What Level is Your Design Business?

Chanae Richards: An Unconventional Path to an Interior Design Business

Episode 743 of A Well-Designed Business®
743: Chanae Richards: An Unconventional Path to an Interior Design Business

Today with Chanae Richards

Welcome to a Well-Designed Business. The journey to building a well-designed business isn’t always linear. Sometimes designers come from the most unlikely of careers. That’s something we have heard many times on the show. But today Chanae Richards shares the story of how she founded her firm Oloro Interiors. Not only did she come into the space as a second career, but she even built her interior design business in an unusual and unexpected way. She has made some very unique decisions along the way that have led to her success.

Pick it apart:

  • [22:24] Chanae shares her unconventional story, which started in finance and then included Peer Space rentals before design.
  • [29:37] Chanae and LuAnn dive into how she secured 500 rental bookings in two years, laying the foundation for her design referral base.
  • [36:50] Chanae discusses how seeing another successful Black designer fueled her decision to leave her career and start her business.
  • [44:55] Chanae reflects on her decision to shift her business to 100% referral-based.
  • [1:04:30] Chanae highlights her Entrepreneurial Retail Center—a way that she gives back to the community and helps those who live in public housing start their own entrepreneurial journeys.

LuAnn and Chanae Richard’s Ah-Ha moments:

“There’s the confidence, and there’s the know-how behind that confidence. It’s not just the showy ‘I know it all,’ but it’s why you know it and how you know it and having them believe that you understand the guts to it.” -Chanae Richards

“What’s interesting about this is that when you think about if somebody hypothetically said, ‘I want to be an interior designer…I have my education and my internships and I have my chops and I’m ready to go, but I don’t have clients yet. Should I start focusing on a rental space while I try to build my design business?’ You could line up ten business coaches and more than 50% of them would say, ‘No, don’t divert your attention.’ But you did it because you didn’t ask anyone’s permission, and that’s sometimes the best thing in the world. And it worked for you.” -LuAnn Nigara

“I’m able to do all that I do, simply because I have hired and cultivated great teams, both at the firm and the Center. I have a number of people who are simply brilliant and I mean that. I hire great people and empower them to do great teams both inside and outside the firm.” -Chanae Richards

More about Chane Richards:

Chanae Richards is the CEO & Principal Designer of ọlọrọ interiors, an interior design firm with offices in Philadelphia and New York. Her curated spaces and design expertise have been featured in ELLE Décor, Business of Home, Philadelphia Magazine, and Apartment Therapy as well as on national syndicates including MSNBC, National Geographic, Vice, CNN, and The Travel Channel. An inaugural Philadelphia Mural Arts Fellow, Chanae also serves as the Managing Director of Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Entrepreneurial Resource Center, a groundbreaking initiative providing residents with free business resources and support for community innovation.

Chanae received her BA from Temple University and MA and MPA from Rutgers University. She is also an alumna of Bank of America Women’s Institute at Cornell University and a member of the Black Interior Designer’s Network.

Connect with Chanae Richards:





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Mydoma Studio: Mydoma is your complete designer toolkit. Mydoma makes it easy to streamline your processes, track projects, communicate with clients, and get organized. It’s created by designers for designers, specifically to address what you need as a business owner. I’ve said countless times that systems and processes are how you reach the next level of profitability. Mydoma Studio makes it easy to do that. You can get 20% off your first three months by going to mydomastudio.com/awelldesignedbusiness.

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What Level is Your Design Business?