Studio Chu - How I Got Here
I suppose it's a happy coincidence that 10 years ago I launched my first interior design venture, Studio 1270, and on May 16th I officially launched Studio Chu. It feels full circle. When trying to come up with a name for this new business, I admittedly struggled. Lauren Chu Interiors? LC Interior Design? Nothing really felt like me. It wasn't catchy, either.
Finally, I found the answer in my previous domains I owned. I pulled the "Studio" from that first venture and the "Chu" from my married last name. Studio Chu felt like a perfect name for this new interior design firm. A little from my past, a little from my present, and something that I could stick with for the foreseeable future.
So how did I get to here? My bio is a good primer but doesn't tell the whole story. Like it mentions, I grew up around furniture. My grandfather owned a furniture and appliance store in a small town in North Georgia. He was the go-to shop if you needed to furnish your home. This was back when all furniture was made in North Carolina, and imports were antiques only. He taught me all sorts of things about furniture construction and quality. I knew what eight-way-hand-tied springs were from age 5. (If you don't know what they are, I can promise you don't want a couch that doesn't have them.) I learned about down-wrap versus cheap foam cushions. I learned about solid wood versus veneer. I learned about dovetail joints and drawer construction. I was too young to appreciate this education, and I'm certain that as a kid-turned-tween I rolled my eyes more than once when he launched into one of his lengthy seminars. He closed his store when I was 10, and I didn't think about all he taught me for several years.
In high school, part of my home economics elective included a week-long segment on interior design. An interior designer came to speak to our class, and she talked about all that goes into turning a space into a room. Not just a room, but the special spaces that become memorable. We learned how to create floor plans, pulled fabrics from her old swatch books, and I was hooked. It was there I decided I wanted to become an interior designer in college.
I spent four years at the University of Georgia in the design studios. Many late nights, many tears, many panicky moments. Could I really do this? There was not only a ton of technical information to remember but the creative requirements of this career to stress over. Slowly, I gained confidence and graduated with my degree in Interior Design.
After that, I moved to Atlanta and bounced around the luxury furnishings & materials side of the design industry. I worked around furniture that sold for five digits, custom limestone fireplaces and tile for million dollar homes, and at the design center exclusive to interior designers where the fabrics and fixtures available are like nothing you've seen in retail.
This was prior to the housing slump that hit our economy hard in 2008. With Atlanta tied heavily to the financial industry, it hit there especially hard. This was also around the time social media became an asset to businesses, and e-commerce was hitting its stride. With a little bit of success on my first blog, Studio 1270, I scored a marketing internship at an e-commerce startup. I loved the ability to be creative while also using that technical side of my brain. It turned out, I was pretty good at it. I quickly rose up through the company, where I learned a lot about web development, content creating, graphic design, and event production. I put it all to use at my next job, where I had the additional experience of working remotely from the rest of my team. I became the ultimate self-starter and also learned how to manage projects 100% digitally.
Long story short, all that brought me to here, but meanwhile the designer in me never went away. I either blogged about design, did design on the side, or redesigned our San Francisco rental top to bottom all that time. And deep in my heart, I knew I needed to officially give the interior design world another try. The economy is no longer an issue, I have the support of a wonderful husband who believes in my dream, and I'm inspired daily by the beautiful part of the country I'm lucky to call home.
Here's to chasing your dreams, never forgetting your roots, and doing what makes you happy.