Act 2: You're On!

Client Focused & Passion for Design, Mark Haddad from Interiology Design Co.

November 14, 2022 Kate & Rhonda Season 3 Episode 6
Act 2: You're On!
Client Focused & Passion for Design, Mark Haddad from Interiology Design Co.
Show Notes Transcript

Interested in interior design? Would you like to learn some great design tips that will immediately improve your daily life and spruce up your seasonal decor that won’t break the bank? Want to hear about the design industry with all the knowledge and none of the snoot?
 
Act 2: You’re On is delighted to introduce Mark Haddad, an award-winning interior designer and President of Interiology Design Co. - a full-service, certified interior design firm based in the greater Boston area.

Known for its unparalleled client experience, innovative design solutions, and impeccable service, Interiology helps clients transform their homes into luxurious, exquisitely executed, inspiring spaces that express their distinctive style and envelop the way they live. The results are custom-tailored interiors that clients are excited to come home to and share with those they love.

Interiology Design Co. launched The Experience Studio in 2019 to put what’s best for clients at the heart of everything they do. The Experience Studio is a meticulously curated collection of the finest furnishings, fixtures, and finishes installed and operational in residential spaces for a uniquely immersive design experience. So whether you are interested in hiring the best Boston has to offer or you are just interested in design, you are in for a wonderful conversation.

Highlights include:
“I worked with a professional coach in 2001, and decided that I had so many years of teaching behind me that I should set goals, that would be a three year learning process. And if I didn't meet those goals, with my experience, I could go back and teach. And about 18 months into that process, I met all the goals and never looked back.”

“ I had already gotten a master's degree, but I was willing to get another one. And the best advice they gave me is they said, I learned more on the job in those three years of going through that process than I would ever get other than the theoretical nature of going back to school.”

“I think it's also being willing to take the chance, because that's that's probably the biggest hurdle is to take that leap. You know, there's risk is there's personal risk based financial risk is professional risk, there's so many risks involved that, that I know, so many people that wouldn't have the gumption to do that. And I think it's being able to have the support system in place, and the personal drive to say, I'm going to take the chance and do that.”

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Rhonda: Welcome to Act 2:

You're On. Join Us Weekly at our studio roundtable as Rhonda

Kate:

and Kate invite spectacular guests to weigh in on staying vibrant and healthy.

Rhonda:

Launch your next great act with authenticity and purpose.

Kate:

Summon your courage superstar and step into the limelight. So grab a coffee

Rhonda:

or a martini, and let's set the stage for a grand entrance. It's Act Two.

Act 2 Share Our Stage:

You're on.

Kate:

Greetings, friends, and welcome. My name is Kate Leavey. And I had the great pleasure of podcasting with one of my dear friends and co host

Rhonda:

Rhonda Garvin Conaway. And we are also joined by our very talented producer Cathy Carswell.

Kate:

Well, friends, I am thrilled to introduce our guest today who is not only at the tippity, top of the interior design industry, but he's also an old friend, Mark Haddad and I have known each other for years and years since we were young and beautiful musicians and I actually showed up once to Mark's house, auditioned for a show - obviously, I slayed it because I got the part - but he didn't tell me until 20 years later that I had shown up one day too soon. But he's such a graceful gentleman. He never, never told me that one until recently. So let me read you a little bit about his bio.

Rhonda:

Yes, please.

Kate:

Thank you. Mark Haddad is an award winning interior designer and president of interiologydesign company, a full service certified interior design firm based in the greater Boston area known for their unparalleled client experience, innovative design solutions and impeccable service. Interiology helps clients transform their homes into luxurious, exquisitely executed inspiring spaces that express their distinctive style and envelop the way they live. The results are custom tailored interiors that clients are excited to come home to and to share with those they love. Interiology design company launched the experience studio in 2019, to put what's best for clients at the heart of everything they do. The Experience Studio is a meticulously curated collection of the finest furnishings, fixtures and finishes, installed and operational in residential spaces for a uniquely immersive design experience. Welcome, Mark.

Mark Haddad:

Thank you,

Kate:

at long last, here we are,

Mark Haddad:

I'm so glad to be here with you both.

Kate:

And I have to say, because we have known each other for so long, I feel like you've been good at everything you've ever done. I feel like you've just always brought a standard of whether it was music or academics. And then your interior design, just always, you know, at the top of the game, and you're so gracious with people, which I think is that combination is really what's led to your success. And I have to say I have also the good fortune of having a kitchen that was designed by Interiology and it brings me joy every single day. It's a gorgeous space. And people love being in my kitchen. I love being in my kitchen.

Rhonda:

It's true. It's warm and beautiful and welcoming.

Kate:

And that's all thanks to Mark and his team. Every single day - I am grateful.

Mark Haddad:

Well, thank you, I'm so flattered by that and, and to hear that, that kind of joy that it brings you daily is really our goal and how that helps your life and helps improve. You know, I've had clients tell me exactly what you've said that you just love being in there every day. And I've had clients say, you know, I make the same food I did in my old kitchen, but it just comes out better in the new kitchen, because you just have a different atmosphere to be working in. There is definitely some subliminal truth to that, that you just do things when you have better appliances, or a better space to prep and you end up making your favorite recipes just better. Because of the environment in which it's being produced.

Kate:

The spaces have been produced and crafted to the particular family. So I've been into several houses where they boast an Interiology kitchen, and they're all really unique. It's like the same level of incredible finish, but they're very unique to the family. And I felt like when we went through this experience a long time ago with you. But I love the fact that I felt very much involved in the process even though you and Steve are you know, at a different level. Steve's in real estate and he sees all of the amazing trends and knows what he loves. Plus he's a cook so it's so he's so passionate about it. You just speak so beautifully about the options and and there's no snootiness, I never felt left out. I felt completely involved, but I was with people who for whom design is just you know, it's it's what they do. And I felt like you were incredibly gracious. We only argued about one thing but I appreciate that. In the end, I actually won because if you remember, I wanted my kitchen counter or to be like a big old fashioned, I don't know, farm kitchen feel. And it was kind of fighting the design that we had talked about. But in the end, we somehow made it work. I just love my kitchen, I just feel so grateful.

Mark Haddad:

And I'm very pleased that I gave it on that too, because the end results were really worth, you know, and I think what's what's so interesting about an interior design career, whether it be as a certified master Kitchen and Bath designer or full service design firm that we are, because we don't do just kitchens and baths, we do the whole home, and furnishings and accessories. And really just to make the space is really unique. And I think you hit on that very clearly, when you talked about all the different homes that you know, that you've been in, that we've worked on, is that that's one of our hallmarks is that we really create unique environments, because we design for the client, we don't design for us. And I think that's one of the big things that makes it very personal for my clients. And it also makes it very interesting for us because no two projects are ever alike. You may steal a concept from one project, but that only becomes a very small part of you are the catalyst for the project moving forward to be able to say that every day is a different, that's not an exaggeration, because every client is different. Every project is as unique as the client is. And it really keeps it keeps us on our toes. It keeps us excited. It keeps us learning. And it's it's a lot of fun.

Kate:

Well, that's clear. And it's art. It's just another form of of artistry for sure. I'm thinking of a friend in particular, whose house I think they're completely addicted to you, because their entire house is now an Interiology house.

Mark Haddad:

I know which you friend are talking about

Kate:

and I walked through that house and again, my jaw is always like, how do you I mean, it really it's so unique. It's just gorgeous work, but but I'll stop gushing. Rhonda, you can say something.

Rhonda:

I feel like we've bumped into this, but I'm feeling curious about something on your website, you describe a detailed concierge level of service. And I think when you talk about the individual and collaboration that sort of encompasses, but would you speak to it? Because I think you'll do so far better than me.

