Caren Rideau on Cultivating a Successful Design Business

Published: May 7, 2024

Caren Rideau, the principal of Pacific Palisades, Cal.- based Kitchen Design Group, shares her professional insights on how to create a successful design business.

How does your background influence the way you approach your successful design business?

When I was attending college, I worked in a luxury retail store, and it really taught me how to interact with consumers and clients. Today, most of my clients are purchasing luxury designs and because I didn’t grow up in that environment, that work experience taught me how to successfully deliver a luxury product. My clients are very important to me; they are my next referral, and how I make each person feel is equal to mastering the art of a successful business.

What has been your biggest challenge – and how did you resolve it?

To stay current and not get complacent with my work or ideas. From an operational side of owning a business, it is important to learn how to communicate with the younger generation of hired designers; their thinking and experience is very different from that of my generation, but they all have a voice. Design is one talent, but communication is another talent, and they need to understand both to be successful and heard. From a design perspective, I need to stay current with what is happening around me. I understand kitchen design, but my designs must remain relevant to the times.

What is the most important career lesson you’ve learned?

Don’t think you know it all. I have been in this business for over three decades, and I will continually make mistakes of oversight or complacency. Just when you think you have seen it all, here comes the one thing you’ve never experienced. The most important lesson is when you grow your business and have other designers under you: Their lessons are your lessons, and that is part of the process. Stay open to change – I can’t express that enough.

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What advice would you give someone entering the design business?

You can be the best designer and have the best ideas, but you must know how to work with your consumers and sell your ideas and products. While passion for the profession is one thing, self-confidence is ultimately essential for working successfully in the industry – and it can take time to develop that quality.

Who or what has been a seminal influence on your design career?

My design peers are my biggest influences, because the success of others – especially people I admire – drives me to be there with them in my unique way. If you want to grow in this industry, you have to be open to what other successful people are doing and accomplishing around you.

What is your favorite thing to collect? And why?

I love to collect pottery from everywhere; it is my biggest seek when I’m traveling. For me, it tells the story of art, culture and food. I especially love to set the table with this beautiful pottery. For me, there is no bigger joy than to see a table of color of all my favorite finds.

Tagged with: design business

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