Interior designer Bradley J. Clayton recently closed his Philadelphia-based business and moved back to Connecticut.
“My family is here,” he said in an interview at his parents’ Fairfield home. “I was in Philadelphia for the last 10 years and I wanted to break from the city life. Being in Philadelphia has been great, but Covid kind of altered my business life. So, I felt it was time to come here and be closer to my family.”
Clayton is reopening his interior design operation in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, with a focus on the New York metro area. His client line-up includes private residences and commercial operations, including several prominent retailers.
“I’ve worked with William Sonoma and helped design some of their stores,” he recalled. “I’ve worked with Nike in their headquarters in Manhattan and a smaller showroom in New Jersey. I see all of the products nine to 10 months early, and I help take their storyboards and execute it as a layout for the salespeople.”
Clayton’s initial concentration in his field was in a project management capacity, with responsibilities ranging from running a store to selling interior design services.
“I learned how to manage a 20,000-square-foot warehouse with chock full of furniture – and that’s quite a lot of work,” he laughed.
Over time, he expanded his skill-set to include design organizational strategies for a home or commercial space, tapping into expert contractors to help execute his vision.
“I have a team of people I work with,” he continued, adding that many of the contractors he employed in Philadelphia will be traveling to his new projects. “It’s quite interesting when you build relationships it all pans out. But I’m also trying to have a list of who I can talk to here things such as custom window treatments or custom furniture fabrication, so I have a little bit of legwork to do.”
Clayton plans to have his business reopened in November – he is still seeking out studio space for his office operations – and he is using word-of-mouth marketing and networking with a local LGBT business alliance to help spread awareness of his arrival in Black Rock.
Clayton acknowledged a surplus number of do-it-yourself home shows on television often give the incorrect impression that home design is an easy-breezy activity. One of the key mistakes he has found among the do-it-yourself crowd was not having the proper sense of scale for furnishings.
“You go out and say, ‘I love that sectional’ – but on delivery day, they can’t get it through the front door,” he said. “And some people don’t really know how to choose fabrics and rugs. They need help to tie everything together to give it a little bit more character.”
Clayton expressed amusement when television programs give the impression that interior is easy.
“When you work in this career, it feels easy,” he stated. “But there’s the list of steps that you have to execute. It’s the project management of it all: Getting all those pieces to come together and working with different craftsmen and artisans to help execute all that. I laugh sometimes when I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, they said they spent a whole weekend.’ Yeah, you know there has to be a crew that’s helping them execute that.”
And while Clayton does not regret leaving Philadelphia for Connecticut, he would not rule out a return engagement if the right project came along.
“I’m not afraid to go back to Pennsylvania, or to work in Delaware,” he said. “I feel as though I’m going to spread myself out over this whole region.”