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The Productive Designer

Author: Crystal Collinson

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This podcast pulls back the covers on being an independent interior design professional. We look at what it really takes to be successful, and how your definition of success is the only one that matters.We dig deep into systems & processes needed to manage this complex business. Not only will we dig deep into the business process, we will explore the mindset it takes to run a business.Through this podcast we hope to educate, collaborate and support you to intentionally design your life and your interior design business.
18 Episodes
Featured in this week’s episode of The Productive Designer host Crystal Collinson interviews interior designer Ashleigh Clark from Ashleigh Clark Interior Design Group. Ashleigh began in business in Ohio in May 2019, and she now has grown to a firm of six.Ashleigh began her interior design journey working for a local interior design firm, and this is where she was able to build her skills and clientele. After another designer and herself left, the designer started a company where Ashleigh was able to get the first-hand experience on how to run your own business successfully. Ashleigh then started her own firm, one of her first hires was an Assistant to help run the business in a systematic approach. So, join Crystal and Ashleigh as she explains the tips and tricks, she has for running your own successful business. She will include why she chose an hourly based pay, why she has an accountant on payroll, and how she felt when she first began her business. Do something today that your future self will thank you for and learn some new tips from Ashleigh that might help you in your own interior design business. You can reach Ashleigh on Instagram at ashleighclarkidg. Recommended podcasts:A Well-Designed BusinessBusiness of DesignBoss BabeThe Cereal Episode
Featured in this week’s episode of The Productive Designer host Crystal Collinson will discuss the importance of Time Blocking. She will go over what time blocking is, how she uses it effectively, and different ways it can change your workflow.  Time blocking is scheduling out your days or weeks to set aside a certain time for tasks; such as social media, marketing, budgeting, current projects, and more. Time blocking is designed to put all your focus on one task at a time, so your mind is focused. It also helps challenge yourself to complete tasks during that time frame, and in most cases, you will find that it makes your workflow faster. Crystal will explain how she uses her planner to set up her time block schedule, how she focuses on one project at a time and limits herself to her schedule. However, she will also give examples of when or why there can be some flexibility in your time-blocking schedule. She also gives a few different suggestions to help match you to what will work best for you. So, do something today that your future self will thank you for and learn how you can use Time Blocking to enhance your workweek.  Resources:Time BlockingTime Blocking (what it is nd how to do it) (plus apps)Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted WorldApps for blocking distractions:Self-control appFreedomFocus WriterStay Focused FocusCold TurkeyTime Blocking Apps & TemplatesTimeBlocTime Blocking Planner Templates
Featured in this week’s episode of The Productive Designer host Crystal Collinson interviews designer Andrea Colman from Fine Finishes Design Inc. She started off as a painting company and painted murals and faux finishes. After taking interior design courses and working with Benjamin Moore’s Painting and Decorating Design services, her work has now evolved into Fine Finishes Design.  Andrea takes on projects from concept to completion. Her projects vary from kitchen renovations to new home design work. She wants to help make each person feel unique in their home, and she explains the process and procedures of the work before the contractor gets involved. While her work has been affected by COVID-19, she has taken that time to reevaluate her business and see where it could be improved to be more efficient. However, Andrea took the time to still proceed with consultations and keep her clients at ease with how they feel about their projects.  Andrea will explain the importance of being selective with her work now, how she has improved her business during COVID-19 and how she takes time to herself each morning to better herself. She is an advocate for mental health and has great suggestions to keep your mental health a priority in your life.Do something today that your future self will thank you for and learn something new from Andrea that might help you in your mental health or your interior design needs.  Connect with AndreaInstagram : fine_finishes_designWebsite : finefinishes.caRecommended PodcastsImpact Theory and Health TheoryMindvalleyModel Health
