Photo by Kelly Elaine Photo
Listen to the interview (approx. 56 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2011 from the Boston Conservatory with a major in Musical Theater.
Position: Interior Designer, the sole proprietor of her own Interior Design company, Kelly Martin Interiors. Her company focuses on design for residences, middle to high-end, doing jobs ranging from full houses down to a single large bookcase. While most work is done locally in L.A., the business also has an E-design component. “She’s also launched an E-design part of the business , “All I need are dimensions and photos of the space and I can design for anywhere! I’ve got clients in Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, and even someone in Pakistan.” As a sole-proprietor, she handles all the administrative parts of the job as well as the creative aspects.
Overview: Kelly’s family were bit Do-It-Yourselfers, and she became handy with tools while still a kid. She also started performing at a young age, but by the time she was finishing up at BoCo she suspected she wanted a different career. But she signed with an agent and went to New York after graduation. Seven frustrating months later, she left New York and moved to L.A. where her then-boyfriend was living. She worked many odd jobs during the first few months, then her skill with tools led to her spending a year working for a design build company, constructing high-end showroom sets. It paid well, but was part time with variable hours. A friend of a friend then got her a job as a production assistant for a home decorating TV show. While working there, the show’s designer noticed that Kelly was good at design work, and she became his de facto assistant. By the fall of 2012, the designer offered to set Kelly up with a job in either carpentry or interior design–she chose interior design. One phone call, and she had a part-time job as a designer’s assistant.
Over the next few years, Kelly worked a series of interior design assistant jobs, mostly full time, at both large and small firms, getting great experience. In 2014 she started Kelly Martin Interiors as a side thing while still working full-time, not sure if anything would come of it, but gradually she built up her reputation and clientele, so by late 2016 she was able to stop working for others and be on her own full-time.
You can see Kelly’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “Being self-employed, I get to make the decisions and don’t have to answer anyone else (With clients a collaboration, not someone telling me what to do). Plus working on your own is how you make decent money in this field. I do an hourly rate plus a commission on the goods I sell when I furnish a place.”
“After everything (furniture, etc.) is ordered it becomes a project management position and just making sure it all flows smoothly. I hate to say it, but my job is roughly 30% creative and 70% business.”
BoCo was really good at getting us to dip our toes in all aspects of musical theater: performance, but also directing, production, and management, plus performance. When I put together a show it was all about how it looked and she started to realize how I’m a very visual person.”
“I get most clients through word-of-mouth, but others find me through social media– mostly Instagram–plus some specialty design websites.”
“If you want to work in interior design, figure out a way to get a job in the field in some capacity, whether as a salesperson or an assistant or even doing receptionist/admin. work. Learn the ins and outs of the industry from whatever job you can get. The design industry is forever growing and changing and there are always opportunities to move up.”
Kelly working on a project (photo by Meghan Bob Photography). “I love the hands-on nature of my job. Even at BoCo I’d take classes at the MFA museum school, painting and art. I like getting my hands dirty. I’ve done carpentry and woodworking, and love watching the construction. It’s really cool to formulate an idea then, work with people to see it come to life.”
See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni