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She thinks INSIDE the box

Creative thinking resulted in a new concept for designer Hillary Nichols.

By Kimberly A. PorrazzoPublished: December 01, 2012

You’ve heard the advice on how to think more creatively: “Think outside the box,” experts advise. Hillary Nichols, owner of Costa Mesa-based Hillary Nichols Interiors, has turned that theory inside out with a new product that her company has just launched – a brand extension for her four-year-old interior design firm, created to grow her business. For the customer who does not have the budget for a complete design consultation, Nichols now delivers her services in a most unconventional way: inside a box.
   
“For the most part, the service that we offer,” Nichols says, “is a luxury service. While we are very fair in our pricing and we definitely try to give our clients a great value, people I’d meet would often say, ‘I’ve seen your website and your work, and it’s so amazing, but I could never afford to hire you.’” 
   
Now they can.
   
“I came up with the idea for the Box of Design, a very turnkey solution for someone who wanted a room designed but didn’t have that large chunk of money to invest,” Nichols says. “But they wanted the advice. They wanted the road map. They wanted a color palette, and a style, and an inspiration, and a floorplan. Clients often simply want to know, ‘Where do I put the sofa and where do I buy that?’” she says.
   
For about one-third the cost of traditional design services, clients can have access to Nichols’ talents. The trade-off is that they do most of the work. With instructions on exactly how to do it, clients measure their rooms, take photos of their space and answer a list of questions that help Nichols’ online design team create a dream room for them.
   
“Four weeks later,” she says, “we send them a complete interior design in the box.”
   
It’s even tied with a bow.
   
Clients receive design boards with custom sketches, floorplans, color palettes and suggestions for furniture and accessories. The Box of Design also includes a specific shopping guide (stored on a flash drive). The entire project is also delivered digitally with active links so clients can click on a suggested item and purchase it.
   
What began as a strategic move to offer a different price point for customers has yielded an additional benefit: Because all client communication is done online, it’s not necessary for them to be local. With a single new product, Nichols has expanded her geographic footprint, and her potential revenue, exponentially. She’s moved from a home office to the co-op Design Center in Costa Mesa, where a dozen or so other designers work.

“I don’t think interior design should just be available to the wealthy,” Nichols says.

GO HERE to meet Hillary Nichols and learn about how she built her business, Costa Mesa-based Hillary Nichols Interiors.