Mark Haddad:

Sure. Absolutely. So I think what one of the things when we rebranded ourselves as Interiorology in 2017, and then opened the experience studio, as part of our design services in 2019, was to really hone in on being client centric, and focusing in on what does a luxury client look for. So when you think about that, in just life, in general, when they travel, you're going to the best of hotels, you're using the concierge for your dinner reservations, for excursions for anything that you're going to do to enhance that vacation. So we decided that it was very important for us to bring that concierge level of service to their home. And why not provide that kind of unique opportunity for the clients to work with a design firm, and work with designers at a level that they're used to when they would think of it just as something that they do occasionally. So our concierge level of service is really a handholding. We take them through every step and every level of detail. I think Kate said it really well earlier that we don't judge. And we help and we guide and we advise, and we try to push the envelope a little bit because we're more up on the opportunities that are out there and the options that are there. And it really is that one on one personal level of service that we provide through the whole design portion of the project. And through the actual renovation or installation of the project. We are consistently on site were completely in contact with the clients, and the contractors and anyone else, any constituents that are working on the project. And we essentially become the liaison between all of the different components so that the clients feel at ease. They can be off doing their job, they're working, they have a life to live. And it's our job to provide that detailed level of service to become their eyes and ears as the process moves forward.

Rhonda:

And I'm struck by the fact that you did engage in a rebranding process. Yeah, those folks who are listening that have a small business or a bigger business or who are entrepreneurs that are thinking about reinventing themselves. What would you say to those folks out there have out that process and the importance of it or the challenge of it, because sometimes I think we think we have to be one thing. But that's just my perspective. I'd love to know your thoughts.

Mark Haddad:

Well, interesting that you should say that Rhonda, it. I was too many things before. So part of the rebrand was to focus, and really hone in on what is it we do best? What is it we want to do better at? And how do you meld those things together and become a specific brand, if you will. And in our case, we wanted to become more of a luxury design brand. One of the best things I did I, as Kate knows, changed careers. 21 years ago, I was a high school teacher, and became a HUD school administrator. And through that process, I was in charge of buildings and grounds, worked my way into working in the new construction pieces of the campus. And lo and behold, you could have you froze me at the interior design piece, because I never that's where I knew, I this is what I needed to do. It just I was enamored by it - loved it just never knew how to define that. I worked with a professional coach back in 2001, decided that I had so many years of teaching behind me that I should set goals, that would be a three year learning process. And if I didn't meet those goals, with my experience, I could go back and teach. And about 18 months into that process, I met all the goals and never looked back. I was fortunate to stay in touch with that coach. So then you fast forward 16 years, and I worked with the same coach to make the decision about focusing and rebranding and taking the company to the next level. So when you think about if my advice to people would be sometimes you need that objective third party, who has the experience and who has the advice and can really take that help you get to the next level, I guess would be the best way to say that. And really always looking to never be satisfied. I think for me, I'm always striving for what's next. I'm always looking for how do I improve myself, I take everything so personally - if something doesn't work, like what did I do wrong? How can I avoid that in the future. And I think when you take all of those pieces, and I think personality has a lot to do with it, it really, it guides you and advise you as to how to make it to the next level and how to how to grow. I liked that process.

Kate:

Being dissatisfied, or I feel like I'm naturally discontent. So I always want to be building and creating. But it takes a while to understand that as a virtue. But it's probably why you're so good at what you do. Because you're constantly striving, learning and developing. And that gives you forward motion. I just kind of want to go back in time. And and I'm thinking about when you were doing music, and then you were working. And you had that experience where you felt called to be more. Did you always love design? Because I have to say I'm thinking back to your apartments. And you know what apartments look like when you're in college? Well, Mark's was so together actually, you've always been freakishly together. Like, did you know then that you love design? Or was it that experience at the high school?

Mark Haddad:

