damien Morris Designs is a new design company that opened in June 2017. Within a few months, the start-up was featured in The Guardian, on CBC, and in PEI Living Magazine.
Damien Packwood, Owner, has also promoted his business on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and held an open house at his new storefront in Charlottetown. He is very pleased with the variety of contracts he has secured, from residential to commercial, and with connecting with clients from past work.
Education and experience
Damien is a Certified Interior Designer and Decorator. After graduating high school in his hometown in Newfoundland, he earned a diploma in Interior Decorating. In 2005, he moved to PEI to study Hotel/Restaurant Management at Holland College.
He worked in the restaurant industry for four years before finding work at a local interior design company. There he learned more about home decoration, including choosing curtains, paint colours, and furnishings. “I wanted to learn everything I could, and my end goal was to have my own business,” says Damien.
After four years, he wanted to learn a different aspect of decorating. At a custom kitchen and bathroom design company, he gained knowledge about flooring, tile, countertops, and the precise art of measuring and installing. He was also trained to use a 3-D computer program.
In May of this year, Damian teamed up with a local construction company to work with their clients to design kitchens and interiors in their new home construction. This was the chance Damien needed to go out on his own. Within a month, he had taken the plunge.
About the service
Damien does one-on-one consultations with clients at his office in Charlottetown and in their homes. Services include concept and design development, computer generated drawings, kitchen design, and space and furniture planning.
He uses a computer program called 2020 Design to create 3D images of home interiors that help clients visualize the impact of changing paint colours, window treatments, flooring, furniture, and more. Using a virtual reality headset, clients can see potential design features such as furniture placement, new paint colours, and countertop styles.
How he plans his work
During the daytime, Damien meets with clients, finds furnishings, and organizes the design jobs. In the evenings, he takes his work home, draws the interior decorations of the houses, and transfers them to a computerized program.
Damien produces videos which take a 360 degree shot of an unfinished room. The computer adds Damien’s drawings, and customers use a virtual reality headset to see the finished concept.
“For people who can’t visualize how the finished design will look, this will actually save them money in the long run. Instead of buying and installing furnishings and lighting that are not really ideal, this step will help determine the best choices, and we can get it right the first time.”
Is there room for more interior decorators on PEI?
“I think there is room for more,” says Damien. “You have to find your niche. I differentiated myself from the rest by offering the virtual reality option.
“It also helped to have six years of contacts, who are clients I worked with in my other jobs. You really should work with other companies first to get experience, contacts, and recognition.”
Community program helps businesses get started
Damien tried to get financing from provincial government sources, but no programs fit his particular business. His accountant suggested he apply to the Impact program, which offers funding that helps turn a venture into a viable business. For more information, contact Tania Bernard, Loans Officer, CBDC Summerside, at 902-888-3793 or email [email protected].
“I wanted to open a storefront and be professional,” says Damien. “Without the help of this program, I would not have been able to finance the opening of my own office.”
Being an entrepreneur
“There are pros and cons to being self-employed. I started the business because I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to do my own designs, create my own label, create spaces, and work with people.
“I knew before I became self-employed that I would have to work in the evenings as well as during the day. But it is not work to me. I really enjoy it.
“The only thing I don’t enjoy as much is the accounting side of the business. Now I constantly have to think about the money coming in and going out. I can be a spender, so I have to reel myself back in. I meet with my accountant quarterly, and I do the daily invoicing and transactions through a computer program called Quick Books. I use the management, HR and accounting skills I learned during the Tourism program to manage my business.”
How do you stay on top of current design trends?
“I read House and Home and Style at Home magazines, and I watch TV style and renovation shows. I follow a few favourite designers on the Internet, and I follow trends in the US, because they are ahead of us. I also follow fashion, because popular colours in clothing also become popular in interior design.”
“As Christmas approaches, I will be really busy offering Christmas decorating packages. I may want to hire someone soon to take over the drawing, because that work takes a lot of my time.
“When meeting job candidates, first impressions are major. I can usually tell right away if they have a knack for design. I would even consider interviewing a candidate in their own home. You don’t have to have a lot of money to have a nice living space. It’s all in how you stage it and maintain it.
“There are no interior design programs offered on PEI. I took interior decorating and interior design courses on-line, and I learned a lot, but some people just have the knack for it.”
“I eventually want to grow and do TV, design shows, seminars, and build a design community on PEI. There are many designers here, and we need to collaborate and share ideas.”
For more information, call Damien Packwood at 902-218-0598 or e-mail [email protected]. Visit www.damienmorrisdesigns.ca. For more information on becoming an interior designer and the educational choices in Canada, visit Interior Designers of Canada at www.idcanada.org.