Jo Chrobak runs her boutique architectural and interior design studio just outside of London in the UK. Her contemporary, practical and understated style has become synonymous with a healthy and balanced lifestyle and her studio bridges the gap between architecture and interiors.
Hey Jo, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hi, I’m Jo, I studied architecture in Australia and after graduating decided to travel and explore the world. I worked for international, boutique, award-winning and leading architectural and design firms internationally and started my own architectural and interior design studio in Reading, Berkshire, just outside of London in 2016.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I grew up in Western Sydney, Australia. I had a pretty rough upbringing, but was lucky enough to have supportive friends (and their parents) always steer me in the right direction. I graduated with my Postgraduate degree in architecture in 2007 and came back for the second time to England. I spent the majority of my life (like most architecture students, and especially women in architecture) working really hard and long hours.
My life and career really changed once I undertook a year long coaching program by an amazing coach Gina De Vee. Up until that point I was destined to just work myself into the ground like most women in the industry. I spent a year getting coached, learning to coach and travelling with a super high vibrational group of women who will be life-long friends.
It took me a little while to finally quit working for architects and take a leap to start my own studio. I was only a year into working for myself when I started to mentor interior designers. I was heartbroken by all the CV’s and resumes I would receive from talented interiors design students whom I knew would never end up working in the industry, but who I wanted to help so much. That’s where I started my mentorship programme and made it official the next year when we created the Interior Designer’s Business School and my husband joined full time. The success rate from our students were at 90%, so we knew we were making a huge change in these ladies lives. The majority of on-line programs only have a 2-4% completion rate, so ours is in a world of its own.
How did you launch your boutique architectural and interior design studio Invent Design Create and what was the set up process like for you?
I had been trying for years to start my own business but it wasn’t until I found my coach that things really started to happen for me. I had a lot of limiting beliefs around the architectural in interior design industry and although I knew I was great at what I did, I didn’t know how to translate that into an actual business.
The set up process took a little while because I had been following really new strategies in the online marketing world and I had to adapt them to interior s and architecture which at the time (around 2012) hadn’t really been done before. There was a lot of trial and error because strategies that I saw working in other industries just seemed to fail in architecture and design. I got there in the end and finally found my groove. I just didn’t give up!
What fuelled your initial passion for architecture and at what point did you know that you wanted to carve this career pathway?
Unfortunately I’m one of those boring people who just always knew this was my thing. One of my earliest memories was of me not wanting to get out of bed because I was visualising how to put houses together!
What was your first major design project that you took on board and how did you feel when you submerged yourself into it?
My first major design project for my own company was one of my first ones. It was what made me finally quit my full-time job. When I was submerged in it I felt excited and grateful, but I also felt really driven to make the project the absolute best for my clients. I wanted to do the best job int he world for them because it was a truly special project for a beautiful little girl who has FOB (Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva)
Can you tell us 3 strong tips for our aspiring interior designers looking to work within this space and how they can build their portfolio?
- Start with where you want to end up. Look at the big goal and let that guide your decision making process all the way.
- Trust your instinct – no-one in the world, knows what’s the best path for you better than yourself. Learn to get to know yourself and listen to the signs your body gives you. I attribute 100% of my best business decisions to intuition.
- Be yourself and don’t be afraid to share your passion with absolutely everyone. Tell everyone how much you love interiors, it’s the first step to people noticing you and remembering you and it may bring opportunities – believe in the magic of the universe.
With having a multitude of successful projects and years of experience under your belt, where can you see yourself within the next 5 years and what plans do you have in place to expand?
I initially moved to our current home because I wanted to start a family and work from home! That hasn’t happened and our company is growing quickly so we had to course correct towards the end of last year. Our goal is to start a physical school alongside our online school and develop that side of the company. In terms of the interiors and architecture side we now have the luxury to only take on projects we absolutely love and believe we can perform above and beyond what our clients expect. For that reason we have started to move into the hotel and high-end sector and will keep the studio boutique.
What gives you both ultimate career satisfaction?
Whether its from our school or from our architecture & interior design side, it’s always our clients. For Darius, he loves results, he loves to see the success of our students. I’m a real people person. I genuinely love meeting people and I love making people laugh, smile and feel joy. So in a way for me it’s bringing happiness to the lives of our clients.
How do you define your own success?
Being free to do what I love every day is how I define my success. Every time I speak to a client, every time we jump a hurdle and every time we achieve a goal, I define these as little daily successes!
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
For me its beyourown boss. It’s what changed my life, gave me freedom, grew me as a person, helped me create happiness and change other peoples lives with something I genuinely love doing every day. Nothing better in my world than to be your own boss!
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
We have some truly beautiful projects in the studio that will kick off and others will finish this year, so that is very exciting on that side. On the school side we want to start looking into the viability of a physical school and all the wonderful things that could entail!