Alexandra Hackett grew up on the Coffs Coast. In 2008 she moved to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Design in Interior Design at University of Technology Sydney. FOCUS chatted with Alexandra, to find out more …
Hi Alexandra. Tell us a bit about yourself and your connection to the Coffs Coast.
I’m an interior designer living in Woollahra, in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. I grew up in Coffs Harbour. My family and my husband’s family live in Coffs, and some of my dearest school friends have returned to Coffs after time away, seeking the attractive lifestyle Coffs has to offer. I moved to Sydney in 2008 in order to pursue my dream of working in interior design, but I have always relished the opportunity to escape the city bustle and return home to Coffs to relax and recharge.
Where did you complete your qualifications?
After my schooling at St. John Paul College, Coffs Harbour, I got accepted into a Bachelor of Design in Interior Design at University of Technology Sydney in 2008. I graduated with First Class Honours in March 2012.
How did you get your career start?
Studying interior design is one thing, but launching a career in the industry is another thing altogether.
I took the back door to get into the industry. I started out working in administration for a design and manufacturing company called Schiavello Systems and then progressed through the company to a business development role. From this experience, I was lucky enough to get my start in a creative role with Darren Palmer, Interior Designer and TV Personality (The Block). From there, I was fortunate enough to build on my “all-rounder” skillset, gaining further experience in high end residential design working for a sole trader, Nikki Rosen Design, and later getting team experience at Hare & Klein.
What is your proudest career achievement?
Designing my way into my dream design company, Hare & Klein, a multi-award winning practice with an impressive reputation in the Australian and international design market, with a strong focus on high end residential interiors. Second to this was getting the opportunity to work directly alongside Darren Palmer and assisting him to build the interiors arm of the business and launch his second publication, Homespace.
What has been your best decision?
Marrying my best friend and local Coffs boy, Daniel Ferguson, in November 2018.Daniel brings such a wonderful balance to my life, and it is Daniel who has helped me develop my confidence to make my own imprint in the design world and build Alexandra Marie Interiors.
Which five words best describe you?
Passionate, creative, perfectionist, ambitious, and strong.
Were there any obstacles you had to overcome throughout your career?
Design is a very competitive industry and a hard one to survive in. I have experienced many challenges along my journey. No opportunity came easily; I created them, and through that grew stronger from the experiences and learnt things about myself. The biggest challenge I experienced was landing a design role in the first place. I don’t think I can count on two hands how many cold calls and emails were made in which I was constantly told they weren’t looking, or required a designer that had three to five years of experience.
What is the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
To trust your intuition, listen to your inner voice and follow your gut feeling. The gut is more powerful than people realise; learning to trust it is when life begins. And further to this lesson, be nice to people. Kindness goes a long way; people always remember the people who are nice to them.
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Always go for the unadvertised job. The experiences I have had have not been out of luck; they have come from hard work and persistence. I would encourage individuals to cold call, cold email, do your best effort to make your name known in the industry. Every relationship you make is valuable, and it’s those relationships that will inevitably have your back and support your career progression.
Why have you made the decision to market yourself to the Coffs Coast market?
I believe there is place for my design services and capabilities in my hometown, and I would love to offer my skills, experience and knowledge to anyone in the area who might benefit from them. At this stage my intention is to service the market from Sydney, by travelling to Coffs for clients where required, and possibly expand my services to other cities, but for now Sydney and Coffs Harbour are my focus.
What makes Alexandra Marie Interiors unique?
Being based in Sydney, I am able to access an extensive range of artisans and craftsmen. With great product knowledge and relationships with suppliers and trades, I can offer quality design and a new experience to the market. Exposing clients to this channel will not only add value and quality to a home, business, retail or café/restaurant, it will also produce the best design. This exposure becomes particularly attractive when it comes to the final stages of a project: decoration and styling. Also, unlike some other designers, no job is too big or too small.
What services does Alexandra Marie Interiors offer?
Alexandra Marie Interiors engages the client through the entirety of the project. I am interested in having meaningful dialogue with clients to discuss and review the design development of the project, to ensure that I meet the expectations of my clients. Whether it be for a new build or renovation, Alexandra Marie Interiors will offer input with concept and space planning, interior finishes and material selection, custom joinery and furniture, documentation, project management and procurement/sourcing.
Where can we learn more?
Give me a call on 0401 009 893, head to my website: www.alexandramarieinteriors.com and follow my social presence on Instagram @alexandramarieinteriors____