Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement when we shared the exciting news that Inland Interiors is growing up and finally moving out (of my house). I say finally, but the truth is it’s happening even quicker than I could have dreamed it would.
So for a little back story, after working for five years as a commercial Interior Designer in a firm in Indianapolis, I decided in January 2011 to step away in hopes of starting our family (that’s a story for another time). My dream of being a mama came true, but I missed my creative outlet. I took on a couple clients (toting my baby girl right along with me in her carrier) while we lived in Fishers, Indiana.
Before long, my husband. Eric, and I decided we wanted to move back to our hometown of Muncie, Indiana, so our kids could grow up near their grandparents. Moving back to our hometown after five years wasn’t always easy because we changed so much in that time and our little college town (#chirpchirp) seemed to have changed a lot, too.
Muncie can often be the butt of a joke (a joke you get away with only if you’re from here), and it certainly has seen better days, but it’s full of great people doing great things. There is such a powerful undercurrent of energy and inspiring people who live to give back to our community. Muncie pulls on my heartstrings because it’s my home. It’s my husband’s home. Now, it’s our children’s home.
I continued to take on clients by word of mouth as we settled back into our town and added another child to our family. Eric had just opened up his dental practice, and I tried to help get his business up and going all while juggling our two kids under two years old and a handful of clients. Being a mom was always my greatest dream, and I loved getting to be a stay at home mom while still keeping my creative juices flowing. I had (and continue to have) the greatest clients who welcomed my little “assistants” whenever they tagged along with me to meetings. I also have the best mom and mother-in-law who remarkably always jump at the chance to take over on Gramma/Grams duty.
Bigger isn’t always better, and that’s never been more true than when you talk about the power of word of mouth in a small town. I continued to get more jobs this way and finally decided in January 2017 to change my business name from Kristen Suding Design to Inland Interiors (courtesy of a late night in Cabo with two of our favorite friends). Inland Interiors became “Facebook Official,” got a new logo, and launched an actual website, which was basically like walking a red carpet for this introvert. As overwhelming as all of this was, it was exciting to see this little “third child” (as I like to call Inland) grow more.
It was at this same time that I envisioned my dream of opening an office in Downtown Muncie within the next five years. Never before had I even put that idea out into the universe, but it became something to shoot for.
My clientele continued to inspire me, and I just wanted to take on every job that I could. As my business grew, my plate continued to overflow, and I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed rather quickly, even with incredible grandparents available to help with the kids. As mothers, we often feel like we need a twin so we can be full-time moms but also full-time “dream chasers.” When you feel so compelled by and passionate about both roles, it can make you feel like you are just doing a half-assed job all of the time.
It was almost as if someone heard my cry for help without me actually asking for it. I had said for months that I needed to find someone to hire, whether it was a design intern from Ball State or a part-time accountant to help me with billing, but I just couldn’t decide how to go about it. When it’s your “baby,” the first official hire can feel like a very important role. Not only is the person going to have to be able to put up with me and my crazy “system” that has literally just gotten me by for years, but I need to be able to trust the person in my home with my family and with my business that I have worked so hard to build.
In April 2018, I received a message from someone that I had known for a few years but only socially and through volunteering. I didn’t know her all that well, although the first time we met, she told me she was getting her real estate license so she could help grow her husband’s business, and I told her I had just gotten a bikini wax. True story.
She asked me in this message if I would like to meet for lunch because she wanted to learn more about my business. We met downtown at a little restaurant, and after I left, I just knew she was the one— my first employee!
Staci and I share so many of the same hopes and dreams for our town and see the potential it has. She has a fantastic eye, is impeccably organized, keeps me focused, and she pushes me when I am scared to jump. I couldn’t have asked God to send anyone better to help me grow Inland Interiors.
When I told Staci my dream to have a studio downtown, she, quite literally, started looking for spaces the next day. I told you she was great! Being that she and her husband are incredible real estate agents, they had more knowledge of how to find the perfect space in their pinkie fingers than I ever will. My hope was that we could have a storefront because people watching is my jam. I wanted people to be able to pop in and visit us all the time. I just wanted to be in the “thick of it.” If you haven’t been to Downtown Muncie in a while, then you haven’t been to Downtown Muncie. It is so full of energy, great food and coffee, and local business owners who know your name. If I was going to have a studio, I wanted it to be there.
Fast forward to today! Staci and her husband, Steve, have purchased the most terrible building in Downtown Muncie that I will be leasing for my studio, and it. Is. PERFECT! It’s a three-story (including the basement) old beater of a building that came with holes in the roof, dangerously old wiring, stairs falling apart…the works! It’s a dream come true because a “finished” space would just not be as fun. We want to show not only what we can do for this sad building, but we also want to encourage others to do the same.
To be designing the new home of Inland Interiors just feels like a pinch-me moment that still doesn’t always seem real. It has already proven to be quite the challenge, but it is such an invaluable learning experience. We can already see the light at the end of the tunnel (and no longer through the holes in the roof).