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In 2013, Emma Blomfield met her fellow interior designer friend Sonya Pala while hosting a shopping tour of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Sonya was sitting next to Emma on the tour bus and the two designers got chatting about workshops that she was hosting in rural towns and a mutual love of interiors.
After several coffee meetings, the duo conjured up an online school teaching people the principles of decorating and how to realistically produce a beautifully decorated home. In September 2015, the ladies launched The Decorating School.
The Decorating School emerged as a part time business. Both Emma and Sonya work fulltime. Emma launched her own e-decorating service which has taken her across the country decorating all types of homes from sheep and cattle stations, inner city apartments, suburban family homes, retail stores and commercial offices. She also hosts workshops in small country towns along the East Coast teaching people the principles of decorating. Emma is also the author of her latest book Home: The Elements of Decorating.
Being a small business owner means you have the control and power over your work. Emma says, “If I had an idea, I get to execute it myself. You know that you are 100% responsible for getting that project off the ground. And it doesn’t compare working for some other businesses where you are lower down the ranks”.
Establishing a small business comes with it many challenges. Emma shares some of the problems she and her partner, Sonya faced during the initial stages of The Decorating School. Budget was a significant issue. Emma says, “We both had to put money into the business without external funding. We had to be creative with our marketing. We both had jobs so only had limited time to actually grow the business”. Secondly, competition was another issue. “The decorative industry is relatively small. And we’ve had a few copycat course that have popped up since we’ve launched which is frustrating but imitation is the best form of flattery”.
We asked Emma if she feels that as a small business that she’s being supported in the community. “Especially in the area that I live, I feel very supported and the resources that I have access to. I spend a lot of my time networking with other entrepreneurs and small businesses so whenever we are faced with an issue in the business, we have people we can turn to who have had similar experiences and are willing to share their knowledge with us”.
Emma describes herself as an ‘ideas person who likes to suggest rather than do’. She simply wants to create a more relaxed and casual service than hiring a decorator who does everything except provide a bit of personalisation for the client.
The Decorating School consists on online courses that show you how to unlock your home’s potential and create spaces that look beautiful. Emma and Sonya want to help people identify their own sense of style. They have developed a step-by-step guide on how to develop a style and translate it into reality.