What Level is Your Design Business?

Katie Ryan Pluer: Strategies for Taking on a Business Partner

Episode 977 of A Well-Designed Business®

Today With Katie Ryan Pluer

Today with Katie Ryan Pluer we are discussing what it takes to build a successful business partnership in the interior design industry. Katie brings a wealth of experience in business development, marketing, and advertising — along with a successful track record of buying and selling businesses. She has a keen understanding of what it takes to create a profitable business, and has spent the past few years getting settled in the interior design industry as Vice President of Natasa Jones Interiors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

If you have a partner or are considering one, or if you are looking to scale your interior design business anytime soon, Katie is here to share valuable insights. We are getting into the nitty gritty of partnership — from evaluating the business and legalities to personalities, percentages, and profitability.

Pick It Apart:

[1:11] Katie shares how she and Natasa met while working together more than a decade ago, how they realized they were a good fit for partnership, and how they began working together again in their current roles.

[5:52] Katie discusses how she officially approached Natasha about becoming partners and the process of having the business evaluated and buying in. 

[14:40] LuAnn asks Katie what business owners need to think about before they get their business evaluated for sale or partnership.

[29:03] Katie outlines how she and Natasha negotiated the terms of their partnership, including ownership percentages, legalities, and the importance of open and honest conversation.

[41:46] Katie emphasizes the value of tracking both revenue streams and profit margins.

LuAnn Nigara and Katie Ryan Pluer’s Ah-Ha Moments

 “We’re kind of like a Venn diagram. Like, I have my little part, she has a little part. And then we intersect. And the stuff that we intersect—we’re just like on the same page. But we’re also not afraid to challenge each other.” – Katie Ryan Pluer   “If you’re running your business, you should pay yourself.” – Katie Ryan Pluer   “If you are considering a potential partnership with someone, and before you make the purchase, and the final deal, if you can’t have open and honest conversation, then…how the heck do you think you’re going to have it when you both have skin in the game?” – LuAnn Nigara                                                                                                            “Sometimes there’s some ego in ownership and creating your own business. And if you’re willing to put that ego aside and bring someone in that can help grow your business—grow it together—it’s really worth it…If you find the right person that understands and has as much love for it as you do, I think it’ll be a good fit. – Katie Ryan Pluer

More About Katie Ryan Pluer

Katie Ryan Pluer holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of WI-Madison. Katie is an entrepreneur, and currently is a Partner & Vice President at Natasa Jones Interiors. Her expertise is in business development, marketing, and advertising. Over her 20-year professional career, Katie has used her skills to promote and grow business across several industries including interior design, finance, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. She has bought and successfully sold several businesses including (4) uBreakiFix stores and Sign Gypsies MKE.

Katie has had the honor and privilege of serving on the development committee for Nia Imani, the Board of Woman for MACC and as the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council at Lueder Financial Group of Northwestern Mutual. She has a passion for service and a love for Milwaukee. Katie was raised in a culture of caring for those in need, and volunteering as a way to make an impact on the community.

Connect with Katie Ryan Pluer



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Other Resources Mentioned:

  WCAA 2024 Jill Robson Memorial Scholarships

Other Shows Mentioned:

AWDB 570: Natasa Jones: How to Maximize the ROI on Any Webinar, Course or Conference


AWDB 646: Aymee Kuhlman and Molly Kidd: Building a Friendship and An Interior Design Partnership


AWDB 672: Flash Back Friday: Tiffannie White, ​The Nappy Bohemian: Your “Only” and Lessons From a New Interior Design Business


AWDB 857: Power Talk Friday: Shannon Lopez: The ERC Program – Do NOT Skip This Episode!


AWDB 876: Natasa Jones: Making Bold Moves to Achieve Big Results


AWDB 919: Window Treatment Friday: Sara Lynn Brennan: How to Sell Window Treatments in Your Full Service Interior Design Projects

What Level is Your Design Business?