Student Success - Rachel Clancy

By Sarah Van Arsdale on May 14 2009

NYIAD students are out there in droves decorating clients' homes, serving as consultants in department stores, and re-designing everything from metropolitan penthouses to lakeshore cottages. If you've started your own business, if you've been hired by a decorating firm, or if you've achieved success in some other way in the field of interior design, we want to hear from you! Click here to let us know about the waves you're making!

If you missed earlier installments of this series, here's your chance to read more about the accomplishments of NYIAD students. Just visit our NYIAD Student Success page.

Clancy Living Room

In just five years working in the design field, NYIAD graduate Rachel Clancy has started her own business, had her work scouted as a site for a Hollywood movie, and will have her work coming out in a book this year.

How does she do it? For Clancy, much of her success has to do with her positive attitude; she's even able to see an upside to the current economic crunch, which has some designers worrying that they'll lose clients as people start feeling that decorating their home it's a top priority.

"The positive side of the recession is that people are staying in their homes, and you can help them make the most of their living spaces," she said.

As people decide to have a "stay-cation" instead of renting a beach house or touring Europe this summer, they'll want to perk up their home, she said. Plus, in a recession, when you come home at the end of the day you really need some cheering.

"It's more important than ever to be uplifted by the space where you live," Clancy said. "As interior designers, we can offer our services to make people feel good about their home base."

Clancy bedroom
Rachel Clancy design

It also helps when you're going out to face the world to step out of a home that's pulled together and that makes you feel good, she said. "If one's home is in order and reflects their personality, it can make a world of difference when they walk out the door. Even the right color choice can have a big impact."

Of course, the recession will have real impact on people's budget, but, as Clancy says, "the effects of the economic downturn can be diminished."

Clancy dining room

The recession just means a designer has to work harder to keep her business afloat, and this can be done with the tools any NYIAD Interior Design Classes graduate with have, as the Course also teaches how to run your business.

"Always ask for referrals from satisfied customers, and get written feedback from your clients so that you can post them in a referral section on your website," Clancy said. "Keep in touch with peers, and attend trade group meetings regularly to feel connected."

A little creative thinking about how to work with clients who are feeling the pinch also goes a long way, she said. "Offer to help clients with the overall plan for a project or a remodel or an addition, and offer to do it in stages to accommodate limited budgets."

This level-headed, creative approach has meant that Clancy now runs her own business, and she's gotten it to grow mostly through word of mouth, referrals, e-newsletters and business and trade meetings.

RC Design Kitchen

While Clancy doesn't go back to any one lesson from the NYIAD Course in Interior Design at this point, she says she does still rely on what she learned. "There is always some design principle learned from NYIAD that impacts the decisions I make. It was well worth the effort and time. I love what I do!"

Now, she's waiting for a book on becoming a successful designer to come out with Atlantic Publishing, which will include some of her portfolio photos. She's busy with design jobs, and will soon be re-designing her Web site with a new layout and more photos from her portfolio.

Rachel Clancy is a great example of how a NYIAD graduate can go on to live her dreams in the world of design.