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Feature Friday: Interview with Iris Connor

Iris, can you start by telling us about yourself and company? ICI Designs is the creative umbrella for all interior decorating needs. From concept to completion, ICI Designs specializes in decor designs for your residential space, office, corporate functions, weddings and special events. Our concept brings together style, color, texture and organic inspirations that transforms an ordinary space into an extraordinary space.

What motivated and inspired you to start your business? My motivation and inspiration to starting my own business was definitely instilled in me watching my grandfather having his own auto mechanic business. He never worked for anyone else and that always stuck with me. Growing up, I just always saw myself as a business person and when my skills as a visual merchandiser began to propel me corporately, I eventually knew that I would one day start my own.

How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors? There are plenty of decorators that do what I do. However, ICI Designs has developed a niche to the business that re-purposes and re-freshes using what a client currently has and reducing their decor purchases. Our approach is to meet each client where they are and enhance the areas that may already be there. I'd like to think of our work as did the late and great "Bee Smith" but on a budget!

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint at heart. You have to be committed to the extra, extra hard work that comes along with working for yourself. The benefits definitely out weigh the hard work but it is worth it long term. Also, as an entrepreneur you will always need help and you will always need to keep yourself informed. No one does it alone.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times? To stay motivated I keep myself connected to other entrepreneurs. I have found my own community that understand my highs and lows because they experience the same things too. Also, you should definitely have a coach or mentor to help guide you through your journey.

What are you most proud of as a company? I am most proud of how ICI Design's has evolved. We started off doing small decorations for parties and baby showers. Now we decorate for larger corporate offices and multi-million dollar homes. We are slowly becoming a recognizable name that brings the warmth and beauty. Our growth has come along slowly but this slower speed has helped us to stay consistent and purposed to never quit or give up.

Where do you see your company in the next three years? In the next three years, ICI Designs will be looking to expand its business model to helping new and upcoming decorators with the start of their own business. Our Interior Decorating Start-Up Course will give the decorator all the tools it will need to get things started. ICI Designs will be expanding its E-Commerce business and looking to be a Holiday Decorator at our nations capital!

What is your favorite professional (business) book and why? The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber. This book really gave me a glimpse into the real idea and the real function of an entrepreneur. It gave me a lot of clarification being in business for myself or working for myself. If you really want to know if you are a true entrepreneur....this book is a must read.

What is your favorite quote and why?

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure"
~Colin Powell

We are living in a time where success is thought to come by instantly or with little to no work. That will never be the case. Success will never be quick and easy or without a few bumps in the road.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I absolutely love to cook in my spare time and spend time near water. It brings me peace.

What fun unknown factoid could you share that most people may not know? This could be professional or personal. Fun fact: When I was in college I sang with a gospel group called "NOEL". Our major depute was the opening act for the famous award winning gospel group the "WINANS".

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