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Designing Dreams: A Conversation with Rachel Nelson, CEO of Concetti Studio, on Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Cultivating a Creative Culture

Rachel Nelson, Concetti’s CEO + Principal Designer, is a third generation Detroit business owner who has built an entrepreneurial spirit and the love for Detroit into her business. Since she was 16, Rachel has known that Interior Design is her calling and she has worked tirelessly to cultivate an award winning team that reflects her drive, creativity, and commitment. She has dedicated herself to hold space for her team members, clients, and community members alike and promises to deliver bold, professional interior design strategies for people who want their space to look, act, and feel like themselves.


My name is Rachel Nelson, CEO + Principal Designer of Concetti. As a third-generation Detroit-based business owner, I have an immense passion and long family history rooted in local Detroit business. At 16 years old, I knew interior design was my calling. We are proudly celebrating our 9th anniversary this month! Outside of my work with Concetti, I adore hosting and entertaining friends and family in my home, whether it’s in my backyard, main level or basement lounge. I live with my husband and dog, Elton, a rescue pit bull we adopted from Rebel Dogs Detroit. I’m an aunt to seven beautiful nieces and nephews, who I love having over for parties and hang out time. I’m also deeply involved in giving back to the Detroit community, and empowering young women to find themselves.


Congratulations on celebrating your 9th anniversary this month! Can you share a highlight or a significant milestone from Concetti Studio's journey over the past nine years, especially in the context of National Entrepreneurship Month?


Thank you! One of the most significant milestones in our journey has been the expansion of our team and the deepening of our client relationships. Over the years, we've not only grown in size but also in the depth of our collaborations. National Entrepreneurship Month is a fitting time to reflect on the entrepreneurial spirit that has fueled our growth. It's a testament to the dedication of our team and the support of our clients that has allowed us to reach this milestone. It is no small feat to build this business and I am so proud of where we are today and grateful for the journey it has been. We're excited to continue fostering creativity, innovation, and meaningful connections in the years to come. Cheers to nine years of design excellence and the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship!


Concetti Studio appears to be at the forefront of creative design and digital marketing. In what ways have you led the company in staying innovative and ahead of industry trends?


I had a professor from when she studied abroad in Italy who helped me realize my design specialty was concepts, or “concetti” in Italian. That experience shaped the business’s namesake and helped inspire the central focus of our business; beautiful and function concepts that are customized for each client. Conceptual design is the deliberate, intentional use of subtle elements to elicit a feeling within a space. Conceptual design is at the heart of what we do because it guides more than how a space looks – it shapes how it feels.


Concetti’s application of conceptual design, coupled with our dedication to creating spaces for our clients that feel authentically them, offers freedom to innovate while maintaining a playful relationship with trends without the pressure of keeping up with them. Our motto is that we create space that becomes you. Having a clear understanding of one’s own personal style is something that withstands the test of trends. Personal style doesn’t have a shelf life!


That complete clarity on personal style and brand extends to how we market our services. Being meticulously clear on Concetti’s vision and who we are enables our marketing and communications partners to easily understand our message and serve as true extensions of our team.


I continually aim to establish and maintain partnerships and relationships within the local and national design community. From collaborating with local trades professionals who bring our projects to life and visiting national tradeshows, like High Point Market, I am committed to relationships that keep our team inspired and motivated to have a finger on the pulse of what is happening in our industry. I’d love to continue to connect and reach an international audience.

 

What sets Concetti Studio apart from its competitors in the creative design and digital marketing industry? How do you envision the company maintaining its competitive edge in the future?


What makes Concetti unique is our Process and how it guides our client collaborations. As interior design strategists, we go beyond creating functional and aesthetic design solutions for our clients. It’s our mission to add personality, purpose and meaning to our clients’ day-to-day by creating aesthetically beautiful, functional spaces AND solving problems. We provide a holistic interior design strategy experience for our clients and deeply connect with them. We carve out time to understand who they are, what their goals are and what makes them tick. This approach applies to every type of client – from our residential clients looking for interior design strategy support in their new build project to commercial clients seeking to refresh their space and elevate their brand, and everyone in between.


Our belief that everyone deserves access to beautiful design is another thing that sets us apart. Not every client has the budget or desire for full-fledged project support. We offer the first phase of our approach (Discover X Co-Create) as a standalone service – a flexible option for those looking for a holistic vision/prototype or those with a tighter budget, like DIYers, small business owners, or newlyweds/couples discovering how to merge styles and existing furniture.


Collaboration and team dynamics are crucial in creative industries. How do you foster a culture of collaboration and creativity within the company?


Our culture of collaboration and creativity is entirely rooted in mental health and well-being. While small businesses are often synonymous with “hustle culture”, I aim to show and teach that balance, setting boundaries, and taking care of ourselves/each other are the most effective ways to inspire creativity and ultimately achieve more quality results.


I am deeply committed to my team’s mental health and well-being, and for me this goes beyond cultivating an empowering, encouraging, and empathetic culture. I understand that true wellness is more than kind words and paid time off. While our team does get quarterly mental health breaks, we also have regular access to a wellness coach who helps foster reflection on both professional and personal levels.


How did implementing quarterly mental health breaks and team-building activities impact the overall work environment and team dynamics?


The introduction of mental health breaks and team-building activities had a significant positive impact on our team's morale. Team members reported a noticeable improvement in their ability to fully disconnect during time off when they know we are all out of office, resulting in a more refreshed and engaged team when they return to work. This initiative created a space for team members to prioritize self-care without guilt, contributing to a healthier and more supportive work culture. The best part is that we take the day together before we’re out of office with our holistic wellness coach to fill our cups both as a team and as individuals, we call them VIP days!


Can you share an example of one of those VIP days? How have your team events, such as discovering your personality types through human design readings, positively influenced collaboration and understanding within the team?


Learning about the team's diverse personality types, such as being a "manifesting generator" myself or a "projector" like two of our team members, provided valuable insights into how team members naturally operate and recharge. This understanding helped team members appreciate each other's unique qualities and adapt communication styles accordingly. For instance, acknowledging that someone is a "projector" and needs downtime allows for a more empathetic and supportive approach, fostering a culture of understanding and collaboration. It’s so interesting to be able to give better language to individuals' working styles and empower them to work in a way that better aligns with their human design.


As your business grows, how do you ensure that the company culture remains a priority, especially with the addition of new team members?


Maintaining a strong company culture involves a focus on operations and expectations. Clear communication about interdepartmental processes and expectations regarding how team members show up and manage their energy is crucial. The incorporation of wellness practices, including working with a coach during onboarding, helps new employees adapt to the company's culture and encourages a holistic approach to work. The hiring process itself includes a thorough discussion about company culture to ensure alignment with the values and principles that contribute to a positive and supportive work environment.


What are your current goals for your business?


We have been very grateful with the growth we’ve seen over the last nine years. As I look ahead, our primary goals are to expand our team to support some of the tremendous growth we’ve experienced in the last year. We’re also aiming to kick the momentum up a notch by nurturing new relationships and opportunities on the commercial side of our business while maintaining and growing our relationships on the residential side of our business. 


I’m sure people are interested in your journey, where should people get in touch with you to learn more about Concetti or reach out for design services?


Of course! I would say head to our website concetti.studio on there you will find a sign up for our newsletter we put out monthly, as well as the links to all our social media accounts. Please follow along and reach out with any questions! 

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