Are you currently working in a job where you feel like your potential is being stifled? You’re not alone. Claire Fishburn Jones felt the same way, and sought out a life coach to help her through it. Her solution? To quit her job and open her own interior design studio. Claire chats with us about how that decision changed her life, how she navigated the first years of her business, and why it’s important for her to work with women in a male-dominated field.
1. How did you get started in your industry? What led to your passion for your career?
This is actually my second career. I had no clue what I wanted to do for a job and I fell into the market research industry after I graduated from UCLA. I worked there for almost 10 years and I hated it. I would cry to my mom every night on the phone saying that I wasn’t reaching my potential. She suggested I see a life coach and at first I resisted it because it seemed like such an LA thing to do. But it changed my life. Over several sessions, we refined what my ideal career would be and landed on interior design. I started the interior architecture program at UCLA Extension immediately after and it just felt so right.
2. What were some of the bigger challenges you experienced in getting started?
I had no idea what I was doing. I jumped straight from school into starting my own business. I didn’t intern or work under another designer and that was definitely a disadvantage. I had to figure out everything on my own and with the help of so many great people who were generous with their time and advice. For years, I felt like a fraud because I was just figuring things out as I went but I now realize that the first years of anyone’s business are similar. You don’t know everything right away, or really ever.
3. How has your life changed now that you’re pursuing your passion and living your dream?
I’ve been on both ends of the career satisfaction spectrum so I can really appreciate and feel grateful where I am now. Some days are really stressful but most of my time I feel energized and inspired by my projects and clients.
4. What’s your favorite part about owning your own business/your career?
Autonomy. I hate being told what to do. I love that I get to decide what each day looks like. I feel so privileged that I can turn down clients that don’t align with me personally or aesthetically. Enjoying my day-to-day life is very important to me and being in charge of my schedule and workload is worth every pain point.
5. What does supporting women-owned businesses look like to you?
In our industry, there are so many white men (architects, contractors, subs) and supporting women-owned and POC-owned businesses is very important to me. I do make a special point to seek out small businesses that align with my values. I have a female architect that I love to work with and I was saying to a client the other day that I just need to find a female general contractor to make the perfect trifecta.
6. How has your brand/packaging/website changed or improved your business?
It was a total game changer! The process helped me clarify and refine what I wanted my actual brand to project. It leveled me up in so many ways and it gave me so much more confidence in my business. I feel so legit now. I love handing out my business cards and I am so happy that my website now beautifully reflects me and my brand.
Know of someone we should interview for our MoneyMak(her) series? Send us an email here.