Yeah, I think you know, it's one of those, it was a lot of pieces that were just undefined. You know, how do you know at 18 years old what you want, right? So you and I'm experiencing that with my own children now, you know, I think we take a different approach this many years later, that you don't have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life when you're in high school. And I think I didn't have enough direction. When I was in high school, I loved architecture. And I loved design. I used to dabble in it, even just for fun, but never knew that you could make a career out of that. Because I didn't know anyone that was an interior designer. I don't even think I knew an architect when I was that age, and that it was always a passion. And it was always something I love. I was always creative. But it was from the music side. And I was always more in the performing arts than I was in the visual and creative arts. But it's still creative. It's just using a different part of the brain. And I think it just became something that I decided I could tap into the more I matured and the older I got, and then had also the the resources and the venues to explore and try things. So I think it was a combination of my own passion for good house design, good furnishings, good finishes, and then my experience as a school administrator in that field. It just grew from there. I have to say I had two opportunities. I think that also defined this career for me is when I was working with the contractors who were in the development team that was building the addition at the school. I said to them, you know, I'm really interested in pursuing this as a career Oh. And I said, What do you recommend that I go back to school for - Kate, you know, you have several degrees, I can't say I have as many as you, but I'm willing. I was willing to go back, I had already gotten a master's degree, but I was willing to get another one. And and the best advice they gave me is they said, I learned more on the job in those three years of going through that process than I would ever get other than the theoretical nature of going back to school. I always say things happen for a reason, you know, we get put in places where they were right. And I was working with one of my neighbors who said, Can you help us design our kitchen, I had no experience in it. But I helped them, they went to a kitchen showroom locally, the owner was impressed with what they were presenting to him and said, Who did this for you? And I ended up meeting with him, he said, I can teach you how to design, what I can't teach you is how to interact with people. And I think that that was one of the best pieces of advice he gave me. Because it gave me the confidence to say I'm coming in with experience of working with parents working with administrators, working with professionals in the design field, what I didn't have really was any experience at the time. So he was willing to take a chance on me because of what I could bring to the table and the things that he felt he couldn't teach me. And that's really how it began. And then ironically, once a teacher, always a teacher, I ended up started teaching kitchen and bath design at Boston architectural College in their adjunct program for the certification students, and ended up without even the degree passing the highest level of certification. So it allowed me to almost learn along with them as I was teaching. So it's really amazing how all the different pieces come together. And really kind of define those next stages in the next roles in both the company, the career, you know, your own personal growth,

Kate:

So many nuggets in there, and it is good, it's good also to hear, you might have all of the gifts that you need. And then you need a mentor or someone who can help you kind of shape those or give them direction. I also think that you, you mentioned before using or getting to speak with a coach, I'm sitting next to one here who's extraordinary. But it really does help to have someone think things through and prod you and and help you see all of the gifts that you have. And it really it's really helping you figure out the path and then say, yeah, go try, what's the worst that can happen?

Mark Haddad:

Right. And I think it's also being willing to take the chance, because that's that's probably the biggest hurdle is to take that leap. You know, there's risk is there's personal risk based financial risk is professional risk, there's so many risks involved that, that I know, so many people that wouldn't have the gumption to do that. And I think it's being able to have the support system in place, and the personal drive to say, I'm going to take the chance and do that.

Kate:

But also make that practical plan you had said before you were going to give yourself three years. And if you didn't meet those goals, then you knew that you had these other skills. But I think that, you know, that's, that's a roadmap to success, because you're set you're giving yourself, you know, bite sized things that you need to achieve. And also saying, and then in the three years, man, I've got to make a new plan. That's a practical way to ensure success. And I would say you've, you've done it, you've more than done it. I mean, really, you're at the tippity top of your industry, award winning - the stuff that I see in magazines that you're putting out, it's just, I just bow down to your artistry and all in a very humble person. You're like the right level of confidence. And, and yet, there's a humility. i That's again, I think I've already said it, but I loved working with you because you were not intimidating. I think I would naturally be intimidated by design because it's not my art form. And it's not something that I have such an appreciation for it but it's it's not my thing. And you really are the educator and you really came through like I felt very, like I said involved but also educated and, and I knew what my options were. And I knew that my opinion was important. And I don't know if all interior designers who were at your level would be that welcoming.

Mark Haddad:

Well, that means so much to me. I'm flattered and I think that that I'm so glad to hear that from you because I think that's what made you an ideal client. It's always hard to work with people you know.

Kate:

Yes!

