Buy Black: Brooke Lang Design
Going off on your own as an entrepreneur ain’t easy. It’s a hustle fraught with setbacks, doubt, and uncertainty. But you’ve got to have faith. And that’s what kept interior designer Brooke Lang centered.
For Lang, getting fired from her cushy architecture job was the ultimate test of faith in pursuing her passion in interior design. The young designer had to rely on her instincts, network, and drive to get Brooke Lang Design off the ground. Giving herself a tight deadline of six months to hustle hard or go back to the 9 to 5 life, Lang accomplished more within those six months than some interior designers achieve in a lifetime. Her clients now include homeowners that span the city of Chicago where Lang resides, VICE District Brewing CO., Crave Café & Lounge, TC Karate & Fitness Center, and a host of others.
Lang’s story is as much about her interior design passion as it is about the expedient means that propelled her to success. In this exclusive, Lang opens up about her early career challenges, her personal design aesthetic, and offers some advice for budding entrepreneurs.
JET: Have you always had an interest in interior design?
Brooke Lang: I’ve always loved art, design, and mathematics and a lot of things that go around that. I majored in architecture and I got my master’s degree in the field. I worked in architecture for a couple of years, but it wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t tangible, and it wasn’t a quick turnaround for projects. When you’re an architect you work on a building for two or three years and then it gets built in another couple of years. It’s just a longer process, and I wanted quicker results.
JET: And that brought you to interior design?
Brooke Lang: Yes. I started looking into interior design. I started to freelance and do one-off projects for friends and family. And it got to the point where I just really liked interior design more. So I started to apply for jobs with firms, but because most of my experience was in architecture, I was overlooked.
JET: How did you decide to leave your position at the Village of Matteson?
Brook Lang: I actually like saying that I was fired. It’s funny because I was devastated at first. I was like, “Wait a minute. I’m the best worker they have. How could they fire me?” But you know, it was a lot of political things going on. I realized that it wasn’t personal. A couple days in I thought, “Oh my God this is the opportunity I wanted. I just didn’t think it would happen like this, but this is my opportunity.” So I gave myself six months. This was is January of 2013. I said if I’m failing miserably, I have no money, and nothing is working out then I’ll just go look for a job. When June came, I said I’m never ever going back. I couldn’t even imagine having a job.
JET: What was your biggest challenge starting out?
Brooke Lang: My business requires a lot of trust from my clients. I’m coming into their home and making suggestions they may or may not agree with or envision for their space. So, I’d say the early challenges were getting my clients to trust me and to understand that what I’m suggesting is going to be perfect and beautiful. And to get them to let their guard down and trust the process.
JET: Did you ever have a, “This isn’t working” moment when you started out?
Brooke Lang: Yes! I’ll never forget. It was the week of July 4th, and that’s usually the time when people go out of town and are with their family and not really working. But when you work for yourself, you work all the time. You’re not really noticing or understanding holidays, you just keep it going. But that week my phone literally did not ring once. I was freaking out. I gave myself six months and thought maybe this is the time to look for a job. I was nervous, and I was doing things like administration and filing, which I hate. But that’s what you do when you’re not busy, you do the work you’ve been putting off.
JET: How would you describe your interior design process?
Brooke Lang: Definitely with a blank canvas. My mind is just sort of wondering. I can visualize very clearly all types of things. Things hanging from the ceiling, where the seating goes, what’s the best furniture placement for the room. On the other side of that, when I go out to different restaurants, hotels, or lounges, I’ll stare at the décor there and try to understand why they made that decision and what things are made of. I’ll touch the walls, and kind of feel some of the finishes. I know I look completely crazy. I’m always trying to investigate new ideas, new ways of doing things.
JET: What inspires you?
Brooke Lang: [Laughs] Money. No, I’m just kidding. Personally, what inspires me is freedom. It really is a ridiculous amount of freedom you have in your life when you’re an entrepreneur. I just wake up everyday and I’m motivated to do the best that I can for my vision and goal for my life. Whether it’s eating healthy, taking a moment to myself, making sure I’m not over stressed, that’s all important to me so I can continue to do the work that I do.
JET: We walk into Brooke’s place. What do we see?
Brooke Lang: I love gold! I have a lot of gold in my place. I do love metallic and a little fur. My place is little bit of glam, but still relaxed. It’s not too serious.
JET: What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?
Brooke Lang: Entrepreneurship is definitely not for the faint of heart. The common dominator is faith. You really have to have faith in yourself and have faith that everything is going to work out. From taking that initial jump, quitting or getting fired, you just have to have faith that your skills are on point. My network is great and all I have to do is hustle to get the word out. Things will happen. It may take a couple of weeks. It may take a couple of months. But you have to have faith that you’re doing everything you can and that things will just happen. It’s really all about the hustle. And if you don’t have the hustle, then you gotta find it.
For more information on Brooke Lang Design, visit www.brookelang.com.