Today we’d like to introduce you to Tess Leeds.
Tess, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I drew my first floor plan in the 5th grade and have been redecorating ever since. But it wasn’t until after I left a career teaching middle school to study Residential Interiors at the Boston Architectural College that I discovered I was allergic to the snooty design world.
Pushing furniture on people for a profit didn’t sit well with me. And so I set out to create a company that regular-you-and me-kind of people could afford. One that would understand very average budgets and the reality of sticky-fingered kids. My business model is different from other designer firms, using my teaching background I created a designer’s lesson plan to complete with clients. Whether we shop off Craigslist or Crate and Barrel, my redesign plan works.
I began my company as Ruby Shoes Redesign in 2008 with the tag line “There is no place like your home”. After 8 years of business, I grew tired of explaining that I didn’t design shoes and my name isn’t Ruby, so I recently transitioned to Tess Leeds Redesign.
I love the challenge of creating a new space, working with what people already own, helping them save money so they can splurge on what’s worth it. Gorgeous rooms don’t just create themselves– you’ve got to have a plan no matter what your budget is.
Has it been a smooth road?
I wouldn’t say smooth per se but not super bumpy either. As a one-woman-show, I’ve had to not only wear different hats, I had to figure out what kind of hats to wear in the first place! When I set out, I’d say I was pretty naive — thinking it was all about design. Running your own show is not only about being a great designer, but about getting your company’s name out there, creating your website, managing appointments, and being up to date and on trend with the current “it” designs as well as knowing what is currently on the retail floor. I’d say the biggest learning curve I had was in marketing and advertising. Most recently I discovered the transition from Ruby Shoes Redesign to Tess Leeds Redesign was not as easy as I had hoped.
In the end, learning new roles and wearing new hats has helped me. My biggest hat? Becoming a mom. When my twins were born in 2014, I suddenly had a whole new appreciation for what most of my clients wanted–a kid-friendly space that could withstand little ice cream sticky fingers but looks great, too.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I unstick the design-stuck. Most often, I help clients let go of, let’s face it, ugly furniture that’s holding them back. I work to find creative solutions and bring fresh perspective to tired spaces. I break down the design process into smaller steps (overall layout/focal point, sizes and style of furniture, lighting, accessories and color palette) and turn an overwhelming situation into a design plan that is affordable and easy to execute. I help create that “Ahhhh, I love it!” feeling, there is nothing better than that!
During our redesign morning, we write the road map for the space during a very hands-on and intense design session (bring a snack, you’ll need it!). We start with an understanding of the feeling/mood the client wants to achieve and then we review each challenge (keep Grandma’s old chair, get rid of uncomfortable sofa) and design the solutions. Lastly, we complete a very specific to-do/purchase list. Each item is listed in a particular order as one decision affects another. We set a realistic timeline and agree upon our next follow-up appointment in which all textiles will be reviewed and the final paint color chosen. A redesign session is a private cheat sheet to a well-designed space without being overwhelmed by decisions or cost.
Clients are often relieved when they find Tess Leeds Redesign, telling me I am “just the exact service” they’ve been looking for. I think what sets me apart from other design firms is the fact that I don’t have a dotted line clients must sign and at the end of the day, is it the client that has final say and control over all purchasing.
Creating flow from one room to another with color is one of my favorite parts. I love the complexity of different color/texture combos and of course, I join in on my client’s excitement as a beautiful space comes together. At the end of a long day, another highlight would be watching mood board take shape. As my client and I work together, I’m juggling all the design elements in my head. It isn’t until I get back to the office and pull it all together online that my client and I finally get to see their new space before it’s a reality.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think Boston and surrounding cities are a great place to start a business. There are tons of resources here and all types and styles of people. There is a little something for everyone for sure.
- Rates based on room size starting at $450
- Color consultation $365 for 2 hours, $150 each hour after
- Address: Newton, Ma
- Website: www.tessleedsredesign.com
- Phone: 617.823.7767
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tess_leeds_redesign/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tessleedsredesign/
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/TessRedesign/
Greg Perko Photography, Jared Leeds Photography, Jarrod McCabe