Mark Haddad:

I think that's always that's a risk because you don't want to ruin the friendship over something Oh, yeah. And I don't know why this one floated into my mind. professional. And I'm always competent when I work with people, whether it's a relative or friend, because I feel that I can separate the personal and the professional. Because in my But can I share this one of the funniest moments, in our case, it's not that much different. You know, I try to treat everybody like a friend and become, get to know them on experience? Sure. So we had a friend who was serving as an a personal level, what made you an ideal client from the professional side of it, is that you did trust, you did listen, and you wanted the input. And that's what makes it non electrician for us who is a great guy. And so we were intimidating for you. And I think that's ideally, you know, what puts you in that top 10% of clients, I think you're a talking about lighting, and he was, I don't know, he wanted to perfect example of that. It's all about relationship. And if there's a trust factor, and the relationship develops, it's what makes the project excel, because you listen, and you know that put in fluorescent lighting. And Mark says, "The F word, you just we're not going to steer you wrong. And that what we're going to recommend, or what we're going to suggest, or what we're going to implement, will meet, or hopefully exceed all of your expectations said the F word." And the electrician was baffled. He's

Rhonda:

That's amazing. I was thinking so many folks are gonna like, huh, and he said, fluorescent. It was hilarious. I don't know why you probably don't remember it. But boy, he still talks about it to this day. He's like, "You know, I still do occasionally put in the F word. But I think of it every single time I do." want to follow Mark and get in touch with them after this interview. But until that point in time, I was hoping you might share a little bit of insight for those of us who can't connect with you right away - what to do. And we've heard stories, and there's been a lot of research about how popular home design has been, especially during the pandemic. What can folks do? What are some maybe quick down and dirty tips or tricks you could offer us

Mark Haddad:

Oh, so many come to mind. One of my favorites. And one of the easiest things to do, and we talked about this with our New England cable news several years back, was you want to make a quick change in your home. And you just give it a whole different look, is change your accessories on your sofa. So one of the quick things I love to say is, if you have a series of toss pillows and a throw blanket, switch them and switch them seasonally. And the biggest thing is people say, Well, I don't have anywhere to store pillows, you don't actually store the pillow, you only have to store the cover. So you reuse your inserts and get different covers have the same scale, same size. And then you can change them for the holidays in the winter, put in a summer theme. And it just gives you a constant refresh all the time for very little money and very easy for do it yourself project. The other one that I was always inspired by. So I have a client who used to repaint the front door every year, just for a different look. And it was a very easy thing. They would do it themselves. And they would just pick a crazy color. And you'd see you know, when you drive by the house, the door was or in the next year, it was a dark green, the next year was purple. And it just gave the house such a good personality. And again, very simple, very easy to do.

Rhonda:

That is fantastic.Thank you for that.

Mark Haddad:

Oh, you're welcome.

Rhonda:

And the door piece is so sweet. Because I feel like that's even inviting your neighbors and community in when someone does something like that. Everyone's on the ready to see what the new color will be.

Mark Haddad:

Absolutely. It definitely is a topic of conversation and becomes interesting, because sometimes it's very subtle what they choose. And sometimes you can choose something pretty bold. And you know, it's as I always say it's a can of paint. It's very simple. It's very easy. Yeah. And not very expensive. Yeah.

Kate:

What has surprised you the most about your business or about the design industry? Or, you know, as you launched into your second act? I don't know what was surprising along the journey for you.

Mark Haddad:

Oh, gosh, that's a hard one to answer. I'd have to say, you know, there are days that I have to pinch myself and say can you imagine I'm getting paid to do this because I love every moment of it. So that I think was really surprising to me because it doesn't feel like work. I think one of the funny stories is had had it having been a teacher for so long is that I never realized people were actually out in the middle of the day. So to actually drive from client to client, and say, Wow, this life outside of like a seven to three schedule, even sometimes now I still say, wow, people are out for lunch. So that's just a little tidbit. But I think the big thing was the the idea that every day is different, and that I'm actually earning a living on something I absolutely love to do, and that it changes. And I love that variety. And I love the the spontaneity of meeting new clients. And I think, you know, I think the other thing that has been really rewarding for me through the whole process is the people. It's really what drives our company, it drives us because we're all about the clients, and meeting such wonderful people along the way. And some who I even still keep in touch with and client, there are clients who, who just keep in touch just because not because we're doing work for them anymore. And that to me is very meaningful, that we've touched them in such a way that they want to stay connected.

