What Level is Your Design Business?

Carly Waters – Steps to Success in Your Interior Design Business

Episode 211 of A Well-Designed Business®

Today’s guest on the show is Carly Waters, the Principal of Carly Waters Style. Carly has really loved design ever since she was a little girl. As the daughter of an attorney, however, she followed in her Dad’s footsteps and became an attorney too. Listen in to find out how she ultimately managed to change that and follow her heart and her dreams.

Carly graduated from UC Hastings in 2010 and started out in what would be a career in Family Law, at an esteemed Law Firm in San Francisco. Her heart really wasn’t in it though, so when she went on maternity leave while pregnant with her son, she rediscovered her love for interiors. She designed their apartment in San Francisco and got it featured on Apartment Therapy. This was when she started taking on some Design clients, on the side. After going back to practicing Family Law, however, she realized pretty quickly that it was time for her to leave the law behind. So, when they moved to LA for a job opportunity for her husband, Carly decided that this was the right time for her to strike out on her own, so she started Carly Waters Style in 2014. Here’s the thing- in these three short years, Carly has been featured in My Domain, People, Rue, Simply Spaced, Apartment Therapy and Martha Stewart. Listen in now, to find out how Carly managed to achieve all of this, in such a short period of time.

Show highlights:

  • Carly explains how she managed to achieve all that she has, only three years after opening her firm. She really went about it in an intentional way and hired a Coach, Annie Little, who specifically helps attorneys to leave the law. She also spent a full six months making preparations and getting her ducks in a row.
  • Carly really made use of her friends and connections to get ahead in her business.
  • Carly started out initially with organizing clients.
  • After about six months, she decided to take things further and started working with a Realtor and found a house to renovate. This was the house that she used for her portfolio and it was also shot for her My Domain feature.
  • Carly realized that she can’t do everything, so she hires people who are experts and she oversees them. She helped a friend with her office, in exchange for putting all her drawings onto CAD.
  • What really stood out for Carly, from her first big project was that you should not try to ‘band aid’ the problems in the house, because it will eventually end up costing you a whole lot more.
  • It’s really important to have your plans and drawings ready, before bringing the contractors in. You will always have problems to solve, however it really does help to be prepared.
  • Carly has really learned to see her worth and understand her value, over time.
  • Carly has really made full use mentors and her network of friends and connections, to help her to learn out about the aspects of the business that she needed to understand.
  • How Carly managed to be published in so many publications in such a short period of time. She used her contacts and knew that she really had to have professional photographs, amongst other things.
  • Carly explains about her hourly rate and about her minimum fee of $5000, both of which she’s stated on her website.
  • You really need to surround yourself with people that really support you and elevate you.


Carly’s website: http://www.carlywatersstyle.com

What Level is Your Design Business?