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Community Highlights: Meet Jessica Love of Urbane Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Love.

Hi Jessica, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design in 2004 and started my first interior design firm, Love Designs the day after graduation. When I was a child, I would create “homes” in our family’s entertainment center and collect scraps of fabric and discarded items to envision entirely new worlds for Barbie. Understanding design and the way people interact with their surroundings has been my passion from day one. It’s been a long road building this business but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
One of the biggest obstacles we face as an interior design business is that our success is directly tied to the success of the economy. We are a luxury service; if our clients face financial hardship, we are getting cut from their list of essential expenses. That makes periods like the recession of 2008 incredibly hard to get through. 2008-2012 was the hardest time for me and my team. It got to the point where I was calling my clients asking them if they needed me to come clean the toilets I had installed for them years prior! Owning a business takes humility, and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get through hard times. Owning a small business is not for the faint of heart. Another challenge we face is the misconception of what the interior design industry is. A lot of people think it is merely decorating, but it’s so much more complex than that. We need to be well versed in architecture, construction and city codes. We need a strong understanding of materials and spatial planning so that our designs are safe and accessible. We have a big responsibility not only for our clients but their families, neighborhoods and communities. It is so much more than picking out paint colors and furniture. The work we do needs to improve people’s quality of life, make them feel safe, function with their lifestyle and bring them joy. That’s a tall order!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Urbane Design is a full-service interior design firm specializing in remodeling, new construction, furniture and virtual services. Our bread and butter is kitchen and bath design, but our services run a large gamut. We serve the Austin area primarily, but we’ve also taken projects in Los Angeles and virtual clients far as Germany! Our design style is timeliness and sophisticated but never trendy. We always aim to create spaces that stand the test of time both from a style and durability perspective. We value close collaboration with our clients which is evident by our project management style. Our clients interact with almost everyone on our small team, which allows us all to really get to know one another and work well together. We value close community ties. Every year we host our Open Door Showcase during SXSW which features live music, food, drinks and an auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity and Design Changes Lives. Last year, I started The Backyard Project, which is a private outdoor art exhibit in my backyard featuring six double-sided 2’5”x7’ walls painted by local Austin artists. It is a way for artists to come together in a safe environment and to showcase their talents in the time of Covid where people aren’t gathering for gallery shows. My team and I love to live and give in Austin.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
This list is so massive, how do I pick just a few? The biggest lesson learned is from 2008: save, save, save money, both personally and for the business. You never know when your world could get turned upside down and you will need to be prepared to stay afloat in hardships that you can’t control. Next, I would say I learned to trust my instincts. There are times, like every service-based company, where you are at odds with your clients. You need to trust your professional training in these situations and stick to your guns about what is best for you and the client overall. These are hard conversations sometimes, but sticking up for yourself and your team is necessary to maintain the integrity of your business. And lastly, I’ve learned you can’t do everything yourself. You really have to understand your strengths and hire for your weaknesses. I don’t know what I would do without my design assistant and admin. They help me keep the plane in flight, and without them, I’d be doing everything but doing none of it well. Having the backing of your community also helps. When you are ingrained in the community in which you live and serve, opportunities present themselves and you maintain respect and relevancy. Your business is never going to be successful because of just you. You need a whole army of people behind you, so those relationships are important.

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Image Credits

Photography by Molly Culver

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