This conversation is one for the books! I’m joined by CEO and business coach Katie Decker-Erickson who shares the most incredible, on-point thoughts on creating a sustainable business that works for you.

Katie speaks about her career trajectory, why she left residential design, why she is so committed to her coaching business, and who her most important clients are. She talks about using intuition to tailor your business to fit your lifestyle and shares the advantages, mistakes, and lessons she’s learned from her own career. She also discusses why hustle and having the right team are equally vital for success and the crucial step she takes before onboarding employees to ensure it is the right fit for all.

She has the most terrific insights about listening and following our instincts as we think about tackling just that extra 5% that left me so inspired and motivated and I know listeners will be too.


If you enjoyed this conversation, listen to the next part on Katie’s podcast Colorful Conversations.

You can connect with Katie at Color Works


This episode is sponsored by Abacus Furniture.

Read the Full Transcript ⬇️

Rebecca Hay: Hey, Hey, Hey, it’s Rebecca. And you’re listening to resilient by design. Today’s guest is Katie Decker-Erickson. Guys, Katie and I got on like a house on fire and literally talked past our time and we didn’t even realize it. You’re gonna love this conversation. It gets a little deep so stay with us till the end.

Katie is phenomenal. She’s a founder of an incredible commercial interior design firm. She’s the CEO and She’s also a business coach. She began her career in commercial color consulting as a part time passion project back in 2007. And today her company color works has grown into a multi million dollar commercial design firm operating in over 20 States.

She shares that she has over 20 people working for her and she has incredible. business acumen. She has a passion for teaching others. She has two beautiful young children, the same age as mine. And I love that she and I share a passion for female empowerment. And that is what we talk about today. We get into scaling your business.

Is it for you? And what happens if you want to contract? We talk about how to tailor your business to fit your lifestyle. And really in completely unplanned nature and of the way that Rebecca Hay is, I took us down a rabbit hole of conversation about intuition. And I think it’s incredible. I think you guys are going to really like it.

This is your permission slip to possibly make change in your business, to downsize, to upsize. You’re really, really going to feel inspired by the conversation I have today with Katie. Enjoy. All right, Katie,

Katie Decker-Erickson: welcome to Resilient by Design. I’m so excited to interview you today. Thank you so much for having me.

I am humbled and honored to be here.

Rebecca Hay: We were just chatting a lot before we hit record. Clearly we have a lot to talk about. We’ve had a whole conversation.

Katie Decker-Erickson: We have.

Rebecca Hay: I can’t wait to dive into all the things. But before we

Katie Decker-Erickson: do, can you just briefly introduce yourself to my listeners? First and foremost, I call my most important clients or M.

I. C. s, my kids who are nine and seven, same age as yours, love them to the moon and back. I was an old mom, wasn’t sure I was going to get them, got them, and I love them so very, very much. Started my firm though clear back in 2007, started in residential design, lasted about three years, was so burnt. out on trying to do marital counseling for my clients when I’m like, guys, we’re just here to choose some fabrics.

And it was world war three. So I got my MBA before I actually started my firm and went into commercial design. That has been a fabulous fit and honestly kept my business pretty small intentionally really focused on exterior color. and ROI on that before our largest client came to me right before my second was about to go into kindergarten and said, please, please, please do interiors.

And I was like, okay, I see you. My kids are about to go to school full time. Let’s do it. And that’s when we peeled off that layer of the onion. And in one year we grew 1500%. and became a multimillion dollar firm, and then we’ve just diversified with other clients in that arena. So, yeah, it’s been a journey.

There’s been expansion contraction, but my goal is that it always fits my M. I. C. S. Are my most important clients. My kiddos.

Rebecca Hay: I love that. I love the most important clients, kiddos. I think that’s so wonderful. And what I really want to dive into today is this idea of Not balance, but really tailoring your business to fit your lifestyle.

Because I know this is something that we as moms and entrepreneurs can struggle with. It’s funny. I’ve had so many conversations with designers over the years who are about to have their first child and they’re nervous. Like, what does this mean for my business? Like I’m picturing them with their knuckles, like clenched, like I’m going to lose, like they’re going to lose grip of their business and they’re not going to get the clients if they sort of slow down to be the mom.

And my advice is always. Don’t do what I did. You know, take that time with your newborns. Seriously, because that was me. I was the one like hustle, hustle, hustle. And I was exhausted, but didn’t even know I was exhausted because I just kept going and my business was running me and we were doing really well, but at what cost.

So I really want to talk about that. Also, though, before we dive into all the things, can we just have a moment about the 1500 percent growth? Like, can you just please give us some close notes or cliffs notes, as you say in the US about how it’s not even possible.

Katie Decker-Erickson: You know, it was really interesting. If I had not had my master’s degree and I had been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses as well for about 20 years.

I love to teach like you. That’s what actually led me to coaching and why we established our coaching business. And now I help others in the design business because a lot of people struggle with that exact idea. I think I had a disproportionate advantage and that I had had 10 years to think about how would I scale?

I knew I wanted to scale, but I kept holding myself back, which is really hard for us type a firstborn people. But I was like, not now, not now. But when I do, I think I want to do X, Y, and Z. That being said. It was the right hires at the right time. We brought on our operations manager who was utterly brilliant.

Then we brought on assistant designer, utterly brilliant, brought in an accountant who was okay. Now we’re with a couple CPAs, highly recommend CPAs, even for bookkeeping. They just catch things, not that they want to do it, but if you can find the right one, it’s a great fit. And just continued to build on that.

