An interior design business which started in Connecticut has been using the internet to interact with clients. The internet also allows the two founders to continue their collaboration even though one of them has moved to the West Coast.
The two designers, Trisha Kasmin and Yasmin Thornton, had been working together at HB Home in Westport. Thornton observed that the appeal of e-commerce began to change the way clients interacted with designers.
“We worked with clients that were paying for a full-service, totally hands-off approach but who were starting to become more hands-on because of online shopping,” she recalled. “That was disruptive to what we had put together because they were sort of going off on their own and it wasn’t part of the whole cohesive vision that we pulled together. So, we saw a need to incorporate the structure of providing a design service while also allowing them the freedom to shop on their own.”
Kasmin noted that many people trying to work with restricted budgets also were eager to work with professional designers on their residences. “I always thought this would be so cool if we figured out how to work with people with smaller budgets,” she said.
But the effort to build their own successful interior design business could have hit a brick wall after Kasmin made a decision to relocate to Los Angeles when her boyfriend landed a job there with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The internet provided the solution. With Thornton working from her office in Bridgeport and Kasmin in her own West Coast space, the duo set up their new Kismet Interiors as a virtual company in February, taking a virtual approach to their working relationship as well as the way they approached the business of
The Kismet Interiors operating process begins with an initial client meeting and walkthrough of the space that is conducted via FaceTime, Skype or a similar virtual vehicle. Thornton and Kasmin then assess the project’s parameters and offer the client several furniture layouts. From there, the space is built out using furniture, décor, lighting and textiles. The specifications and elements are presented to the client in a list that can be fulfilled from the websites of recommended e-commerce vendors.
Each project is based in an interactive dashboard that updates in real time for instant communication and collaboration from any telephone or digital device. Thornton and Kasmin price their service at $500 for the full design input, but they also offer a $150 floor package plan that maps out furniture placement for existing items.
Thornton noted that this approach to decorating is designed to be more time and cost effective. “When you sign up with a traditional design firm, you pay them either a flat fee per room or an hourly fee and they put together a presentation for the entirety of each of those rooms,” she said. “You don’t work in pieces. The way we are structured gives you a little more flexibility. You get to shop on your own time and you can spread out your budget a little bit more, shopping in phases as it suits you.”
Thornton also pointed out that the designers have no problems incorporating existing pieces into their room concepts, even if the furnishings consist of unusual items like a trophy moose head or sofa upholstered in faux tiger skin.
“People know that good design is all about layering,” Thornton continued. “We like to layer and we like a room to have personality and character. So, if you have pieces that are a little important to you and a little bit crazy, that’s okay. That’s a part of you. We will not say, ‘No, you can’t have that,’ but we are skilled enough to work it in a stylish way.”
Since launching, Kismet Interiors has snagged clients with residential projects in Fairfield County, New York City and Florida. Kasmin is eager to use her Los Angeles presence to bring in California clients, and states that being on the other side of the country has not been disruptive in her partnership with Kasmin or in working with their clients.
“I knew if we had an online business we can work from anywhere,” she said.