Lina Quintero, Owner, Elements of Design.
What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
Hustle, education (practical, classroom, and self) and innovation.
What did inspire you to start your business?
For as long as I can remember, I always had an innate ability for design of all sorts. My dream of becoming a top luxury interior designer was set into motion at age 17 when I joined Elements of Design as an intern. Over the course of eight years, I worked for three elite designers who each mentored me in differing areas of the industry. At age 25, my dream became a reality when I returned to Elements of Design as the owner and lead interior designer. Ultimately, my love for the arts and design served as the catalyst for my career in the field.
How did you finance it?
My husband and I funded the business entirely from our personal finances.
Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
Absolutely! First and foremost, as a Colombian immigrant, I left my homeland for one reason; opportunity. This endless pursuit is the driving force behind my success as a Colombian woman in business.
Secondly, Spanish is my first language and it has served me well in business. Often, I am on construction sites with subcontractors or I encounter potential clients who are of Hispanic decent. The preference or common language used in the aforementioned circumstances tends to gravitate toward Spanish. My ability to fluently speak the language and understand the cultural nuances and references has a measurable benefit.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
There is no other option. No matter the issue, if there is a logical solution to the problem at hand I follow the following formula:
1. Examine the problem
2. Devise a reasonable strategy
3. Apply the solution
4. Assess the effect of the application
If there does not appear to be a logical solution, in order to minimize the risk, apply logic and trust your intuition on the remaining issues at hand.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
In the design and remodeling industry, I am constantly dealing with a variety of subcontractors. On many occasions, as a young female entrepreneur, the subcontractors attempt to intimidate me or question my expertise. Establishing my credibility, proving my knowledge base, and commanding a reasonable level of respect had to be earned the hard way with a significant number of my top subcontractors.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
The one thing I would change about my business would be the structure of our corporate building. We have 7500 square feet of showroom space in the Scottsdale Airpark and the location of the building is perfect.
However, I would prefer to have more individual offices and a smaller showroom / warehouse area. Moving forward, one of my goals is to add more interior designers to our growing staff. By adding more offices, the space will effectively accommodate our future needs.
What was your childhood ambition?
My childhood ambition was always to be an interior designer. When, I was a little girl, I was always interested in the arts, fashion, and design. There was never a doubt in my mind as to what I would do in my professional life.
Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire.
Sidney Goldberg – President of Kravet
Barbara Barry – Interior Designer & Home Product Designer
Kelly Wearstler – Interior Designer, Author, & Design Personality
For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
If there is a chance to generate business or fulfill for an existing client, the date and time of the meeting is inconsequential as I will do whatever it takes to secure the job or fulfill for an existing project.
On the other hand, I tend to plan my lead generating meetings over either breakfast or lunch (when people are fresh) and my dinner meetings are usually allocated to nurturing my pre-existing business relationships (when you can wind down).
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
My greatest asset in life and in business is my husband. Unfortunately, there are times when our mutual passion for business minimizes the amount of personal time we are able to share with one another. When a husband and wife work together, the separation between business and pleasure can become blurred. To date, my greatest sacrifice in my path to success has been the lost personal moments with my husband.
What is your favorite quote?
“He who awaits much can expect little.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
As a very conservative woman, I don’t consider myself to be unconventional. If I had to isolate something about me that could be considered unconventional, it would be my leadership style. I feel that a loose environment encourages my team members to foster creative ideas, seek additional roles, and the amount of leadership I invoke is determined entirely based on the analytical measurement of their performance. From time to time, it can be challenging to pull in the reins and set a revised course for the team’s goals.
Biggest mistake made?
Trying to do everything myself. One of my greatest strengths as an overachiever was my “can-do-it” attitude. This attitude worked well as I rose up the chain of command. Conversely, as the owner and lead interior designer of a large residential and commercial interior design firm, this mindset held back my sales productivity as I was trying to handle everything thrown at me. Finally, I started to delegate responsibilities and my productivity in the most critical areas of my business began to soar. My biggest mistake was not making this simple adjustment sooner.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
With all due respect, at least on a local level, the same five to ten top interior designers (who I am very fond of and learned a lot from) have carried the torch for the last 20 – 30 years. For the most part, the members of the “top-designer-network” operate their practices using traditionally fundamental business models with little or no differentiation from one another.
Comparatively, I developed custom technology platforms for marketing, advertising, customer relationship management, and inventory management that help to separate my business from my peers. On the creative side of interior design, I don’t claim to be an innovator but, my esteemed colleagues have mentioned to me that I present a unique perspective.
About the Company
Elements of Design is a luxury residential and commercial interior design firm which provides interior design services to high-end properties nationwide. From designer and custom furnishings to full scale remodel solutions, Elements of Design offers a complete turnkey solution for interior design projects both small and large.
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Monday, December 14, 2009
Lina Quintero, Owner, Elements of Design.
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