It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of sleepless nights. I remember sitting at soccer practice for my nine year old and I was working on spreadsheets, financial spreadsheets, literally, as she’s kicking the ball around in a gym in the dead of winter for club soccer. And I’m like, but I’m here, I’m here, I’m not in charge of coaching.

I’m here and I’m doing the spreadsheets and all the things. And so, yeah, it was insane. I chewed a lot of gum during that time as a stress reliever. I’d buy the big bags of gum from Walmart and I would just chew through them, but we made it through and the client didn’t feel it. I will say. Part of it was self awareness though and saying, yes, we can do that, but it’s going to be a six week lead time instead of a two and client communication and just managing.

So they never felt the burn and being transparent with them. Yeah, that was huge, but yeah, it was insane. And I really am forever grateful to that client because they trusted us to do it. We still work with them. We always joke. We’d love to collect clients and not lose them. I think it’s because we treat them fair.

And we were honest and communicative with them. But yeah, it was wonderful. It grew so fast that I had to give up teaching. And then last year I came back and I was like, I want to start coaching. I just miss teaching. And I see so many talented designers that are doing such great things and they just need the help to get over the hump, to make it financially beneficial.

Like it’s not even that we need a whole entire thing redone. It’s usually two or three tweaks. that make all the difference as you probably see in your class.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah. Well, I mean, I’ve seen that in my own business, right? Like when I started to do a little bit here, like little things, like I’m going to charge for my consultation.

I’m going to, you know, the way I structured my products, how I resell products to clients.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Yes. 

Rebecca Hay: The lead time, like you saying that, like that is, it was a huge game changer is actually giving Myself and my team, the time and the space to do our job properly and not just trying to run in circles for a client, making ourselves so stressed out and not having time to be creative.

Totally. So it’s, it’s definitely been a learning for me inside my business, but you’re right. And I, and that’s why I love teaching. Cause I think if I could just help a handful of entrepreneurs Not do the things that I did wrong because I think I’ve done a lot of things wrong and that’s been my biggest teacher.

Then I feel like. I feel like I’m giving back. And that’s what, that’s something that just really lights me up just like you. But can I ask you a question? You mentioned, you know, you got a killer operations manager. You got you know, a CPA. That’s great. I’m always looking for that. So that was nice to hear that you got to find the right one, but how much of your success in that sort of initial bump in that year, would you attribute to having the right people in the right seats? versus just hustle?

Katie Decker-Erickson: Oh, t question and I’m so deepl I do 100 percent 100%? Because I equally as important. And Hustle is everything. I always love when people say, Oh, you’re a designer. That must be magic. I’m like, have you seen me in my bathroom using paint colors at 1130 at night? Because such and such has a painter coming tomorrow and they’re freaking out about it.

And they’re a longstanding client. They’re not normally, we don’t want to encourage this behavior by the way, but if they, every now and then there’s a crisis you have to fix, I’m like, it’s hustle. It’s showing up for the client over and over and over again. That being said, I would say that I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Our team is amazing. We have the best team because we found people that love what they do and we let them do it. One thing we do is we get personality tests and aptitude tests before we onboard anyone to say, I hear that you want this job, but fundamentally you’re, you can be happy in six months. Like, is this who you are?

And that has made such a difference in our business because it took us a minute with the accounting situation to find the right one and get them on the bus. That was probably the hardest one to fill in on honesty, because our business is unique. There’s a whole language. It’s like speaking Mandarin to most people, right?

And so to get someone in that spot was super duper challenging and it did take time. And like you, I’m with you. We learned from our mistakes. We learned from what doesn’t work, but getting the right people on the bus was critical. Just absolutely critical and empowering them. I think that’s the biggest thing in business is we have to realize that our internal stakeholders, those people that are on our bus are just as important as our clients.

Because what happens over here directly relates to the happiness quotient with your clients. So if you take care of these people, we usually have happy clients out here in that external stakeholder world, right?

Rebecca Hay: Yeah. And

Katie Decker-Erickson: so really figuring out how do you take care of those people into your point? How do you not burn them out?

How do you make sure you’re not like, guys, we’ve got a crisis today. No one can live in crisis mode forever. It’s not fair to your team and they will leave.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah.

Katie Decker-Erickson: And so figuring that out was really hard, but I think it’s both and never stop hustling. I think it’s interesting as firms growing, get bigger.

They lose their hustle a lot of times, and that can just happen out of large organizations tend to get clunky, right? But if you can keep that hustle and still that client care, every one of our clients still has my cell phone. This is different than residential design where they’ll text you at 2 a. m. My people don’t.

Yeah, I do not advise that. Nope, not if you’re in residential design. Don’t do it. But we’re on, I mean, that’s one of the reasons I like commercial because we’re on an 8 to 5 schedule Monday through Friday. And then they leave us alone. I’m really grateful for that. It’s a very different world. Completely different.

Yeah. And I think client boundaries, man, clearly I couldn’t figure that out because I left. I

Rebecca Hay: was just like, this is hard. Yeah, that’s a hard one. It’s, I mean, I used to get text messages from clients at 11 o’clock at night. I was breastfeeding my little child, right. And I would be in tears because the client was venting to me about a contractor pointing fingers at me and she would get angry.

Right. I don’t know what she’s drinking. Who knows? She had my tech, my phone number. And it’s so emotional. Like residential design is so personal and emotional. And it’s not for everyone. And I think for me, the reason I always stayed in it, even though I dabbled in commercial is I just feel so passionate about home design.

