Pinch me I must be dreaming! In this episode, I sat down with the talented Karin Bohn, who has truly been an inspiration for several goals I’ve tackled and achieved over the years – from my YouTube to my community of designers to this very podcast!

Within this part 1 of our conversation we talk in-depth about how Karin started her interior design business in Vancouver, what propelled her to create her incredibly successful YouTube channel, the uphill work of building an audience, and how she tackled the necessary downsizing of her team after lots of trial and error and finally listening to her intuition.

Like me, you’ll be blown away by her wisdom; especially her insight that the external does not equal happiness and that sometimes when life forces us to slow down for an even better reason! 

This is only part one of two but is already overflowing with spectacular stories, boatloads of encouragement, and advice in its own right.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week where we dive into her experience with her Netflix show and her adventure into motherhood!


Follow Karin Bohn on her website House of Bohn and Instagram or her YouTube Channel

This episode is sponsored by Devix Kitchens

Read the Full Transcript ⬇️

Hey, hey, hey, it’s Rebecca and you’re listening to Resilient by Design today. I have a very special guest for you. Like a pinch-me moment. I got to talk with Karin Bohn. If you don’t know who Karin is, you’re going to be blown away. She is a world-renowned influencer and YouTuber. Interior design firm owner and host of Netflix TV show Restaurants on the Edge.

[00:00:30] At the beginning of this episode, I let Karin know specifically when I found her and how she truly inspired my own YouTube experience and journey, my own growth of my design business in the early years, I’ve really constantly looked up to her and really admired what she’s done. She is the founder and creative director of an award-winning design studio called House of Bohn located in Vancouver.

[00:00:54] British Columbia and she has been in business since 2009. She does luxury residential, multifamily restaurants and retail. You can watch her entire business journey on her continuously growing YouTube channel. Karin offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of her creative process, collaborative partnerships, her life as an entrepreneur, new mom with a daughter who’s now two years old.

[00:01:18] It’s truly transparent, which is what I’ve always loved about Karin, and she does not hold back in today’s episode, we dive into how she landed her Netflix TV show. Exactly. What did she need to do to get there? What was that experience like? And how did that inform business decisions in her design firm?

[00:01:36] We talk about growing a team. Growing and scaling and then de-scaling and making the team smaller and downsizing and what precipitated those changes. We also talk a lot about being an influencer. Is it worth it? It’s an incredible episode. It was so good that I had to turn it into two parts because it was just so much information.

[00:01:58] So today you guys are going to get [00:02:00] part one of my interview with Karin Bohn. Enjoy. Oh, my freaking, I don’t know what to say. Karin Bohn is on the podcast. I am so excited to have you here. You have no idea.

[00:02:13] Karin Bohn: I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been listening to your podcast and I’m kind of hooked. It’s a great podcast.

[00:02:19] So I feel very honoured to be a guest.

[00:02:22] Rebecca Hay: that means a lot coming from you. You’re like the queen of media and I can’t wait to dive into all the things. I have like a million and one question for you. I know my audience is so excited to hear from you. But before we dive into all the things. Those who don’t know, maybe live a little bit under a rock, who is Karin Bohn?

[00:02:39] Just give us a little, in your own words, a little summary of who you are and what

[00:02:42] Karin Bohn: you do. Yeah, okay. Well, Karin Bohn, is based in Vancouver. I have an interior design studio, House of Bohn. I founded the studio in 2009, so this year I’m coming up to 16 years officially in business, which is so wild even when I say that.

[00:03:00] My title is Founder and Creative Director. We work in a multitude of industries, including single-family residential. We do a lot of developer work. So multifamily and we do a lot of commercial like fitness studios, restaurants, that kind of thing. I am the host of the Netflix show Restaurants on the Edge.

[00:03:24] It aired for two seasons and that came out in 2020 I’m a mom of a two-year-old named Madison.

[00:03:34] Rebecca Hay: Amazing. Okay. Thank you. I’m so excited to dive into all these things. So what you don’t know, Karin, is that you were like our North star as far as my inspiration for just like all things media and putting it out there.