Kate:

All because you were brave. But imagine if you didn't take that brave step. And it was cool, because it was that was 180 degrees from what you were doing. And yet not because your skills were so transferable, but you did have to learn - you did have to humble yourself. And, and but how many of us out there actually get to do something we love and have a vision and build it. And that's that so many lessons that you have provided in this....

Rhonda:

And it feels like a true adherence to a calling. Because our homes and our houses and our dwelling space are very important and personal to us. It's where we make our memories. It's where we go through hard times. It's where we go through sad times, it's where we have happy times, and the space in which we do that matters in how it holds the energy and how it reflects what is most important to us. So to have someone come in and listened and really tailor it to the individuals need is a real gift.

Kate:

Well, and imagine that you make somebody's daily life? Better?

Rhonda:

Yes.

Mark Haddad:

Yeah, it's a really special place to be and so humbled that we get to do that. And you know, Rhonda, you just made me think of something, just like we as career people, small business owners work with a professional coach. That's what the homeowners doing by hiring us. They're hiring a professional coach for their dwelling. And I look at it as we are there to advise, we are there to guide and make sure that the end results are perfect.

Rhonda:

That really rings true. Everything you say for sure.

Kate:

So here we are this exciting time in our conversation where we go to the golden nugget. And this is a segment of our interview where we invite you to weigh in on what our listeners need to be successful in launching their next great act or a bit of wisdom from your journey that you could offer up to our listeners.

Mark Haddad:

Oh, I think there's a couple of things I would say, first of all, follow your heart, you have to do what you truly believe in in yourself and have the even if you don't have the confidence to do it, believe that you can, if you're passionate about it. And I think the other big thing that was so important for me was the support system around me whether it was my family, whether it was my professional coach that I worked with there, the ability to have a sounding board, the ability to have a system in place for people to be objective with you is so important to give you the confidence to make that leap.

Kate:

Yeah, that's a good point. And I actually do know your lovely wife, and she also thinks you're brilliant and you're handsome and wonderful. It does help having that support. And also having like you said the coach and the objective element in that path.

Rhonda:

Very inspiring. My friend, we are coming to the point in time where we are going to be wrapping up but before we do, could you share with us what you're thinking about for your next steps?

Mark Haddad:

Wow, my next steps are really to continue to grow in the path that we are with interior ology design company. Over the past five years, since we rebranded there has been a trajectory that we want to stay on. And that's been exciting. And then you know, I'm really looking at rebuilding the company to a level where it's self sustaining, so that eventually hopefully, I can retire and then move on to my next act. which will be different. But I think that there's, again I go back to every day is new every day is unique. And we're always where we end up where we're supposed to be. And I truly believe in that.

Kate:

Yeah, although it does take bravery, to follow your heart - follow something you love for the possibility of living a life that is so satisfying, especially for somebody who is naturally discontented. Who that drives you forward. It's kind of an interesting little duality to life. Yeah, but thank you Mark for this long awaited conversation, and so much wisdom. It's a very generous conversation. And I find you quite inspiring, friend, and I thank you for daily improving my life.

Mark Haddad:

Well, thank you. I'm so glad to be able to do that. And thank you for having this conversation. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

Rhonda:

My friends, I know you're going to want to find out more about the incredible work that is done by Mark's company and you can do so at Interiorology.com and follow him on social media at Interiorology design Co - interiorology design CO that's both Instagram, Facebook, and then on Twitter interiorology CO. So don't miss out. And Mark, thank you again. This has been just amazing. Thank you.

Mark Haddad:

Thank you both.

Kate:

Special thanks to our talented producer behind the scenes here, Cathy Carswell. And so it's left to me to say go forth and be brave like Mark, live well and do good because it's act two

Act 2 Share Our Stage:

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Kate Leavey:

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Rhonda:

You can support us using Patreon for buy us a coffee.

Kate Leavey:

I do like coffee.

Rhonda:

No no, you don't need any more caffeine, Kate. Buy Us a Coffee is a platform that folks can use to support entrepreneurs and artists like us

Kate Leavey:

...so we can keep providing resources for the doers and dreamers to find connection, purpose and the skills needed to create a sustainable, fulfilling life to better serve the world. And also so we can buy more coffee.

Rhonda:

Oh Kate, thanks for listening everyone.