As the holiday runs down and we look on to the new year, each of us has a number of resolutions from weight loss to redesigning a room or office. If your resolution happens to be a redesign, then you are in luck! This month, we caught up with Kate Lester, founder of Kate Lester Interiors. Kate is a Los Angeles based designer who has been practicing residential and commercial interior design for over 10 years. Clientele include professional athletes, entertainment industry insiders, and the Hollywood elite. Drawing inspiration from classic architecture, design greats, and her own clients’ passions, she aims to create spaces that are luxurious, livable, and unique.Kate earned her BS degree from the USC’s prestigious Marshall School of Business, and went on to study Design and Architecture at Otis College in Los Angeles. Her industry experience includes working for some of Hollywood’s most famous designers before launching her own firm in 2010. Kate and her work have been featured in Ocean Home Magazine, Romantic Home Magazine, South Bay HOME Magazine, Daily Candy Los Angeles, Beach Cities Lifestyle, Career Contessa, Editor at Large, and LX TV.
1) How long have you been doing business in Manhattan Beach and the South Bay?
10 Years ago, after leaving a job in finance, I started my journey in Interior Design. I began in the sample library of a celebrity design firm in Hollywood, and worked my way to senior project manager. After 4 years of leading, the next logical step was to branch out and start my own firm. I started Kate Lester Interiors in 2010 when my husband and I moved back to the South Bay, where we were both born and raised.
2) What made you choose this area?
One of the most interesting (and sometimes challenging) things about creating spaces in the beach cities, is that people really want beautiful a home they can LIVE in. They want a home that is luxurious and unique, but also want materials, fabrics, and furniture that will enable them to enjoy an active coastal lifestyle with their families and pets. Often times this means, sand, sun, and lots of entertaining indoors and out! At KLI we call it “Livable Luxury”, and that means creating a custom interior design for our clients that is gorgeous, and will also endure their active lifestyle for years to come.
3) How did you engage the community when you first started?
The key to building our client base is all about word of mouth and positive referrals. So being part of the community was paramount for me, not just to grow my business, but to give back as well. I joined the chamber almost immediately after relocating to the South Bay because so many of our projects are in Manhattan Beach, and I wanted to get to know the people in the town as well as other business owners. Working on various events like the MB Women in Business Conference, the MB Chamber Board of Directors, and volunteering for local charitable organizations enabled me to meet other like minded professionals, as well as give back to the community where were are working on a daily basis. It’s astounding how many great relationships and friendships have grown from my networking endeavors!
4) What would you recommend for prospective business owners?
I would say network, network, network! Never underestimate the power of word of mouth, and how impactful inviting someone to coffee can be. I try to fit in a lunch or coffee twice a week, where I network with a new Architect, Contractor, or Business Contact. I am constantly looking down the pipeline and making sure I am taking the time to network and generate new leads. I never just wait for the phone to ring or hope for new projects. Making connections and putting out feelers for new project possibilities is critical to my firm’s success.
5) What’s your take on the evolving chamber?
How people do business in general these days is evolving as well. People are meeting on social media and businesses are growing in new ways we once never thought possible. The chamber is evolving in a way that still includes good old fashioned face to face networking, but also including things like an app, e-newsletter, and information on members via their social media outlets. It is so refreshing to see them taking that proactive approach to all the new ways people are looking for goods and services these days.
For more information on Kate Lester Interiors, visit her website at http://katelesterinteriors.com/