We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Margit Whitlock AIA a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Margit, thanks for joining us today. We’d love to hear about the things you feel your parents did right and how those things have impacted your career and life.
Oh my parents!! I love them so much yet unfortunately they are no longer here. My dad, a stanch Democrat, Union organizer and a Mans Mans and my mom was the go getter, fashionista, republican and woman’s rights activist. What a combo! What my parents did right is always focus on education, having a voice as a woman, being well rounded, have respect and integrity And then there was creativity – My dad was a bomb specialist in the army so of course I had a chemistry set so we could blow up stuff! and my mom taught me how to refinish furniture and dance and paint. Both of them loved to fix up old homes and make them beautiful. So architecture and design was inherent.
I remember when my high school councilor in 1978 told me that architecture school was for boys and I should think about nursing. My mom marched into his office and ripped him a new one! Go Mom. I was excepted to Harvard yet decided to go to U of O, close to home.
All my life I talked to my parents because they listened and had objective advise and a way to cut out the bullshit.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
What I would like to share is I am a serial entrepreneur, volunteer maniac, mentor, MOM, animal lover, creative complex person. Is that enough? HA I have been in business for 30 years. I have seen ups and downs yet we stay strong with conviction.
I think my best skill is puzzle solving. I love meeting with clients and listening, diving into their needs and goals and deciphering the root and coming up with a plan. Architecture is not just about designing buildings it is about responding to both the client and patrons needs. It is a dance – one step leads to the next. Note: Education of the client is needed and being firm about your convictions will prove prudent.
Flexibility is key – Keep your ego out of it and deliver the best design with-in the budget and with the best design possible. We all want to be published yet the best results are when your client refers you to another client. Keep that in mind.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
Funding my business was on credit cards for a whole $1500! Back in 1992, I started my business February 24th in a spare room, I got married in May that year and had a baby February 1993. A busy time for sure. Honestly all you needed those days was a space, computer, printer, phone number. The internet did not exist. Today I would say at least $20-30K, to establish a S corp,, logo, domain name, website and collateral professionally designed, Then Launch and get out there and network.
Any fun sales or marketing stories?
Back in 2013 we were still spinning out of the downturn of 2010 with very few projects on the books. I received a call from the Sale and Marketing manager of Silverleaf Resorts. That call changed our future. The gentleman asked if we were interested in providing Interior Design for a new Sales Center in Atlanta but the catch was I needed to have design completed in one month. This was the week before Christmas and he was desperate as the project was in construction already with no ID on board. I hopped on a plane a few days later for Dallas TX, met with the VP of Development and the fact I made every effort to meet ASAP before the Holiday made such an impression they hired me on the spot. That Sales Center won a design award for best Sales Center from the American Resort Developers Association!! That trip and subsequent meetings lead into one of the largest client relationships of my career. With 13 resorts all in need of renovation, our firm became the Architect and Interior Designer for all of them. From new resort buildings to club houses, restaurants, more sales centers – every aspect of resort design we were in charge of. To this date I am still great friends with the VP even after he moved on to another company. So my advice is – never hesitate and do what it takes to be face to face and show your might! It will pay off.
- Website: www.4designs.com
- Instagram: architecturalconceptsinc
- Facebook: Architectural Concepts Inc
- Linkedin: Margit E, Whitlock AIA LEED AP
- Twitter: @architectMargit