What Level is Your Design Business?

Mina Duque: Starting an Interior Design Firm in a Foreign Melting Pot

Episode 639 of A Well-Designed Business®

Today with Mina Duque:

Welcome to A Well-Designed Business. Can you imagine starting your firm in a foreign city—one where you have no connections, no network, and where you haven’t even visited? That’s exactly what Mina Duque ended up doing. Today, she’s sharing her story of how she started her business in Tulum, the unique challenges presented by working in a major melting pot, and how she grew her business even without a community and network. 


Pick it apart:

  • [18:00] Mina shares the challenges and triumphs of working with different cultures and communication styles.
  • [36:24] LuAnn and Mina discuss the value of mentorship and how to set parameters within the relationship.
  • [44:38] Mina discusses how 3D renderings not only changed the landscape of her business but gave way to her husband starting his own rendering design company. 
  • [52:54] LuAnn and Mina talk about the book Rocket Fuel and the importance of intentionally scoping out business goals. 

LuAnn and Mina Duque’s Ah-Ha moments:

“We do that all the time in business…we say to our vendors, ‘Just give it to me straight, I need to know.’ But you’re saying as a culture, that’s not likely to happen. It’s so deeply engrained…and to them, there’s a level of respect in not saying a boldfaced no.” -LuAnn Nigara


“I always tell my vendors, I so prefer that if you think that something is going to take two weeks, tell me it’s going to take four weeks, because if you deliver sooner, I’m happy, but if you deliver later, I’m not happy.” -Mina Duque


“We get really good at visualizing, but that’s not everyone’s forte. So something that sounds really good or looks good on paper, when you see it in real life, you’re like, ‘I’m not really crazy about that.’” -Mina Duque


“It builds so much more trust and confidence in my client when I can show them everything in advance before they start spending money.” -Mina Duque


More About Mina Duque:

Mina, the principal designer at Interiors Tulum, founded the firm in early 2019. Her style is influenced by her unique background growing up between Casablanca, Morocco and Los Angeles, California. Mina grew up between Casablanca, Morocco and Los Angeles, California. Her degree from USC, along with her world travels and experience as a property manager for Airbnb’s, influence her design and decision-making process every step of the way. Her Moroccan background adds a unique accent to her designs blended with the relaxed, Caribbean bohemian vibe that she works with so often. She is an ambitious, driven woman, enjoys research, suffers little risk adversity, and celebrates exploring new cultures and ideas. Now with her business expanding she has a few employees and is striving to create a company culture that reflects her values of honesty, reliability, authenticity, and passion. Working with people from different backgrounds and celebrating their cultures energizes Mina as she loves to learn about their history and discover ways that she can help them enhance their lifestyle by designing relaxing and luxurious living spaces. Currently based in Tulum, Mexico, Mina lives with her husband, Fernando, and their high-energy rescue pup, Lulu.

Connect with Mina Duque:





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A Big THANK YOU to Today’s Podcast Sponsor:

Revel Woods: Revel Woods is dedicated to providing premium hardwood and resilient flooring curated for your design and needs. They offer a wide range of perks for perks we offer interior designers, contractors, & industry professionals. Visit revelwoods.com today to get started.


Kravet: Kravet is the industry leader in to the trade home furnishings. You can easily shop Kravet, Lee Jofa, and Brunschwig & Fils all in one place. Introducing new and easy to use search features so you can find the latest products and collections right at your fingertips. Use promo code AWDB10 for a 10% discount on Kravet fabric, trim, and wallcoverings. 


Other Shows Mentioned: 

#291 Cheryl Luckett – From Side Hustle to Full Time Interior Design

#267 Rasheeda Gray: A Pipeline With Over 20 Interior Design Projects in Under 2 Years

What Level is Your Design Business?