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Katie Sargent


Business: Katie Sargent Design
What? Interior Design studio


1.     How did the idea for your business first come about?
I think it has always been my goal, perhaps unconsciously, to work for myself since I entered the workforce. Coincidentally all the businesses I have worked for have been headed by strong, decisive and successful women, and so it has never felt out of reach to be a woman and strive to be at the top of my game. It has only been in the last year however that I have felt the time was right to start my business. I had been living in London for four years working under two different studios and whilst I loved my work, I yearned to be making the design decisions myself. As my 30th birthday loomed in December 2016, I felt like it was the right time to return to Australia and re-establish my roots here. The natural progression was to throw myself into my own venture.

In essence, the catalyst was the desire to really own my work and establish lasting relationships with my clients as my own entity and not under someone else’s name.

2.     When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all in and start your business
I tend to throw myself completely and utterly into my projects, maybe too much so! They become my babies and the client-designer relationship ends up being very intimate. I found I was working so, so hard for my bosses to serve their clients to the best of my ability, with little appreciation.
I am a lover of change. If something isn’t working, I have a very low tolerance for suffering! I tend to become agitated and restless if I am not highly stimulated. I can honestly say I am highly stimulated now.
Starting my business I believe was a culmination of those things, and quite a big change - especially as I hadn’t been working in the design industry in Australia. This was and is a challenge as I am building my database and networks as I go. There is a huge amount of research to be done. However, I see this as a little barrier but not insurmountable by any stretch.

3. What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them? 
The first year of business has been an emotional rollercoaster. It’s bloody hard! My business is still in its infancy, so the struggle is very much still real. Cash flow was and continues to be a big struggle as I build my profile. I’ve also struggled on a personal level to not compare myself to my friends who have quite rightly sown the seeds of their corporate careers.

4.     What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
I am working on two stunning properties in my first year, which I am thrilled about. One in QLD and one on a Greek island. Travelling to Europe to source materials and visit the site is a definite pinch me moment.

5.     Starting a business can be gruelling -what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
If I am not feeling it, I actually just concede this is not going to be my morning, day or afternoon and I don’t force it. I might submit to Netflix for a few hours or just really take it easy. Quite quickly I become bored and am back on the horse. As I mentioned, the little wins keep me motivated, as does positive feedback from my clients.

6.     What do you do to create a work-life balance?
This is very tricky and I would by no means claim to have mastered this. Working from home helps, because straight away you gain a couple of hours commute time. I often work on weekends, but I also make time for family and friends. I think the first few years of business are incredibly demanding and I knew that from the outset so I don’t resent it. I think family and friends tend to be aware and supportive of your journey, at least mine have been! I try to exercise, and eat right, although that is hard with no set routine from day to day. Ask me in a few years!