Like I just love a home. Like that’s just my passion. I love that commercial design. It doesn’t spark it for me, but I know Like, we have designers who’ve come into our realm, who’ve taken our courses, and they came from the commercial world, and they struggle. Like, we’ve done interviews on this podcast with those designers where they struggle with that transition.

It’s like the Wild West coming from commercial to residential. So you made a smart move, woman, moving into the commercial.

Katie Decker-Erickson: I’m glad it was my passion. Props to you for following your passion. Nothing comes pain free, right? There’s sticking points in both arenas. But having the courage to say to yourself, this is what sparks joy to borrow that term from Marie Kondo.

But this is what sparks joy for me. And having the courage to go forth and do that unreservedly, Ooh, that’s a big thing for women. You don’t have to explain that, by the way. You can just say, this is my happy place and I’m going to go do it.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah. And then it’s finding how to set those boundaries. It’s getting those systems and the processes in place is getting the people in the right seats.

You know, that’s why I asked that question of you because I struggled with hiring the right people at the beginning. Like how did you go through different hires or did you just like find the first person and they were great

Katie Decker-Erickson: and you were off to the races? Yes and yes. Some of them were great operations manager.

Great. And that was a slam dunk strategic hire system designer. Great slam dunk. Awesome. Procurement sourcing, project manager. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Accounting. Oh dear. We’re going to be here a minute and it took a minute and it’s not that our books were bastardized, they were maintained, but it’s not the level of detail that you want, especially.

Having that MBA background, I’m like, this isn’t dialed in. Like it’ll get us through tax season. But what gets us through tax season doesn’t give me my KPIs. It doesn’t give me where am I year over year. It doesn’t give me my areas where I’m seeing the largest ROI. Like I always lovingly joke, we do design.

Because that’s in our name, but we make all our money on furniture and product and placement. Yeah,

Rebecca Hay: you need to know that.

Katie Decker-Erickson: And so if you’re trying to live on your design fees and it’s not going well for you, we should talk. And that is not out of the realm of possibility that it isn’t going well for you.

And that’s not your fault. One of those tweaks again, like you were saying. Like it’s not. Always a kajillion things. It can just be one or two. Yeah, no, it wasn’t seamless. Don’t let me lead you to believe it was. I’ll never forget when my, one of my babies was little. I don’t even remember if it was the first or second, but I remember that my desk was at the perfect height that I could sit their little pamper bum on the desk and lean them on my chest and then I could reach around on my keyboard.

And they would nap on my chest and I’d be like, this is great. We’re getting skin to skin contact. The ultimate inefficiency, right? I feel like every mom who is a in business is going to have those moments. And I actually, it was super duper sweet because they’re little enough that like an occasional client would be like, is that a baby?

And I’m like, I was unapologetic. And I wish I had my babies almost after COVID because I feel like COVID gave us a transition to say, yeah, I’m home with kids. Everybody’s home with kids. Let’s normalize that for a hot minute for all the moms out there that like and dads We’re all multifaceted people, right?

And that’s okay. And not only is it okay, it’s beautiful and it’s not unprofessional. I feel like some of that went away during COVID. Some of it’s come back, but I wish we could normalize that more as a society. I think

Rebecca Hay: there’s more balance. Like I do see there being a bit more respect for, okay, you have life with kids or there’s more flexibility anyhow, in different workplaces.

Fair. I agree with you though. Like having babies after COVID, I was envious of those parents who didn’t have to entertain all the visitors. Like when you bring a newborn home from the hospital, everybody wants to get the baby and all you need to do is sleep and the people pleaser in, in Rebecca was like, I need to stay awake so I can, so aunt so and so can come over and such and such a friend and I want, and we’re gonna have a baby play date.

And meanwhile, all my body wanted was sleep during COVID. That wasn’t a thing. And so. Sure. I think finding balance and, and tailoring your business, like back to this topic that I want to dive into is tailoring your business to fit your lifestyle. I think it’s even more doable now than it was before the pandemic.

And I’ve seen that at least for myself, how I’ve really managed to shift. Obviously I’ve shifted gears a little bit. Now I’m, I’m coaching and have online courses. So my business model has changed, but I do see designers being able to kind of change. And I had a great conversation with, you might know her Canadian designer, Karen Bond.

She’s from Vancouver, actually not far from you. So she was on the podcast talking about this idea of like contraction. And when she decided to, she let people go, she let clients go and she decided she didn’t want to keep growing at all costs. She wanted to sort of contract. So let’s talk about that because I think that is something that a lot of designers who are listening today are parents, maybe they’re solos and maybe they don’t even really want to grow big, but they feel like that’s what they should do.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Yes, there’s so much pressure in society. Are you going to scale your business? How big do you want to get? Where do you want to go? How many people do you want on your team? And it was so great, I think, just to pause and for women to say to themselves, your business should be serving you. You should not be serving your business.

And if you’re sitting here and you’re going, Oh my gosh, all I do is serve my business. It feels like a beast. And all I have to do is feed the beast and something’s out of whack. I also kind of hate the term. I have a love hate relationship with work life balance. I feel more like it’s a rabbit squirrel straddling, like a barbed wire fence.

Like it’s never quite right. It’s never quite whatever. Right. And I think that’s really hard. I like the idea more to your point of an accordion. There are times in life when we expand. And we can pull out and we can say, I’m ready to scale. We’re going to grow 1500 percent this year. I see it coming. I’m ready for it.

