What Level is Your Design Business?

Susan Yeley – How Where You Live Influences Your Interior Design Business

Episode 208 of A Well-Designed Business®
208: Susan Yeley – How Where You Live Influences Your Interior Design Business

The guest on today’s show is Susan Yeley, of Susan Yeley Interiors, in Bloomington, Indiana!

A few weeks ago, Susan contacted LuAnn, because she listens to the show a lot and she thought that the particular challenges that she faces in her Design Firm could make an interesting topic. After learning a little more about it, LuAnn agreed and she really hopes that you will too. Listen in to find out about the challenges that Susan faces in her business, which is really defined by the area she lives in.

Susan started out as a struggling graduate student in Religion and Philosophy at Indiana University. She later took an unpaid internship at Thomas Jobb, a furniture and fabric showroom in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and became hooked on Design.  She then enrolled at the Harrington College of Design and eventually landed a job at a high-end Residential Design Firm in River North. Susan and her husband finally returned to their roots, a few weeks prior to the birth of their first daughter, in 2005. Listen in now to find out more about Susan and the specific challenges that she faces, when it comes to her business location and the fees that she charges.

Show highlights:

  • Susan explains what the demographic is like where she does her business and also what the factors are, that contribute to making it a little different to LuAnn’s usual conversations.
  • Susan’s really intentional, yet flexible approach to her business.
  • Many of Susan’s clients have never worked with a Designer before.
  • Trust is a really important factor in business, in Susan’s close knit community.
  • The packages that Susan used to offer, to sell her value and services to her small town community.
  • Why she eventually discontinued the packages.
  • The conversation that Susan had with a friend, that caused her to examine the perceived value of her services. Now she makes no mention of figures on her website.
  • Susan’s Gut Check On A Potential Home.
  • The really interesting blend of personalities in Susan’s wonderful team of really skilled staff.
  • The rationale behind Susan’s website.
  • Susan loves the small town life, even though it really makes it harder for her as a Designer.
  • Most of her money is made from once-off, hourly consultations, so Susan is really forced her to think creatively about how to make money, every day.
  • It’s not been a feasible option, so far, for Susan to make any money from product markups, so she and her team have to think really creatively about what Interior Design looks like in their particular culture.
  • Some of the ways that Susan is trying to generate an income, in her tricky community.
  • Susan’s online initiative, to sell things through her website. It’s almost like a Town Gallery.
  • The mid range price point items that have been identified, that Susan and her team are working hard to make ‘trade only available’, in order to generate some more income, via her website.
  • Making money from property flips.
  • Incorporating Enoch Sears’s (#202) idea, to collaborate with local Architects.
  • The three P’s that Susan relies on- Planning, Priorities, and Patience. They really work for her!
  • Susan’s take on Design Therapy.

Susan’s website:


What Level is Your Design Business?