Cailen started her business in 2008 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Tell me about your current business.
At Cailen Ascher Design, I am a lifestyle and interior designer. I work with clients to better align their homes and lifestyles in order to foster healthy, happy living.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Before the start of this company, I was a full-time college student with double majors in French and Art History. This business was not my first venture in entrepreneurship, however. I began "Hired Hosts" in high school which was a party service business.
How did you come up with your business idea?
In my senior year of college, I came up with my lifestyle design concept. I realized that I could never successfully design a room/home for someone that wasn't comfortable with their current lifestyle. So many of us strive to live healthier lives, but we don't design an environment that supports us in our endeavors. I have always had a passion for healthy living and interior design, so it was natural to combine the two!
What outside resources were helpful for you?
I joined my local chamber of commerce and participated in the Bucks County Designer House which put me in contact with dozens of other successful designers. Mentors are essential!
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
I started my business at home. It was really the best option for me because I was able to put all the money I made back into the business instead of paying to rent an office space or store. It's really important to keep overhead to minimum in the beginning otherwise you probably won't make it very far…
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I have been very lucky with regards to the PR my young business has received. I constantly reach out to journalists, radio personalities and fellow business people to promote my business. Because of my efforts, I have been featured in numerous design magazines including Bucks Life, Central Jersey House & Home and Bucks County Town & Country Living magazine, been interviewed on FM radio, been showcased in the Bucks County Designer House and will be offering consultations at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show and have spoken at many local colleges and businesses about healthy, beautiful living.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
It's harder than you think, but sometimes it's best to jump in head-first before you recognize all the obstacles that may lie in your way.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Get out there! The best advice I can give is learn as you go. Doing is the best way to learn the ins and outs of your business. You may make some mistakes and being frugal never hurts, but start advertising yourself and your company. Fake it til you make it!
Thank you, Cailen! That is excellent advice for all the young entrepreneurs at gaebler.com.