[00:03:50] And so for me, I mean, I, I love to act. I lived in Vancouver. I was an actress. And then I was like, screw this. I don’t want to be a waitress at Earl’s anymore. I’m going to go back to school for design. But so I [00:04:00] love like obviously being on camera and doing all that. And I fell into your world. My publicist at the time, Sharon at eventful PR had said, Oh, you should check out what this girl’s doing in Vancouver.

[00:04:11] And I was like, who is Karin Bohn? Let me check it out. And I like, Bell into your world and like many people say about this podcast, like when you find something, you start to binge it. I just watched all your YouTube and you are our inspiration. If you circle back to like pre-pandemic YouTube on Rebecca Hay, we have a very “Karin Bohn style”, though not at that level, not at your level.

[00:04:31] YouTube videos are like days in the life, following me around in Toronto and like for Vera and I, like right now interviewing you for this podcast, like Vera, who’s my right hand when it comes to all things podcast, she did the videos back in the day. We’re having fangirl moments right now because I’ve been so inspired by your journey and more than your design chops and media chops.

Obviously having the TV show when I dive into all that, but just also what I love about you from what I’ve seen behind the screen. Is your willingness to share your willingness to open up and say, this is how I do things. We have these team meetings, you know, we had to reduce our team size. I want to talk about all those things.

[00:05:15] I just wanted to just give you that, that little bit of praise at the beginning, just to let you know, I’m so honoured that you’re here because I think you’ve done some incredible things for designers and our industry and just really for women, female business owners.

[00:05:28] Karin Bohn: Well, I just got goosebumps as you were sharing that, and thank you so much for sharing that.

[00:05:33] When I hear something like that, it’s just such a feel-good moment because you work so hard at putting together this content as you know, and it’s definitely a labor of love and you have to have also like a really thick skin. When you’re building an audience, it does not happen overnight. It takes a really long time to build an audience and so you have to have a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance and you have to be really kind of committed to the journey.

[00:05:59] If that’s what you [00:06:00] want, and you have to love it, and I think, yeah, putting yourself out there, it is, it takes a lot of courage, and you have to be brave, and you also have to be kind of like, I don’t give an F, I’m just going to put it out there, and people might like it, people may not like it, but I’m just going to show up and be me, and so it’s so nice to hear that that is Well received and that it has impact and I’ve taken a long break kind of from media in the last little while to do the mommy thing and just sort of reset.

[00:06:32] I mean, there’s been a lot of changes that have happened in my business and just life. But yeah, at that time. I really spent a good, oh my gosh, I would have to go back and actually check to see how old the YouTube channel is, but for sure there was at least, at least five years, probably six years of being really, really dedicated to YouTube, showing up like a video every single week.

[00:06:57] I would post every Monday at 6am. There was something new and it was just about. Me building the business at the time, whatever was happening on that day or the theme of what was on my mind, whether it was hiring staff or figuring out how to write proposals or figuring out how to build an audience or working with a contractor, like it was just whatever was happening in the business is what I wanted to talk about and talk about it really candidly.

[00:07:27] So it’s nice to hear that that has had an impact. Oh yeah,

[00:07:31] Rebecca Hay: absolutely. And I mean, I I’d love to go back and start at the beginning, but I feel like you’ve had so much going on. Like you said, you’ve kind of gone through different phases and iterations of your business. And that’s what I think is so interesting.

[00:07:42] You’re not someone who’s just picked one thing, done it the same way forever. We all know those, those business owners and that’s great. Hats off to them.

[00:07:50] Karin Bohn: Totally. And in some ways I kind of envy them. Like I kind of envy the people who are like, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. And then that they do that.

[00:07:57] And that’s the only thing they do. I’m like, Oh, if [00:08:00] only, cause I feel like I’m always having an existential crisis of like, okay, what are we doing now? What’s happening next? Where am I going next? And so it can be challenging to just like, stay really focused, especially when you’re passionate about a lot of things and you want to accomplish a lot of things and just try a lot of different things.

