Moska Design powerhouse and brainchild Lisa-Marie Elkhadraoui, nurtured a passion for design, developed a keen eye and meticulous attention to detail during her training within the industry, that led her to achieve the perfect marriage of classic and contemporary style. She then furthered her skills working as Lead Interior Designer for a multi-award winning, a luxury residential developer based in Surrey before setting up her own studio.
Over the years Lisa-Marie has developed a niche in intimate luxury event styling and alongside her strong gift for organisation and planning, she decided to marry both her passion for décor and styling together.
Lisa-Marie together with her established team of talented Interior designers and stylists offer a highly personalised bespoke design service, which delivers a total ‘turnkey’ solution. Moska specialises in luxury residential Interiors for both private clients and high-end property development companies within the UK, as well as styling effortlessly elegant Weddings and Parties throughout London and the South-East of England.
Welcome, Lisa, thank you for taking your time with us, can you introduce yourself to us?
Your welcome, hello everyone my name is Lisa-Marie Elkhadraoui, Founder & powerhouse behind Moska Design and Style. I am a first time mum to my son who turned one in January, I have a wonderful husband, several pets, a home I love and what I consider the best job in the world! Bringing your vision to life and helping you solve your Interior Design dilemmas. I run an award-winning luxury design studio situated in the Surrey Hills and we specialise in delivering high-end residential interiors for both private clients and luxury property development companies within the UK. 80% of our business model is working with property development companies whether it’s a four scheme home unit or a set of ten luxury apartments we help them design and develop the scheme whilst streamlining their processes to create that vision. 20% of the business caters for private residential clients. We take on a selected number of projects and each year, to ensure each of our clients receive the full benefit of our dedicated high end, luxury design service.
Can you talk us through the path you have pathed to where you are now as the founder of award-winning luxury design studio Moska?
I’ve always had a passion for business and design and knew I wanted to merge them, but I naturally haven’t always been in the world of Interior Design. It was always a dream to study fashion in London. At the age of 8, my mother took both myself and my brother back to a small country town on the border in Northern Ireland, where we spent most of our childhood. In my teens, I had a huge passion for Art and Design especially fashion and it’s all I ever did day in day out. The minute I was old enough to work, I remember begging my mum to allow me to take a job in a small Railway café just to earn enough money to make clothes, accessories, and bags. I worked extremely hard and at the age of 18, I moved from Ireland over to the UK on my own to pursue my love of fashion.
I developed my love of design through my diploma and Bachelor of Arts as a menswear fashion designer. This is where I started to train my eye to pick up meticulous small details. I became infatuated with how design and detail including global trends play such a huge part of our daily lives and loved how people got so excited seeing something come to life from a dream or a drawing.
During my degree, I loved to host events and charity fashion shows. After graduating I worked for a number of high street designer brands for several years such as Diesel and Karen Millen. I very quickly realised the fashion industry just wasn’t for me anymore and I jumped into the entrepreneurial world at the age of 22 – my first business, launching an online retail store for home accessories and gifts dedicated to representing an eclectic mix of emerging British artists who made their products in the UK. I also got my first real taste for Interior Design and build after completing a very large five-month renovation project on a four-bedroom house in Surrey, which ignited my passion for anything home décor, design and build!
My business was running well, I started to branch into pop up shops and I even became a finalist in the NatWest Business Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year 2011. I also ran a mentoring and teaching program at a local University for students branching out into the world of Visual Merchandising in design.
Unfortunately, the home accessories & gift shop only lasted a few years and my business model collapsed! I started to get more home décor and Interior Design work as well as my teaching took over, but this wasn’t a bad thing! It most probably was the best thing that happened and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that happening.
It led me to work for a multi-award winning luxury developer based in Surrey, where I could train, grow and develop all my skills, I worked my way up to Lead Interior Designer, over six years, running an Interior Design department and being such an integral part of the business. Deep down I knew the dream was to set up my own studio and run my own business again. Towards the end of the sixth year, I was a completely different woman from when I first entered that business, I had gained a whole new atmosphere of knowledge, met so many people along the way but something was still holding me back from taking the second leap of faith.
It was that I knew I wanted to be a mum so badly and start a family, I had a lot of questions from friends and family doubting whether I could run the two side by side. The doubts in my mind that I’ve worked so hard and if I stop now and become a mum would everything disappear, these were the questions I genuinely faced on a daily basis. Well in my case I also found falling pregnant wasn’t an easy task either! Then the onset complications that we experienced along the way made it very challenging, so as one does, I decided to help ease the distraction and launch my design studio. Moska was born!
Four months after setting all the initial bits and pieces that come with business up, I got that little positive sign I yearned for and I worked through my pregnancy, happily running my business and excited for what the future holds as a mother. I had a lovely pool of private clients. Business and pregnancy came with its own challenges but I felt great being able to run my business. I had it all planned in my head how business was going to continue and how I was going to run my luxury design studio. Looking back I was so naïve and gosh I could go back and have serious words with my previous self!