My kids going to kindergarten, right? There were so many times that I chose to contract in the hopes that I would have kids and I would meet my husband, whoever that was going to be. And we could go down that path. Cause I didn’t get married till almost 31 and my first at almost 35 and my second at almost 38 for a long time, I just kept pressing pause in the hopes that it would happen.

And like you said, now we have the flexibility as women to be able to do this, right? Like we can work until school pickup, do school pickup, chisel through the evening hours, and then finish up emails and whatever at the end of the day. Or usually that’s how my day works. But I think a lot of it for women is the messaging we’ve heard over the years of if you’re not scaling, you’re not productive.

If you’re not moving forward or growing, something’s wrong with your business. You should revisit your marketing strategy. Do you know who your target market is? I think as women, if we can just give ourselves. The freedom, especially enough. This doesn’t apply to men. I think it’s more intuitive to men. If you’re a man listening to this podcast, you’re probably like, wait, what?

But especially for women, I think it’s just giving ourself the space and freedom to say, how does my business need to serve me in this season of life? And it’s not to say you can’t come back and expand like the accordion goes in and out. You can do this with your business throughout your life. That is the goal of the business serving you, not you, serving it.

But I think that’s hard. I mean, do you see that there’s the struggle and the people you coach with that?

Rebecca Hay:  I see that, like I see that inside power of process, which is we’re in the middle of it right now is my course where I teach designers like systems that they can set up inside their business

Katie Decker-Erickson: systems are everything.

Rebecca Hay: It’s everything. But, and right now, cause we have part of the course is live. And so there’s a live component that every week we’re on zoom and I’m answering questions. We’re doing breakout rooms. It’s really amazing. But One of the questions that was coming up last week, even in the course, cause it’s so fresh in my mind was this idea of like, but you know, what if I don’t want to hire?

Like what if I don’t want to, cause like, you know, one of the benefits of having systems and SOPs and, and steps to a process is that you can onboard and you can hire people and it makes it a lot easier. I learned that the hard way. I was expecting people to read my mind. How did you not know to do that thing next?

Right? Go. Come on. Get it with the program. I love you. And then the designer was like. But, but what if I don’t want that? And I said, well, you don’t need that. That’s okay. I see. You still need systems to make your life easy, but, or easier. Yeah, it’s very common because I, what I see, and I’m sure you see this too, is a lot of women and let’s face it, it’s mostly women that I’m working with that are listening to this podcast.

There are the few men and we love you, but we’re glad you’re here. We’re glad you’re here. But there’s mostly women who are mothers most of the time, and they are coming at this as a second career. And so they may not have this big vision of scaling and growing a firm. They might, but it’s okay to not want to be, I’m trying to think of an example, like Kelly Wurstler, or it’s okay to not want to be a big firm that has like, Tons of, I don’t know how many employees you have at this point, but like, it’s okay to not want that.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Yeah. I think actually we, we are walking the delicate dance between contractors and employees for tax reasons. Our whole team, part time, full time, everybody, we’re at about 20. But yeah, I mean, it is okay to say one thing. I tell my kids, I don’t know if your kids probably be in the same age. I wonder if this is happening at your house, but we have a massive case of No, no, no, no, no.

She did. Yeah. Oh yes. I’m just like, so out of this has become my classic expression. You do. You boo. So I look at him, I’m like, you do you boo. You don’t worry about her. Uhuh. Uhuh. You do you boo. But I think as women, this is incredibly powerful too, because you do you, I think social media love hate relationship, right?

Because we see all these things going on and we’re like, oh, but like Kelly’s doing this or Sandra’s doing that, or Kathy’s doing X, Y, and Z and we’re like, oh, I should be doing that. Right. And instead of just like, I so admire that question that woman asked, I don’t want to do that. Like almost like asking for permission.

Is that okay? Yes. You don’t need permission. You do you. And that’s like, that is going to lead to your best work. It’s going to lead to your happiest clients. But the one word I think that women have to remember in all of this is it’s going to make it sustainable for you.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah,

Katie Decker-Erickson: we can do sprints in life for little short periods, right?

But the reality is you have to build a sustainable model. It’s like parenting. It is a marathon. And if you’re going to try to sprint it. You’re going to have asphalt in your teeth, right? So how do we take our businesses? And how do we? Totally right. How do we make them sustainable? The decisions I make today, what do I want those to look like?

And what will be the impact of those in 3 years or 5 years or 10 years? And so am I just scaling the scale? Or am I scaling because I intentionally want my firm to be somewhere in 3 years or 5 years? And then giving yourself the freedom to say, I’m not going to worry about what those other firms are doing.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah. I’m going to do me. That’s tough though. Oh, it’s so hard. It’s so much easier said than done. Yeah. Oh my God. I talk about this almost with almost every guest. I’m sure you have the same experience. Yep. And we all talk about it and then we’re all done. We’re all done our interviews and you were going off and then we pick up our phones and we scroll we do a quick check in it’s like oh wow oh that’s a really good reel why didn’t I think of that oh my god I like okay and then you scroll Oh, wow.

Look at her, her new website. It’s so nice. Oh, maybe I should read my website and it is a fucking rabbit hole. Yes. A black hole. It sucks you in that I can’t consume social media. Like I’m on a hiatus from consumption. I will post, I will engage with the people who are in my space, but the home feed, I say, as soon as I catch myself going there, I say, ah, Don’t do it.