[00:08:16] Yeah. So I, I definitely like hats off to those people who are able to do that. I know.

[00:08:22] Rebecca Hay: I feel like I have this conversation every day. I’m like, what’s wrong with me? Why do I now want to do this other thing? Like, why can’t I just stay doing the thing? And it’s just, it’s just, everybody’s made differently.

[00:08:32] Right. Totally. Totally. And that’s okay. So for those of you who are listening, if you feel that calling to like, I want to branch out onto YouTube or maybe I could do a TV or maybe I want to do commercial design or what or hospitality like that is okay. You don’t feel if you start to feel stuck, I feel like that’s usually a sign that you’re not challenging yourself.

[00:08:51] I don’t know. Have you felt that way? Is that sort of driven you? To try new things. Yeah,

[00:08:55] Karin Bohn: well, I think it’s two things. And then the other thing that comes up for me, too, is like when I go back and think about the like success that I’ve had over the 16 years, sometimes too, a lot of that just has to do with really just showing up every day, even when it doesn’t happen.

[00:09:11] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Feel fun and exciting and it feels a little like mundane and I struggled with that a lot because in the beginning of building your business, like there’s something so beautiful in the I think about startup in those first few years, right? When you’re trying to figure out, is this going to work?

[00:09:27] Can I get this off the ground? Can I build a name for myself? Can I get clients? Can I even just make this happen? And there’s something that’s so like stressful about it. Start up and, you know, it’s ridden with a lot of self doubt and a lot of anxiety and, you know, often like the money isn’t there. And so it’s a really challenging time, but it’s also a very exciting time because you’re growing from literally zero ground zero.

[00:09:54] And there’s so much ground to cover. I think it’s different when you reach a certain [00:10:00] level of. Establishment or certain level of success, you know, kind of like that thrill of the early days goes away for anyone that’s listening and if you are in those early days, you know, it’s try to stay in the moment as much as possible because you will get through it and then when you are like those days are behind you and you kind of will never experience them again.

[00:10:22] But there is, I don’t know, there’s something special about startup. And

[00:10:25] Rebecca Hay: I mean, it’s funny hearing you say that it’s, it’s like being a parent, right? You’re just in the beginning stages. Like you’re in it deep right now. Two year

[00:10:32] Karin Bohn: old. Oh my God. Rebecca. Am I ever, but that’s

[00:10:35] Rebecca Hay: the same concept. And I say that to designers all the time.

[00:10:38] We’re like, Oh, like, I don’t want to have kids or, you know, like my kids are like, Oh, I have to do all this stuff for my kids. I just want to. For my business. And I feel like it’s falling behind. And, and I can say this now that my children are six and nine, like that was me trying to with a messy early years, trying to grow my business, watching Karin Bohn do it all without kids.

[00:10:57] And here I am with like two toddlers trying to do the same thing. And in hindsight, I wish I’d given myself that grace to say, be in it. Like you’re not going to get that time back. Like those early years with kids. You’re not going to get it back.

[00:11:13] Karin Bohn: No, you’re not going to get it back. And I think in those early days to building your business, you, well, at least this was my experience.

[00:11:19] You can try a lot of things because you don’t really have anything to lose, right? You don’t have anything that’s like hugely established. You don’t, you can try different things with your pricing. You can, you can be really experimental. And there’s something that’s really, really fun about that too. I think in the early days, I mean, even the people that I always, I I had someone working with me almost from day one, whether it was like a student or an assistant or like someone in my business.

[00:11:49] I wasn’t one of those people that waited a really long time before I hired. I did it almost immediately. But in those early days, it was always like a part time person or a contract person. You [00:12:00] know, I would guarantee them three months and then that was it. And so that You have a lot of flexibility. I mean, now it’s completely different.

[00:12:06] We’re a team of eight and, you know, like everybody is salaried and everybody, you have your overhead and your office and all of these like commitments and some of our projects are, you know, three, four, five years. And so that’s a long. term commitment. In the early days, I feel like there’s less of that.

