Designing rooms comes naturally to Baltimore native Ajia Monet because…well, she’s done so much of it.
Growing up, she used to have to move around lot and so she was constantly decorating and redecorating her room.
She used to have a cushy job with the United States Postal Service but in 2015 she decided to give that up and follow the American Dream – become an entrepreneur doing what she loves.
She is now the principal designer of A’Blige Interior Designs that offers design solutions to residential and commercial clients, with a special focus on the lower and middle class community. Her considerable prowess has earned her client from the world over.
And I was very lucky to be able to catch up with her for a quick chat…
How long have you been in the industry and how did you get your start?
I have been in the industry for three and a half years and I got started by using a friend’s home to showcase my work. I thought by using my friend who had a big following at the time (2k was a big deal back in 2014 lol) I could get some great exposure and get people interested.
What would you say have been your biggest successes and biggest struggles working in the interior design industry?
I would have to say that my biggest successes in the industry have been the constant growth in my social platform and broad exposure across the world.
My biggest struggles have been balancing my crazy work load in addition to being able to grow a diverse clientele base.
In the course of your daily work, what do you find to be the biggest sources of pain & aggravation (i.e. what are your biggest daily hurdles)?
I would have to say that my biggest daily hurdle has to be BALANCE, managing my emotions & delegating so many different components because like in most small businesses/firms you have to wear so many hats.
I typically consume myself in work 90% of the time and the other 10% revolves around everything else (self care, parenting/ motherhood and family/ friends).
What do you do to keep up with the latest trends in the industry?
I’m able to keep up with new design trends by reading up on some of my favorite design articles in magazines (HGTV, Elle, Architectural Digest etc).
Being very vigilant in whatʼs going on in our design community whether it be from watching social media design vlogs/ blogs, keeping up with our yearly design trade shows or just visiting local design & furniture showrooms.
How would you say that you are able to differentiate yourself from the competition?
I canʼt say that I look at myself or other designers as competition. I like to look at us as collaborators. We all bring different aesthetics, skills and experience to the table which means itʼs enough room for all of us to win considering clients have their own taste and they are looking for someone to cater to.
In addition in my design community we often always communicate with one another whether itʼs to give a pat on the back, give advice, or just see how things are going.
I can say that some of the things that may have set me apart from other designers is the fact that I am one of the youngest in my design community, having started my journey during a demanding time where not many millennial or minorities were offering such services, and lastly the fact that I hadn’t attended an accredited design school so I grew my business organically with no guidance or formal training and was able to establish a consistent yet broad clientele across the States.
Is there anything that you know that you wish someone had told you when you were getting started in the business?
When getting started in the business I wish someone wouldʼve told me how to operate a business so that I wouldnʼt be almost four years in and still learning.
How did you find clients in your first year?
Found clients by constantly promoting on social media!
What do you do differently now?
Ha! Great question, I work Smart not hard. I have systems and policies in place that allows me operate better in addition to assist our clients have a better experience. I was able to do that by playing close attention to what was working and what wasn’t.
Do you have a referral program?
We currently don’t offer a referral program, however look forward to adding it in the future.
How do you collect your testimonials?
We typically have our clients give us reviews via our Houzz and Google profile. I think website testimonials aren’t always that credible.
I hope this interview inspires you to go out there and follow your dream to be an interior designer. You’re never too young (or too old) to start.
And remember, the world of design opportunities is large enough for everybody to succeed. Never collaborate out of fear (that competition will crush you) but never be afraid to collaborate.
And finally remember. A formal certificate can help you succeed; but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have one. Just doing something you love will also lead to success.