"My fellow group members have been so open and generous that it’s a joy to debrief in a safe space and realise that my experiences are universal."
Our interview with Robynne De Courtenay of Coloured Pencil
We thoroughly enjoyed our catch up with Interior Designer and Stylist, Robynne De Courtenay from Coloured Pencil and were keen to share what's behind the by line of 'more than just a pretty space...'
As a valued part of the TDC community and a member of our Premium Group Coaching Program, we've had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Robynne over the past year. During that time, we've watched her business blossom, despite the challenging times we are currently facing. We have no doubt that there is a prosperous future ahead for this industry leader and we hope to continue to contribute to her personal and professional growth.
TDC: You established Coloured Pencil in Sydney in 2003 and 18 years later you’re one of the most sought-after stylists in the city! How did you get into the industry, and what you were doing before you launched your business?
RDC: The simple answer is that I got into the industry because I needed to pay school fees! It was actually a friend who first suggested the idea that I try my hand at styling some apartments for a property developer—at the time, I didn’t even know styling was a thing! When I started Coloured Pencil, only two other interior stylists were operating, so we’ve really grown alongside the industry. That initial job led to more styling work, and the rest is history.
TDC: Your business is still going strong, despite the lockdowns. What are some of the ways you’ve had to adapt to continue to provide a quality service to your clients? You’re also in the process of expanding your business to take on more extensive interior design projects. Can you tell us a little about your plans?
RDC: We’re busier than ever. Sydney property—especially at the high-end of the market—hasn’t missed a beat. The market is still achieving record prices, so our styling work has maintained demand and then some during COVID.
On the interior design front, we’re inundated. We’ve got more work than we can handle. I think it’s because people are spending so much more time at home; everyone’s focused on making their interiors the best they can be.
Of course, we’ve had to master the art of client Zooms and put in new systems and processes to help accommodate COVID regulations. Still, because we often work in empty properties, the lockdowns haven’t affected us as much as other industries.
I can’t talk too much about our plans for expansion yet, but it’s very exciting. All I can say is we’re moving into larger interior design projects. Watch this space....!
TDC: Wellness and balance are important considerations in busy professional’s lives, now more than ever. We know that yoga is part of your daily routine. How important is this for dealing with the pressures of running a business and what else do you do to maintain balance between your busy schedule and your home life?
RDC: My time on the mat is non-negotiable. I meet my yoga teacher on Zoom at 7 am every morning for a private coaching session and try to practice by myself two or three times a week, depending on what’s happening at work. Yoga keeps me grounded and ready to handle anything work throws at me. I’ve also taken up golf, and I’m surprised how much I love it. My business coach also happens to be a world-class golfer, so we’re currently combining business coaching and golf lessons. And my three boys recently took up golf with a vengeance, so I thought I’d better learn too, or risk never seeing them!
TDC: You’re currently participating in our 6-month Premium Group Coaching Program. How has the program helped you move towards your goals of expansion?
RDC: It’s been everything to me. I had no systems and processes written down for my business—I kept everything in my head. I never had any numbers about how my business was performing. At a glance, all was well, but I had nothing to measure success against. Having concrete procedures in place has really elevated how I work with clients, streamlining my workflows, adding demonstrable timelines to complete the work, and addressing client questions along the way, so I spend less time explaining ad-hoc and more time doing.
TDC: A big part of the Premium Group Coaching Program is connecting designers with a small group of like-minded professionals. How have you found this experience? How has it differed from your previous experience of the industry?
RDC: I can’t express how wonderful it’s been. It’s a rare thing to share in this industry, and I feel I’ve learned almost as much from the other participants as I have from Andrew. Often designers work solo or with a small team, and we don’t get insights from our competitors against which we can compare our success.
During the program, Andrew broke us up into Accountability groups of four, and the opportunity to share our experiences, ask questions and workshop solutions have been extraordinary. My fellow group members have been so open and generous that it’s a joy to debrief in a safe space and realise that my experiences are universal. It’s easier to laugh and let go when you know others have been there before you. I can draw on their experiences (as they can on mine) to learn what Coloured Pencil’s next growth stage might look like.
TDC: We love how much you have thrown yourself into growth and transformation! You’ve also added some 1-on-1 coaching with our director Andrew Mitchell. How is the 1-on-1 coaching helping you achieve your business goals?
RDC: Andrew is the most kind, genuine person. He’s been extraordinarily generous in sharing his knowledge, and the 1-on-1 feedback has been priceless for achieving my business goals. For example, we’ve worked through a new project from start to finish to finesse my systems and processes at every step.
I’ve learned that, though I may think I’ve made everything crystal clear, it’s vital to look at things from the client’s perspective so you can anticipate questions and potential confusion ahead of time. The gains I’ve made in terms of my time and the clarity I can deliver to clients are remarkable.
TDC: What exciting projects are on the horizon for Coloured Pencil?
RDC: We’ve got some great projects underway. As I mentioned, we’re currently busy styling high-end, luxury apartments, and that’s not slowing down any time soon, despite COVID.
I’m enjoying working on a waterfront Darling Point apartment—the client initially approached last October us to help her choose a new bench top and paint colour. We’ve now completely gutted the entire apartment and removed every stick of furniture for replacement! We’re just about to start tiling, so it’s been a long journey.
We’re also in the throes of preparing a huge North Shore home for sale—it requires a complete interior redesign to bring it up to market expectations and achieve the best price possible. I’m enjoying utilising everything I’ve learned over the last 18 years to bring it to fruition.
We love learning more about our TDC members and share in their success.
If you want to find out more about Robynne, you can follow her on Instagram @colouredpencil.studio.
If you have been inspired by Robynne's journey, you can apply for an upcoming Premium Group Coaching Program to experience six months of transformational coaching for your interior design business. Group 3 commencing 12th October 2021 is now SOLD OUT.
We are now taking pre-registrations for Group 4 commencing in April 2022. Click HERE to pre-register. If you can't wait until April, we recommend that you book a Discovery Call with Andrew Mitchell to discuss how we might be able to help.
Premium Group Coaching Program - Group 4
6 month program commencing April 2022
Discovery Call with Andrew Mitchell
Schedule a 20 minutes call with Andrew to answer your questions, and discuss how we might be able to help.