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Founder interview: Meet Cornelia De Ruiter

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Homewings founder and interior designer lets us in on her journey to democratise interior design.

To the uninitiated, the idea of having one’s own interior designer evokes thoughts of ostentation and a hefty price tag, but Cornelia is on a mission to change this, one room at a time.

Tell me, what is Homewings about and how does it work in a nutshell?

Homewings is all about making great interior design accessible to the wider market. You don’t have to be well off to have interior design needs. In fact, there’s a huge element of well-being that comes with having spaces in your home that really work well for you, no matter what your lifestyle and budget. It’s not about buying expensive decor – it’s about making a difference in your day-to-day life.

When I considered starting my own interior design practice, I realised that even if I found the lucrative big projects, that’s not what excited me. I wanted to work for people like my own friends - people that don’t have a big budget yet, but who are equally looking to have a fabulous space!

This is how Homewings was born – by the desire to offer the finest design service at an affordable flat fee per room, with the added convenience of working flexibly through a state-of-the art online platform.

After taking the style quiz on the Homewings website, clients are matched to the right designer and their project is launched. Working one-to-one, the designer prepares the final design package for the client which includes a concept board, a furniture placement plan, set up instructions and a shopping list complete with links to any new products.

On top of that we have a 100% Happiness Guarantee which means we know our clients are going to love the final result, every time.

Read more about the Homewings experience here

Example of a Homewings concept board

Have you always been interested in interior design?

My passion for design started as a child. In fact, I still have the sketches of the furniture line I 'designed' when I was six years old, so creating and designing has always been a big passion and source of enjoyment for me.

Even when I was still at university, friends would often come over and see what I was doing and started commissioning projects from me - which I happily took them up on! You’d be surprised though that for many years I also pursued a career in business, including strategy consulting. But no matter how long and gruelling my days were, I always had design projects going on – to keep my sanity I think!

In 2016 when the idea for Homewings came about, it felt like all the pieces of the puzzle coming together – all the different aspects of my personality and my skillsets connected.

Who is your business aimed at?

We work with both commercial and residential spaces and can do everything from giving personality to a start-up office, to adding a sense of wonder to a child’s bedroom. Our service also works really well for people who want to spruce up their spare rooms and properties to photograph and put on Airbnb.

Homewings really caters to the type of customer that doesn’t need hand holding all the way. We like working with people with their opinions and ideas and we also love the challenge of incorporating existing furniture and décor that our clients already have.

What makes Homewings different?

Over the years I’ve met countless people in need of professional design help, but who couldn't afford it or didn't understand how to access interior designers. At the same time almost every designer I knew was looking for ways of building up their businesses. It became clear to me that the existing interior design model was not optimised on either side.

This is where technology is a game-changer and why we have created an online marketplace to easily find and connect clients and designers - making the entire design process not only faster and easier, but also more fun! And there is a lot more we have up our sleeve… A lot of exciting developments are still happening in this space and we are planning to be at the forefront.

Have designers and clients been receptive to the Homewings concept?

Absolutely, yes!

Time and again our clients have told us that we’ve helped them bring their spaces to life in a timeframe and budget they previously never thought possible. This feedback has been extremely encouraging.

Having our space designed really made a difference for us… Now we actually have a dining room where we can have our friends over for dinner! - Vivian, Homewings Customer

Designers also love the fact that our platform enables them to take on small projects more frequently and to tackle the trickier spaces that are so commonplace in big cities – it’s something we all find refreshing actually. It requires real creativity to find a solution, particularly when you have a limited budget, and that’s where I get my energy too.

In addition, I’m passionate about empowering interior designers by creating and encouraging a new paradigm in the industry that is much more collaborative and therefore, smart. That really resonates with many other designers too.

Find out more about Homewings' designers here

What factors in your life have enabled you to realise your dream as an entrepreneur and what challenges have you had to overcome?

Ha, well, we’re just getting started, but one thing I do know is that working with great partners and building a strong team are essential elements of success.

I’ve been lucky to find two partners, Steffen Thilsted and Nicolai Watzenig, who are experienced entrepreneurs with backgrounds in technology and marketing and have skill sets that are very complementary to mine. This has been instrumental to us to get off to a running start.

Realising this dream is certainly hard work, but that’s something I’ve never shied away from. It is important to know your limits though - no one can do it all - you need to know when to say ‘no’, when to ask for help and most importantly, to be open to feedback and learning from mistakes.

Finally, celebrating successes as you go along is key - it’s all about the journey!

Feeling inspired and intrigued about Homewings? Take out style quiz to kickstart your design project today!

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