Alexia Lenoir Design
Alexia Lenoir Design is a London based event design company.
Founded by Alexia Lenoir in August 2010, Alexia Lenoir Design creates sumptuous decors and tablescapes for special celebrations.
Why did you decide to start your company?
I felt the need to inject more creativity into my daily routine and the lack of gusto from working in the corporate world.
I had been working in the event industry for a few years before going solo and was desperate to make a living of what I really loved doing. Also, having been out of the loop for 5 months due to travelling and coming back slap bang in the middle of the credit crunch, it was hard for me to find regular work. There was an incredible stream of internships available, but at that stage I had done my bit of interning and was ready to move forward.
What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
I arrived in London from Paris, my hometown, in 2003 and started working in hospitality. I never thought I’d end up staying in that field for so long, but it was an easy option as I was still unsure about what I was truly passionate about.
Did you always know that you would start your own business?
I can honestly say that I never saw myself working for someone for the rest of my life, but never really had a clue about the freelance path. It is something I was totally oblivious about. It only became apparent a few months into a job I absolutely loathed.
My friend and I were having endless discussions about being freelancers. We started reading about people and their stories, talking about what we wanted to do, what really resonates and not getting into jobs that would suck the soul out of us.
In the beginning it felt like a far-fetched dream, and suddenly it became the only way out of the system.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a special offer for my website and I’m also working on a free e-book.
Can you describe your typical working day?
There are things I do on a daily basis and more specific tasks I do when working on a project. They include exploring ideas, getting inspiration, a lot of brainstorming, building digital mood boards using Pinterest and PhotoFiltre, looking around for props such as fabric, flowers and decorations, creating my designs, taking photos and/or filming my work and editing them, updating my blog, social media interaction and general admin.
Are there any business resources you’ve found indispensable?
Yes! Preston Bailey is the one I turn to when in doubt or in need. His blog, as well as being an incredible source of visual inspiration, contains the most insightful tips on the business side of event design.
Preston has over 30 years of experience in the field and talks in detail about the highs and lows of dealing with difficult clients, contracts, how to charge for your services, the importance of updating your blog/website with your best photos, inspirational quotes to keep you going and much more. I don’t always agree with everything he says, but he’s absolutely great and I appreciate his honesty.
Another designer, Amy Atlas, also gives tips about building your own creative business, definitely worth a perusal. For general freelancing advice, I dabble in ‘Freelance Advisor’.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Being able to have the freedom to create designs from scratch and explore my creative abilities. The inspiration from incredible artists and designers that feed my imagination and allow me to feel liberated.
Also not having to commute every day, which is so amazing, and doing what I please.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Discipline! Having to work out a daily schedule, which I’m still figuring out, and sticking to it. I’m not a big fan of waking up early, but I’ll stay up very late and it sometimes works against my schedule.
I also get easily distracted by blog-reading. There are so many brilliant people out there that it’s difficult to press the little red cross when you need to!
Fishing for clients is also a major challenge. With the use of social media I am more at ease with marketing and attract significant traffic via Twitter and YouTube but it is tough, nevertheless, to get people hand over their precious pennies. You have to keep up with the work, be innovative and spread the word.
What has been your proudest business moment so far?
Registering my business. It was a very daunting experience but it felt so liberating. I’m glad I had the support I needed at the time that enabled me to pursue my desires.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
My friend Nats is one of my greatest sources of inspiration and a lot of what I’m doing now is down to deep conversations with her, constant support and invaluable advice.
I can’t stress enough about the importance of being surrounded by people who get you and what you do, and will support your endeavours. She’s also an incredible artist whose work I adore, and always in awe of all the fabulous things she creates. I’m really grateful to have her on my side.
Another source of inspiration is Gala Darling, the self-proclaimed ‘Radical Self Love Revolutionary’, whose blog has been very helpful over the past few months. She talks about being in harmony with yourself, boosting your productivity, but also love and relationships. I think it’s important to be in sync with yourself to run a successful business, and Gala provides vital information that helps me get to the place where I want to be. She’s a bit like the sister I never had!
And of course Fiona Leahy, who I had the chance to intern with, Preston Bailey, Amy Atlas, Danielle LaPorte, David Stark and Bompas & Parr. All are fabulous people that everyone should know about!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting an event design company?
Start a blog with Blogger or WordPress. Document your journey, talk about your craft, build up a portfolio and share it on your blog. Having a blog will let people get a feel of who you are and what your aesthetic is.
Twitter is also a very powerful tool if you want to spread the word about your work, while connecting with people in the industry and other artists and designers. See how it works for you.
Real-life connections are equally important. Try co-working spaces like SPACE in Shoreditch or find your own local space, there are great ways to meet fellow creatives to bounce ideas around.
Fast forward five years, where do you think your business will be in 2016?
Honestly, I can’t think that far ahead! What I want as a long-term goal is to excel, to keep on challenging myself, to be successful, to keep on meeting extraordinary people and to be able to travel with my craft and discover new horizons.
I’d love to be able to settle in different parts of the world for short periods of time and see where it takes me personally and professionally.
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Alexia Lenoir was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.
Do you have a question for Alexia? If so, please feel free to post a comment below: