My Journey as Interior Designer

Mar 19, 2023

          This year I celebrate my 10th year in the design field. It has been such an incredible journey and I have come so far! Design is my passion and I truly don't see myself doing anything else. But it is certainly not an easy business to be in, rather challenging and quite stressful! From being employed to being self-employed, each phase has taught me the most valuable lessons and shaped me into the designer I am today. I truly feel blessed! 

          I always knew I wanted to create and build since I was a little kid. I would shift furniture around the house, from place A to place B, stack it up and down, to the left to the right, take a step back "maybe yes, maybe no", perhaps this way or that way. My mind was always creative, I challenged myself to rearrange things as many times as I could before getting in trouble for making hot mess in the house! I created what I called - the neighborhood, which consisted of my house and my little sister's house, that I build out of stools, chairs and other objects, always covered with the blanket - the roof!

         My grandpa was a handy man, he built the house we lived in. He had a small millwork shop with nearly every possible tool you can think of. I remember neighbors coming by to borrow tools because apparently if you needed anything - my grandpa had it! He would do all sorts of thigs in the shop, build stools, doors & windows, paint them, let them dry, install them. I was always on the side, observing and asking million questions. "We need to put a belt around your head", my grandpa said once, I was puzzled & confused, "Well to contain that brain of yours", I smiled, that was the way of my grandpa complimenting me, thinking that I was bright kid. It was tough love but that was enough to keep me curious and challenged.

        As I got older, I started to notice details more precisely, I wondered how things were built. Every place I walked into, first - I would study the environment then I would render the image in my head of what it could look like. Frankly, I always wanted to change, update & upgrade for better! And I still do! In high school, I was debating whether I want to pursue education or interior design as a career path in life. I discovered that I like helping students when my math school teacher asked if I could give him a hand in algebra class. Funny, my English was terrible at the time, I have only moved to the USA not too long ago. I enjoyed every second explaining how to solve problems to my classmates and they actually understood my explanation and did well! I was certainly up to something and always liked to encourage other people. I think it's quite beautiful to see others succeed! But I still decided that interior design was "it" for me at that time - I dreamed of getting into Fashion Institute of Technology! 

         Dreams do come true if you work hard enough as they say! After my second attempt, I was finally accepted into FIT. I jumped on the bed and screamed and cried! Oh what a joy, I could still remember that day. I learned that rejection is just another way to get motivated and come back stronger! I knew I was going to do great, I didn't know any other way. I aced most of my classes; it was a challenging program but each day taught me into being a better designer. I met some of the most amazing people during these years, I made life time friendships that I cherish and value! Getting a job after graduation was very tough. Nobody wanted a fresh college graduate without previous experience! Well because you should have 5+ years on your resume by the time you graduate right? Just kidding. I felt disappointed in myself. I spent all these years studying and working so hard and it seemed as I was never going to find a job in the field. I decided to waiter tables, bring some income in, I was never the type of people who sat and waited, to keep moving forward was always the best solution. There was one comment that a close friend said to me at the time, " You graduated from university and you're working as a waitress!". Oh boy, I felt it deeply...

        Finally I started to see more job opportunities, I hunted all of them down! Applying, following up, calling people up. I was going to get the d*mn job! Finally, somebody got back to me and asked to come in for an INTERVIEW! I remember as yesterday, butterflies in my stomach - this is it, I'm getting this job! I thought to myself - I don't know what these people are looking for, but I'm bringing my 27' long thesis project along with my 250 pages book I wrote on airport design. What more could they want! Definitely wasn't the typical interview, interviewed by at least 3 different people, I rolled out my thesis project and the interviewer's eyes nearly popped! LOL I got the job, after second attempt, yup, they ended up hiring someone else but eventually called me back for the second interview. As life has proved me many times, never give up, keep going, there is time for all of us to shine! 

         I had an absolute wonderful time and experience working in corporate field! It was all new, exciting, lots of learning curves. Then I realized that I actually haven't learned a d*mn thing in college! Everything seemed to be so different from what they taught us in school, everything was realistic with real money & budgets were in place. What, budgets? What's that? Just kidding. I remember spending very long hours in the office, trying to get better at what I do. Each day brought different challenges, I was getting paid for a job position as an interior designer so I had to figure it out & deliver! I spent countless nights in the office perfecting my 3d renderings, my design presentations, my presentation techniques. There was serious lack of mentorship. I learned that management only dumped tasks on my desk without much guidance, this needs to be done and this is the deadline. Oh the d*mn deadlines...Most of the time, I felt lonely, I felt as you needed to be perfect at all times or you will get judged! But I did meet some of the most wonderful people that became my life time friends! I am so grateful for every single one of them. Meeting those wonderful people boosted my confidence and definitely kept me going year after year after year! I had some wonderful opportunities working on top projects as a lead designer that that taught me everything I know today! The experience was absolutely wonderful! 

           All great things do come to an end! After spending years in corporate, I began to feel uninspired, all the deadlines and constant hectic/long hours started to wear me out. All the new project opportunities just weren't "it" any more. Overworked, underpaid, overstressed, don't count me! I definitely think that I did it to myself in a way - for not pushing back on management enough, for not pushing harder on getting support that I needed, for not demanding more pay that I felt I deserved. But at the same time I was ready for a new chapter! There was nothing that was going to keep me at my old job. Nothing & nobody! 

          I decided to switch the gears and rep for a wallcovering company for a little while and do freelance design on the side! It was fun at first, I was attending all these meetings with different design firms, traveling, meeting lots of designers! It was easy, maybe too easy, there wasn't much challenge. However, this experience was a complete eye opener for me! This lead me to my next big thing! I learned that there were a lot of designers doing their own thing, running small design businesses, working at their own pace. I loved the idea! This could be me!

          After I gave birth to my son, I like to say that - I was reborn! I suddenly had this wave of - "I can conquer anything I want in this life"! It was a breath of fresh air! I officially registered by company as Anastasia Mitrovic Interiors LLC. and started accepting residential and commercial projects! It was absolute nerve wrecking! I spent a lot of time brainstorming, coming out with the best business strategy for my clients and I realized that I am d*amn good at this! Even being I'm on my own, without a full team! I've worked on some of great and terrible projects. Both taught me so much! As always, I feel blessed for all the lessons because these lessons shaped into person & designer that I am today! I will dive much deeper what it's like to be running my own design business in a separate blog. I have a lot to say! I have a lot to share, the good the ugly and the bad! 

         I started Interior Design Den primarily after my experience working in corporate field. As I mentioned earlier, I often felt alone and lacked true mentorship. I created this page because I always had passion for teaching, it seemed like a perfect combination with my experience in design. I'm the type of person who likes to share my knowledge and my resources. I truly hope that I can help many students in upgrading their skills and getting them the jobs they dream of!