But as a result, I can tell you that it’s actually challenging because when I get together with colleagues and they’re like way more into the design design aspect of it than I am because I’m more on the business and the coaching now, but they’ll say, Oh my God, did you see like such and such a designer?

You see that project that isn’t that amazing? Other designers like, yeah, I can’t believe she got that project. And it’s like this whole like doomsday conversation about like, Oh my God, now we all feel bad because this other designer, whoever she is, Has like this thing and it’s only from Instagram, you know, turns out.

Oh, that actually, that designer has some stuff going on in their personal life and their marriage just exploded. And there’s lots going on behind the scenes, but it’s, it’s, it does in some ways by me not consuming. It’s like not watching the news. Sometimes when I’m in those social conversations, I’m like, okay, like I can’t contribute to that conversation.

Yeah. I’ll say, Oh, who is this designer you’re talking about? Okay. I’ll have to go give them a follow. And so it’s this fine balance between being up to date with what’s happening in your industry and seeing what your competitors are doing, but then also just staying in your lane and putting

Katie Decker-Erickson: on those horse blinders.

Yeah. I love the term horse blinders. That’s a great term because much like you, I don’t do much social media. It’s hilarious. Our social media team will be like, well, this happened on Tik TOK. And I’ll be like, you don’t say, are we still doing Tik TOK? I thought, I thought we were going to cancel Tik TOK.

Wasn’t Tik TOK getting canceled, but just to respond to the people that are showing up. I will respond to the people who message us personally, but as far as what’s created and what’s put out there, I’m with you. And I think this is like the beauty of getting to mid forties. I don’t know if you feel this way.

Yeah. But getting out a piece of chalk and drawing the circle around, what can I influence? I wish that circle was a lot bigger some days and some days in my head. It’s it’s freaking huge. The reality is it’s really, really small. Whatever happens on the geopolitical world, I don’t control it. Thankfully, right?

We do design. We’re not saving lives. We’re not negotiating Middle East peace or the lack thereof. And I’m really grateful for that. But it’s also saying, what can I control? And like, if she got the project, great. That doesn’t change anything for me. I can’t control that. If anything, I can give her a thumbs up a heart and like, be proud of another woman who’s doing awesome work.

And then move on. I think it is interesting. The social media doomsday cycle, and it can become very emotional for women, especially. Yeah. Once again, you do you, whether it’s dating, whether it’s your business. I always just like to say, get running your race and see who shows up next to you.

Get running your race as far as your design firm and see the clients that you attract.

Get busy doing what you love and see who shows up who also is loving what you’re producing and creating.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah.

Katie Decker-Erickson: I love what Michelle Lin Pan always says. There’s plenty of ugly houses for everyone. Ain’t that the truth, especially in my city, just saying, I think we can all say that it doesn’t matter if you’re in Tupelo, if you’re in Seattle, it doesn’t matter.

There’s plenty of ugly houses for everybody. And I think when we adopt that attitude, it makes it easier. And once again, back to like feeling like that permission and that freedom, it gets busy for us to get busy running our race instead of looking, what is everyone doing on social media?

Rebecca Hay: Yeah. And it’s also, you know, it makes me reflect on, you know, You know, her success is not a reflection on my talent.

Absolutely not. And yet we seem to think that because this person is doing so well in whatever area that we would like to do, well, we must be good enough. And I think, and I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but it does seem to bring up those emotions, even in myself of, Oh, what is the story I’m telling myself that I don’t think I’m good enough.

And I need that validation. And so when I see somebody else is doing really well, it signals to my brain, like, Oh, if she’s doing well, then I’m not good enough, but actually you’re right, there’s plenty of ugly houses. There are tons of clients out there for us. So what if someone who’s listening right now?

Katie is like, I like this idea. Maybe someone’s listening right now and they feel like a weight off their shoulders. Like breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t have to just keep hiring and scaling the way Katie did. Like somebody might hear 20 people, employees, contractors, freelancers, whatever. And they might like, but a heart might start to race.

Like they don’t want that. What does success look like then? How do we find success? And now this is a bigger question, but what does success look like if we are a smaller firm? Or if we are just a solo.

Katie Decker-Erickson: It’s so funny, I don’t know if you remember that old movie. Gosh, I don’t even know what decade it was in.

That’s how old I am. But do you remember Hitch with Will Smith? Oh, and he was a dating consultant? Yes. And he Oh, so good. He didn’t have a website. He didn’t give out his phone number. You had to get his little black card. Right. Okay. He just, I remember the, he wore one on OnOne with clients, but he was so good at what he did and he like, he was loved and adored.

Do it in design. If you don’t want to build the team, don’t. Become the best boutique, high end, low end, wherever your target market is. run hard in that arena because there’s somebody out there who probably needs you. I mean, do your marketing, understand your target persona, what are their wants and needs, and then do that.

Absolutely do that. You are not called despite all the societal pressures. I feel like in America, we always want it better, faster, smarter, quicker, cheaper, on and on and on. It’s like, just stop for a minute. Just stop because back to sustainable, you have to build something that speaks to your heart and your clients will feel that, especially residential.

Is so emotional. Your clients know when you’re showing up for them and when you’re not, and when you’re putting forth that best design that you’re really proud of, and when you’re not, they feel all of that and it is okay to sit in that space. I hope it is a load off and that you can push away the pressures.

There’s so many pressures in society. I don’t care what culture you’re in, what country you’re in, what age bracket you’re in, of what you should be doing as a woman at this point. And it just is exhausting. And if you’re trying to do it, I love your social media hiatus. Step out of it. Just step out of it for one minute and sit in the seat of yourself and say, what do I want out of this?

