Karin Bohne: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Vancouver’s Karin Bohne, who owns and runs one of Canada’s premier boutique luxury interior design firms. Here’s what inspired her to launch Moeski Design Agency and where she sees herself in five years…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I own and run one of the most in-demand boutique luxury interior design firms in Vancouver. I work with an awesome team of designers and creative minds to dream up and execute unique design work in a number of different industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality, with a focus on multi-family and high-end residential.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
From a very young age I knew that I would be an entrepreneur. Encouraged by my father, I got my feet wet in elementary school with a chocolate bar retail venture that did very well and sparked my passion for forging my own path in business.

Since then, I’ve dabbled in a number of artistic ventures and I always knew that I wanted to do something that challenged me creatively. I fell in love with interior design as soon as I took my first course at BCIT. I struck out on my own almost immediately after finishing school, and launched Moeski Design Agency about five and a half years ago.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day is by far the people I get to work with. I absolutely love the personalities and the creativity that happens in our office. I still get a rush every time we pitch a client on a new design concept. It’s addictive!

The most challenging part is juggling the day-to-day demands of running a business. There’s always a new proposal to write, a prospective client to meet with, a design review to complete, an on-site emergency that needs to be addressed. The list goes on and on, and it can be exhausting.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Aside from the bags under my eyes that are rapidly turning into full blown suitcases?!

Sometimes I feel like I’m permanently tired, but I know that my work/life balance is off when I start to get really edgy for a prolonged period of time. I work all the time, and when I’m not at work I’m thinking about work. I’ve sacrificed a lot of personal time in order to build a brand, and an awesome team of people who love working with each other and who love what they do. Making it happen in a crowded market can be exhausting. When I start to get really grumpy, I know it’s time to take a little time off.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Married with a couple of kids – post-eye bag surgery. Still working a lot.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been maintaining company growth over the last five years. It takes a lot of resources to expand. You need manpower, you need money, and you need clients. When you’re starting an interior design business from scratch, all those elements are thin on the ground.

I had to be strategic about my growth and recognize that I couldn’t do everything on my own. A huge challenge was letting go direct control over certain elements. My design team is made up of incredibly talented designers – they blow me away on a daily basis. Watching the creativity unfold is hands down the coolest and most rewarding aspect of my business.

Even though you might own the business, I still think that you have to let the people around you shine. Let them do what they’re good at and what they were hired to do. If you don’t, you’ll stay stagnant. And in business, that’s death.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Sure, for me, more money does equal more happiness. I’m not afraid to admit it. But I’m not at that threshold yet where more money doesn’t equal more happiness.

The truth is, I think you have to be happy waking up in the morning and with what you’re about to do that day. If I wasn’t, I think I would see that as failure. Of course I have bad days, and sometimes really bad days, but that’s life. For the most part, if you can create a path for yourself that makes you happy, I think that’s the best success you can have.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
For me, building a company has been the collection of milestones. From hiring my very first full-time employee, to moving into a bigger office, sending the team to handle client meetings solo, to now having the time to focus on the digital side of the business because the interior design side has become so established – these are all game-changing moments in the history of my company. It’s the small milestones and victories along the way that really make the whole journey memorable.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Take risks. Try not to hesitate when making decisions because waffling can kill you. And don’t get discouraged – true success takes time.

Even though I’ve had my company now for five and a half years, I actually launched on my own for the first time in interior design 2007 almost eight years ago. “Success” doesn’t happen overnight. You have to stick with it. You have to be patient. And you can’t compare yourself to other people. What you might see on the surface is not always a reflection of what’s happening behind the scenes.

You have to be true to yourself, and you have to make your choices because it makes you happy. If you do it for any other reason, you could be forever chasing a pot of gold.

Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Hawksworth. Hands down. The food is amazing, I love their wine list, and it’s my favourite space in the entire city.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
My “me” time usually starts with an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (I know, I know…) and a glass of wine.

I love to work out, run the seawall or go to yoga in order to feel sane. And I love spending time with my girlfriends and soul sisters. For me, nothing beats really good one-on-one time.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Probably anywhere in Europe because it’s filled with culture, history, interesting art, design and good food. I recently spent some time in Rome with my boyfriend – it was one of the most awe-inspiring trips I’ve ever experienced in my life. 

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
That 80s song, “Maniac.” I don’t know why… but it just suddenly came to mind. 

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Something else design, fashion or media-related.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes. Right now we’re in the early stages of getting a new pro bono project off the ground for the Canadian Cancer Society. We’re going to be aligning ourselves with a number of suppliers and trades in order to renovate the Jean Barber Lodge, which acts as a residence for out-of-town cancer patients receiving treatment in Vancouver.

This is a project that’s close to my heart because my dad passed away from cancer when I was really young, so I understand what families go through when undergoing cancer treatment, which at times can last up to a few months. Having a comfortable place to stay during treatment is incredibly important, so if my team can assist with renovating the Lodge I feel like I could be making a huge difference in people’s lives. I’m very excited about this project.

What to you is notable?

iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Other?


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