offer or deliver. And the payouts of course you can't dictate
that either. I wanted to have more control over the processes. And what kind of
clients I could attract based on packages and pricing and things like that.
Jess: [00:08:45] Right.
Yeah that's definitely true I know. Like even communication is like a big thing
to where you want to be able to communicate with the client directly and you
know have them be able to easily ask your question without having to go through
a third party. That was a big thing for me.
Chaney: [00:09:08] Yeah
it feels like there's an extra step in between. Not as much of a personal
connection right as it is working with someone directly I'm right there with
you on that.
Jess: [00:09:17] So
what was that moment for you when you decided to leave the health care industry
and go into to Mix and Match Design full time.
Chaney: [00:09:25] Oh
that was it was a big leap and it was a little scary. But it was actually my
husband's encouragement that I decided to take the leap. I tend to be a little
bit more conservative and in general on things like career path than
entrepreneurship and things like that. And and he was the one who said you know
you really love this stuff you want to do it. If you're going to grow a
business into something that is you know bigger than just the side hustle
you're going to have to take a little bit of a leap of faith. And I agreed.
Chaney: [00:09:57] You
know I thought that that was absolutely true. And even if it was a little bit
scary that it was probably going to be worthwhile long term. And I sort of had
that you know I can always go back to health care if I want to later on. It's
not that I really dislike it but I just knew that I wanted to pursue this other
passion and see if it would work. You know and so you know we were in a good
place for me to take a risk and so I've been spending I spent the first year
kind of honing in the business model and figuring things out. And then the past
two years I guess almost has been really just growing the business and figuring
out if there are different ways that I can extend it. And you know the course
is one of those ways the blog is one of those ways. Instagram social media all
those kinds of things are extensions of Mix and Match and I've really enjoyed
kind of dipping my toe into different areas and figuring out what I love to do
Jess: [00:10:56] Right,
what have you found to work the most for you as far as you know getting new
clients onto your onto your site.
Chaney: [00:11:07] So
there's a few different ways. I would say that there's probably word of mouth
is my best way. So like basically shouting it from the rooftops and letting
everybody know that this is what I'm doing full time. For a while I was a
little bit scared to put that out there.
Chaney: [00:11:26] But
as the business has grown and people have started to trust my eye and my
aesthetic and been willing to you know pass my name on to people that's been a
huge source for me of people coming in the doors. And then the other social
media and I would say that Instagram has been a great way for people to get to
know me and my aesthetic. And you know whether they remember that that's the
first way they came across me or not. Oftentimes it's like oh I found you know
your your aesthetic and the way you talked about design to be very approachable
and real life. And I felt like what you were doing was something that I could
see come alive in my own house too. And so that was something that I felt like
it was important for me to kind of establish out as a part of my brand and
bring people in through social media as a way to reach beyond my kind of
Jess: [00:12:24] And
have you been. Have you been using Instagram. Like I've been posting mainly
your projects or sharing like I know people use Instagram differently where
they just share their portfolio or are they kind of you know mix and match with
different companies and share you know other designers work as well. What have
you found works for you. Is it posting daily you know projects that you've
worked on personally or just you know mixing it with inspirational images as
Chaney: [00:12:58] Yeah.
So it's definitely both for me. I think that it's a combination of it's about I
would say Two-Thirds my own work and then a third inspiration from other
designers. Because the design blog is also a big part of my business.
Chaney: [00:13:15] You
know pulling inspiration for people sharing my own projects all that kind of
stuff gets mixed together. But I think that you can learn a lot from other
designers not so Id like to use that as both a way to teach people and also as
a way to encourage other designers. I think that we can create a great
community out there social media and by sharing each other's work. You know
it's not necessarily creating competition. Where people are coming to you for
your aesthetic your brand your price point. You know let's be practical though.
Like the person who can't work with Emily Henderson or Uber interiors or
something might love their aesthetic but it's not in their price range or
they're never going to be able to work with someone of that caliber. And so the
rest of the design community is there for them. And so I think that if we can
make sure that the right people are finding the right designers and then I see
no reason why we shouldn't be sharing each other's work.
Jess: [00:14:19] Yeah
totally agree with that. Yeah like like you said it shouldn't be you know
competition we should be kind of rooting each other on and. And at the end of
the day it's kind of your aesthetic that you're showing in your your Instagram
handle. It's like you trying to give people you know a look and feel of what
you what you what your taste is to so
Chaney: [00:14:42] Right.
Yeah and your personality is behind it a lot of things that someone you know
doesn't like the way that you talk on Instagram quote unquote in the captions.