[00:12:24] And so you can be a little bit more flexible, but I love what you said about just being in the mess, right? It is messy. There’s no other way to do it. And I think in the early days you kind of get your heart on yourself because it’s messy, but it’s almost like the messier is the better you can clean it up later.

[00:12:43] You know, you want to make those messes in the early days. I know that probably sounds scary and counterintuitive, but

[00:12:49] Rebecca Hay: I really believe that. Yeah. And I think as designers and decorators and creatives, we’re, we’re always striving to do things. Perfect. We’re striving to do things right. And so yes, you can learn from others, like listen to this podcast, go watch Karin’s YouTube, right?

[00:13:04] Like sign up for my courses and you can really learn how other people are doing things, but you’re still going to make mistakes and that’s okay. And that’s how you learn. And I joke that. You know, all the things I teach on is because I messed up at one point or another, or I learned that lesson, right?

[00:13:18] And that is the experience is the

[00:13:20] Karin Bohn: best teacher. Yeah. You fail your way to success.

[00:13:24] Rebecca Hay: Totally. And nobody likes to hear about that, right?

[00:13:28] Karin Bohn: But it’s the way that it goes. And you know, when I was building my YouTube channel and it was, Really like building the YouTube channel was a byproduct of what I was actually trying to do at that time and what I was actually trying to do at that time was just establish connection and community around what it was like to build and grow a business because here I was A young entrepreneur going to networking groups or things like that and [00:14:00] talking to other entrepreneurs and everyone was saying like, Oh yeah, business is great.

[00:14:04] So busy, so busy growing, built my staff. And I was like, okay, am I the only one that thinks that this is insanely difficult? Like, am I the only one out here having a hard time? And that’s really where the impetus came from to Start the YouTube channel. And I was like, I think that there’s an opportunity to have a conversation online that I was not having in person about all the nitty gritty, like the challenges that I was facing about being a new entrepreneur, the challenges I was facing about being an interior designer, about being a woman in business, about growing this thing.

[00:14:41] And how do you do it? And so That’s where the YouTube channel came from. And I really just turned the camera on and I was like, I’m going to talk about whatever is happening in my day and put it out there. And that’s where the day in the life came from. And it just kind of snowballed. People really loved that conversation and really loved, I think, seeing a woman in action.

[00:15:04] Build her business and show up and talk about it candidly. And it wasn’t about pretending that everything is great. That wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t, I wanted to show up and be like, this is the challenge that I’m having today.

[00:15:16] Rebecca Hay: And I think that works in some ways. Instagram these days has kind of gotten away from that.

[00:15:20] But what I really would like to talk about this, Oh, so many things. How do you pick the team? You just mentioned this idea of like, You know, growing your team and you have eight full time employees and people listening are probably like, Oh my God, how do you get there? And one thing I do remember loving about your videos was how you, you showed that the team was changing and that was okay.

[00:15:41] And you, and it was, you know, based on, I mean, you only showed what made sense to show, but for me as a small business owner, also trying to scale my design team, like, I don’t know about you, but for me, the hardest, and this is just who I am, but the hardest thing for me in growing business. Any business has been the people [00:16:00] and figuring out.

[00:16:01] Who do I put in what seat? What are the seats that I need? How do I manage the people? How do I hold them accountable? Like I’ve struggled with that so much. So I remember seeing your video and saying there was one time where you did a video and you said, you know, we’re scaling it back or something like that.

[00:16:16] You said we’re shifting gears. And I was like, Oh my literally Karin. It made me feel like, Oh God, I’ve kind of wanted to do that too. It gave me permission to make changes in my own firm. Can you talk to us about that experience, like building a team, like what were some of the obstacles? Totally. Let’s not paint it as this pretty picture, like it’s not freaking easy.

[00:16:37] Karin Bohn: No, building a team is not easy at all. And the thing is with interior design, it is a service based business and you depend on your team, and you depend on your people, and your people. It’s the biggest cost in your company, right, is your people. And so when I was building a team, and I’m glad that you said that about downsizing, and I’m glad that that resonated for you too.