Featured in this week’s episode of The Productive Designer host Crystal Collinson interviews exterior designer Holly Hull from Water Shapes Design. Holly creates backyard experiences that integrate from the inside of the house to the outside into the backyard to create a cohesive and welcoming environment.  For over 25 years, Holly has specialized in creating outdoor experiences for the back yard. This ranges from creating pools with a putting green in the middle to play in to putting in a fire pit area for everyone to sit back and relax. She caters to her clients’ needs and wants by making spaces the whole family can find suitable to their lifestyle.Holly will explain her process in designing, how she charges, and the different experiences she creates for her clients. Her ideas and creativity will be explored, and she will give you different approaches to pools and outdoor areas she’s worked on. So listen in as Holly educates us to a different side of residential design, and by creating the ultimate outdoor environment. You can get in touch with Holly at something today that your future self will thank you for and call Holly to get ideas for all of your exterior design needs.Connect with HollyWebsite :    www.watershapesbyholly.comFacebook : watershapedesignsEmail:         contactwatershapes@gmail.comRecommended PodcastsThe Productive DesignerLearnDoBecomeGoal Digger
Featured in this week’s episode of The Productive Designer host Crystal Collinson interviews life coach and interior design consultant Oriana Loduca. Oriana works with entrepreneurial women that are seeking fulfillment, joy, work-life balance, and success in their lives.  As a life coach, Oriana’s job is to listen to others and does not give any advice. She helps others along their journey to lead to a more fulfilled and energized life. It emphasizes action particularly self-reflection and learning. Oriana explains the need to rest, take a time to sit still, and looking for signs in your life. She gives details about all the areas in life that a life coach can help with and gives some tips to better take care of yourself and your work life. Oriana tells how her life coaching plays into her interior design work, and how life coaching has impacted her work for the better.  She then goes onto explain some perspectives that can make any small business owner value their work more and learn how to stop devaluing their business. So, join Crystal and Oriana as Oriana gives Crystal tips and new views on life to benefit both her personal and work life. You might find yourself inspired by some of her ideas or finally hear the encouragement you needed to take the next right steps in your work. Do something today that your future self will thank you for and call Oriana to begin a more fulfilled journey in life. Connect with OrianaInstagram : @idesign_space Facebook : IDESIGNSPACECA LinkedIn : oriana-loducaRecommended PodcastsEd Mylett and Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Featured in this week’s episode of The Productive Designer host Crystal Collinson interviews freelance interior design consultant Joanne Dolan. Joanne works directly with homeowners and fellow designers on custom cabinetry, storage solutions, fabric selections, soft furnishings, and custom window treatments. Since 2018 when Joanne Dolan Design began, she has focused part of her work on being a freelance interior decorator to help other designers with their work, especially on large projects. Joanne will go through the importance of what she does, how she helps others, and how to manage your current work ethic to see if you need more help.   So join Crystal and Joanne as they discover different areas where more help is needed, how to keep track of how much your work you are putting into a project, and know you're worth in your field. Do something today that your future self will thank you for and call Joanne to get help with all of your interior design needs. Joanne Dolan Contact Podcasts
Featured in this week’s episode on The Productive Designer, host Crystal Collinson talks about the importance of Standard Operating Procedures, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to create them for your interior design business. This episode is perfect if you are wanting to learn how to delegate tasks to others, if you are ready to bring on help, or if you are wanting to keep a set order of tasks. Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs, are a series of lists made to help keep consistency throughout your work, even if you are not the one doing the task. It gives continuity to your work and helps reduce errors. Also, these step by step procedures allows the business owner, to outsource more work, aiding in the onboarding of employees or consultants. SOPs can be developed for meeting with clients, drawing packages, ordering processes, sourcing, contract preparations, and more. Crystal will give you examples, tips, and tricks to take your business to the next level. Plus, if you want to an outline of the discussion and a downloadable pdf you can contact Crystal at or on Instagram to receive an example of an SOP.  So join Crystal and learn how SOPs can work for you and learn how to take full advantage of SOPs in your business. And do something today that your future self will thank you for.              
Join Crystal on part 2 of the simulcast where she interviews Cynthia Soda the host of The Fizz Podcast. To listen to Part 1 where Cynthia interviews Crystal, pop on over to The Fizz podcast. A business owner and busy mom of 4, Cynthia is the Owner and Principal Interior Designer of Soda Pop Design Inc. and Host of The Fizz Podcast.  Crystal and Cynthia talk about how she got started in the interior design business, why she started a podcast, and how she manages her business as a busy Mom of 4.
#010-Living In Place

