Texturious Designs — Jen Haywood
Ten years ago, if you would have asked Jen Haywood where she’d be in a decade, working as an interior designer certainly wouldn’t have been at the top of her list. Yet, here she is. Interior design extraordinaire and owner of Texturious Designs.
I was introduced to Jen by our mutual web designer, Joy Dayton of Symspace Design, and after one look at her website, I knew I wanted to learn more about how a once aspiring journalist became a talented designer instead.
I also learned how outside of her work as a small business owner, she’s mom to a one-year-old. So, the question really becomes, what can’t Jen do?
I know you got your bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State, so tell me a bit about how you ended up in interior design.
I graduated in 2010 and was doing nothing with that degree. My first job out of college was at a software company up in Wisconsin, then I worked for several different companies that focused on electronic medical records or health, including UnityPoint.
One of the company’s had this crazy campus. They had amazing design. The CEO there had spent a ton of money on hiring consultants for it who designed Disneyland and Disney World. The building that I was working out of literally had a paper mache dragon in it, and the carpet looked like lava. It was just this crazy place to work.
I was surrounded by all this incredible design, and I was more and more hating what I was doing there. And that’s when I decided, yeah, I’m going to go back to school and figure out whatI want to do with my life, because I don’t think it’s this.
Oh, interesting. What happened next?
I went back to Iowa State and got my master’s degree in interior design. They have this program for people like me who maybe started in a totally different career and then decided they wanted to pursue a fine arts degree or an arts degree, but we don’t have that background.
I graduated in 2014 and kind of had another midlife crisis where I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. And the idea of jumping right into design was very scary and I didn’t quite know how togo about it. And everybody paints this picture that if you graduate with an interior design degree, you’re just going to go work for an architectural firm and you’re going to make no money and you’re going to work these long hours and it’s going to be miserable.
And I was like, yeah, no, I don’t want to do that. So, I went back to what I knew, which was software. I thought, I’m going to hang up degree number two and do nothing with that degree. And I’m going to just keep working. So, I did that for about three years and then I got laid off.
I had to restart my career for the third time and was applying for jobs, but every door was getting slammed shut in my face, and I go, okay, let’s see, I’ve got two degrees here I’m doing nothing with. Why don’t we dust one of them off and try something different? BecauseI feel like this is a big sign that I’m just not supposed to be in software. AndI had a lot of friends who were entrepreneurs and doing their own thing and starting their own businesses. That was a big motivator for me and big inspiration.
So, I decided to start Texturious Designs.
I created the LLC and had no idea what I was going to do, but I started it as a blog about doing projects in my house, helping out friends and family, and then it kinda grew from there.
That’s amazing. It sounds like the circumstances might have been unfortunate at times but that this is where you’re supposed to be. So, today, what’s your client base like?
I’ll be honest, it’s totally evolved. Being an entrepreneur, you kind of pivot quite a bit in your career.
I’m in year five, and I’m just now nailing down who my ideal clients are and my niche and who I want to work with.It’s primarily very localized to Des Moines.
I’m very involved in the HomeBuilders Association and part of the West Des Moines Chamber, so I have all these connections that I’ve made locally, and I’ve decided that makes more sense to focus my efforts and attention here.
And then the projects that I take on are kitchen and bathroom remodels, and I do interior design for new construction.
Furnishings was something that I just really started ramping up this year. It’s been amazing for me and a great service to provide clients. It’s a good profit for my business, so that’s been kind of a fun pivot to turn to.
Then I would say my ideal clients skew a little bit older, like they’re either empty nesters or soon to be empty nesters.
What we’re seeing a lot in the industry is that people like retirees aren’t downsizing. They’re not moving to smaller homes necessarily. They’re staying put, and then they’re just basically retrofitting their house to make it work for them.
So, I have a couple right now that I’m working with whose kids are grown, and they have this huge house for just two people, but they want to make it work for them for the next 20-plus years, basically until they’re forced out of the home. That’s been kind of fun because then we can think about long term. We can like choose materials and choose products that are going to last for the next 20 years and be comfortable.
Over the past five years, is there a memory from growing Texturious Designs that stands out most?
I think for me, it’s the moments that have pushed me forward. Because sometimes you think, oh my gosh, what am I doing?
Being a business owner is having to wake up every day and be your biggest cheerleader. And sometimes some months are slow. Some months are hard. You’ve got projects that aren’t going well or clients who are upset. And I think the moments that push me through is when I get a text message, usually it’s a text message, from a client sharing their gratitude and letting me know how much my work has impacted their lives. It’s very special.
If you were to give another entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t quit. Push through.
There are times when it’s going to feel like you take one step forward and three steps back.
But go one more day. Even if you’re like, I have no idea how I’m going to do this. I have no idea how I’m going to pay this bill. Go one more day, and then one more day. And then that turns into five years and then that turns into 10 years and 15 years.