I mean, not to get all cheesy, but YOLO, right? You only live once, like go build the firm that you want to build. There’s a magnetic effect to that. And people will show up for that when you’re being true to who you are. It gives them also the freedom in their designs to be true to who they are. And that’s a beautiful place to be.

Rebecca Hay: I love that. I love that. It’s so, so, so true. It’s like this episode, if you’re listening right now, this is your permission slip. Totally. This episode is your permission slip to do whatever the F you want.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Right? Yes. Yes. And you don’t have to explain the why. I feel like women know what they want and then they’re like, Oh, but I can’t explain it.

So it must not be real. Right. We go from our heart immediately back up to our head. Like, okay, I know in my heart, this is what I want. Ooh, but I can’t explain it. I can’t make sense of it. It must not be real. And we start to second guess our heart. And we’re like, Oh, pros and

Rebecca Hay: cons. If I write all the pros and cons on the paper, that’ll help.

Katie Decker-Erickson: No,

Rebecca Hay: no, wrong. Yes. Denied.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Denied. Denied. Yes. Denied. I mean, I would love to hear your experience about this, but there’s been times in my life where I have had a gut feeling. that I should or should not do something. And I can’t explain the why, but if I do or don’t do it and I listen to my gut, it is right.

Like 99 percent of the time it’s scathing how accurate it is. Yeah. But when I try to talk my head out of it, it’s a nightmare.

Rebecca Hay: Not related to design, but I’m going to circle it back. The other day was a weekend. A good friend of mine was over. We were sitting on the porch and her child came and she said, Oh, the school called me and I heard about some situation.

They started chatting and he’s like, Oh, there’s something else I didn’t tell you, Mom. And he said, Well, today at lunch, you know, these kids are at the That their age, not my kid’s age are allowed to leave the school for lunch. And this child went with his friends for lunch and then they thought, okay, well, also after we go for pizza, we’re going to go for bubble tea, but they had to be back at the school for a certain time.

And in order to get back to the school to make it on time, because this child has been told, don’t be late, right? That’s like one of the privilege. If you’re going to go for lunch, you can’t be late for school. So this child and their friends decided to take the city bus. It was only a couple blocks from where they were.

To get back to the school on time, the parents have said, you’re not allowed to take the city bus without an adult. Like you’re not old enough. And so there’s this kid clearly having a dilemma. What do I do? Which decision do I choose? And like this child is learning and you’re learning how to prioritize and with a learned lesson.

But what I really love that my friend said to her child was You know, in that moment before you got on the bus, because your friends were getting on the bus, what did you feel in your body? Did you feel like it was the right decision? And I was like, I love that. I’m like, I got to write this down. She’s such a good parent.

And he said, well, no, mom, I knew that I probably shouldn’t do it, but I didn’t know because I didn’t. And the poor kid was so torn. Oh, sure. Peer pressure is real. Oh my gosh. And that teaching moment for me though, was, It’s a reminder that we all have that inside of us. And this is something that I, and I’m, I’m very open about this.

I’ve been working with a mindset and business coach for the last couple of years. And one of the primary things that we’ve been working on is how to understand here and trust my intuition because that has been lost. And I think as a child, not to go too deep, but I’ll do it. Nope. Don’t do it. I was just thinking it.

Those lessons weren’t there. I didn’t get those lessons. I was always taught you need to be good. You need to be right. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. And at all costs. And so to answer your question, Katie, there’s been so many times in my life. And I know listeners have a million examples of their own where.

You do something even though your instinct is like, I don’t think I should. But I think as, as women now, because we have so much information and we have the analytical tools we’ve gone, most of us have gone to a college or university or masters or what have you, that we know how to analyze it left, right, center, up and down.

That for me, over the last few years, my instinct has been telling me Stop taking on design projects, focus on the students, focus on the coaching, focus on the online business. But my ego is like, Oh, I don’t know. I love being this big design firm in Toronto. And every time that I would sit down to make a quote, air quote decision, it was pen to paper, frozen thoughts.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Yeah.

Rebecca Hay: And it never made sense on paper. I was like, no, this doesn’t make sense. Why would I do that? I have a multimillion dollar interior design firm in Toronto. I’m getting all this press. I blah, blah, blah. This legitimizes me as a coach. It’s so important that I keep up this whatever thing that I’m doing, but it wasn’t lighting me up.

And so it’s taken me a lot of work, which is unfortunate to say, but at least I feel like I’m there. Not at all.

Rebecca Hay: You had the courage to do the work. Don’t discount that for a New York minute. And so I’m doing what you’re talking about, which is scaling my design firm back because I’m choosing to push and put more of my effort and my energy into the that’s lighting me up.

Now, could I keep my design business running with the team that I had? Yes. And not have as much control. Yes. But these are choices that we have to make because it has to feel right for us. Just because somebody else, like just because Katie over there in Washington is running her firm and doing coaching and doing the other thing, doesn’t mean that that’s what’s for me.

And that unfortunately has been very hard for me to accept and learn, but that’s the I’m sitting here smiling because I’m so freaking proud of you.

Katie Decker-Erickson: I know. Oh God. I’m Any woman who does this, I’m like, I just want to, I wish I could like, slow clap you and just tip my hat to you because Going all the way back, like you said, to being a kid and I was never taught these lessons.

I take that one step further. It’s not that we weren’t taught these lessons that this intuition was repressed in us. It was like, Oh, that doesn’t feel good. Well, welcome to life, honey. Lots of things don’t feel good. We got to get it done. Gotta do it. Gotta go. Gotta da da da da da. And so it was one step further of like, you can’t trust your intuition.

Even it’s interesting having daughters, I’m very acutely aware of eating disorders. It’s a big thing. Right. And so one thing I was really adamant about with them is that they will be intuitive eaters and that they eat what they want, when they want, how they want, as long as they have nutrient first. Then we go to the rubbish, but when we dump food and I’m totally okay with that because that’s kind of how I started down the path of teaching them to trust their intuition.

Cause food’s basic. Right. But my husband, that was really hard for him. He’s like, what do you mean? We’re going to clean our plate. I’m like, no, no, we’re not going to do that. Like it was a total moment where I was like, this is the hill I’m going to die on as a parent. You have to pick those hills wisely in a marriage.

Yep. But that was one I was willing to die on. And we’ll see. Time is the teller of all tales. I could be completely wrong about this. And back on your podcast and 10 years ago, Rebecca, this is the worst idea to be continued. I’m not afraid to admit that I am not above that, but I felt like that was kind of the gateway to them understanding what their intuition is.

Like, why do I feel I shouldn’t be getting on that bus? And that is hard to bring back to life when it has been tapped down so repeatedly in childhood schools don’t support. Trusting your intuition. I should say stereotypical schools, right? No, it’s I have 30 students. We have to make them all March from a teacher’s perspective.

Here’s how we’re going to do it. Like you even have to go to the bathroom. I’m sorry. Now it’s not a good bathroom. Totally. Right? I’m like, like, we’re not even trusting them to handle their own biological functions. Don’t get me wrong. I know there’s people go to the bathroom to go do their own fun things when they’re in first grade, but You know, I just think that gets pushed down so many times in kids.

And then you have adults and you’re like, we’ll turn you into a tuition. And they’re like, I don’t even know what that is anymore. And I’m like, not your fault. Thousand

Rebecca Hay: percent. And if you are listening right now and you feel that way and you’re like, I don’t even know what that is. I totally get it because that was the conversation that I started out with my coach two years ago where we’re trying to lean into it.

I’m like, I don’t actually know, like, I don’t even know what it feels like. She’s like, what is the sensation in your body? I’m like, I have no idea. Like you’re talking gibberish to me. Like what do you

Katie Decker-Erickson: mean? I mean, I’ve had a cup of tea this morning and gone to the bathroom. Those are my sensations. What else you got?

I know, right? I was like, no, totally, because it’s so tapped down in you that you’re like, I don’t even know how to feel. a feeling anymore, which is crazy, right? I admire you. That takes so many years of work to get there. I’ve had my same therapist for 20 years, love and adore her. I toddle off to her office.

Help. I saw her yesterday. Help. We need to talk about this, right? Because if we’re not being true to that part of ourselves, We’re never going to get to that creative part. Like, I think the thing that makes, I know a lot of people look at our industry and they’re like, Oh, it’s fluffy and fabulous and all that.

No, the thing that makes our industry really real is you have to be true to who you are because it’s a creative output. Every part of you manifests in what you create. And so it’s very easy to quickly see if there’s passion, heart, desire in it. Or as we call it on our team, the extra 5%. Are you willing to go the extra 5%?

Because that’s to use Malcolm Gladwell’s term in his book. That’s the tipping point, that extra 5%. Right. If you’re being true to who you are, and you have a sustainable model, and you have all those processes in place, that extra 5 percent doesn’t feel like you’re birthing a child. It feels like, Oh, we can do that extra 5 percent because this is my passion.

This is what’s lighting me on fire. Probably how you feel when you coach and you create courses. And it’s like, this is the part that excites me for my day. This is the WD 40 to my gears that gets me driving down the road.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah. And I think too, for designers listening, you know, That for you could be that you really want to do staging and you feel like you need to do interior design and AutoCAD, or it could be that you like, I know this is something that I battled with a lot is like, I love the decorating.

I love the fabrics, the furniture, the finishing touches. I mean, I love it all. Let’s be honest, but I always felt like, well, that’s fluff. And like, you know, I won’t be as respected if I focus on just doing the decorating. So, you know, designer. For those who are hearing this, it might just be that you maybe there’s something in you that’s drawing you in a certain direction.

And I think what happens with intuition, and I mean, this has been my experience and Katie, you can tell me what you think, but is when we feel it, we can’t explain it. And I think that’s what catches us off guard is like, well, I can’t justify or I can’t rationalize why I don’t want to get on the bus. Like, everything’s fine, it’s safe, my friends are there, like there’s, but you sometimes just have to trust and maybe the outcome would have been fine either way.

And I think that is the hardest part is almost trusting ourselves, not the advice of all the people around us.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Yes. No, I think you nailed it because it’s that whole head heart conundrum. We feel it in our heart, but the moment we go to explain it with our head. derailed, right? Yeah. But to be able to act out of your heart, there’s a reason why we have intuition.

It’s not just there because it’s meant to just kind of hang out, never be felt, never be dealt with. Right. I always say it’s women’s superpower. I feel like God gave men physical strength and he gave women intuition, stereotypically speaking, but I’m like, how many times have we felt like I shouldn’t be in this situation?

Like this isn’t either a place I need to be in person. I need to be with. I just don’t know why, but it isn’t right. And I love to say time is the teller of all tales. Three years later, you look back and you’re like, Nope. So glad we didn’t do that, or I wish I would’ve. Yeah, I mean, I had a very long-term relationship that intuitively knew I shouldn’t have been in before I met my husband, man.

