Being an entrepreneur is hard work. But it does have its rewards, if you’re willing to apply yourself, to be open to learning and change, and to stay focused on your goals. The key is to define and pursue your own path. Having a coach and a peer group can help a lot.
In this podcast, Gail and Erin talk with Georgia Zikas, founder and principal designer of Georgia Zikas Design in West Hartford, Connecticut—an all-women firm specializing in high-end residential interior design. Over the past ten years, Georgia has grown her business from a solo practice to a multimillion-dollar firm with seven full-time employees. Now she’s thinking about how and where she will branch out in the years ahead.
Georgia explained that she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and creatives. It felt only natural to her to start her own business. She also was inspired by her parents’ exemplary work ethic. Through a lot of hard work, with support from her husband and children, and by being open to seeking advice and making changes to her business, she has managed to achieve many of her personal and professional goals.
Georgia also credits her team for the firm’s tremendous success. As an employer, she strives to provide a positive and nurturing environment for her employees. She hires only experienced designers with demonstrated talent and compensates them well. ”It’s important that employees are happy at work, that they feel supported, and that they have financial freedom,” she said.
Gail asked her what challenges she faced starting and growing her business. Georgia said she knew that in order to grow the business she needed to add employees, but that figuring out when to hire and the pace at which to scale the business involved a learning curve. When she started the business ten years ago, she stated, it was hard for a solo practitioner to get accounts from vendors. It took some time to develop trade relationships. Nowadays, she added, vendors are more open to working with smaller firms.
Always focused on her goals and moving forward, she recently has developed a partnership with a vendor to create a private collection of custom-designed products. Sometime in the next five to ten years she plans to open a second location for the firm and explore other areas for expansion. She also sees herself assuming more of a role as an industry leader and a mentor to younger designers.
Erin asked Georgia what advice she might have for listeners. She said:
- Read a lot of books.
- It’s important to have fun. Discover what in your work gives you joy.
- Find a community of your people and stick with it. Peer support is invaluable.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Georgia also talked about why she values her role as a working mother, why she prefers being an entrepreneur, who are her ideal client, and more. Listen to the entire podcast for all her insights.
If you’re listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here: https://thepearlcollective.com/s6e7-shownotes
Mentioned in This Podcast
To learn more about Georgia and firm, visit her website at www.georgiazikasdesign.com.
Georgia referred to the book, The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann, as one of her favorites that Gail had recommended to her. You can find out more about it at thegogiver.com.
Georgia mentioned in passing that she currently is serving as Vice President of Education on the Board of the International Furnishings & Design Association, New England Chapter. You can get more information about IFDA and its chapters at www.ifda.com.