Christine Gay likes bringing beauty into peoples lives.
I love my clients, and I get along with them so well, said Gay, the owner of Decorating Den Interiors and a certified visual coordinator. I make them proud of what they own.
Gay began decorating in 1981, when she purchased Decorating Den. Before that time, Gay was a frustrated secretary with a college degree and artistic leanings. I was very unhappy with my job, she confessed.
So when she saw a brochure hanging on her door, seeking a new owner for a Decorating Den, Gay decided to forgo accounting and give home decorating a shot. Although she studied art and describes her mother as a wonderful decorator, she had no previous experience in the decorating industry.
I went to every single school that Decorating Den had to offer, said Gay, explaining how she tackled the task of becoming an expert business owner and decorator. In addition to the initial training, Gay also had to finance her new business and build up a clientele. I struggled for seven years, she admitted. It taught me how to be a good businesswoman. I would do it all over again.
As a decorator, Gay does everything from consultations to window treatments to accessories. I run a full-service decorating service, she said, explaining that she provides everything except cabinets and countertops. Her consultations usually take approximately two hours, and she charges by the hour. Other costs are dependent on the products desired.
I work within [the clients] decorating allowance, said Gay. I can go from extremely low to extremely high.
And now Gay has one more thing to offer her clients; she is a certified visual coordinator working with Visual Coordination Inc. Last August, Gay attended school under Carole Talbott, the inventor of a systematic method of furniture arranging.
She taught me to rearrange peoples existing furniture according to the layout of their room, said Gay. After completing classes and earning her certification, Gay returned home and immediately redecorated three rooms in her own home, using the methods she had just learned. Its like instant gratification; you see beauty immediately. It gives a sense of renewal and pride in someones home.
Only a small number of decorators have been certified by Talbott. It has given me so much confidence, said Gay, who is excited to work as a visual coordinator. She believes that by working with the furniture her clients already own, she is able to save them money while still drastically improving the look of their home. Her work usually takes approximately two to four hours per room.
But Gay will not hurry a job, priding herself in attention to details. I specialize in customer service and follow-up work, said Gay. And since Gay does not have any employees, her work always has her personal touch. She even oversees the work of subcontractors, such as seamstresses and installers, to make sure that everything goes well.
Even as Gay takes advantage of the Internet, she plans to keep her business completely personalized. You get a hands-on experience with me, she said, promising that she will never require clients to pick out decorations online. The Web page is just an introduction to the business.
Gay does not resent the time that her attention to detail takes. I work a lot because I enjoy it, she said. Gay also loves to network, and is a member of the Business Network International and the Network Exchange for Women. It helps me to get jobs and make friends and business associates.
Gay has also found that community involvement is a very rewarding way to make connections. She has donated her time as a visual coordinator to two different auctions, one sponsored by the Colorado Springs Christian School and another by the Junior League.
In addition to the career benefits available through her donations, Gays work also helps the community. Since she is a long-term resident of Colorado Springs with no intention of leaving, this is a concern of hers.
I realize that I could probably do better somewhere else, but I love Colorado Springs and I wouldnt want to leave it, she said. Gay explains that her business might be more prosperous in another state, such as Texas, where entertaining and decoration are more of a top priority. Colorado Springs is very down-to-earth, a very conservative town. Nevertheless, Gay is not considering moving to a new, more lucrative location.