A passionate entrepreneur and devoted mother, she proves that you can truly make your dreams come true.
Introducing Cortney McClure, Interior Designer and Founder of Cortney McClure Design based in Bartlesville, OK. She is the creator of full-scale historic renovations and new builds, intentional drafting and design for the well-loved home. For McClure, design is more than aesthetics, it is a customer experience. From the joy found in crafting a well-loved home for her own family to assisting local builders, McClure’s love for design became a clear vocation.
When she first established Cortney McClure Design, over four years ago now, her instinctive eye for timeless design was no secret. While a corporate background is not the traditional pre-requisite for a design career, she continually draws from her experience in those positions. The unconventional journey has taught her that every season of life is a preparation for the next. This philosophy translates seamlessly into her work as she assists in curating personal projects designed to be well-loved – at every stage of life.
Tell our readers a bit more about who you, especially the parts that are not so known from your social media presence.
I previously worked in a corporate role in the oil and gas industry. I had a one-year-old at the time. I resigned from there due to travel and obligations that didn’t work for our young family. We were building our home at the time and that is what kind of launched the start of my business — evolving from a builder’s recommendation.
A builder had reached out to me about helping him with his projects and being the liaison for him and the homeowners. Selecting finishes and making decisions upfront, in order to help streamline the construction process. On the job experience and learning alongside him is what gave me the confidence to start the design firm and go into business for myself!
It happened first with building our own home and that was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. I loved building our house. Everybody told me it would be awful. But my builder was great and we had a really nice working relationship. We could visualize things together and talk through really creative ideas. I would do it over again a million times because I loved the process.
Walk us through your journey of entrepreneurship. Did you have any mentors that guided you into this industry?
I grew up watching my dad. My dad has always been in business for himself. Even with watching him navigate the difficulties of operating your own business, it was always something that I had considered.
In my previous jobs before that, I was very comfortable in my position up until the promotion that I received in my corporate job. That’s when I was pushed out of my comfort zone and I didn’t really love what I was doing. I think it was purposeful to know that I didn’t want to just try to climb the corporate ladder and do that for the rest of my life. Working for myself and creating the life and the company that I wanted became a priority for me and my family.
Being in business for myself has been incredibly difficult. It’s a lot harder than I ever thought that it would be. But I have a really great team and support system that encourage me everyday to keep going!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I feel like I have learned so many valuable lessons. For the most part, especially with what I’m doing and the clients that we’re serving, I feel like I get very caught up in caring so much — it’s a considerable amount of what people think — and just constantly carrying that burden.
I feel like that would be my best piece of advice; not to rely on others to validate your success and what that looks like — to just be true to yourself, your dreams and what you’re doing, and to not let the negative mindset overtake you. Playing out the worst-case scenarios in your head: “Are these clients liking what I’m doing?” And then you allow yourself to spiral. When at the end of the day, they probably think it’s absolutely wonderful, and you’ve created this whole story in your head of negative self-talk.
What brought you into the design industry?
I feel like I’ve always had a knack for organizing and decorating. Even from a young age, I would go to my cousins’ houses and I would want to clean and organize their rooms. I’ve always had that desire to create a beautiful space, or at least, an enjoyable space to live in. What I was doing before in corporate was not anything like what I’m doing now. It’s always been a passion of mine, in some facet.
Give us your vision of where you’d like to bring your brand to.
I can tell you, I am a big dreamer. My firm has grown quite a bit, which is wonderful. I always want to keep a smaller team and really focus and expand on their individual strengths and skill sets.
I don’t have a vision of having a great number of employees — but with what we do have to offer, I would love to purchase a building downtown. I would like to expand our space for a design studio and have a receiving warehouse for all of our furnishings and fixtures come directly to us. Because we do full installs for clients, it helps with the process where we have that quality control of receiving everything, storing those in our warehouse, and keeping the inventory of that.
Our current studio space is in a historic downtown building, which used to be the county courthouse. The character and charm is beautiful. We started out renovating a small office, but we’re now refreshing a much larger space across the hall, which accommodates our team and needs more appropriately.
Do you have a certain type of design that you tend to go more towards when creating pieces for your clients?
Our projects are all completely different when it comes to style. If you look at our portfolio, the projects are all so different because of our clientele. There are certain things that we gravitate towards and we always make sure to implement timeless materials. We don’t want to do things that are incredibly trendy.
Timeless and classic, definitely. Livability is always at the forefront of our design. We have a lot of clients who have lived in several different countries, and so, different art collections and unique pieces are important to work around.
Every project, stylistically, has been different so far, which has been really fun. We have a great variety in our portfolio. Even the new builds that we’re working on now are all completely different when it comes to the look and desired “feel” of the homes. We get to create those from the ground up, so we’re drafting and creating the plans from the very beginning.
Has it been challenging being a designer at the same time as being a business owner?
Yes, I feel like the design aspect is what comes easily. The operations of running the business is what’s difficult for me, not the creative part. I’ve had to learn what my skill sets are and where I need to delegate or ask help. Establishing our business structure and maintaining that, making improvements, navigating through difficulties, all of the back-end work has definitely been a challenge.
What advice would you give to other interior designers that are wanting to launch their own firm?
To just stay true to the way that you want to design and create. It gets hard when following all these famous designers on Instagram and you see things on Pinterest. It’s very difficult to not just fall into, “Oh, well, I should do this because this is what everybody else is doing.” Hold tight to your uniqueness and embrace how you can offer that to clients and the people that you’re serving. Because ultimately, the clients are coming to you with trust and they don’t want their house to look like everyone else’s. They want it to be their home, tailored to them. One thing that I’ve had to learn is that it’s okay to do things differently and that it doesn’t have to look like every other project. Be intentional.
Who would you say is your ideal client?
I would say the perfect client is someone who would put their full trust and faith in what we’re offering as a service. Not that they don’t have a say in anything, because we offer multiple options and different ideas, but to know that they see the value in what we’re doing and they trust the process.
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