Women Who Inspire: Lindsey Frank
In a world of visual, often inauthentic noise, Richmond designer Lindsey Frank shows us a better way, the reason (among many others) why we've featured her on our Women Who Inspire Series. Follow her on Instagram where she offers glimpses into her genuine everyday life as a designing mom, balancing her career, her crew and the current COVID climate.
From the scary leap of launching her own design firm to being "allergic to money," Lindsey welcomes us into her story as it continues to beautifully unfold and inspire designers across the States. Scroll below for the inside scoop on how she's built upon her career and which podcast is a must-listen for aspiring entrepreneurs!
1. DESIGN IS AN ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK CAREER. HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR CAREER LIFE WITH YOUR FAMILY LIFE AS A MOM?
Well, I sort of gave up on trying to be perfect and manage it all myself because “myself” was starting to let important things fall through the cracks.
I have a wonderful husband who is extremely hands-on, supportive parents (both mine and his) and the best circle of friends who have literally chased after our school bus to save me from having to drive my oldest to school! (Rough morning) But, it takes a village, I tell ya, and I thank the Lord for mine!
2. TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY AND HOW THAT JOURNEY HAS UNFOLDED OVER TIME TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY.
I have to first give credit to my mom who started advertising my “design services” when I was a teen. I was into art and design pretty early on and would make money here and there by organizing and refreshing spaces and personal shopping (for home decor). For a few years, I even decorated family and friends' homes for Christmas.
Once I started working, I really only ever worked for local home decor stores where they’d quickly move me from a sales clerk position to designing their displays and merchandising. I remember one year at Christmas, I decorated at least 20 Christmas trees - all with a different theme!
In college we were encouraged to apply to large, commercial-based design firms so really, the focus of design school was largely based on building design, ergonomics and how to build a portfolio that would land us a decent job at an architect firm.
I graduated in 2008, in the midst of “The Great Recession,” and the small residential firm I’d been working for (and loved) was forced to scale back; and eventually it closed, leaving me with babysitting jobs and waiting tables at the Olive Garden - thankfully that didn’t last long. A friend in my apartment building happened to be an engineer for the city and was aware of my situation. I was pretty close to having to move back home with my parents when he called to let me know that a job had become available at a local civil engineering firm he worked with. They were in dire need of CAD Designers. Thankfully my experience with CAD in school got me the job, and within two weeks, I had my own cubicle in a sketchy part of town behind a crematorium and a McDonalds that was all too frequently held up.
That was the most interesting part about my time there!!
I took a leap of faith in 2011 and left the firm to start Lindsey Frank Design, and I’m pretty certain it has been one of the best, most scariest decisions I’ve ever made!
3. MINIMALISM OR MAXIMALISM, OR IS THERE A HAPPY MEDIUM?
I have to laugh because, I’m pretty sure maximalism is engrained in my DNA, but I fight it for whatever reason. I could easily become a hoarder of all the 100s and 100s of things I love - John Derian’s shops in NYC feel like Heaven to me! But then I come home and think, there is something to be said about a clean, minimal space - especially with two messy little boys!
4. IS THERE A DESIGNER OR ARCHITECT WHO HAS INSPIRED YOUR JOURNEY AND DESIGN WORK?
I have always, always admired the work of architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van Der Rohe, and I am immediately drawn to the West Coast design styles of Heidi Caillier, Amber Lewis, Leanne Ford and Brian Paquette.
5. WHAT ELEMENTS OF A PROJECT WARRANT YOUR "YES" TO THAT OPPORTUNITY?
I’ve been pretty fortunate in that I’ve never had a project where, right off the bat, I felt that it wasn’t a good vibe. I think what gets me most excited though is when a client has seen my work and relates to it in some way. It’s an instant vote of confidence that I will gladly take because we all know how nerve-racking it can be to meet new clients and start their very personal project!
6. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ASPECT OF YOUR CAREER THAT MAKES YOU COME MOST ALIVE?