I mean, yay. The timing worked out ’cause I met my husband, but if I would’ve intuited that and had the courage to act on my intuition. I would have saved about six and a half years of my life. Not to say you can’t, not to say you can’t learn from that for sure. Thank you so much. But it would have also given me if I had had my intuition fostered, I think throughout childhood and throughout so many other things.

I wouldn’t have hung out in that space near as long as I did. And I think bringing that back to life, what’s interesting about intuition too, is it doesn’t know various wells. So it doesn’t know your professional well and your personal well, and your parenting well, and all these little wells or hats, whatever you want to call them.

I have found, and you correct me, for sure, jump in, if once I start listening to my intuition in one area, my intuition comes alive and it starts to permeate all those hats. And I can see, I can intuit more of what my kids need and what they’re feeling and what isn’t working and what we need to calibrate and change.

I can intuit in my business more of what we need to do and why that isn’t working and what we need to change. It just starts to pollinate, which is a really beautiful thing. Because it also brings down my cortisol and stress levels when I’m willing to do it. That’s just a beautiful byproduct when I can say, I don’t have to explain it, but I really feel we should do this.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah.

Katie Decker-Erickson: And then there’s a piece that comes with that, which I think when you’re feeling again, you’re willing to feel the intuition. You can feel the piece that follows because it’s like, Yeah, that was the right thing.

Rebecca Hay: Yeah.

Katie Decker-Erickson: That was the right decision.

Rebecca Hay: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not listened to the intuition, whether I didn’t know that’s what it was or I had, you know, and I think designers can relate to this, that feeling of, well, my, let’s say, loosely use the accountant example.

For sure. Bring it on. My accountant is saying, I don’t need to do this thing, even though I’m pretty sure like this feels like the right thing to do. And then you find out afterwards, like I didn’t listen to myself, but why didn’t I listen to myself? Because I didn’t trust that I was smart enough. Yeah. I mean, this is a professional.

They must know the best thing for me, but actually they can advise in certain areas, but I need to determine what’s best for me and that not smart enough, not good enough tends to pop up when our intuition goes against what’s expected of us or goes against what. looks good on paper or goes against like you’re in a relationship.

Like I’m laughing cause I did that multiple times in my life where I stayed in relationships years longer than I should have. Yeah. I bet everybody has to be honest. Yeah. And if it’s not a relationship, it could be a situation. It could be a job, right? It could be a corporate job. It could be being in a, in an unsafe situation.

Like I’ve been in situations when I was living abroad. Like, why didn’t I leave that room at that time? Like I didn’t feel comfortable and yet I wanted to be socially accepted. Like there’s so many things that we could talk about this for hours, obviously. I know I feel so bad. I’ve got a

Katie Decker-Erickson: client waiting for me right now.

Rebecca Hay: Oh my God. Okay. This is such I’m like, how did it get to be this time? Because this is such a good

Katie Decker-Erickson: conversation to be continued.

Katie Decker-Erickson: please.

Rebecca Hay: we will definitely continue this conversation.

Katie Decker-Erickson:  I would be honored. I would be honored and humbled and thank you. And to all of your listeners, man, they’re lucky to have you go find the coach.

That’s right for you. They can talk to you about this because. It is so critical to your success personally and professionally.

Rebecca Hay: You have to share your nugget before we go. What is your nugget of wisdom with my listeners today?

Katie Decker-Erickson:  Give yourself the freedom, give yourself the permission, and have the courage to sit in the seat of your intuition unapologetically and act out of that place.

Rebecca Hay: Perfect tie in for what we talked about. Katie, this has been amazing. Where can everyone find and follow you?

Katie Decker-Erickson: Come find us at colorworks. coach. We’re on the socials. They’re all over there. We would love, love, love to help you, whatever that looks like for you. And I think that’s the big takeaway today. You have to do you unapologetically. Yolo, especially as you hit your mid-forties. It gets real. Amazing.

Rebecca Hay: Thank you so much, Katie. Such a great conversation.

Katie Decker-Erickson: Thank you for the privilege of being here.

Rebecca Hay: Oh guys, we literally ran out of time. I like literally, I don’t actually think I’ve ever done that before.

So Katie, thank you so much. It is so refreshing to have conversations like this. This is why I love what I do. I love freaking love podcasting. I love that I get to speak with entrepreneurs, professionals from around the world. You never know who you’re going to connect with and what topic is going to resonate.

I really enjoyed my time and my conversation with Katie. I hope you guys did too. I mean, I took a ton of notes because I think there were some really great nuggets. Katie, you’re such a wordsmith. You have really great descriptors, like the accordion. Oh, I loved that. But I love that she talks about, you know, your business should serve you.

And that you should not be serving your business. I think that’s a really great reminder for us at any stage of business at any stage of the game. And especially when we’re starting our business. Cause when you first start out, you feel like I need to serve my clients at all costs, but that can get you into a rhythm that is hard to break away from.

So Katie, thank you so much for joining me today on this episode, guys, go check Katie out. Follow her on Instagram. I will definitely be having Katie back. Maybe I can get myself on her podcast and we can do a little sharing, collaborating of the love. You know, I love collaborating. I’m all about that. All about spreading the word and sharing.

There’s different coaches for different folks. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Drop me a DM on Instagram and let me know. That’s it, folks. We’ll see you soon.