Creating Ancillary Income Strategies

Published: June 18, 2024

I opened my high-end cabinetry showroom in 1992 in Vero Beach, Fla., and was eager to learn all I could as a young designer, which served me well throughout my career. I wasn’t content with just being a kitchen designer, so I became a licensed interior designer, which took me from just designing kitchens and baths to being able to complete whole-house projects. That is just one of the many ancillary income strategies I have discovered throughout my career.

Monetizing My Strengths

Along the way, I noticed that no one was really designing the lighting for these high-end homes, and I started to study lighting design for my continuing education hours. Once I developed the skills, I started to offer lighting design as another service and charge for it. What I was doing by stepping out of the box and expanding my expertise in multiple areas was also creating multiple income streams.

In 2008, my clientele had changed. Instead of homeowners building new houses, I was seeing investors renovating older properties in high-end developments and selling them – flipping homes. It was time for me to take my designer hat off and pick up my cabinetry dealer hat. The contractors needed me to supply cabinetry, and 2008 ended up being my best financial year to date. If I had only been an interior designer, I couldn’t have made the switch and would have been out of business when the recession hit.

Clever Pivoting

In 2009, I knew it was time to make more shifts. I needed to learn AutoCAD, as I was still drawing my plans on a drafting board and handing them to my AutoCAD person to upload to the computer. I learned it in a couple of weeks, and it empowered me to be a one-woman show if need be.

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This was also the first time in my career that I had time on my hands, and I knew I had to learn a new way to do business. I looked at my only remaining employee and said, “Let’s start an online kitchen and bath plans company.” That site was born, and I also decided to start an online home goods company, PDBHomeStore.com.

The SEO team I had hired to build my sites told me I needed to start a blog to promote these two online companies, and DigThisDesign.net was born. Instead of a design blog, Dig This Design is a media platform for marketers and creates a passive income stream for my company with paid contributors.

The virtual design company was too early of a concept for people at that time, as most thought I needed to be in the space to design it. Today, the millennials have grown up in the virtual world, and they can understand working virtually. PDBHomeStore.com couldn’t compete with Amazon and the venture capitalist sites like OneKingsLane.com. The real business for me out of the three ended up being DigThisDesign.net, which wasn’t supposed to be a business at all.

Making Smart Business Decisions

I closed my large showroom in 2010 because it just didn’t make any sense to have a brick-and-mortar location. I moved my company to my home office and started outsourcing most of my business tasks. I had a great experience with outsourcers; their work was impeccable, and they wanted good reviews.

Because of my diversifications – my many hats – I felt it was also time to change my company name from Patricia Davis Brown Fine Cabinetry to Patricia Davis Brown Designs LLC. I was no longer just doing kitchen and bath designs, I was doing whole house, commercial, lighting design, blogging, influencing, writing and speaking for the industry, and I needed an umbrella name.

In 2011, I was invited to attend New York City during Fashion Week on behalf of Brizo, Delta’s high-end line, which had aligned itself in a campaign with fashion designer, Jason Wu. I was invited with 20 other architects and design bloggers to attend his event. Brizo was building a community of influencers who would promote it, and I was an influencer before I even knew what an influencer was.

The moral of this story is don’t be afraid to try something new. You just might learn something and stumble on a new revenue stream.

By Patricia Davis Brown, CMKBD, owner of Patricia Davis Brown Designs LLC

Photo credit: alisaaa/Adobe Stock

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