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Say hello to Clare Devlin, 15-year veteran of the interior design industry, and founder of Devlin Design.
Until six months ago Clare was a senior designer at a national firm, heading up a team and working on up to fifteen projects concurrently. During her 7 years as a Design Associate she worked on a huge array of projects across the hotel and leisure, office, retail and high end residential sectors.
One of her many demanding projects was the redesign of the Mercure Hotel Greenwich, which involved converting an old police training centre into a 152 bedroom hotel.
Then six months ago, at the height of a successful career designing hotels and shopping centres, Clare – like so many other entrepreneurs across the country – took the plunge and started her own business.
In her first few months of self-employment she has handled an office redesign, designed for a chain of restaurants, as well as lining up work with a boutique resort and hotel in the Lake District.
Starting a new business is never easy, but Clare had a four month notice period in which to ramp up Devlin Design. While still working up to 12 hour days, she squeezed her freelance work into evenings and weekends, and slowly made the switch from full-time employee to fledgling business owner.
Leaning on her existing client book, Clare managed to created a successful business from that short period of hectic work. She registered with Crunch immediately and we helped get her limited company and business bank account set up straight away. Now all Clare has to worry about is recording expenses and firing off invoices.
Like many creatives Clare doesn’t have a huge passion for the administrative side of the business, but her Account Manager, Dan, has helped her master her bookkeeping, and now all her accounts are dealt with in just a few minutes every month – giving Clare more time to spend sketching, pitching and project managing.
Freelancing has allowed Clare the freedom to dictate her own working hours, and given her back creative freedom. With a baby on the way, the flexibility of working for herself will mean she’ll be able to spend more time with her family and fit work around her home life – rather than the other way around.
Although the business landscape is a tough one, Clare seems to have hit upon a winning formula. In her first six months of business ownership she’s earned more than she did in an entire year in her old 9-to-5, and her calendar is booked solid until the end of the year.
The long working hours and creativity-sucking multitasking of working for a big agency are gone, and Clare is already planning to expand her business once the baby is born. We’ve loved supporting Clare as she got her business off the ground, and look forward to helping her take Devlin Design further still.
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