We had the good fortune of connecting with Geena Pearson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Geena, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It was all happenstance, really. I’ve always loved design and my start in the industry was totally accidental, but it was right where I needed to be. Since I was little, I was obsessed with rearranging my room (and my sister’s!) and asking my parents to take me to tour the new model homes that would pop up around our neighborhood. I loved navigating through them and imagining what kind of furniture would go in each room and how I’d live in them. Little did I know this quiet obsession was an actual JOB! Having my own design studio was something I always dreamed about, but never thought I’d actually get the chance to make it happen, until a friend asked for some advice. My friend, who is a contractor, had been at a condo to bid on a bathroom remodel and the client had all sorts of design questions he wasn’t equipped to answer. He knew I had been in the industry a long time and asked if I would be interested in talking to her. I immediately said, “Sure!” but went home to freak out a little bit! I hadn’t been working for quite some time because I was raising my kids so I instantly had pangs of self doubt. But I knew this was my chance; my gut screamed at me that it was the right moment to just go for it. I set aside my fears, summoned my confidence, went for it, and got the job. It was during the design process and watching all the magic happen in the remodel that I started thinking seriously about what it would be like to have my own studio. I always had friends and family asking about paint color, how they should arrange their rooms, would this piece of furniture look good with that one, etc. People were always seeking my advice, why not get paid for it? I started designing a logo, writing out a design process, rifling through old contacts, setting up accounts, getting a business license, and all the basics to get up and running. It’s been a slow process for me to get everything beautified, but getting things perfect takes time!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Interior design isn’t just about making things pretty, it’s also about the function and flow of a space, the mood you want to set for a space, taking into account someone’s personality and lifestyle, and so much more. I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me what I do for a living and when I tell them, their response is, “Oh, so you pick out pillows.” I’m not kidding and you can probably imagine my inner dialogue! There’s obviously a huge misconception about our industry and I don’t think many people know how much actually goes into the design process. It’s like a puzzle or Lego (I have kids!), there are so many pieces that go into a project that it needs precise planning and process to ensure its completion. I also think people feel that interior design is a luxury or is unattainable, but as I meet with potential clients, I try to erase those misconceptions. Yes, there is an added expense in hiring a designer, but instead of calling it an expense, I like to call it an investment. When you’re making big, and oftentimes very expensive, decisions pertaining to your home, hiring an interior designer is a huge advantage; we wear many, many hats. We not only ensure a cohesive & functional space, but we also have knowledge of what materials work best in certain applications, create lighting plans and layouts, source quality furniture & fixtures and have many contacts with other tradespeople. We are also highly organized project managers so we can run a project smoothly and efficiently. Ultimately, we can save the client from many headaches, time, and much of the time, money. There’s nothing like watching your design come alive from an idea to a 2D mood board and rendering to the finished product, but there are many players to get to this point. It takes teamwork and that’s why my designs are only as good as the tradespeople that build them and make them a reality. I truly believe creating strong, trusting and respectful relationships within the industry is paramount; and that is why I take the time to get to know everyone who is working on the project. We can’t do our jobs without contractors, installers, vendors, refinishers, etc.; they are essential. My strong interpersonal skills with all kinds of people is something I’ve excelled at and is a key asset to my success. Being able to problem solve together is hugely beneficial for the end goal and I’m proud to be able to create these relationships to make it happen. Hello Home Interior Design believes in making the design process accessible, collaborative, fun, and personal. Your home is your sanctuary, your haven, so it’s important to us that we get to know our clients on a personal level. We want to know how you live, what you want, how you want the space to feel and how you want it to work. We take that information, and we enhance it. We believe in creating a home and spaces that are uniquely yours and that you will love for years to come. We make your house a home, it’s as simple as that.
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?
Oh man, I love this question. I am so lucky to call San Diego home and it is definitely a place that people want to come visit! We lived in North Park for nearly 10 years and got to see it go from zero to hero in that time frame, so it is one of our must-go destinations. You can spend all day there and have a great time. My husband and I spent many Sundays walking up and down 30th street & University Ave; bar hopping, snacking, eating & shopping. We’ve been craft beer lovers since its birth in San Diego and North Park is the prime place to try many of the city’s finest beers. You can start the day with a late breakfast at Swami’s or brunch at Breakfast Republic. If you’re not into a morning meal, grab a yummy caffe mocha, cappuccino or plain black coffee & a pastry at Caffe Calabria or if you’re a little trendier, Holsem Coffee. Pigment is a must stop shopping experience and perusing through Verbatim Books’ aisles is quite a treat. You might be thirsty after the shopping, so you go for a beer at North Park Beer Co. while soaking in its Craftsman inspired interiors and play a little shuffleboard upstairs. Of course you will need another beer before lunch, and a snack to go with it. There’s no better place for that than Pretzels & Pints right down the street. With a great beer selection, delicious pretzels (the Philly is my favorite) and fantastic crew, you’re sure to have fun. If you want to go straight to a meal, you can’t go without tacos in San Diego and City Tacos has your back. These gourmet tacos aren’t pretentious; they are just interesting enough without being weird and are SO good, trust me! You’ll then need more beer and Second Chance, Rip Current, and Fall Brewing are some of our favorite stops. By dinner time, we always stop back at Caffe Calabria for their Neapolitan pizzas made in their custom wood-fired oven (insert drool emoji here). All the pizzas are delicious, but our personal favorites are the Cotto e Funghi or the Salsiccia. Get the house wine or a cocktail and you’re in heaven. Now you’re wondering why we eat and drink so much, but it’s because we are walking the entire day! So don’t feel guilty! We aren’t huge dessert people, but if I do need a nightcap, I always go back to, you guessed it, Caffe Calabria for an affogato. A (decaf) espresso with a dollop of vanilla ice cream? Get out of here, so simple, yet so delicious! You can also experience multiple interesting ice cream flavors with a flight at Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream or get some of the best gelato at Gelati & Peccati. Other favorite spots we like to take our guests is Coronado Island- they have to see the Del!- Balboa Park for its beautiful architecture, hoards of museums and gardens; and Little Italy for a taste of downtown with a cozier yet lively vibe. You’ll have lots of chances for snacking, dining & indulging in libations here!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The biggest shoutout goes to my husband, Erick. He has always been my biggest fan and supports anything I want to do. He has more confidence in me than I do myself! We have been together for nearly 20 years, so we’ve literally built our lives and have made all our decisions as a team. Starting Hello Home Interior Design was no different than any of our other decisions, big or small, and we did it together. Without Erick’s continued encouragement, support and positivity in my abilities, I would not be able to do what I love. My fortune in having a partner in life like him is never lost on me, I am beyond lucky!