Meet Delali Foli

Interior Designer & Founder
DecorByDesign

DecorByDesign is a London based residential interior design company.

Founded by Delali Foli in 2009, the company specialises in storage solutions and affordable interior design, creating beautiful homes and workspaces.

Formerly a marketing and communications professional, Delali switched gears to complete an Interior Design Diploma and pursue her life-long passion for interiors.

Why did you decide to start DecorByDesign?
I always had an interest in interiors. As a child I would sketch rooms, play around with the elements and change the layouts.

As I got older the interest grew and became a passion. I decided that it was something I really wanted to do and founded the company in 2009.

What was your career path prior to starting your company?
I have a degree in Marketing & Communications and I spent ten years working with public sector organisations and private sector companies.

Did you always know you would become an entrepreneur?
I always hoped I would be. Very early in my working life I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else, so I started to take steps towards my goal of running a business.

I was raised by an entrepreneur, my Dad ran his own business for over 20 years until he retired, so maybe it’s in my genes.

What type of clients does DecorByDesign work with?
I work with everyone, everyday people who want beautiful homes.

Clearly interior design isn’t a necessity to life, so my marketing strategies are mostly geared towards lowering the perceived barriers to hiring or working with an interior designer. Most people hear interior design and write it off as something only for the wealthy.

Aside from that, my other strategy focuses on raising awareness of the company and our services so when people do think about revamping their home they think about me!

Can you tell us about a recent project you’ve undertaken?
My most recent project was a bedroom redesign for a young couple living together for the first time. She had just moved in to his flat, so my job was to incorporate her tastes , and lots of belongings, into a very established ‘man space’ without alienating him.

They both have very strong opinions and couldn’t agree on anything so I was brought in to help them make objective decisions. Working to balance what each side wanted whilst maintaining the vision for the space was a challenge, but we all came out of it unscathed and they are very happy in their new space.

What has been your favourite project to date?
I think that would have to be my first one – I was hired to design a loft space. I say that’s my favourite simply because it was the first project, my first client and gave me that “I’ve actually done it” feeling.

I enjoy every project as I get immense satisfaction from happy clients, but that first job confirmed for me that I was doing the right thing.

Can you describe your typical working day?
There isn’t really a typical day which is great! It completely depends on what I’m doing.

If I’m working on a project I could be sourcing floor or wall coverings, accessories, furniture, liaising with external suppliers and clients, where I am mostly office based. Alternatively I might be out visiting showrooms, checking out new products or attending events.

In amongst all this I try to read as much industry related stuff as I can get my hands on, that helps keep me up to date and usually provides fuel for my blog.

What are the highlights of running your own business?
Being in control of my work life, not having to make decisions by committee and doing what I love doing.

What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Being in control of my work life! Having to be disciplined and have military like organisational skills.

What has been your biggest triumph to date?
Studying for and completing my Interior Design Diploma in 2004, whilst working full time, was a huge accomplishment.

Going back to study, five years after leaving university was a little daunting initially, but I enjoyed the course so much it didn’t feel like study. Graduating and seeing the qualification on that certificate was an important moment for me.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Always have a plan. Be it a business plan, marketing plan, promotions plan – have one. Even if it’s just a piece of paper with a list of actions I’ve found it important to have something to follow and work to.

Sometimes it’s easy to go full pelt at something because you don’t have to justify or rationalise your ideas to anyone but it’s good to have a plan to guide you.

What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
On a personal level I’m inspired by my Dad who has always worked extremely hard and has instilled a very serious work ethic in me.

On a professional level I am inspired by Nina Campbell whose products include fabric, furniture, wallpapers and home accessories. After 30 years in the industry she continues to produce beautiful collections.

My future motivates me. I have plans that I’m very excited about and look forward to seeing them come to life.

What are your future goals for Decor By Design?
I hope to launch my textiles and home furnishings range in the next year and plan to set up another DecorByDesign studio in Accra, Ghana.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting an interior design business?
Make sure, you’re sure, because running a business isn’t easy so you have to be absolutely committed. Once you’ve made the decision to do it, go on and do it.

Do your research and read everything relevant. Speak to people who can help you or who are doing what you are trying to do. Put all your plans in place and be clear about the direction you’re heading in.

Be confident in your ability and enjoy it.

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For more information visit www.decor-bydesign.com and the DecorByDesign blog. You can also find DecorByDesign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @dbd10

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Delali Foli was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.

Octavia Goredema was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2012 for her work at the Twenty Ten Club, supporting Black female entrepreneurs.

You can find the Twenty Ten Club on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Do you have a question for Delali? If so, please feel free to post a comment below:

2 thoughts on “Meet Delali Foli

  1. Terri

    Hi Delali,

    Nice to read your story. I too have setup my own company after graduating at uni in interior design. I’ve done so much marketing and 10 months on still haven’t managed to get a client. So my question is, how long did it take you to get your first client?

    I’ve been doing projects for the last 5 years whilst working full-time and studying via distance learning.

    Reply
    1. Delali

      Hi Terri,

      It took me just over a year to secure my first client.
      Unfortunately there’s no guaranteed way of finding clients (or not one I’m aware of!) so you just have to keep going.
      The best thing to do is to keep reviewing your marketing methods and don’t be afraid to switch things up a little if you don’t feel they’re working for you.

      Good luck.

      Reply

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