[00:17:03] And I hear that a lot that people were like, that’s kind of, of all, all the things, one of the things that stands out is that I was willing to talk about. Downsizing or some people call it downscaling, but I had always pushed for growth and for a kind of a 10 year run, I was in a position where I would hire even before my bank account said that I was ready to hire, like, I might not have had the money, but I knew I needed that person in that space.

[00:17:29] And I knew if I put someone in that seat, I could probably make the money to cover their salary. Some people call that front-loading, where you’re fronting the cash to do something and you know that there’s going to be a return after. And that’s kind of how I looked at building my staff when it came to the financial side of it.

[00:17:47] I had a whole bunch of momentum with the YouTube channel. I was in a position where we were getting a lot of calls. The market was really busy. And so from a project standpoint, we were growing a lot. [00:18:00] And I was looking at that time potentially doing this Netflix show. And so through that, I was also really pushing for growth.

[00:18:08] And we actually scaled up to 14 people when the show launched in 2020. Oh my God. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that is like no

[00:18:15] easy feat. I can’t even like that to me sounds like a nightmare. I can’t imagine the payroll. I can’t imagine the monthly expenses. Holy wow.

[00:18:23] Yeah. I’ll be candid with this. We were three quarters of a million dollars in payroll.

[00:18:29] a year. Yep.

[00:18:31] Rebecca Hay: It’s insane. I believe it. I totally believe it. That is insane though. You need a lot of revenue to cover that.

[00:18:36] Karin Bohn: You need a lot of revenue to cover that. Yeah. And 14 people is just a lot of people to manage. And here’s the thing. What I learned in scaling up like that was there was a lot of opportunity within my company.

[00:18:49] You know, like intermediate designers were becoming senior designers. Senior designers were coming, becoming project managers. Project managers were being promoted to design team managers. So there’s a lot of like upward movement. But in retrospect and looking back at that time, it was all happening too quickly.

[00:19:06] And what I’ve learned, and at least for myself, and the kind of person that I am, and I guess entrepreneur and boss that I am, often the business will evolve or grow faster than an employee. And so the other thing that I’ve learned is I don’t think turnover is necessarily a bad thing. You know, sometimes people will look at your business and be like, Oh, people have only been with you for two or three years or whatever.

[00:19:30] You know, like I’ve had people that have been with me for seven or 10 years. And while that’s great, you know, and you do, it’s nice when people have that longevity with you and they really understand the company. I think that that happens when the company doesn’t go through a lot of changes. It’s really easy for people to.

[00:19:49] But it’s easier for people to stay on board because your processes might not be changing quickly, or your staff mix might not be changing quickly. I mean, when you grow from 6 to [00:20:00] 14 people, that’s a completely different company. You know, and if you go from a company that maybe was, small and you didn’t have a lot of processes and it was really flexible and people had a certain working style and then you scale up to a point now where you’ve got a lot of systems and a lot of procedures and less flexibility and you know the person who was with you when it was small might have actually really enjoyed that small tight knit kind of company.

[00:20:28] They might not want to work in a more corporate structure and so they might leave. You know that’s not a bad thing. And one of my entrepreneurs groups, like years ago, I heard a saying, the people who got you here. May not be the people who get you

[00:20:45] there. Yes. Yes. I love that. I’ve had that exact same experience.

[00:20:51] It’s like when you start, you’re a company, you’re like a little business putting out fires and you need little firefighters there who can do a little bit of everything. But as you scale and the roles become more defined and you establish your process, those same firefighters. maybe don’t fit into one role.

[00:21:06] They don’t want that. They want to be putting out fires and doing a little bit of everything. And it took me a while to really, I, oh man, so many mistakes. It took me a long time to realize that that’s what was happening. Because I, I love that you just said that because so many firms, at least especially in Toronto are like, Oh, I’ve had the same team for 10 years or, you know, no one’s ever left.

[00:21:27] And I would always compare myself to those teams and people listening. You know who those designers are. You see them out there in the world. And I would think, what am I doing wrong? Why? Why isn’t it working? And I think I love that you said that too, about the, the business will evolve and grow faster than an employee.

