Meet Kim Kuhteubl, a producer, the Chief Idea Woman of Me By Design, and most recently, the author of Branding + Interior Design who is leaving her imprint in the design industry. She currently resides in LA and started Me By Design while looking for a change of pace from production. Kim previously worked in lifestyle TV while also covering interior design and real estate and development for newspapers and digital outlets. In between production gigs, she usually worked with designers, and from there, Me By Design was born.
Hi, Kim! Please tell us about yourself and how MeByDesign came to be. What is the end goal for your clients?
MeByDesign is an idea boutique for the home goods industry. We work with interior designers, lifestyle influencers, and makers of beautiful things for the home on business strategy, building an engaged and loyal tribe and most importantly, visibility. By visibility, we don't just mean getting press, although our clients have been featured in publications like Vogue, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and Rue Magazine. We also help clients become visible according to one of its underused definitions: to be available. Are you truly open to the life you say you want to live and for doing what it takes to receive it?
You are the Chief Idea Woman, What does that role encompass?
I'm the Chief Idea Woman, so I decide on the vision and direction of the business. I also work with clients on their vision, brand and to develop a personal leadership style. Part of that includes undoing their blocks to being visible. Sometimes those are simple like: "I hate having my photo taken or how do I find the right clients to work with?" A lot of times, they're more complicated like: "how do I charge what I'm worth?" Or, "are people going to think I'm full of myself or crazy or hate me if I say what I really think?" I also lead team members who run our Editor Services, how we approach publicity, and Social Media Services as well.
What types of clients do you have and what is your process when building a vision for design/lifestyle brands? How do you differentiate your work and approaches with various clients?
I've worked with lots of interior designers and product makers, an art consultant and other creative professionals like writers and producers. Everyone starts with a vision and branding document I call a STYLESheet™, which is the framework I use to get people to think deeply about their business. But because I'm building personal brands, what we focus on when we're working face-to-face is as varied as the individual. One of the things that make the company's approach different is that we're not only interested in the numbers, although making a lot of money is awesome. As creatives, we want people to connect with and to be emotionally affected by our work, in addition to being challenged creatively. This demands emotional mastery and sometimes counts on intuition instead of what looks good to your accountant. It means learning to do business from the inside out. I've gotten really good at helping my clients do that.
What are the top three components to remember when it comes to branding or building a lifestyle brand?
- It's reframing what marketing means. Marketing is not about getting people to buy your stuff. First and foremost, it's about having a conversation with people you like and who like you, about things that you're both interested in, things that will inspire them and help them to do better or feel better in their lives.
- Understand that your brand has a soul and a voice; it comes through you, but it's got to be adaptive as you learn what your audience needs from you. That connects to this next point...
- The brands that mean the most to people are in service to something bigger than themselves. They are born a singular vision that evolves because of collaboration with the people they're in service to.
Congratulations on your recent book, Branding + Interior Design! How did this come to fruition and can you tell us about it in a nutshell?
Thank you so much! I thought I was writing an e-book, but as I did research on the history of women in design, I realized I was onto a story that was much bigger, and so I pitched the book. The interior design profession is just over 100 years old, founded by a woman, and since the rise of the internet, it has seen explosive change. Home is important, especially now, and I wanted this book to let designers be clear on how important their work is. The book also includes interviews with design leaders like Barbara Barry, Kelly Hoppen, and Vicente Wolf. It gives practical advice on branding a residential design firm and digital marketing, which are topics that aren't usually covered in design school.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting your company and what have you learned along the way? What advice do you have for aspiring creatives in your industry?
Every time a client checks a box off their to-do list, I'm thrilled. Being able to witness a person accomplish something they didn't think they could never gets old. A close second is seeing my book show up on the Instagram feeds of people I don't know (thanks PLANOLY for helping me keep track of that!) I like seeing this work have a life of its own. Be where you are. Every project is part of the learning experience you need to get to where you're going. No project is too small. Be grateful for each one.