We had the good fortune of connecting with Dara Simic and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dara, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I believe that balance is everything. I have based my work life on balance from the moment I decided to go out on my own as an interior designer. If you want to have a family and a career, there is no other way in order to keep both sides afloat. I started working from home and on my own in 2006 and my husband joined in the work from home model in 2010. We had our first child in 2007 and our second in 2009. I knew if I wanted a family I would need to set up a live/work scenario. For me raising kids at home while also having the flexibility to get work hours in was a no brainer. While it wasn’t always easy it allowed me to have a lot of balance in my day. I believe our family and business have flourished from a steady growth through this balance. We have since built a structure in the back of our residence that is our pretty kickass home office. While our kids are now in middle school and at home during 2020-2021, our investment in our live/work space and life balance, has proven to have withstood the test of time.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m most proud of when my work transforms people’s lives. We are all effected by the spaces we live in. When I can create a space that changes someone’s life for the better through function, interaction, and aesthetics, I’m pretty happy. I love the design and construction process. Is it easy? No, never. Is it a stressful career choice when you are dealing with people’s money and their comfort levels? Yes. But like most things there is a formula and a method to getting to a successful end result, no matter the personalities involved. Once I got good at that process through years of experience and growth, I could manage well all the nuances that come with design and construction. I try to give my clients a sense of calm going through the process by making it an orderly yet fun design experience and they are usually pretty appreciative.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Urbn Pizza in North Park, which is our neighborhood. Then to Convoy Street area for some good asian food like Pho Ca Dao or Tofu House. Take a walk through the Hotel Del Coronado lobby and eat at the golf course nearby or Miguel’s for Mexican food. I would also take them to the San Diego Symphony which is the oldest symphony in California. Also to American Comedy Co. under the streets of downtown for some stand up comedy. Definitely a stroll through Balboa Park and a stop in at the Mingei and the Timkin museums. Also a hike at Torrey Pines down to the beach is a must and a beach walk from South La Jolla to Windansea.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mom who gave me everything I ever needed to succeed. This includes love, support, dance lessons, hard work ethic, college, a ceiling over my head, good conversation, etc, etc. etc.
Also my mentor MaryClare Krommenhoek. I met MaryClare as one of my professors at SDSU for a class called “Methods and Materials of Interior Design”. I went to work for her as her assistant by showing up with my resume on the last day of class. She was also a practicing interior designer in La Jolla and had a home office set up that I really liked. I wouldn’t have had the early insight into the profession, the live / work model, and the resources that came out of my early days if I hadn’t gone to work with MaryClare from the very beginning. In fact we still work together after all these years but now she refers old clients to me as she jets around the world in her retirement. I’ll get there one day, still chasing the dream.
Headshot by Siobhan Gazur Some interior shots by Andy McRory and others by Studio Simic