We caught up with graduate, Svitlana Dullaghan, to find out how she started her own business, why she chose to study interior design, and how the course has benefitted her.
Svitlana Dullaghan enrolled in the Academy in March 2016 and graduated in 2020. She has been running her own business, Lana Dullaghan Designs, since 2017, where she combines her knowledge of design and color, focusing on her clients' requirements, making each project unique and personal. Interior design and color are Lana's passions, and she believes that color has a strong impact on wellbeing. "I believe that interior design is an art, and there are no rules in art."
Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
Getting an Interior Design qualification
Lana didn't have any training or qualification in interior design before enrolling. Her first degree is in the medical field, which she believes to have not been her full choice. “It's tough to define yourself when you are very young, but I was always into interior design. I think my passion was always about colors, fashion, and interiors. However, I didn't think that I had the confidence to pursue it because it's a completely different field. So I started questioning how I could do it”.
After doing many little projects on her own interiors, she finally decided to take the next step towards her career change and started her course. At the time, Lana was studying and working simultaneously, which was not always easy. “I was extremely busy all the time, but I would always keep doing my assignments.”
Elegant simplicity's sitting room - "We created a contemporary and luxurious sitting room for our client. We custom-made these sofas with beautiful velvet fabrics and introduced simple but elegant finishing touches for the space." Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
Lana Dullaghan Designs
The interior design course allowed Lana to pursue a career in this field and start her own business. “If I haven't done the interior design course, I don't know if I would have started my own business. There are so many competitors, and you want to stand out. For that, you need a good foundation. And the Academy gave me the confidence to not second guess myself and believe in the skills I have learned.”
Even though running her own business was not part of the initial plans, after extensive reading and researching for the course, she realized her potential and the industry opportunities. “It was a life experience for me from the beginning because I was new to the industry. Looking back, I’m grateful for all the lessons and experiences and that it all worked out really well.”
Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
Like all new businesses, in 2017, Lana started small, but her business grew to what it is today by being consistent. “When you start your own business from the beginning, the most important thing is confidence, having support from friends and family, and having a positive attitude. I wasn't booked up from the beginning. A lot of new businesses expect so much, and if it doesn't work well right away, they end up quitting, which I didn’t.”
Business growth, awards, and industry recognitions
Lana Dullaghan Designs grew through referrals, recommendations, and positive word of mouth from her clients that would suggest her work to their friends and family. “70% of my work comes from referrals. I have one client that already brought me six other clients. I’m used now to these referrals and recommendations. But what surprised me was the social media impact. After the lockdown, I was getting direct requests from social media.”
Lana Dullaghan Designs’ projects have been featured in various interior design publications and lifestyle magazines, such as Ireland's Home Interiors & Living, The Gloss Magazine, and Love your home. In 2018, she won a room-set at Colourtrend Interior Design Forum and was invited to 'bring her design alive' and display a sitting room setting at the Ideal Home Show. “When I won a competition with Colourtrend, I felt that I was respected in the industry.”
Sitting room setting at Ideal Home Show - Lana Dullaghan Designs was one of the 7 leading Irish Interior Designers who won one of the room sets and were invited to 'bring the design alive' as part of the Colourtrend Interior Design Forum, Spring 2018. Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
“Obviously, these achievements are always amazing, and I never really expect it. I always say all the hard work combining studying and running my business is worth it because of this feeling of satisfaction you get when you receive these recognitions.” These recognitions have allowed Lana to share her own experiences and projects, as she is frequently invited as a speaker to interior design events and exhibitions.
Over the years, Lana Dullaghan Designs' work was recognized with Best of Houzz service in 2019, 2020, 2021, and the 2019 Global Business Insight Awards as the most trusted Interior Design services Ireland. More recently, she has won Build, Homebuilder Awards in 2021 and was nominated the Interior Designer of the Year (ROI).
Lana Dullaghan Designs projects featured in Ireland's Homes Interiors and Living Magazine; Home Home Builder Awards 2021: Interior Designer of the Year (ROI). Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
Interior Designing during a pandemic
COVID-19 had a great impact on businesses globally, and Lana Dullaghan Designs was no exception. She explained how she adapted her working methods due to the restrictions and what were and have been her biggest challenges.
“To be honest, it was very challenging because I love to feel the space and meet with clients. I had to sit down and think about what I could do to make this business work during lockdown with all the restrictions - what services I could offer, which way I could present myself and my work.”
Lana soon realized the importance of having a qualification in interior design and how it helped her reorganize her working and communication modus operandi. “When you do consultations on-site, you can show everything to your clients. But when you are doing it virtually, you have to be good at what you do because there is so much detail, and without being able to show it to people, you have to document everything professionally. You have to be able to communicate your information and your ideas efficiently and appealingly, so people can understand it.”
Sitting design from virtual consultation. Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
Besides not meeting her clients, one of Lana’s biggest challenges was having materials and furniture delayed. “I do a lot of bespoke, such as bespoke sofas and curtains, and everything was delayed. From simple lighting or lamps to cushions, everything was delayed, and it was hard. Fortunately, all of my clients were really understanding and supportive.”
Plans for the future
Even though she is just starting on some international projects, Lana believes this could be her next step in the industry, and working with clients abroad is part of her plans. “This is really exciting. From country to country you can see the differences in style and also in size. It’s lovely.”
Advice to future interior designers
“Have a lot of patience. Do a proper qualification, study, and research. My view on everything in my life, work-related and not, is to commit to whatever project or idea you’re developing, and if you stick with it, there will be a positive outcome from that.” These are the main advice Lana gives to future interior designers looking to start their own businesses.
Sitting room with a bespoke sofa designed by Lana Dullaghan Designs - "It's full of color and energy yet still very calm and relaxing. Paint by Fleetwood Paints". Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
Lana Dullaghan Designs is a very successful business run by graduate Svitlana Dullaghan, where she combines both her passions - interior design and color. According to her, Lana enjoys her new career so much that “it does not really feel that I’m working.”
The interior design course has given her the confidence to run her own business and pursue her passion. “It was the best thing I ever did, and it has changed my life. The course is amazing for someone like me who had no experience at all in interior design. Previously, I worked in a completely different industry, but I always had a passion for interior design. This course helped me gain the knowledge, from the basics to everything I needed to become a professional in the industry.”
Image courtesy Lana Dullaghan Designs.
We're sure that Lana’s path will continue to be brilliant, and we can't wait to see her future achievements. Follow more of Lana's great work on Lana Dullaghan Designs' website, Instagram, and Facebook pages.
Inspired by Svitlana's story? Take a look at our courses and find out how we can help you succeed in this exciting field!