Multiple revenue streams is the name of the small business game according Allison Crawford, founder of boutique interior design firm Allison Crawford Design and HOTELette, a collection of one-of-a-kind vacation homes in Nashville, Austin and Dallas. We sit down with this busy girlboss to talk about how she balances interior design clients and a booming high-design vacation rental business.
From her early career days selling copy machines on Wall Street to living out her daydream decorating beautiful spaces today, don’t miss this candid episode that is heavy on tips, advice and humor! Read some highlights from her podcast episode below (or listen to the whole shebang below).
You’ve taken a stab at several jobs. What were some of your earliest gigs?
The least glamorous job was in New York. I was selling copiers on Wall Street for Canon. It was right after 911 and every building was so strict. I’d have to sneak into these buildings with this huge dolly and brochures. After a year of that, I went back to media sales and sold radio. I was handed the yellow pages and told to dial for dollars.
How did you start decorating after selling copiers and radio spots?
I moved back to Austin and continued selling radio but started renovating houses on the side. It was mostly for myself, my friends and family; it was my little side hustle. I took a few classes at NYU for interior design but really it just came naturally.
How did you make it into a business?
A few years ago I was working in Dallas and started my first design company to get the tax ID and discounts honestly personally. But then people started hiring me. Slowly I started building a portfolio and my friends started to take notice. I was aggressively pitching my projects to the press, too. I look back at some of the projects I submitted and sometimes think “that was ballsy”! You just have to be fearless.
You have been published, a lot! How would you get the media’s attention?
Whenever you’re trying to get someone’s attention, you have to research that person. Whether you’re trying to get a job or take someone to coffee, find out what they like, where they go… Go the creeper route! Also, you need professional pictures.
So how did HOTELette start?
I was in LA for a design week and I was staying at this airbnb and it looked so nice in the pictures. But in person it smelled like cats, which I’m sure happens more often than not. So I started researching other airbnb’s and realized none of them were welcoming or warm and fuzzy in that design-centric way — with multiple locations and consistency. I also love to travel. I love real estate. And then interior design… so HOTELlette was born out of those three passions. It really fills the void in the market between a common airbnb and a boutique hotel. You rent the entire house but you still feel like you’re in a boutique hotel.
There are lots of perks to owning a business, but what are your challenges right now?
Someone told me the other day that there’s a difference between being an entrepreneur and a business owner. I can be a great entrepreneur and come up with awesome ideas all the time. That’s the fun part! But taking it from an idea to a successful business is hard and you need a team. Whenever people ask me what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, I say that right now I’m a business owner and it’s not as glamorous as it seems.
Favorite interior trend?
I’m loving all the Parisian, modern looks going on right now.
Last meal on earth?
Maine lobster rolls that my mom makes
What decor piece would you save if your house was on fire?
Two Platner chairs with original Knoll fabric
A hot almond milk latte
It depends! But I love to sleep. I could press snooze 20 times.
Dream dinner guest?
Coco Chanel and Rhianna
Dream vacation destination?
Don’t miss Allison’s entire podcast. It’s so good! Check it out along with other Fridays with Flea Style episodes on iTunes here.