An important part of a designer’s job is external sales and marketing. This article is about a day in the life of an independent designer.
Today began at a networking breakfast at 7 am. A man at the door charged me $15 for a continental breakfast, then I circulated the crowd of approximately 35 people, and everyone sat down to eat and introduce ourselves. I happened to sit between an unemployed attorney who has lived in San Francisco for one month, and a man wearing a goatee that was at least 3 inches long. Across from me was a building contractor who has no projects. After everyone learned each person’s name and occupation, we wrote down the names of people we know who may need their services. Our slips of paper went into a collective basket, and afterwards someone played Santa and handed them to the recipients. Today three designers attended the meeting and none of us received a referral. I opened a brochure that the organizers had given us, and it said that we have to pay a membership fee that costs $585 for one year.
After I left, I visited a friend’s showroom four blocks away. Sometimes we work together. Last June and July I canvassed several different cities and districts in San Francisco to find new projects for us. It means that I drove through the densely forested, winding, one lane streets throughout Woodside to try to find houses that were under construction, as if a major renovation were taking place or a new home was being built. Each time I discovered such construction sites, I would get the name and phone number of the general contractor who is in charge of the project. I did that in Woodside, Hillsborough, and in San Francisco I did it throughout Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff, Laurel Heights, the Outer Richmond and the Central Richmond districts. I was on the road searching for projects for about two weeks. Every time I discovered one, I gave it to my friend. Her job was to call the contractors and set up design consultations, while I stayed on the road and continued searching. After I had given her approximately two dozen contacts she told me that she was unable to set up any appointments, and so I stopped canvassing. It appeared that she had only one or two projects for herself, and so I believed her when she said that she had no work to share with me. I haven’t heard from her since last August, which was 3 months ago. Today I visited her showroom and discovered that she had moved. I was afraid that she went bankrupt and got evicted. I rushed to her new address, expecting to find a tiny cheap office that was hidden away somewhere. Imagine my shock when her new address turned out to be a huge showroom that was two stories high, and it is filled with expensive furniture and accessories. Obviously she has been making a lot of money for a long time. It is apparent that my friend, whom I gave over two dozen leads to, had projects that she could have shared with me.
A different friend of mine has a health problem that an acupuncturist talked about this morning during the networking meeting. After the meeting, and after I visited the poisonous showroom, I visited my sick friend’s shop to tell her that I may have found help. We were coworkers at a design firm years ago, and now we’re old friends. She wasn’t there and so I left the acupuncturist’s business card. During my visit I noticed something disturbing. One of my paintings was missing. A few months ago she requested original paintings to display in her shop to sell as merchandise. I gave them to her for free and she planned to sell them and pay me 50% of the revenue. I found the painting inside of a base cabinet, buried beneath her stash of bubble wrap.
Well, now it’s 12:46 in the afternoon. I still have “miles to go before I sleep” and I’m already irritated to all hell. What a day.