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Interior Design: How I launched my Business

By Rashel Campbell, Interior Designer, London UK.

Your energy is your greatest asset; protect that - something I try to keep in the front of my mind. You feed your thoughts and actions. Put more energy into your passion and that’s what you’ll project to the world.

My name is Rashel Campbell and I’m an Interior Designer. My journey up until here has been a rollercoaster, but this is really just the beginning of my story.

I haven’t always wanted to be an interior designer - I wanted to be an architect from when I was 12 and moved to Canada. Although it’s not the prettiest, it was the CN tower in Toronto that did it for me. It reminded me of a rocket and that ride at the carnival that brings you up slowly and pulls you down at like 100 mph. Something about it just got me interested - that’s how my love for buildings started. I would draw them and always stare in amazement at them - even till today I do the same. I’ve always incorporated buildings with things that were familiar to me.

Rashel Campbell - Maldives -

I moved back to the UK and went to study Architecture in college. It was here that I gained insight I needed for university to know exactly what I’d be learning. Despite getting an A in Architecture, I didn’t get all the grades for BA Architecture and was introduced to Architecture technology. This peeked my interest, as I’d be learning a number of 3D modelling software's to create the buildings as well as the drawing and planning of architecture. I very quickly realised Architecture in college and university were completely different and found myself wanting to drop out after my first year. It wasn’t fun and I didn’t have the passion like I used to. It wasn’t until my third year that I really started enjoying it more. I got more freedom in my design process and ideas. I was able to pick my own function of the building, the location, size, and site - everything, which really got my brain moving.

This is where I realised I enjoyed creating the floorplans, doing the layout and planning where each room was going to be, what size, how many levels and the function more than the exterior.

After graduating, I decided I wanted to do a masters in interior architecture because that’s where my interest lay. However, I was tired of university and thought I’d get some work experience first, then come back.

Rashel Campbell - Corporate -

I looked for a job for 6 months as an architect technician and was not successful. I had an interview for a job titled as a Design technician - which explained what I had learned in university - so I jumped at it. I later found out my job role was actually an estimator role - all the drawings and 3D designs I had been shown in my interview were from the architect and used to cost materials. It was too late to back out as I’d already moved from Scotland to London to take the position, so I stuck with it and continued applying on the side. I was the only woman in my department besides admin. I grew to like it and I learnt a lot, but then I hated it. I wasn’t able to be creative, I wasn’t designing - it became repetitive and there was no sign of growth in the company. I felt like my degree had gone to waste, which played a lot on my mental health. Being unhappy at work is not good, as we spend most of our life there.

I started applying again but still had no luck. I hadn’t updated my CV or portfolio in 2 years so, when I got furloughed, I set myself a deadline of 3 weeks, since that’s how long I thought we’d be in lockdown for. I told myself if I didn't do my portfolio, new projects and update my CV in 3 weeks then I didn't deserve a new job because I had no excuse. Every morning for the next 3 weeks, I became one with my laptop.

It’s during this time that I discovered Aurelie Tshiama on Instagram and immediately fell in love with her work. I remember telling myself “this is exactly what I do but a million times better.” I started researching the differences between interior design and interior architecture and found that interior architecture focuses on the functionality of a space, where interior design focuses more on aesthetics.

Yes - Interior Design focuses on architecture and space planning as well, but to create aesthetically pleasing designs.

This is where I feel like I’m central, as I have the space functionality already instilled in my brain from studying architecture, so would that make me an interior architectural designer? Maybe.

When Aurelie released her masterclass, I jumped straight on it. This gave me a little insight into what an interior designer does. I then took it upon myself to do a diploma in Interior Design to gain more knowledge, as I finally thought, ‘yeah, this is what I want to do’.

Rashel Campbell - London Apartment -

My architecture degree made it easier for me to understand things like floor plans and utilising a space and visualising using CAD software, so I had that as an advantage. The diploma helped me understand texture, material and colour; how to put these together, what to put together and what they mean. I was also recommended the book “Mad about the House'' by Kate Watson-Smyth - I would definitely recommend it. I made an Instagram page posting my work and, slowly but surely, I got a couple clients. This gave me the confidence I needed.

I added interior design to my job search and even with that, I still had no luck. After applying to so many jobs every day and getting rejected, it broke my spirit and made me wonder if my dreams were actually for me. ‘Maybe I should choose a different career path, one that’s easier.’ Even though I now had 2 years’ experience, it still wasn’t enough.

I was made redundant in Sept 2020 - 6 days before 2 years - and realised, “Damn I really gotta put myself first”. I joined forces with a measured building surveyor and that was the birth of Dennis and Campbell’s.

Dennis and Campbell’s is a team of modern designers focusing on measured building surveys and interior design, from an engineering and architectural background. This is only the beginning, but the aim is to cover every part of construction; you should be able to come to us to design your bathroom and estimate the cost to build a block of flats all in one place. Alongside interior designers and measured building surveyors, we plan to have project managers, quantity surveyors, architects and more.

Rashel Campbell - Beam Borough -

Planning and getting to this stage wasn’t easy and took a lot of commitment - right down to making sure we have all legal requirements. Registered company, insurance, accountants etc. - as well as other aspects like having a business plan, accounts, cards, marketing strategies, business pitches and networking. Speaking into existence, we’ll be as big as Fosters + Partners one day.

My plans right now are to continue building my brand. I’m working full time as an estimator for a better company that helps to elevate their staff and also building Dennis and Campbell’s part time. When I’m asked what I do, I say I'm an Interior designer because that is what I identify as.

I feel like it took me a while to find my feet and, although I’m not doing my degree, my heart is in the construction industry. I took all my no’s and turned them into something that’ll be greater. My dad always told me “Don’t let anyone discourage you” and I remember that in every battle I face. My main advice would be to do your research and don’t let anyone tell you a job is too big for you. If you want something, push for it - only you can make it work.

Rashel Campbell - Office -

My main reason for studying architecture was the love for creating something amazing out of nothing. At the end of the day, I’m still doing that. No matter your journey, there’s always a right place for you - you just have to keep fighting and pushing for your dreams and don’t give up.

Instagram: @rocdesigns_

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