Another victim of the economic downturn

I was at a designer event recently and chatting with some colleagues when the conversation, as it invariably does these days, turned to the economy and “what little business there is”. One of my friends – a sophisticated and successful professional – told us that he had just had a client postpone a project because “it wouldn’t look good right now”. Oh. So – not only are we dealing with folks who have lost actual money and those who are worried about future losses – but we also have to deal with “perception” factor – showy is clearly out. Meanwhile – the client’s decision to postpone the project, not because of lack of cash, but because of how he felt he might be perceived, meant that the designer lost income. And so did every trades person associated with the job – painters, seamstresses, upholsterers, electricians, plumbers, etc. Income they all use to pay their bills, shop in their local stores and eat in local restaurants. Quite a domino effect. Of course, we all have to make decisions about how we spend – or don’t spend – our money and no one really has a right to question us. But, it gets one thinking about the effect emotions have on our economy.

I then heard the following interview on NPR:


I’ve done a lot of chatting with designers over the past few weeks and everyone reports varying degrees of loss of business. From reduced budgets to postponements to full on cancellations. And these are designers who have been in the business for 20+ years.

Which brings me to me. I’ve run my own firm Chameleon Interiors for seven years. Two years ago I had a waiting list of clients, a bookkeeper and an intern. I’ve appeared on television and have been interviewed in many national publications and local glossy magazines. Since that banner year, my business has fallen off in lock step with the downturn in housing values, the credit crunch and now the full on implosion on all fronts. If designers with 20+ years in the industry are losing clients – what’s a relative newbie going to do? The bookkeeper is gone, there are no interns – how does one lay off oneself? Is there a severance package available? Anyone…? [crickets…] Just to be clear – Chameleon Interiors is not officially closed. I left a lucrative job in public television business management because I was looking for a more creative career. And I found it. But the reality of the situation is that I am single and have only my own income to support me and this is a bad time to be self-employed in the housing industry.

Well, my blog has flourished and I am so grateful for all my blogging friends, those who comment and email me with questions, virtual design clients and all the bloggers whose work inspires me every day! I am, basically, a glass is-half-full kind of person and while I am job hunting (anyone have any leads?) – I am grateful for the creative outlet of the blog and all that it brings. Yay blogging!

My resume is available upon request!

xoxo Linda

8 thoughts on “Another victim of the economic downturn”

  1. On The Today Show this morning, there was a story about wealthy shoppers who have started to ask for plain, white shopping bags from upscale boutiques. Seems they are also concerned with how they’ll be judged if they are strolling down 5th or Madison with shiny, logo covered evidence that times aren’t so tough for them.


  2. Hi Linda,

    It’s tough out there and unfortunately I don’t think things are going to pick up any time soon. The only silver lining is that the current industry landscape will force amateurs out of business and hopefully free up clients for professional designers. Hope things pick up for you soon!

  3. Oh, Linda! I am so sorry to hear this. I too know your pain, as I am also a self-employed designer. I am 28 and my business is 2.5 years old. It HURTS. I had more clients call me this year than ever, but I’ve had more of those clients cancel due to financial woes. My husband and I purchased a larger home in the beginning of this year upon the contingency that I had clients stacked up and it looked like my business was finally taking off! Well, that didn’t happen 🙁 We’re making the best of it, though. I had to start working through a storefront to gain exposure/clients and it’s STILL tough.

    I wish you all the best and hope that chameleon interiors bounces right back!!!! It’s GOING to get better, I know it!

  4. Linda, I hope things get better for you soon. texas is the best place in the country now, because of the oil business but we are always behind the country by about a year. regardless, my business is awful right now. just awful. luckily I’m not single.

    They say it may be better next year second quarter. I hope so.

  5. Two words: That sucks!

    Linda, if there is one person on this earth who could weather an economic downturn, it’s you.

    You make an excellent point that when people, who clearly have the desire and the money, pull the rug out of project, it further hurts the economy. Instead of giving to charity, why don’t they put people to work?

    Good post, as always. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities for you.

  6. The designers in New Orleans are operating in a bubble. There seems to be enough work now, but everyone is looking ahead to the Spring. We think there will be a crash and a thud.
    The clients with money (if you are lucky to have any of those) are still spending, albeit, discretely.
    White shopping bags indeed.
    Linda, you write so well.
    Think about exploiting that talent.
    Don’t despair. Talent always prevails.
    xo xo
    PS Thanks for the lovely shout out on your side bar! What a lovely surprise for me.

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