Simone Mathews is the woman behind some seriously dreamy holiday properties here in Australia. Starting out in the construction world with her husband, they’ve run their own business (BAM Constructions Group) for over 20 years. Simone runs and manages the interiors side of the business and wanted to further her knowledge and expertise by studying Interior Design. Simone studied the Diploma of Interior Design at iscd, and then went on to become the owner and mastermind behind SOUL Home, SOUL of Gerringong and The PAUSE. Building a powerhouse brand across social media and is now recognised as one of Australia’s top holiday property experts. Her career consists of numerous personal and professional interior design projects and her properties have been featured across media titles including Country Style, Home Beautiful, Adore, Real Living, Sydney Weekender, Qantas Magazine and more. Alongside this Simone is also an online educator who shares what you need to know when it comes to building, design, styling and running a successful holiday property business.
We recently caught up with Simone with a live webinar to talk about her study and experiences at iscd and what has led post study. If you missed it, you can watch the full webinar below which includes a live Q&A with the audience too!
What led you to choose to study at iscd?
I chose iscd as I was looking for a school that was industry practical and recognised. iscd stood out from the rest due to its focus and inclusion on the industry. WIth all educators being experts in the industry and industry led briefs throughout the course. It was a no brainer.
“Studying was a game changer. It went from hobby to a career for me. That education, from the beginning through to the end inspired me and gave me the knowledge and confidence to take over. It wasn’t just theory, it was hands on.”
Thinking back to your time at iscd, what were some of the highlights of studying with us and your overall student experience?
The first thing I think of is the educators. So supportive, and pushed you to go that extra mile. Lisa Kohler was one of my educators and her support was one of my biggest highlights. Studying part online and part on campus I had the experience of both and both felt like a real community. Another one is an assessment on a hotel we did, it was my favourite and now I’m a holiday property expert.
Do you have any advice for people thinking about studying Interior Design?
Yes! So many people get nervous that a: are they going to remember to study and b: they’re too young and everyone is going to be older. My advice is you’ve just got to do it. My impostor syndrome came in when I went to study; “am I going to be able to do it? Am I going to be good enough?” Then there’s the prioritising, but I had four children when I was studying and the study never became a hassle, because yes I had to prioritise my time to make it work but I wanted to be doing it, I lived and breathed it. If this is something you want to do, trust me you will make it one thing you will do every single day.
As you know, all our courses are now online, some people are hesitant that they’ll feel isolated and unmotivated whilst studying online as they aren’t in a classroom setting. Do you have any advice on this? Can you share your thoughts on the iscd community and courses?
In my opinion, studying interior design online is a huge advantage. When you study online, it’s real life. If you’re studying interior design online throughout your course, you’re so much further ahead than someone in a classroom, as when you get into the real world the majority of your work is online. In the interior design industry your work can be anywhere so by studying online to begin with you’re already so much further across. But what I would say is that it’s really about people, so it’s important to connect with people in your class and with your educators. I studied part online and part on campus and where I thought on campus was great I feel I took a lot more in and learnt more online as there are no distractions. Anyone who is worried about the online side of it. Think about it as an advantage, I think it puts you miles ahead.
Moving onto creating and building such a successful brand…You gained the technical skills through your study with iscd and you’ve got the creative flair. That’s one side of success. The other side is making a successful business out of it. Talk us through how you did this. How did you get started?
I remember just having to take the leap of faith and just go for it. So for me it was just a matter of putting myself out there. I had a portfolio of interior design work from my study, whilst they were ‘fake’ clients from assessments it still showed my talents. The saying ‘fake it till you make it’ always comes to mind, not faking it that I couldn’t do the interior design work but faking that I had all these clients. So you’ve got to find ways to get your work out there. Simple things like flat lays, showing how you can work with different materials and textures. It’s so easy and such a good way to really show people what you do. It is about going and speaking to family and friends to get your foot in the door.
“When I just started I just went for it. I had doubts but I knew that this is what I really wanted to do. I just started and I have not looked back. Networking is so important, connect with showrooms and suppliers as well as your potential clients.”
Lets talk about your instagram feeds and followings. You’ve built an incredible community of followers across each of your properties. How did you do this?
Social media, people either love it or hate it but in the interior design industry, you’ll learn that it’s a necessity. I would say that 90% of clients find me on social media. For me I ensure I have intention every time i go on social media. So yes everyone likes those pretty pictures but have an intention of what someone is going to take away from it. People connect through social media so if they have something to take away from your feed they will keep coming back. Whether they turn into a client or not they may go and tell someone else about you. Know what you stand for and don’t look at the numbers, it’s about quality not quantity.
Also social media is a community of interior designers supporting each other. If at first, you don’t have your own images to share, use your flat lays, take photos of inspiration. When it comes to sharing other people’s work make sure you ask the person if you can post it and also credit the work/images accordingly. For most interior designers, it’s a compliment so don’t be shy of reaching out and making that connection.
“I’m a natural over sharer, so I like to share and tag all my products and materials on my socials. I love the give back from social, people you connect with aren’t necessarily a paying client but there is huge value in making those connections. I have also had huge opportunities come from social media with big brands contacting me to become an ambassador for products and magazine features in my favourite magazines. The opportunities on social media are endless.”
Want to hear more about Simone’s experience and her journey towards building her powerhouse brands and top holiday properties since studying interior design at iscd? Watch the full webinar below.
Has Simone inspired you to take the leap into the interior design world? Do you want to hear more about studying interior design online with iscd? Contact one of our course advisors today or check out our online interior design courses to find out more.