As we wrap up this year’s AIA Convention and Expo, we are sharing a terrific conversation we had with Niki McNeill Brown, an interior designer. Ms. Brown is a respected and notable interior designer in the Triangle, NC area. Niki’s experience includes time on television, with shows on HGTV like “Design Wars” and “Elbow Room” followed by success with both commercial and residential design experience.
Ms. Brown owns her own practice in Raleigh – McNeill Brown Interior Design – where she delights in offering personalized experiences to each of her clients.
Please meet Niki McNeill Brown.
My name is Niki McNeill Brown. I am an interior designer. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I have been doing interior design for going on 14 years now. So, it’s been a wild ride and I have had various experiences.
What stage of your interior design career would you say that you’re in right now?
Right now, I am in the stage of my career where I am making more selective choices about the clients that I work with. I have gone through 10 years of all types of clients, working for companies and then working for myself. And so now I’m at the point where I’m able to be more selective about who I choose to work with and how I choose to work with them.
Are there things that set you apart from other interior designers? And if so, what would you say they are?
I would say what sets me apart from other interior designers is the various roles that I’ve been as an interior designer. I have worked in residential firms. I’ve worked for architecture firms. I even worked in TV doing TV production for a little while, and now I work for myself. And so, I am able to bring all of those experiences to my clients with a different perspective.
As an interior designer, why does being true to your worth and word, selecting only jobs that you’re proud of and that are meaningful to you make a difference to you?
As an interior designer, selecting jobs that are valuable to me is important, because I understand that this is an investment, whether it is for a business, whether it’s for a home, it’s an investment. And I always tell my clients that I’m treating their money and their time as if it is my time and my money, because you can’t get time back. And we work very hard for the money that we put into our homes or our businesses, and so that is why I really try to be selective.
How does your personal style make a difference in your professional aesthetic and the way that you conduct business?
I tell people all the time, my mother has been my stylist since 1985; that’s when I was born. She is very stylish, and she’s always loved dressing her little baby doll, which is me, her first baby. And it’s just always been fun. Her influence, and also, I think about my Aunt Rutha, my father’s older sister, always reminded me that being well dressed is a form of politeness. She would always impart that in us. “Dress as if you’re going to meet the queen whenever you can, and always dress better than you feel because it might make the person that you’re interacting with feel better.”
As an entrepreneur, how do you make a difference to stand out to potential clients and new projects?
I have been blogging since 2007, and when I started blogging, that was really what social media was. There weren’t actual Instagram or Twitter, but social media as a form of connection wasn’t where people were connecting. People were sharing their lives long-form and blogging and actually commenting on each other’s blogs, reading each other’s blogs. And so, I already had that habit formed before I decided to pursue interior design and create an interior design company on my own.
And so, I bring that same mindset into my marketing, if you will, because I know that people really want to work with someone, they feel like they know, like and trust. And in order to get that know, like and trust, they have to know about you; you have to share with them, and you also have to be kind and have a track record of doing well for other clients.
Watch the interview with Niki here –
Each month and sometimes more, we feature professionals in the building, design, and creative fields that embrace doing things differently in their work. The “There is a Difference” series is a platform to share and learn a different point of view and its success. We invite you or someone you know to share how you approach your work differently and the success it brings. Simply send a note to Shawn@DraperDNA.com.