They're probably not going to work with you. And that's OK. They're not your
ideal client and its about you know finding your voice finding your brands and
sticking to that is maintaining the lane as I think very important. Doesn't
mean you can't do other things and certainly no build on what you have. But
it's it's important to find that voice and really share that with people and
people will rally around that. I think to
Jess: [00:15:16] So
you use Instagram as your number one social media platform. Do you blog still
blog weekly how you were doing before.
Chaney: [00:15:28] Yeah
I blog twice a week. Tuesdays and Fridays you can expect new posts. And so the
Tuesday post is focused mostly on a couple different topics. It kind of rotates
depending on what I had kind of in the in the hopper but it's usually something
either inspirational. It's some sort of educational content or it's something
that I'm sharing like one of my projects. Then on Friday's It's more of a kind
of called them shopping post that's not exactly what it is but what it is is
it's a rotation of kind of different series. Right now doing something called
Get the look where I pull a photo from you know Pinterest or somewhere in
another blog and find some pieces that people can purchase to get that look in
their own homes so they can recreate it. So that's targeted towards you know
people who are could be my e-design clients and kind of getting the word out
there about what I can do and creating either e-design boards. Stuff like that.
Chaney: [00:16:31] But
it's not just a resource you know people love to see the look of of another
space come to life in their own home. So if I can sort of help bridge that gap
from inspiration to reality then that's kind of the purpose of those hopes.
Jess: [00:16:44] Yeah
I know you're part of a thread. I think it was last week when someone asked is
blogging still working for people and I saw you answered on that you still have
your blog. But I know for some designers it's like you could get so lost in you
know there's so many different avenues that you could go. I like how a certain
particular topic for each day. And I think that's kind of narrows it down
Chaney: [00:17:18] Yeah.
And I've been blogging for five and a half years now and so it's it feels very
natural to me. But when I got first got started it was intimidating and hard.
And like you know what am I going to talk about. What am I an expert in what
can I say. And I think it just takes practice. So there's anybody out there
who's thinking about blogging. And one thing you can do is just try it you know
go out for a month not go out but you know what I mean for a month of no
blogging and plan to blog once twice three times a week try out you don't even
have to tell anyone that you're blogging.
Chaney: [00:17:57] You
know it's not going to pop up on a lot of searches. It's a brand new blog
anyway. So if you can just try it and see how you like it and if it's something
that you can commit to and then I think it's worth a shot. There are a lot of
benefits to blogging. I think you know not just education but there's a lot of
benefits like SEO and ways to get Google excited about your content pull it up
on search results and stuff like that. But I think it's beneficial in a lot of
different ways but you do have to commit to it. I would say consistency is
still very important in the blog world.
Jess: [00:18:30] Absolutely.
And and you just released a course a new course on How to launch an e-design
Chaney: [00:18:40] I
did. It's been really fun for me to put together. And the reason I wanted to do
this was because about I would say six or eight months ago I started getting
pretty regular inquiries from other designers who were interested in e-design
as being a part of their business or are kind of aspiring designers trying to find
their place in that world. And I would get these e-mails saying you how do you
do this. How did you launch an- e-design business. How do you grow on this. I
have all these questions. Can we chat. And so I would be hopping on the phone.
Chaney: [00:19:16] You
know once or twice a week with people kind of talking them through how I did
certain things or answering their questions and I realized that pretty quickly
there was a need for something more comprehensive and that there wasn't a whole
lot of straightforward targeted education about e-design and not even just
e-design. But the business model itself though you know how do you actually
price your services how do you market them to people. All these things that I
kind of spent you know my first year in business figuring out and toiling
through and trying really hard to do. But you know some things are successful
some things are not. And so it just took some time for me to figure out like
what is it that people want how can I be helpful and how can I enable people to
start these businesses off on the right foot. And so that's where this course
came in. And you're right. It's called How to launch an e-design business. And
it's open for enrollment now and it will be open through the end of the month
in February. So there will be kind of a cohort if you will of people who enroll
this month. And then you know over time I'll be opening it for different
sessions for people to join too.
Jess: [00:20:29] So
this is something that they could do online is live or via video modules that
they could watch at their own pace.
Chaney: [00:20:40] Yeah
it's the latter. So it's all prerecorded content and there's four main modules
that are about four hours total video content. And then there is additional
kind of resources there's a workbook there's a couple of other little tutorial
and different one and by calling them different templates.
Chaney: [00:21:08] There
we go and templates for you to download and try and fill out and use in your
business. So it's a pretty comprehensive course that covers a lot of different
ground. It doesn't teach you how to design. I would say so it's for people who
already kind of know that they want to be e-designers. They're just trying to
figure out how to do this business itself.