[00:21:43] Like I love that.

[00:21:44] Yeah, they might not be scaling at that same pace. They may need more time and you can really transform a company in a matter of a few years, right? Like it can happen. Now, some people might be willing to like scale up in that way, but some people might not be and it can be [00:22:00] hard. I think interior design, is, you know, it really is a career that it takes a long time to get experience, you know, and I think people today really underestimate the amount of time it takes to become a senior designer and to get the amount of experience that you need.

[00:22:15] But a company can really outpace the growth of an employee. So I don’t necessarily see turnover as a bad thing because you, Well, you need people in those seats who can support the kind of company and culture that you are today and not what you were yesterday. I used to be really hard on myself for that too.

[00:22:35] And just like you, I used to compare myself to other people and think like, Oh my God, what am I doing wrong? You know, but I don’t, I don’t, yeah, exactly. Nobody wants to work with me for a long time. What’s wrong with me? But I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it’s that at all. And I’ve really, I’ve really learned that.

[00:24:13] Karin Bohn: Getting to the point of 14 people. And so this is in 2020, the show had just launched. So I was sort of at the pinnacle of my career where I had checked a lot of boxes of what I wanted to do, right?

[00:24:31] Like establish myself, do a TV show, build a team, et cetera, et cetera. And 2020 was a funny year because well, the pandemic hits. Which I think allowed a lot of business owners to just take a good hard look at their business and put it under a microscope and go, okay, what’s going on here? Am I going to keep going in the direction that I am going in?

[00:24:55] And that certainly was the case for me because I kind of woke up one morning and, you know, Was like, I am having a moment. And I think this moment is that I am not happy. I’m not happy. And I’m not wait a minute.

[00:25:13] Rebecca Hay: Like, whoa, yeah, I think that happened to a lot of us in 2020 2021. It’s like, wait a minute. We pause, we reflect.

[00:25:22] And I mean, it was, it was visible when I was watching your YouTube, like things were changing in a minute. We’re going to talk about the TV show and everyone’s like dying to hear about that, but I love that you’re being honest about that right now. So what specifically was it? Yeah,

[00:25:39] Karin Bohn: well, I think what it was for me is I had a moment to just like to look at the chaos and to really sort of connect with is what’s happening in my life in alignment with who I am and where I want to be and how I want to feel and To me, [00:26:00] I think it’s a gift for anybody who experiences this as hard as it is, because I think when you’re ambitious and you have your list of things that you want to accomplish, you know, there’s an undertone of like, when I get there, I will be happy.

[00:26:14] When I accomplish this, I will be happy. When I get the bigger office, I will fill in the blank. And so when you get to a point and you accomplish all those things and you go, hang on a second, Yeah, I’m not happy and I’m not fulfilled. You can make the connection as an entrepreneur or anyone don’t even have to be in business where you realize that these external things is not what actually causes happiness and fulfillment.

[00:26:44] And that is a huge, just like life lesson, because now you get to look at your life all of a sudden and go, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. What are the things that are going to make me happy? You know, is it spending more time with my family? Is it just having a greater sense of peace? Is it being able to spend more time with myself and work out or meditate?

[00:27:04] And, and for me, it was all of the above. And I just realized that the chaos that was happening in my business, and I do use the word chaos because when you’re, Experience rapid growth. People are getting promoted. You know, people don’t always have at the time in my business, not everyone had the time to like going from a project manager to a design team manager.

[00:27:27] That’s a big jump. You are now no longer managing projects. You are now managing people for the company. For the interest of the company and someone to make that transition takes a long time. Like that could be a year or two of a transition before they’re actually managing the people really well. Well, people weren’t getting enough time to do that transition.

[00:27:53] And so there was a lot of like, I want to say negative energy in the company [00:28:00] too. And you know, like sometimes I would walk through the door of my own business and be like, this just does not feel like the company that I was planning on building. Like what is this energy and what’s, you know, this person is being a little catty over here.

