Design Stories- Once upon a time I was a full time interior designer

Leclair Decor

As the CEO Mydoma Studio, I’m not left with much time for my own design. I’m asked frequently if I miss it, and honest answer is ALL the time! I cope by living vicariously through our interior designers.

I am so proud of our interior designers and personally love their design stories. You inspire me each and  every day to continue to improve Mydoma Studio to be it’s very best. I want your design business to prosper and enable you to do what you love, designing.

With that, I am excited to officially share a new feature- Designer Stories. We’ll be sharing regular stories from our users. We’re all about collaboration at Mydoma Studio, and I hope you find inspiration and can learn from your peers experiences.

To kick off this new feature, I thought it would be fitting to feature one of our very first customers, Leclair Decor. I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa and Sacha Leclair at our first designer event we hosted back in March 2015. It has been a real honor to watch their business grow from a home based company of two out of a spare bedroom to a team of 9 in their very own commercial studio space. I hope you enjoy their story as much as I do.

Going into business for yourself is a big commitment, tell us the story behind starting Leclair Decor?

We started this journey about seven years ago. After getting the keys to our first home (the day after our wedding!) we quickly went to work on decorating and furnishing it on a budget. After sharing photos with family and friends on social media, and receiving positive feedback, we were encouraged to somehow turn our new hobby into a little side project. We started by redecorating a friend’s condo for free to gain some client experience and build a portfolio. He later hosted a work party at his place which resulted in our first paid gig! The growth was slow but steady at first, and we each maintained our day jobs to pay the bills while we tested the waters of our new business. We weren’t sure where it would go at first, but we both felt that we’d  found something that worked for us and made the best of our skills and talents. 

Tell us about the Leclair Decor Team…

We are currently a team of nine! We have three designers, one junior designer, one creative assistant, one bookkeeper, one sales associate and the two of us!  

You’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where you are today. Social Media paints a perfect picture and often our stories of the road traveled are forgotten. What was your business like in the beginning versus today? 

The business was vastly different a few years ago, that’s for sure! In the beginning, it was a part time gig and we both kept other jobs while we grew our portfolio. We handled pretty much every aspect of the business ourselves, from accounting to painting to twisting Allen keys for what felt like days at a time.

Our business really hit a turning point when we were approached by Richcraft, one of Ottawa’s biggest builders, to decorate their model homes. This contract gave us an amazing platform to let hone in on our style and build a portfolio. It also offered great exposure of our work to the people of Ottawa, and we are grateful every day for what this job has done for our business.

Two years ago, as things were really taking off, we hired our first employee Grace.  At that point, the three of us worked  out of the spare bedroom in our townhouse beside our napping baby’s nursery. About a year later, we decided to buy a bigger house, which would allow us to grow the business even further but keep it home based. After only nine months in the new house, we realized that keeping the business at home wasn’t going to be feasible for very much longer. We scoped out commercial real estate and found the perfect location for us. The landlord was completely gutting our unit so we got to completely design our new studio from the studs. These days, it almost feels surreal when we walk into “work” every day. Our new studio turned out even better than we imagined and we love being there everyday, although we do miss being so close to our kids. Every day is different and we seem to be moving a mile a minute. Everyone in the company can feel our current momentum and we know that now is the time to really build something special, so it’s GO time!

Where do you see the Leclair Decor company & brand going? 

We hope to keep growing the design side of things and take on more complete build projects. We took on our first large out-of-town project this year and we got really comfortable with the process, so we’d love to take on more projects across Canada and the US!

We’ve been contacted a few times by TV production companies, but it hasn’t felt like the right fit for our business or our family at this point. There’s no saying that won’t change, but for now we plan to produce our own videos to share online. With social media being what it is, we can reach almost as many people directly, but still maintain complete creative control and stay true to our style and business principles. That’s really important to us.

One of our main goals for the coming year is to grow LD Shoppe. We’re constantly evaluating the market and what will work best for the retail portion of our business. Sometimes we dream of buying one large warehouse and turning it into a centralized furniture and design hub. Other times we see the potential of smaller hip neighbourhood boutiques. We’ll see what the future brings but we definitely foresee the Shoppe growing!

How has MyDoma helped you with your business?

We use Mydoma for all our private clients, and we love that it’s sort of dual purpose; a project management tool but also a client communication tool, which saves us time because we don’t have to be working in two separate apps to organize our ideas and present them to our clients. As we bring more and more design staff on board, it’s also been helpful in streamlining our process. It allows all of our designers to follow a similar workflow, which keeps our design process consistent no matter who our clients are working with directly. 

What is one business tip you can share to your peers? 

Details matter! All the details! Especially in this industry. Take the time to take good photos. Take the time to find the perfect tile. Take the time to write a great caption for your Instagram post. It will pay off in the end. Tell your story through your work, and be genuine!