1. You are 10 years in business this year, congratulations. Take us back to day one, how did Optimise Design come about?
I had been working in London for a firm called Target living who specialized in high-end residential schemes for private clients and developers. Their approach to design was very different to what I had experienced in other firms I had worked for. They were involved in both architecture and the interiors and would tailor every element of the scheme to the individual who would be using the space.
This was a revelation to me. Up until then architecture had always been about the grand statement and never about the people who were using the buildings. This was something that had always bothered me – it was how we were taught in college and I often argued with my tutors about it. In college when given a brief I would always create a client and then design to suit this character. At Target Living the design was all about the end user, I had found my niche.
I returned to Ireland in 2005 and realized that there was no one offering a service like Target Livings. Residential design, particularly in the large housing developments, was not being given the same care and attention as the developments I had worked on in London. I had always wanted to work for myself and having identified this opportunity I set up Optimise Design.
2. Was Architecture & Design something you knew you wanted to pursue from an early age?
Being an architect is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. I’m very lucky; I absolutely love my job and what I do. My training has opened so many other creative doors from designing and creating a paint collection for Dulux to writing and TV opportunities.
3. Running your own practice and juggling family life must be demanding. How do you strike a balance or is there such a thing?
It’s busy, I have 2 boys 7 & 11 and work full time so it is a jam packed schedule. When you work for yourself you’re always on, maybe I shouldn’t be but when your work is your passion it’s hard not to be.
I think that work life balance is kind of a flawed metaphor. To be in balance would suggest that you’re spending an equal amount of time in all areas of your life and that’s just not possible, there aren’t enough hours in the day. I think instead that the focus should be on properly managing priorities.
There are so many demands on our time, our attention and our focus and the boundaries between work and life continue to persistently blur. Without defined priorities it’s impossible to feel like you’re making any progress. I think to a certain extent I’ve come to accept that it is a bit of a juggling act and rather than let it stress me out I choose to embrace it. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, and I know the choices I’ve made are enabling me to work toward a far greater reward than I’d get working for someone else.
4. What is Optimise Design’s USP?
We are extremely client focused. Our service is carefully developed to create an excellent client experience. Everything from the starting point of our designs and the way we communicate, to the teams we put together are completely developed around each and every individual client.
We guide our clients through the process every step of the way. With 10 years’ experience in home design, our talent and passion for creating great spaces to live has transformed the homes and lives of many people. We have honed our service and built relationships with experts in every area of home design so that our clients can relax knowing that they’re in safe hands.
5. What has been your biggest learning curve since starting your own business?
I don’t enjoy conflict, but I’ve found that on occasion the “eager to please” part of my personality can become an obstacle. Over the years I’ve found myself in projects or commitments that aren’t in anyone’s interest. Handling these situations has been the biggest learning curve for me and my biggest area of personal growth.
It’s hard to have those tough conversations. I was worried about what would happen if I upset someone. But the world didn’t end. This is where the true grit of being your own boss comes in. I realised over time that me questioning something, or speaking up when I wasn’t happy didn’t make me difficult. It just makes me a business owner that takes responsibility for my clients and my team.