[00:28:15] Like that’s unacceptable. And this person is having a bad attitude about this. Like hold the phone. What’s going on here? What

[00:28:22] Rebecca Hay: the heck’s going on? I built this. Well, it’s supposed to be my dream.

[00:28:26] Karin Bohn: This is supposed to be my dream, right? Like a happy, healthy culture that we’re all working in and everybody we’re scaling up together.

[00:28:33] But that’s not how it felt. And so that was an element that I was just like pausing and reflecting on and going, you know, You know, I think I need to make some changes here, and I had thought about it for a really long time. So when you say, like, wait a second, I was thinking about doing this. Maybe I should do this.

[00:28:49] It kind of gave you like permission to really, really look at it. That’s the other piece of it. I think as entrepreneurs, It’s almost like success is, if you do have a bigger team, if you do have a bigger office space, a nicer office space, if you do have more projects, you know, again, this checklist of things, that equals success.

[00:29:11] Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Like, just because you have a bigger team and more projects, I mean, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more profitable. And you’re making more

[00:29:20] Rebecca Hay: money. Exactly. And that’s, I think that’s a really important point is that what we see on Instagram, what we see on YouTube, what we see on TikTok, or wherever the heck we’re watching or in magazines, just because someone got a fancy feature, let’s say in House Beautiful, or they’re on the cover of House and Home Magazine, it You have no idea if they’re even making a profit in their business.

[00:29:41] Totally. I think as creatives too, I see this all the time with designers. I mean, myself included, we look at the pretty and the shiny because we’re so aesthetically driven and we see the glossy pages of the magazine or we see, you know, the person on the TV show and we assume that they’ve got it all figured out.

[00:29:59] We’ve assumed they’ve made [00:30:00] it. We assume that they’re making boatloads of cash. But really one person might be, the other person might be in the red and owing back taxes to the CRA. You

[00:30:09] Karin Bohn: don’t know. No, you don’t know. And many years ago, a friend of mine who’s in another she owns her own business as well in a completely different industry.

[00:30:19] But she said to me, She’s like, look, I don’t care what this looks like on the outside. I don’t care how shiny this is. She’s like, in my business, when you peel back the curtain, I want to know that there’s a good set of numbers there. And that has always stuck with me, and I feel the same way. It’s like, I don’t care how this looks on the outside.

[00:30:39] I want you, if you look under the hood, is this a solid business? Like, that’s what I care about. And so, in 2020, just going back to the downsides, I kind of came to this moment where I was like, In the last few years, as I’ve been scaling up, especially with the team, I feel like I’ve tried everything that I can to kind of redirect this or improve it, like I’m going to hire a studio director and put her in and pay her an even bigger salary than I’m paying myself because she’s going to fix all the problems that are happening here, right?

[00:31:13] And it was like, that was sort of the last And I knew, like, when I do this, if it doesn’t work out, I’m going the other way, because This is going in a direction that I feel like is just going to become more chaotic, less and less fulfilling, less and less profitable, more and more management, more headache on my end.

[00:31:35] And I don’t want to keep going down this road. And so that’s exactly what happened. I put her in, it didn’t work out and I was like, okay, we are downsizing. And I think the company was at a point where We had let someone go and because of just the energy and the relationship, you know, people were up in arms that I had let someone go and, you know, and then people started leaving and it kind of, it all [00:32:00] happened exactly the way that it needed to.

[00:32:02] And we went from 14 people down to six pretty rapidly. Like, I don’t know what that timeframe would have been, but it would have been within a matter of like. Maybe four or five months or something like that. And it was at a point where we literally like gave people’s checks back and we’re, I said, you know, here’s your deposit back.

[00:32:22] Unfortunately, circumstances have changed. We can no longer take you on as a client, disappointed a lot of people, but wow. You know, honoured our commitments, but you know, people that were excited to work with us, yeah, scaled it down. And I will tell you, Rebecca, as soon as I did that, It was like the clouds parted.

