GRAND RAPIDS — In 2008, the construction and housing markets were stagnant. SKP Design, a Kalamazoo-area residential and commercial interior design firm, was looking to diversify. They sought help from counselors at the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center at Grand Valley State University. Its relationship with the center goes back almost 12 years.
The MI-SBTDC helped SKP Design fine tune its library to focus on in-stock and budget materials. This led to the idea of having pre-packaged “off the shelf” schemes ready, at a low price. That’s how Interior Design Schemes was born, created to assist emerging and growing businesses during an economically challenging time. Business owners get a design quickly without spending hours in design meetings.
“MI-SBTDC consultants helped me look at the company from a global perspective,” said SKP Design owner Sondra Phillips. “They connected me with a coach who helped navigate changes internally and served as a sounding board for ideas. I was able to make connections with other business owners in e-commerce which helped me learn about delivering services in a new and different way.”
Interior Design Schemes allows do-it-yourselfers to purchase color and design schemes which have all been pre-designed. Customers select from online commercial and residential design schemes which include material finishes for walls, floors, counters, millwork, trim and more. Upon ordering a scheme, customers are emailed product specifications and receive actual swatches and samples in the mail. The website launched with 40 schemes, and 30 more will soon be added; schemes range from $199 to $599.
“The thing customers seem to appreciate the most is that the long wait for a finished design is no longer a part of great interior design. Moments after a customer selects and purchases their favorite scheme, details about the scheme are emailed to them,” said Phillips. “After living through the economic effects of 9-11 and the housing crash, I realized that interior design is a luxury that many cannot afford. The ‘do-it-yourself’ movement is an undeniable reality.”
The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center provides counseling, training and secondary market research for Michigan’s new business ventures, existing small businesses, expanding new businesses and new technology companies. The MI-SBTDC is located at the Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business in Grand Rapids. As host of the MI-SBTDC State Headquarters, the Seidman College of Business oversees the 11-region MI-SBTDC network. Entrepreneurs and small business owners may access the services of their nearest MI-SBTDC by calling (616) 331-7480 or visiting www.misbtdc.org.