Running an interior design business requires a lot more business acumen and knowledge of technology than most think. “Detail-oriented” isn’t just a defining characteristic of designers for their creative work but also with what happens behind the scenes of projects: billing, drafting, deliveries… It takes an organized brain. Or does it? For a while now, we’ve been hearing from some of the top industry insiders that Ivy, a comprehensive software for designers, has completely revolutionized how they do business. We spoke with three of them – Lisa Furtado, Michelle Beamer, and Natasha Minasian to see what the deal is with this platform.

Tell us on average how many projects you work on in a year?

Lisa Furtado: I work on 10-15 projects a year of varying sizes and scopes. Some of these projects are single rooms and others include several spaces within a home.  When I started my business, I was using multiple spreadsheets to try to keep track of all the moving parts. This was certainly not an efficient and organized way of operating.

Michelle Beamer: About 15 a year.

Natasha Minasian: I work on approximately 16 different projects in one calendar year, but the size and scope of each project vary dramatically.

How did you discover Ivy?

Lisa Furtado: I was referred by a designer friend that uses Ivy.

Michelle Beamer: I think I saw an ad on instagram—probably was the first one I ever saw!

Natasha Minasian: I had met the founders of Ivy at a cocktail party at Las Vegas Market. When I heard about the platform, I was intrigued.

Would you consider yourself tech savvy? What’s the experience like for you using one software for everything?

Lisa Furtado: I would say I am tech-resistant. I am capable of navigating complex platforms but it’s not something I enjoy. The fact that I can use one simple platform to manage multiple aspects of my business is a huge win for me.

Michelle Beamer: Yes, I’m pretty tech savvy with computers and work stuff, but my sons would laugh at you because I don’t know how to turn our TV on! However, I feel like Ivy is super intuitive and very easy to use. I had really no learning curve as I started using it, it just seemed like it naturally worked the way my mind works.

Natasha Minasian: Yes, I am obsessed with technology! I run my design business on-the-go, from my iPad, phone, and laptop. I used to use 8 different types of software and apps to achieve what I am now accomplishing through a single platform.

What was one part of the software that truly surprised you? Was there any particular part that was a drastic change in how you did things?

Lisa Furtado: I never considered the visual impact of a software program until I began using Ivy. The first design management platform I used was overly complex with a complicated interface and a labyrinth of toggles and dropdown lists. It took me weeks to become even moderately proficient. Not only was it soul-sucking, but it was also depleting my productivity and design time. When I began using Ivy, it was like a visual breath of fresh air. It has a clean, simple and intuitive interface and I was able to start using it immediately without hours and hours of training.

Michelle Beamer: The ability to have my items in a virtual inventory as well as the Ivy Product Clipper. It’s just so awesome! That just saved me hours of “now where did I stash that picture?” And “What were the dimensions of those chairs?” Creative work involves so much back and forth, so much ambivalence and grey areas. It’s nice to have tools that allow you to easily organize things so that you can just pull them out when you finally have a project gelled or a concept figured out.

Natasha Minasian: I am constantly impressed with the evolution of Ivy, but one of my first discoveries when I began using it was how impressive the auto-populated presentations look with little effort on my part. I used to use QuickBooks for billing and 3 different types of presentation software to create a personalized layout for my projects. Now, I get the same result in half the time.

How have your clients responded to the tear sheets and product invoices that you can create for them using Ivy?

Lisa Furtado: Having branded invoices and tear sheets really raises the bar professionally. I also love that I can present proposals and invoices with images (easily uploaded with the Ivy Product Clipper). Not only do the invoices look beautiful with all of the gorgeous products we are sourcing, but there is also never a question on pricing when the product, shipping, and tax are outlined in a simple way.

Michelle Beamer: Some do comment and say they look more professional if they saw what I was doing beforehand. However, it’s not what people say that matters now, it’s how they buy. I just sell WAY more because I’m able to present myself in a great way, quickly!

Natasha Minasian:My clients love being able to see the product image next to the item description. They love that it still reflects the style and organization they expect from my design firm, but I get them the info faster and more effectively.

Has it helped you avoid any possible issues that naturally come up throughout your projects?

Lisa Furtado: Ivy has streamlined our workflow considerably. With an integrated system that maintains client and vendor information, we can convert a proposal to an invoice and create multiple purchase orders for a project in minutes. It is an efficient process that has saved us a tremendous amount of time and helped us run a more profitable business.

Michelle Beamer: It’s just easy and streamlined to spell everything out in a professional way. Everything just looks really good. And when you are able to present items in a consistent way, it’s easier to understand what is within the proposal.

Natasha Minasian:I love the project tracking feature. It’s made the project management so much more streamlined.

How has the software saved you time?

Lisa Furtado: One aspect of the business that I have always struggled with is time tracking. Since Ivy is cloudbased and has a mobile app, we can record our time on the go from our phones. This allows us to record a detailed log of how we are spending each hour so there is never a question at the time of invoicing.

Michelle Beamer: Let me tell you, there is no way I could handle the volume of projects, sales, and logistics I’m handling now if I was doing it the way I was before. So my growth would not have happened, period.

Natasha Minasian: Ivy saves me SO MUCH TIME. I love that I can focus more on my designs because the uploading of information and images is so quick and seamless. I used to do the images and aesthetic part of the presentation entirely separate from the pricing and lead time details… but now I am able to speed through the pricing and estimates because the info is all there in the presentation. I am able to show as much or as little information as I want to.

In short, why would you recommend Ivy to your designer friends and colleagues?

Lisa Furtado: Ivy is so much more than a software program. The community of designers that support each other is really the “it” factor that sets Ivy apart from any other business management software on the market.

Michelle Beamer: The open transparent environment to engage users into a community makes sharing and growing part of the overall culture. If you’re going to be stingy with your best practices, don’t even bother. We want people who will give and receive feedback, tips, ideas. If you want your business to grow, it will in this environment…

Natasha Minasian: Ivy is nothing like the other design software. It makes it possible for designers to focus on designing by streamlining sourcing, presentations, scheduling, and billing.