District Boss Interview: Kerra Michele Huerta
Meet Kerra of BUREAU, Kerra Michele Interiors and Apartment Envy
A talented designer and artist at heart, Kerra Michele is a local lady boss that has built a place for many other women to come together. Her coworking space, BUREAU is a Instagrammer's dream, social hub and cozy office all in one. This should come as no surprise, as she specializes in creating beautiful and intimate spaces. Building and renovating your home is an extremely personal experience where you need someone that you can trust. Kerra is creative, thoughtful and warm and we are very pleased to be introducing her to you!
1. Tell us about your business!
I have a couple! BUREAU is a members-only coworking studio for women, an event space for all, and a haven for lady-bosses looking for advice, support, and camaraderie in this uncertain world of entrepreneurship. Kerra Michele Interiors is an award-winning boutique Design + Build firm with a specialty in renovating historic rowhomes in DC. I am also about to re-launch my blog, Apartment Envy, which has always focused on small-space urban design, but will now include lifestyle elements, such as travel, and more of my design work in homes. And last but not least, I’m on the verge of launching an online shop, filled with all the home decor I’ve brought back from my travels overseas, as well as some of my favorite products from other vendors.
2. What lead you to where you are today?
It was probably a good mix of optimism, determination, and luck. My optimism is generally the catalyst when I do something new; if I didn’t whole-heartedly believe what I wanted to do would work out, I wouldn’t do it. But the thing is, many times, even if you have the best idea or the perfect implementation, things simply don’t work out… And that’s where the determination comes in. I’m willing to get scrappy to make things work, and sometimes you really have to roll those sleeves up. Even the most determined people fail though, and that’s where you can use a little bit of luck.
3. What brings you the most joy when designing for your clients and transforming a space?
Surprising people! I live for the unexpected, and when I am successful in turning a space from one thing into something no one imaged, it truly makes me so happy. I’m most proud of the dramatic transformations no one could’ve thought up but me.
4. What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur? The most difficult part?
The best part is definitely writing your own rules. I joke with my employees that I’m
“unemployable” – except it’s not really a joke. Ha! I have always marched to the beat of my own (often loud) drum, and following orders has never been my forte. The most difficult part though is trying to manage myself. As an entrepreneur, there is no guidebook. Yes, you make your own rules, but how do you know which rules to follow? Having no guidance and feeling totally alone is incredibly frightening, and sometimes that fear can be incredibly overwhelming. That’s why I created BUREAU, so female entrepreneurs would have a place to find ladies in the same boat. It has helped me a great deal.
5. How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?
Growing personally has always been my greatest priority. I believe if we don’t continue to push ourselves to be better versions of ourselves, then there’s really no point in being here. We are all flawed, so there is always work to be done. Staying motivated professionally is where I have often struggled, so I’ve tried to push through it by categorizing it as a personal struggle. I ask myself why I’m not motivated, and once I determine the cause, I work through it. Since my career ambition has never really been high, I keep going by thinking of my career in different terms, and have realized if I’m happy professionally, I am happier personally, which matters most to me.
6. What’s your nighttime routine?
Oh, this is one of many areas I need work! I have no nighttime routine, and I don’t recommend living this way! I’m a total night owl, and generally have my best ideas at night. I also have some pretty extreme anxiety, so laying in bed at night gets my mind racing about everything I could’ve done better, everything bad thing that could happen, and then all those self-deprecating thoughts many of us think start wiggling their way in. I think part of me wants to stay busy at night, no matter how tired I am, to avoid those thoughts. That’s probably an area I could grow personally ;)
7. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs in the design industry?
Being an entrepreneur in general is just as wonderful as it is terrible. This might sound harsh, but I think entrepreneurship has been glamourized so much that people don’t often get a realistic picture of what owning a business looks like. Everything falls directly on you, for better or for worse, so success feels incredible and failure feels horrible. Entrepreneurship requires an internal confidence that can’t be taught, and without it the negative feedback, failures, and low points can overwhelm. If I can offer one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs in the design industry, it would be to trust your intuition. As a designer, you work directly with clients in a very personal way that’s unlike almost any other field; how many other industries have their first meetings in a stranger’s living room and complete a project by spending money your clients have probably been saving for years? Because of this, clients can become very emotional, so it’s imperative you select your clients carefully. I’ve found myself in a lot of bad situations because I didn’t listen to my gut, taken on clients who sounded the proverbial alarm bell in my head when we met, and paid the price for it – emotionally and financially. Your head might tell you to take the project for the money or portfolio potential, but trust your intuition. Mine has never steered me wrong.