Unfortunately for me, the start of parenthood wasn’t what I had in mind after surrounding myself with every hypnobirthing book, course, and class under the sun. After coming off a difficult roller coaster post birth and spending the first 4 weeks in and out of the hospital, Eight weeks in, post-natal depression hit really hard and I was in this whirlwind of emotion. I had yearned for this moment for a lifetime and now that I had it, everything seemed so grey. Don’t get me wrong, the love I have for my son is unbreakable, he is my world but I had lost the love I had for myself, I didn’t recognise the women standing in front of me, staring back at me in the mirror, once this strong confident business women who wouldn’t let anything stand in her way was now unrecognisable. I had lost my identity.
As one does you continue on the rollercoaster and I continued with the studio, with work, and with life. It was a very difficult 9 to 10 months. I slowly each day gained the strength to find a somewhat balance between being a mother, a wife and running my business! I very slowly looked at the mindset and how to change the way I felt, my business gave me the strength to tackle my post-natal depression because It made me feel valued.
On New Year’s Eve 2018/2019 I made myself, my son, my husband and my business a promise. “Setting goals is the first step into turning the invisible into the visible”- Tony Robbins.
I promised myself that my goal was positivity, a positive mindset both in life and in business. I was going to reach out to teach myself how to change my mindset and re-program how I looked at life, at business, and at people. Six months on, here we are today, My luxury design business is going from strength to strength and doing really well, we continually strive to learn for our business model to grow and adapt to the modern way of living. I’ve found my own way to be a good mum, a good wife, and good business women!
What sparked your interest in luxury interior design?
I’ve always had an interest in Interior Design in general, in fact across all ends of the spectrum because I have such a varied clientele. I really developed a love for luxury interiors back in 2013 when I had the opportunity to design and create furniture for two luxury houses in Wimbledon through the luxury developer I was working with at the time. For me, it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I got to really tap into the luxury market and since then it’s continued.
You have a wonderful team of established talented designers and stylists, what was the hiring process like for you?
I love this question, over the years I’ve really learnt how to hire the right people. Don’t get me wrong I’ve also made some mistakes where looking back I’ve hired the wrong people as well, at the time it felt like the right decision. My process now is a lot more stricter and I’m really ensure the various rounds throughout the interview process are well thought about and look at everything a person has to offer. I really take time with my interviewing.
I also 100% trust my gut which I’ve learnt to do over the years. I have a huge amount of care and passion for my business, my clients are my everything an I simply can’t allow people to work closely with them that will not share the same qualities otherwise you don’t get the outcomes needed to achieve the project briefs. These are people’s homes you are dealing with, they create memories and share so much in them and we are a huge part of that process.
Which methods do you use to achieve measurable results to ensure client satisfaction?
We’ve learnt over the years that being highly organised in this industry teamed with knowing how to handle and co-ordinate teams and people is really the key to ensure projects run smoothly and our clients are happy with the outcome. We also have several stages we go through but our most favourite part is interviewing each family member to see how they love to use the home and the space, we are creating for them. What they love and don’t love and really to get to know their desires, wants, needs, pain points and dilemmas. A great Interior designer needs to really understand their clients mind and feel how they are thinking in order to achieve and surpass their expectations.
Working within the luxury market, where can you see yourself within the next 5 years and how are you planning to grow Moska?
We normally set ourselves short term and long term goals, our business is ever evolving. I’m a very open person and always like to look for new opportunities within the business. We have a vision to expand internationally within the next five years and look into the luxury boutique hotel market, which we are currently working towards. We are currently setting up a lot of new exciting change within the business to offer a little something to everyone, so everyone can be part of our brand.
What is your most favoured aspect of working within the interior design industry?
I think it’s the diversity, I’m a peoples person and love meeting lots of new clients and suppliers. Even though we keep our client base very selective I love going out to see them every few weeks to oversee and monitor the progress of a job. I also love spending days sourcing for projects and getting lost in my imagination within fabric, furniture and trim shops.
What has been your best client project to work on to date?
This is such a difficult question to answer because each time I do a project I think ‘gosh that’s been my most favourite to date’ and then the next one comes along and surpasses it. All my projects have been equally amazing but I think it’s down to our client relationships and the processes we put in place in order to ensure the job runs to military precision.
How do you define your own success?
Success is one of those words that mean something different to everyone, you can always guarantee you get a different answer every time!
I sometimes get asked how successful I am followed by asking how much money I earn, and it stops me in my tracks.
Success starts with yourself as a person. I feel successful in life because I feel happy within myself and who I am and choose to be around, my confidence and my identity, I feel successful because I have a supportive loving husband and beautiful home life with our son and I grateful for being able to run a business that I love, what I do is my passion and not seen as a job. For me, that is a success.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
BEYOUROWN to me means ‘be your own individual person’ don’t try to do what someone else is doing or be someone you’re not. Find yourself and your own purpose in life, find your calling through life, business, friends. I think there is so much pressure nowadays as social media and the internet make it so accessible for people to see how others perceive their life and that puts a huge amount of pressure on individuals. Be happy in your own skin, be happy in your own mind and be happy in what you do.
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
Well seeing as we are nearly half way through its been a jam packed year already! We currently are working up expansion plans to extend our business model for the next half of the year through creating a series of tools across our social media platforms to allow our followers to interact more with our business.
We also have three developments in the pipeline all at various stages of starting and then finishing into 2020/2021. We also have 4 private clients around Surrey at present which will take us right through to summer 2020.