#010-Living In Place


Featured in this week’s episode on Productive Design, Crystal interviews Director of Trade Relations at Caplan’s, Linda Kafka. Linda is a specialist and industry resource on inclusive design and wellness in the residential trade sector. She also has an in-depth knowledge of living in place before the current coronavirus pandemic began. The living in place idea is to think about designing in ways that could make life easier in the home whether it be easier for expecting mothers to move around the house, designing a room to increase sleep quality, or creating designated spaces in the home for visitors and deliveries. The idea is that life should be adaptable and Linda gives us different ideas of how to do that.So join Linda and Crystal as they explore different ideas to bring your home designing to the next level in comfort, care, and ease. If you would like to know more about Linda or get in touch with her, you can reach her at or on Instagram at lipnetwork.#livinginplace #livablecanada#livinginplacenetwork#lipnetwork#lindakafka#interiordesignresource
Today I speak with Julia Fraser, owner of Watts Current “brick and mortar” lighting store located in Mississauga, Ontario Canada. Julia and I talk about some of the pitfalls Interior Designers can run into when specifying lighting. Working with a knowledgable lighting supplier is liking having a “free employee” they are an extension of your design team, everyone can save time, the Designer, the Client, and the Electrician.Key Take-Aways-Make sure you establish and share your lighting budget, and be honest and realistic about your timelines, this will give the necessary requirements that your supplier needs to be made aware of to provide you with the best lighting solutions for your projects.-Electricians are not allowed to install light fixtures that are not CSA or ETL approved, very important if you order lighting online-Warranties, by working with a trusted supplier they will be able to rectify any issues on your behalf.  Mentioned in this episode:Quote from Mark Twain “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything” mentioned in this episode: get in touch with Julia Fraser or her Watts Current team
In this episode, we chat with Kitchen Design & Product Expert Margaret Macdonald. Margaret is the Ontario Architect and Design Sales Manager for Sub Zero, Wolf, and Cove focusing on the education and specification of luxury residential appliances.We learn why your A&D representatives can serve as a member of our team when it comes to specifying. Your A&D rep comes equipped with the tools, experience, and knowledge to take you and your client through the entire process of designing, specifying, installation, and the end-user experience of luxury appliances. Email: mmacdonald0415@gmail.com #luxuryappliances #kitchendesign #traderesource
With 30 years of experience in architectural design, project management, and general construction Foti Hatzidemetriou brings knowledge and experience to every collaboration he works on. Foti is a General Contractor, accessibility expert and Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), he gets his biggest satisfaction from helping his clients discover practical ways to modify their home/work so they can enjoy it for as longs as they want. He is an advocate of The Home Modification Council working on public awareness and government change. Listen to our conversation as we discuss ideas to improve and accommodate your client’s specific needs to have a safer and more liveable environment through the use of home automation, design, and materials just to name a few. (416) 859-5813
Ep. #005Today we chat with Interior Design Professional Ingrid Porter from Cleveland Ohio-we talk about that mean girl voice in our heads! You know the one, the voice that likes to remind us that somehow we have managed to "trick" everyone into thinking we know what we are doing, and we will soon be exposed for the "fraud" we really are. This is commonly known as "Impostor Syndrome", and I am sure each and everyone of us has battled it at some time in our lives and careers. As Entrepreneurs we are typically "high achievers", some may say "A Types" who are typically not happy with the status quo, we tend to stretch ourselves outside our comfort zone, and that is often when the voice starts to get loud.So listen in to learn how Ingrid deals with Imposter Syndrome, what books, podcasts and mindset tools she likes to turn to when the “inner mean girl” rears her ugly head!
#004-Tools I Use

#004-Tools I Use


Episode #004 I don’t know about you, but I love hearing what tools others use in their work life or daily life to be more productive or just make life easier for them. In this solo episode I talk about the tools and software I am currently using in my business. I discuss what is working for me now, and some of the software or apps I have previously used and why I switched. Below are the links to the apps or software mentioned in this episode. Here are two additional apps I use but forgot to mention in this episode. I will definitely talk more about time tracking & planning in future episodes. 
Do you find yourself working around  the clock and you are thinking it may be time to hire? I bet you think it should be a Junior Designer or Design Assistant, as that is what is typically done-right? Well when The Productive Designer guest Sara Keeling felt the need to hire-it was not a Design Assistant it was somebody else. Tune into this episode to find out who Sara’s first hire was, and how her approach taught her some valuable business lessons we should all learn. We chat with Sara Keeling founder of Custom House Interiors & Co. Since 2005 Sara has been building her design build business and has positioned herself as the go to kitchen design build expert in her area. When not designing and running the kids to their activities, Sara enjoys a fun golf game, (not too serious because her games needs some work) hanging out with her hubby and friends, and travelling.
#002 Are you running your design business by yourself or as a small team. Do you ever wish you had a second pair of eyes to review the work, or handle some of the hundreds of details that goes into designing the perfect kitchen? Well you can...even if you are a solopreneur and you are wearing all the hats. Meet Kristina O'Boyle a seasoned Kitchen and Bath expert who has been pairing up with interior design professionals to be just that "a  second set of eyes" on your next kitchen remodel. She will go over all the details and will be your support staff-either in front or behind the scenes. Kristina O'Boyle brings 20 years of experience in kitchen design. As a natural organized and detail oriented person she approaches every project with a well thought out game plan. If you want to reach out to Kristina, you can reach her at
#001-Meet Crystal Collinson the host of The Productive Designer podcast. Listen in as Crystal explains why she started this podcast and a learn a little bit about her.
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