We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess McNaughton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jess, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking and stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary for building a business. It can be extremely scary, but also extremely rewarding. I was very fortunate to have a well paying job at a big tech company with all the fun perks of tech culture.  However, all the free lunches were never going to fill the void of not pursuing my creative interests.  I enrolled in the interior design certificate program at UCLA Extension while working full-time, taking one or two night classes a semester. That was the first step of a 10 year journey comprised of working, going to school part-time, and starting a family.  It wasn’t an easy journey, but I never lost the motivation to pursue my dream. I finally took the biggest risk of my life when I left my corporate job of 12 years and officially started Jess McNaughton Interiors. Some friends and family will think you’re insane to take such risks. You’ll second guess your choices when you give up your employer provided health insurance and cringe at the thought of looking at your bank statement. However, my daughter attending my graduation at Royce Hall and seeing her mom follow her dreams by changing careers in her 40s makes all the risks worthwhile. 

What should our readers know about your business?
Jess McNaughton Interiors is a small residential interior design firm with a focus on home renovation. I work one on one with my clients to get to know their needs based on their lifestyle. Just because a design is nice to look at, that doesn’t mean it’s livable for everyone. I have children, and animals, and understand the importance of function. I believe that interesting design requires history. In a renovation, I always want to preserve some original feature of the home whether it’s original wood flooring or a small stained glass window. I regularly peruse estate sales and flea markets for one of a kind vintage items that I like to incorporate in my designs. It’s wonderful when a client has an item that is meaningful to them, or has been in their family. These are the elements that give a home a soul. Since starting my business, I’ve found that the best way obtain new clients has been through word of mouth and networking. I’ve tried Google AdWords, Pinterest, and Instagram ads but have not had much luck with these platforms. Residential interior design is very personal. I am in someone’s home daily, for weeks to months at a time. I think there’s a comfort level in hiring a designer that someone you trust recommends. Achieving any level of success in this industry is not easy, and Covid has certainly not helped. However, I’m seeing homeowners begin to realize the importance of investing in their homes, as they have been spending so much time there. Many of us are reassessing what is important and how we want to live in this “new normal”. One lesson that I’ve learned in my career is to have confidence in my choices. The client has hired a designer to make the decisions that they cannot. Giving them too many choices can slow down the design process and can end in a compromise that is not true to my design vision. I want to walk away from each job proud of my work and excited to show it to the world! Sometimes it’s better to walk away from a job if it means you’ll have to sacrifice your artistic integrity.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
LA is my muse, so the first item on my itinerary would be an architectural tour of The Stahl Case Study House by LA Art & Architecture Tours. The iconic Pierre Koenig designed mid-century masterpiece offers a bird’s eye view of the whole city. Other tours I’d schedule throughout the week would be to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, and The Gamble House in Pasadena. While in Pasadena, we would spend a few hours walking around the Rose Bowl flea market and visit LA’s most under rated museum, the Norton Simon. At least one day should be spent downtown LA, where we’d visit the Broad Museum and take some pics in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. We’d then have lunch on the roof of the Nomad Hotel and wander the stacks at The Last Bookstore. Any trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach. I’d drive through Topanga Canyon and head north on PCH to Malibu’s El Matador State Beach, with it’s rocky cliffs, sea caves, and tide pools. It has all the Goonies vibes without having to go to the Pacific Northwest. LA has so many amazing restaurants, but my top choices to bring visitors would have to be Pizzeria Mozza, The Tasting Room in Venice, Matsuhisa for Sushi, and Providence for the most amazing dining experience of your life. We can’t forget nightlife, as LA is home to so many amazing bands and entertainers. We’d book a box at the Hollywood Bowl and bring a picnic and wine from Joan’s on Third or catch a small rock show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. A comedy night is always a good time at The Largo at The Coronet followed by an artisan cocktail at The Roger Room next store.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There were many talented instructors at UCLA Extension, but Eleanor Schrader had the biggest influence on me. Her History of Environmental Arts classes made my passion for design and architecture grow even stronger. I will always respect her immense knowledge, fashion sense, and snarky sense of humor.

Website: http://www.jessmcnaughton.com
Instagram: jess_mcnaughton_interiors
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-mcnaughton-556535/

Image Credits
Marissa Vitale

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