An interview with Ariana Lovato from Honeycomb Home Design
How did you start your interior design business?
Ariana Lovato: I started Honeycomb Home Design in 2016, but before that, I worked for other designers and a construction company. I gained a great knowledge and made a lot of mistakes, but then ultimately decided that I wanted to start Honeycomb, which was always my dream. I saved money and did one or two projects here and there, and then finally decided to start Honeycomb in October 2016.
What advice would you give to people who are interested in interior design?
AL: Determine if you would like to be a designer and work for another design firm, or if you want to be a business owner and a designer. I probably design 10 percent of the time, and 90 percent of my time is running the business and the admin side of things. I think a lot of designers tend to think: I can start my own business, and it’ll be great. Then you get into it and you’re [doing] accounting, purchasing and all these things that you don’t necessarily want to be doing. Figure out what you like; is it the designing part or the implementation part? Then see the things that you’re not good at and outsource those early on.
What lesson did you learn early on in your career that made a difference?
AL: The hardest lesson was to measure twice, and order once. I was working with a challenging client and conditions were very high. Of course, this was the job where I made a mistake and I ordered the wrong size rug because I was moving too quickly. I had to reorder a new rug for her and pay the restock and the cost of the new rug, and it was one of the most expensive rugs that I had sold. So that was a nice $3,000 mistake. Always check and double-check your measurements. At that time, I was still a one-woman show, and I was doing everything myself. As I grew I realized I needed a bookkeeper or an accountant, as well as somebody to do my purchasing. It was good because I was able to hire out for things that I didn’t want to do or that I needed more time to do.
Do you have any projects that you’re currently working on?
AL: I work on about 10 projects at a time on my own. When I say on my own, I am the lead on those. But through the company we have anywhere between 60 and 80 projects at one time, and I’m a part of every one of those jobs. I see every job before it goes out to a client, but I may not be at every meeting.
How would you describe your design style?
AL: I lean a little more modern and I try and push the envelope a little bit with materials. We take your inspiration of what you like, but we add our twist to it. My style is more transitional with a little bit of both colors here and there.
What do you mean by pushing the envelope when it comes to materials? Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
AL: I think we just like to push the clients out of their comfort zone some. So let’s say they want white subway tile. What if we were to use that tile and put it in a different pattern, or what if we were able to use that but also add a bold accent tile just to liven up the space a little bit? It’s incorporating what the client wants, but also in a way that feels very fresh and exciting.
What step do you think is most important when working with clients and trying to figure out what design fits them best?
AL: Drilling down to what it is they want. There’s this very intense process where we go through their inspiration, but then we create what’s called a conceptual vision board. It’s essentially using their Pinterest board, which acts as kind of the North Star for our selection process and how we’re able to see that space come to life.
When clients ask you to incorporate technology into your projects, how do you handle that?
AL: We quite often work with a home automation expert because we have a lot of clients that want the type of lighting controls that you can set a scene for a particular room. We often find that out early in the process. A lot of the younger clients that we work with are very tech-savvy, and they kind of expect that level of automation for their homes.
We heard of the Honeycomb Give Back initiative, can you touch on what that is and how it works?
AL: The Honeycomb Give Back Initiative started in 2019 when I had a client that I was working with for their kitchen remodel and their son has cerebral palsy. I kept thinking of a way to do something for the family. They had just moved into this new home and everything was new and uncomfortable, so I came up with the idea of doing a room makeover for their son. I would call it Honeycomb Give Back Initiative, and it was a way for me to give back to this family and involve the community. We crowdsourced the funding for the new furniture that we purchased, and I had several people volunteer to help me get the room ready for him. The Give Back Initiative is essentially a room makeover program for children with special needs or disabilities. We are starting another one at the end of this year for another special little girl and I’m excited to kind of catalog and document how that goes, because it’s just a fun thing to do.
Is there anything else you want to add?
AL: I’m always available if anybody has any questions about starting a business. They can contact me through email at ariana@Honeycombhomedesign.com and reach out to me if they have questions on things that helped me in my journey. Don’t be afraid to network with builders, realtors and other designers. I worked for other designers as I was getting my start, so definitely not being afraid to put yourself out there because that was a huge one. I tell this to the team all the time: sometimes an email just doesn’t do it. Pick up the phone and call that person and let them hear your voice because that is the best way to communicate.