Jess: [00:21:32] Yeah
cause I know. I mean when one of the biggest problems is finding clients.
There's so many different avenues that you can go like with mainstream
companies or of or being on your own and trying to get you know your own
clients to come in and come on your site. So yeah it's great that you have this
program because it's it's kind of like a step by step guide that they could
Chaney: [00:22:01] Yeah
exactly. And I wanted to make it easy for people who know I didn't want people
to have to struggle like I did at the beginning of a business. And certainly
once you complete the course there's more work to do. You know you don't just
turn a key and then the door opens and all the clients come in. Right. But I'm
giving you a lot of tools a lot of kind of getting started tools and resources
that will really help you get off the ground. And then from there it's about
you putting in the work and the time to actually implement all those things.
And it does take time.
Chaney: [00:22:36] You
know this is not an instant solution just like any business you know it doesn't
just magically happen but if you are willing to put in the work and kind of
take these tools and information and resources with you then you'll get off on
the right foot for sure.
Jess: [00:22:52] And
how long did you stay the course was. Like how many weeks would it take for a
designer to finish the course.
Chaney: [00:23:03] Oh
I see. And so it depends on your pace. OK I know there is. There's four hours
almost five hours of video content that you need to watch. OK. And then there's
a 20 page workbook to go through. So you know however long it takes you to kind
of do the exercises. It's kind of up to you how much effort you want to put
into it. You're going to get more out of it wherever you put into it. But I
would say probably over the course of a couple of weeks you'd be able to get
through the material. I had one person who signed up last week towards that. It
just opened February 5th and she already completed all the video modules by
this past weekend. So you can definitely do it quickly it just depends on how
much disposable time you have and you well if you're working full time it makes
take a little bit longer. If you're a student or something then you may have
some more flexibility to do these on a faster timeframe. Right.
Jess: [00:24:03] Yeah
and then the Web site for your teaching course where could designers find that?
Jess: [00:24:12] They
can find that at Launch and E-Design business at teachable. Dot com a little
bit of a long one.
Jess: [00:24:18] I'll
include it in the show notes as well.
Jess: [00:24:46] Before
I let you go do you have any advice for other designers that I wanted to do
what you do well besides taking your course.
Chaney: [00:24:56] If
I'm going to be selfish I'll say take the course. No but I think that it really
is about just getting out there. I think so much of the hurdle is just getting
started. So if you can take a few steps that point you in the right direction.
I think that that is just one of the best things you can do for yourself and
for a business. And you know sign up for a course maybe mine maybe somebody
else's maybe it's one of yours Jessica. But you know do those things those
little things to help propel yourself forward. I think sometimes an
anticipation is more scary than reality. So if you can actually move forward
and take a couple of steps it'll you'll start to breathe a little bit you know
and realize that it's not quite as scared as you might have thought and you
have to work hard. I think that's the other thing.
Chaney: [00:25:48] Be
willing to put in the work in the hours and you know that effort will pay off.
Definitely. And tell all your friends and family and everybody in your Facebook
feed and everybody that you're doing this and that'll help you get your name
out there. R.
Jess: [00:26:04] Right.
Because now you're accountable you have to.
Chaney: [00:26:07] Exactly
if you have a lot on the Internet and you are accountable for sure.
Jess: [00:26:11] Well
thank you so much appreciate your time and I know a lot of designers will get a
lot of valuable information off of it. So thank you.
Chaney: [00:26:19] You're
so welcome. Glad to talk to you. This is fun for me too.
Jess: [00:26:23] Yeah
enjoy sunny Florida.
Chaney: [00:26:27] Thank
you. I will be glad to escape the 23 degree weather.
Chaney: [00:26:37] I
really hope you enjoyed that episode with Chaney Widmer of Mix and Match.com.
She's a perfect example. You know you don't need formal training if you haven't
an eye. And you have a passion you believe in your talent and your services you
can be really successful. You know what's great about having your own e-design
business. What I love about having my own business is that you know it's your business
you set your own hours your rates your payouts and you know if you don't feel
comfortable doing it on your own right away you could start off by doing what
Chaney and I did by partnering with some of these bigger e-design companies
just so you could get the feel of what it's like to work online with clients.
Jess: [00:27:24] So
if you're serious about starting your business and you don't know how to get
started and you're you know you're willing to put in the hard work. Check out
Mix and Matches course how to launch an E-design business. It's open enrollment
now so people can join. And she teaches you how to get started. All right.
Thanks so much for listening. Until next time.