The variability of my job is what gets me up in the morning. It’s constantly changing, evolving, and I feel like I’ve got a front row seat, watching the process of a simple design grow into something awesome.
I really love working with people, creating new relationships, learning new ways to design better and that feeling you get when a project’s well done.
7. WHAT'S A CHALLENGE YOU'VE FACED THAT HAS BROUGHT A VALUABLE LESSON IN THE END?
Oh goodness. Charging for my services is, and will likely always be, my number one challenge. My husband often jokes that I’m “allergic to money,” but I feel like it’s a common dilemma for all designers especially when you’re first starting out. Then that rolls into time management which is also not my strong suit. Makes you wonder how in the world I’m even a designer, doesn’t it!? Let’s just say, it’s still a work in progress for me. I’ve learned the hard way more than enough times, but with each new project, I get a little wiser, a little more efficient and a little less likely to be lectured by my husband!
8. ANY BUSINESS OR DESIGN TIPS OR SECRETS FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO GET STARTED IN INTERIOR DESIGN?
Creating a circle of design peers is key! There is zero room for competition in this industry. Every single one of us has something different to bring to the table so the best thing we can do is to learn from and support one another. No one else gets you like your designer bffs!
Also, it’s important to figure out your personal style, find your niche you might say. That’s when the stars aligned for me. Granted, we all have to start somewhere. I once had to design a room around a humongous hunter green leather sectional, and it made me feel like I wasn’t a good designer because I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. But, I stuck it out and started designing my own house in between those jobs which helped me. It allowed friends, family and neighbors really see what I was capable of and where I stood in design.
And, that leads me to another huge tip - Instagram!!! It's the best FREE marketing service out there, and you should use the heck out of it to your advantage! Once I started posting photos of my own interior spaces and design inspirations, people started hiring me for MY style. In fact, most all of my clients will start a conversation with “I follow you on Instagram”.
9. WHAT'S BEEN ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER?
Working with the incredibly talented photographer Anna Williams on our last project, and also with the guy who introduced us - my awesome contractor who gives me a hard time about my crazy ideas but always manages to make them happen. We have a great team.
10. WHAT ARE A FEW THINGS YOU'RE CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH?
I currently cannot live without my AirPods especially now more than ever. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, I feel like I am on the phone all day long. It’s so nice not having to hold it up to my ear! Ha! How lazy am I!?
I am obsessed with Madewell’s Bergamot & Amber Soy Wax Candle. I could probably burn through one a day, it makes my entire downstairs smell so good.
11. WHERE DO YOU SEE DESIGN HEADING IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
I think design will become much more digital - from the tools and programs we use to run our business to how we interact with clients and them with us. I see this business becoming a lot more efficient and client-driven.
12. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR WORKDAY, OR DO YOU HAVE A DAILY RITUAL THAT YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?
I do my best work in the morning - two cups of coffee, with my Indie playlist on in the background. That’s also probably my favorite part of the day because my head is clear, and I have the whole day ahead of me!
13. WHAT'S ON THE HORIZON FOR LINDSEY FRANK DESIGN?
Once we get through this pandemic, we’ll start hosting monthly pop-ups featuring our favorite small businesses. We have plans to grow our team and are in the preliminary stages of designing some fun outdoor spaces!
14. ANY FAVORITE BOOKS THAT YOU CAN'T PUT DOWN?
I’ve been reading “American Dirt” and cannot put it down!! Also, I recently purchased “Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots - Planting Advice & Recipes” and I’m hoping to finally grow my own fruits/veggies this year!
15. WHAT PODCAST OR RESOURCE HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST FROM IN SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS FOR SUCCESS?
I started listening to Jenna Kutcher’s “Goal Digger” podcast when she first got it going, and it has been one that I consistently go back to and replay for numerous reasons. I immediately fell in love with her authenticity and uplifting personality, she has such a knack for explaining business strategies that are easily digestible, and I’m always left feeling motivated and inspired.