Running your Own Business

Lana Dullaghan Designs

Svitlana Dullaghan enrolled in the Higher National Certificate in Interior Design in March 2016, at the Interior Design Academy of Ireland. She graduated in 2020 and since then she has been supporting the academy through our events by sharing her professional experience and academic journey. 

Lana has been running her own business, Lana Dullaghan Designs, since 2017, where she combines her knowledge of design and colour, focusing on the requirements of her clients, making each project unique and personal. 

Interior design and colour is Lana’s passion and she believes that colour has a strong impact on wellbeing. 

“I believe that interior design is an art and there are no rules in art.”

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Getting an Interior Desing Qualification

Lana did not have any training or qualification in interior design prior to enrolling. Her first degree is in the medical field, an area she believes to have not been her full choice. “It’s very hard to define yourself when you are very young, but I was always into interior design. I think my passion was always about colours, fashion, and interiors. However, I did not think that I had the confidence to pursue it, because it’s a completely different field. So, I started questioning how I could do it”. 

After doing many little projects on her own interiors, she finally decided to take the next step towards her career change and enrolled with the Interior Design Academy of Ireland. At the time, Lana was studying and working at the same time which was not always easy. “I was extremely busy all the time, but I would always keep doing my assignments”.

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Lana Dullaghan Designs

I remember I wasn’t really happy in my last job, so I decided to quit it and focus on interior design and my course. I believe that the Academy gave me the confidence that I needed. Going through the course and completing the assignments was a good foundation.”

Even though running her own business was not part of the initial plans, after extensive reading and researching for the course, she realized her potential and the industry opportunities. “It was a life experience for me from the beginning because I was new to the industry. Looking back, I’m grateful for all the lessons and experiences and that it all worked out really well.”

Like all new businesses, in 2017 Lana started small, but by being consistent and persistent eventually, her business grew to what it is today. “When you start your own business from the beginning, the most important thing is confidence, having support from friends and family and having a positive attitude. I wasn’t booked up from the beginning. A lot of new businesses expect so much and if it doesn’t work well right away, they end up quitting, which I didn’t.” 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

The interior design course allowed Lana to pursue a career in this field and start her own business. “If I haven’t done the interior design course, I don’t know if I would have started my own business. There are so many competitors, and you want to stand out. For that, you need a good foundation. And the Academy gave me the confidence to not second guess myself and believe in the skills I have learned.”

Lana considers the Interior Design Academy of Ireland to have great qualifications and she shared that when you are running a real business and dealing with clients, they expect professionalism. “I’m confident and I know what I’m talking about and doing. So, when I meet the clients, they feel that confidence and believe in my ideas.” 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Business Growth, Awards and Industry Recognition

Lana Dullaghan Designs grew through referrals, recommendations, and positive word of mouth from her clients that would suggest her work to their friends and family. “70% of my work comes from referrals. I have one client that already brought me 6 other clients.”

Even though she is now used to these recommendations from her clients, she was very surprised by the impact of social media on her business. “I’m used now to these referrals and recommendations. But what surprised me was the social media impact. After the lockdown, I was getting direct requests from social media. Apart from the referrals, my clients hear about me mainly through my website, where I showcase my portfolio, and social media.”

Over the years Lana Dullaghan Designs’ projects have been featured in various interior design and lifestyle magazines, such as Ireland’s Home Interiors & Living, The Gloss Magazine and Love your home, and her work has been rewarded and recognized as well. 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

In 2018, Lana Dullaghan Designs won a room-set at Colortrend Interior Design Forum and was invited to ‘bring her design alive’ and display a sitting room setting at the Ideal Home Show. “I think the biggest thing for me was when I won a competition with Colourtrend because I felt that I was respected in the industry.”

Overall, these achievements are taken very seriously by Lana, even though she is never expecting them. “Obviously, it is always amazing, and I never really expect it. I always say all the hard work combining studying and running my business is worth it because of this feeling of satisfaction you get when you receive these recognitions.” These acknowledgements have given Lana the opportunity to share her own experiences and projects, as she is frequently invited as a speaker to some interior design events and exhibitions. 

Over the years, Lana Dullaghan Designs work has been recognized with awards such as Best of Houzz service in 2019, 2020, 2021 and the 2019 Global Business Insight Awards as the most trusted in Interior Design services in Ireland. More recently, she has won Build, Homebuilder Awards in 2021 and was nominated the Interior Designer of the Year (ROI). 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Interior Design During a Pandemic

COVID-19 and lockdown had a great impact on businesses globally, and Lana Dullaghan Designs was no exception. She explained how she adapted her working methods due to the restrictions and what were and have been her biggest challenges. 

“To be honest, it was very challenging because I love to feel the space and meet with clients. I had to sit down and think about what I could do to make this business work during lockdown with all the restrictions – what services I could offer, which way I could present myself and my work.” 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Lana soon realized the importance of having a qualification in interior design and how it helped her in reorganizing her working and communication modus operandi. “When you do consultations on-site you can show everything to your clients. But when you are doing it virtually, you must be good at what you do because there is so much detail and without being able to show it to people you have to document everything professionally. You have to be able to communicate your information and your ideas in an efficient and appealing way, so people can understand it.”

Besides not being able to meet her clients, one of Lana’s biggest challenges was having materials and furniture delayed. “I do a lot of bespoke, such as bespoke sofas and curtains, and everything was delayed. From simple lightening or lamps to cushions, everything was delayed, and it was hard. Fortunately, all of my clients were really understanding and helpful.” 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Plans for the Future

Lana Dullaghan Design is not only a nationwide business, as she has recently worked for projects in the United States and in the Czech Republic. “This is really exciting. From country to country, you can see the differences in style and in size. It’s lovely.”

Even though she is just starting on some international projects, Lana believes this could be her next step in the industry and working with clients abroad is part of her plans. 

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

Advice to Future Interior Designers

“Have a lot of patience. Do a proper qualification, study, and research. My view on everything in my life, work-related and not, is to commit to whatever project or idea you’re developing and if you stick with it, there will be a positive outcome from that.” These are the main advice Lana gives to future interior designers looking to start their own business. 

Lana Dullaghan Design is a very successful business run by Interior Design Academy of Ireland’s graduate, Svitlana Dullaghan, where she combines her passion for interior design with colour psychology. Lana enjoys her new career so much, that according to her “it does not really feel that I’m working”. Her career started in 2016 when she enrolled in the Higher National Certificate. The course and the interior design qualification have given her the confidence to run her own business and have allowed her to pursue her passion. “It was the best thing I ever did, and it has changed my life. The course is amazing for someone like me who had no experience at all in interior design. Previously, I worked in a completely different industry, but I always had a passion for interior designing. This course helped me gain the knowledge, from the basics to everything I needed to become a professional in the industry.”  

Image credits: ‘Lana Dullaghan Designs’

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