[00:32:42] I could breathe. I had the stress. I was like, I slept really well, I could spend my weekends walking my dog, you know, just really being in the moment and being present. I ended up getting pregnant and staying pregnant, which was such a blessing because I had had a really difficult time doing that. I think because of all of the stress, yeah, I was able to just like take a time out and kind of recalibrate and reset and really reestablish the direction that I wanted to go in.

[00:33:15] Yeah. You just said

[00:33:16] Rebecca Hay: something that I think is really interesting and I would love to just sort of find out the thought process behind this is giving people back their deposit. So, I mean, you sort of said that and that was hard and but I like that to me stuck out like. Wow. Like, was that something that was hard for you to do?

[00:33:34] Were you nervous to do that? To go to a client and say, we’re not going to take your project on? Because I, I’ve been in situations like that where I’m like, I kind of just want to give them back their money because I don’t want to have to scale the team to support this project. And so. It’s just like walk me through that sort of mental process.

[00:33:53] It’s one thing to reduce the people, but then to, cause like we want everyone to like us, right? We want our clients. We want to like [00:34:00] fulfill our commitments. Like how, how did you navigate that sort of from an emotional standpoint of saying, you know what, we’re not going to do your

[00:34:07] Karin Bohn: project. I think at the time there wasn’t a lot of emotional attachment to it, if I’m being honest because it was just out of necessity, like there was no way in a downsize or a downscaling where we could maintain the volume of projects, like we still run, I want to say, we close to 20 projects at a time.

[00:34:33] That’s a lot of projects. It’s a lot of projects. At that time, with 14 people, I mean, easily, I don’t think we dipped below 25 projects. I think we were always, you know, up in that area. And so, I just knew that, like, the math wasn’t going to work. You, when you don’t have enough people to produce, you’re just, we would be, you know, Over promising and under delivering if I kept those clients on and that was just not a position that I wanted to be in so I would have rather, you know, disappointed them now that they couldn’t work with us, but not even start the project or even if we had started their project a little bit still, you know, like honour their deposit and give it back and kind of just have a clean you know, I’m so sorry, but circumstances really have changed and I wasn’t really like talking about the downsize.

[00:35:20] At the time, because, and I, I want to also say it was not easy, like, you know, I was questioning was I making the right decision? Just the emotional was super emotional taxing because there’s a lot of employees that I felt really attached to as well. You’re kind of dismantling this dream that you had for yourself, right?

[00:35:42] And worked all of these years. to manifest this vision or dream that you have in your head. And now you’re taking it apart and, and dismantling it. And that was a weird thing to have to like be okay with. But in the end, yeah, it’s, [00:36:00] it was the best thing I could have done for my business.

[00:36:03] Rebecca Hay: It sounds like you really leaned into your intuition and were able to kind of tune out that noise, that ego.

[00:36:10] Here’s where I expected myself to be. Here’s where everyone else expects me to be. And like, what is it that I want to do? And I love that. I feel like so many of us should need to practice more of that for sure. Woo. Okay, guys, how amazing is Karin? And that is only part one of this episode. It was just such a great conversation that I realized it would make more sense to cut it in half.

[00:36:35] Part of it is too, because we covered so many topics. I really love learning about how she’s grown her team, but then also made that shift to downsize it because I’ve done the same. And as I mentioned in the episode, it was something that I remember watching her video and I was so keen and I saw the topic and I don’t remember what it was called.

[00:36:55] And it was like, you know, basically She was downsizing her team or downsizing her business or whatever. And I thought, Oh, you can do that. Oh my God. Yes. And it gave me permission to do the same. It gave me permission to accept the fact that I wasn’t enjoying managing a large team and growing and growing and having the responsibility of that payroll.

[00:37:14] So thank you, Karin, for, for being as always an inspiration to me and to other designers. What did you guys take away from this episode? Let me know. I’m so excited for you guys to dive into part two coming up real soon. Go give Karin a follow. If you want to follow her, she is Karin Bohn or House of Bohn, which is her design firm.

[00:37:34] You can go follow her on Instagram, let her know you listened to this first episode and let her know you can’t wait for part two. All right, guys, see you soon.