Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamara Romeo.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It all started because I used to work in a pepto bismol pink office. Really, it was horrible. Not a nice shade of pink at all.
It was always freezing and smelled sort of like old gym socks. That office made me acutely aware of how uncomfortable someone could be in a work environment.
At the time I was selling and designing magazine advertising for local businesses and used to visit companies from all over the county. Sometimes I saw great examples of interesting, well-conceived office layouts and decor. Mostly I saw sad, uninspired, spaces completely devoid of company culture and with employees crammed into ill-fitting cubicles and offices.
After 12 years of seeing the same thing over and over again, an idea started percolating in my mind…I could take my love of aesthetics, graphics and design and help local companies express their brand & culture inside their offices. Then, I did nothing….I quit my job and had the luxury of not having to work for about a year and a half.
During that time I pursued hobbies and interests, I never had time for while I was grinding away at my advertising job. I loved it, but also became bored of not having a bigger purpose. That nagging feeling of wanting to do more…to be more kept popping into my mind.
I took a course in a topic that interested me and it started to propel me in the direction I finally pursued. The course was a weekend class to learn more about Feng Shui; the art of balancing energy within a space. After the class, I went on to get certified by a Feng Shui master, and then I decided I was going to start a Feng Shui consulting business.
After a few months, I was hired by a company to come in and do Feng Shui in their office. During my time in speaking with the CEO, he started to pick my brain for ideas about the interior design of his office, and by the time I left that meeting, I had a contract for my first office design project.
The challenge was, I was not an Interior Designer, just a really great sales person, and I had a vision for how we could improve his space. I knew I needed help, so I quickly hired a designer to work along with me to develop the
plans for the clients’ space.
Without knowing it at the time, that one opportunity shifted everything in my business. I loved the design work and excelled at helping clients express their brand visually within their space. I rebranded my business and used my advertising skills to pick a name that would rank really well with Google searches, which helped my little interior design business grow by over 400% in the first 3 years.
I landed a huge international corporate client that suggested it was strange that an office design company didn’t have their own office space (my team of 6 was working out of my tiny condo in Bankers Hill at the time). I agreed, and within a short period of time, I moved my team into our own beautiful show-office in Mission Valley.
The owner of the building loved how I improved our office suite, and started to ask me to renovate his other spaces one by one. One day he told me that he was very involved with SDSU philanthropically, and I mentioned that I was an alumni. Before I knew it, he had introduced me to several people on campus, and I started to be regularly invited into undergrad and MBA courses to talk about my ‘real world experience’ of being an entrepreneur.
One of the professors at the University invited me to attend a board meeting for the Universities entrepreneurship center (I didn’t even know they had one at the time) and I said yes. That led me to become a member of the board, then just a short time later, I was unanimously voted in as the first female chairperson of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center of SDSU.
In the last year, I’ve developed an idea that I felt could help aspiring entrepreneurs and people struggling with their own small businesses. I knew from experience that many highly creative people lacked business training and an understanding of sales and marketing, and I knew that I could help.
I decided to take all of the great things I’ve learned along this entrepreneurial journey (and some of the tough lessons of what to avoid) and package them into a business training program that is all delivered online, in the comfort of someone’s own home (they could learn while they are in their P.J’s)
That new business is called Design Boss Online, and is officially launching in early February 2018.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has absolutely been a twisting turning rollercoaster of a ride!!
I jumped into an industry not knowing a lot about it at the outset, and seriously skinned my knees a few times, I also made some expensive and embarrassing mistakes (like ordering a $10,000 custom sofa and realizing it wouldn’t fit through my clients door (oops!)
Developing a team has been difficult for me, since I never had much training in leading others. I struggled with personality issues and incongruent work styles and many times felt unhappy to come to work in my own company.
Investing in training, coaching and more education for both myself and my team has really helped quite a bit, and it also expanded my professional network. Having people like myself, who are also entrepreneurs with the same struggles and challenges to talk to, learn from and network with has been invaluable for me.
After a good 5-6 years in business, I also learned who my perfect clients were, and what my best niche was, and stopped spinning my wheels with all of the other useless stuff. It has transformed my business and my mindset.
Please tell us about San Diego Office Design & Design Boss.
San Diego Office Design is a commercial interior design firm that specializes in creating well-branded office spaces that enhance company culture.
We were one of the leaders in San Diego in creating ‘creative workspaces’ which has now become a popular buzz word in the industry.
In a nutshell, we tell a really compelling visual story within office spaces and make sure the people that work there and visit there enjoy being there and feel inspired by their surroundings.
We furnish and outfit the space to match a company’s brand, but also to make sure we are supplying the latest in both ergonomic & sustainable options. When a client wants a one-stop solution, we are it!
A large portion of our clients are small business owners like me, who care deeply about their company, their brand, and their staff.
We have worked in spaces that range from 1000 sq. feet to over 65,000 sq. feet, and have worked with both international and local brands.
Our clients come from various industries: from medical offices to fitness facilities, to high tech to marketing firms and just about everything in between.
Design Boss is a brand built on personal & professional transformation. It is focused on providing a ‘grow as you go ‘ experience for students to learn from our online curriculum.
The goal is to help students harness their own creativity and turn it into a profitable business (just like did!) while providing a supportive community of like-minded learners.
As an e-course, the program is available internationally, and students can learn from anywhere, even lounging by the side of their swimming pool!
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
“Adventures to nowhere” were a favorite childhood experience for me growing up here in San Diego.
On a random Saturday, My Dad would say, “Today we need to pack a lunch and hop in the truck because we are going on an adventure”
I would always ask “where we were going?”, and he would say “we won’t know until we get there!” And off we would go.
Often we’d head up to the mountains, towards Alpine or Julian but he would choose random dirt roads or right or left turns to take us to places we had never seen before.
This was long before GPS and navigation, where you only had a gas station style folded map to tell you how to get somewhere, and he always had a map tucked into the glove compartment out of my eyesight.
Sometimes he’d prompt me to try and remember the way back, and challenge me to find a landmark that we had passed along the way
To this day, I still love hopping into the car and not really knowing where I’m heading. I like the adventure of it all, and the unfolding of the day in unexpected ways.
I believe it taught me not to be afraid of newness, and striking out on unknown paths.
Perhaps he was teaching me to be an entrepreneur without telling me 🙂
- Address: 5005 Texas Street, Suite 304
San Diego, CA 92108
- Website: www.sdOfficeDesign.com & www.Designbosonline.com
- Phone: 619-610-9358
- Email: Tamara@sdofficedesign.com
- Instagram: @designboss_online
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tamromeo, https://www.facebook.com/sandiegoofficedesign/,
- Other: https://www.facebook.com/designbossonline/