I always get excited when I see others embarking on their own ventures and going ‘out on their own’. It wasn’t long ago that I came across the beautiful work of photographer Bianca Virtue. I was approximately 18 minutes deep in her Instagram profile and then her website, oohing and aahing over her work, when I landed on the images of Cara Rodrigues. And that excited feeling crept into my stomach, as I could see another creative diving into the world of self employment, and – even more exciting to me – the world of interiors.
I reached out to Cara because I wanted to hear all about the transition from working for a company as an interior designer, to those first few months of being her own boss. I can only relate when she told me it can be isolating working on your own. Loneliness is certainly one of the challenges of self employment. But I’m also on the same page with Cara in her love for the flexibility that the lifestyle affords.
So join me for five minutes with Cara Rodrigues of Rodrigues Design, as she tells gives us an insight into her unique story, and enjoy the stunning imagery from fellow Melbourne creative, Bianca Virtue…
Tell us about your journey into the interiors world?
I loved drawing and anything creative when I was a child. I recall drawing a lot of houses and interiors. In high school, I would base all of my graphic design projects around having an interiors business. I always loved art and design and was looking for a practical way to apply my creativity. Following high school, I went on to do my bachelors degree straight away.
What has the process been like for you establishing your business – the branding, website design and all the leg work getting set up?
To be honest it has been a fairly organic process. I hadn’t intended on starting my own business. I decided on taking some time out and having a few months off when an old client tracked me down for a commercial project that they were working on. One project led to another, and then another.
After a year, I really missed having a team of designers to bounce ideas off and all of the great things you get in a larger office so went back to working for another company whilst having my own business quietly bubbling along on the side.
After the birth of my daughter (who is now 18 months old) I decided that now was the time bite the bullet and get serious about ‘Rodrigues Design’. I developed all of the branding and website myself (it’s a bit of a work in progress). Brand and Identity is so important to me.
What has been a favourite project to date?
This is a hard one as I have worked on so many projects that were really exciting at the time and are also really memorable to me now. I have worked on so many varied projects. One that stands out to me the most was an extremely large office that I worked on in the UK for an oil company. The design was derived from the fluid lines of the seismic data that was produced from their geographic surveys. It is to date, the largest project and budget that I have ever worked with and it won several awards in the UK upon completion. This was a really satisfying project for me.
Tell us about the projects you are working on at the moment?
On the drawing board at the moment is a residential project for a lovely client in coastal NSW. I am collaborating with an architect to come up with a new house for a family who have been holidaying in this location for over 40 years. The site has hosted three generations of their family over these 40 years and holds so many amazing memories.
The challenge is to come up with a new house that is worthy of creating future memories for the next 40 years or more and that pays tribute to the sites past and the beautiful location.
This is a project with so much emotional attachment from the client’s perspective and I love being a part of this new chapter but it is also slightly daunting. I absolutely don’t want to let them down.
What has been the most challenging thing about working for yourself so far?
Becoming insular and not having anyone else to bounce off was a bit of a challenge initially. Thankfully I have many talented friends within the industry that are only an email away if I need some feedback.
And what has been a highlight of self-employed life?
I love the flexibility of not being chained to a desk for set hours. I work really well at night and therefore the ability to free up my day to meet with clients and suppliers and be inspired by new spaces has been fantastic. It’s really a luxury.
Who are some of your favourite suppliers you have worked with along the way?
I love the look that you can achieve with many of the finishes at Alternative Surfaces. Poliform and Hub would have to be two of my favourite furniture suppliers. I am also really loving some of the rugs at Halcyon Lake at the moment.
What advice do you have for others looking to run their own interior design studio?
Don’t underestimate the importance of marketing. This is actually the thing that I am worst at but it really so important. Try to build up a network of a few loyal client before you start out on your own.
Photography: Bianca Virtue