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Exploring Life & Business with Elizabeth Backup of Backup Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Backup.

Hi Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I’m a Pennsylvania native, and I moved to LA after college to pursue a career in entertainment. After bouncing from WME to a few other jobs, I began to accept the fact that my heart was not in the industry. I did some soul searching and practical research, exploring my interests and passions, coming to the realization that I wanted to be an interior designer. At the time, I was working at a job that felt meaningless to me, and my father was dying. I knew I needed a change, and yet jumping into something new was a terrifying prospect. When I was laid off from that position, it was the push I needed to take a big risk and jump into the design world.

I emailed everyone I knew in the industry (very few people, mind you), letting them know that I was immediately available to the intern. The stars aligned, and the very next day, I was driving up to the home of a designer who had been kind enough to have coffee with me a few months prior. Under her tutelage, I was privy to a two years apprenticeship that exposed me to many aspects of residential interior design. From there, I went off on my own in 2017 and have run my studio since then.

We specialize in residential remodels, but I love to balance those out with decorating projects, which have a completely different tempo. Our clientele includes busy professionals, young families, and entertainment industry figures.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
A smooth road, hah! Does anyone answer this question with a resounding “yes!”? My start in design was relatively smooth and fortuitous, but it came after a difficult few years of family tragedies and generally feeling lost. I felt so alone in my directionlessness, but the more I started to talk about it, the more I found that others were going through the same professional soul searching.

Starting off in an entry-level position in a new industry also presents challenges, which I’m sure many others have experienced – I took a pay cut and gave up the stability and benefits that my previous jobs had provided. I recognize that coming from an upper middle class privileged background was in part what allowed me to take this risk and scrape by during those times, knowing that there was a safety net somewhere below me should I start to fall.

In starting my own business, I made so many mistakes. Not only is interior design an imperfect science, but running a small business can sometimes feel like you’re shooting in the dark – both when it comes to figuring out how to comply with laws, regulations, and taxes and when it comes to managing clients. I don’t regret my decision to forego grad school in design, but I do sometimes wish that I had worked at multiple firms before striking off on my own, as it would have helped me to avoid so many errors along the way.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Backup Design?
Our design studio is called Backup Design. My last name is Backup (yes, really!), and while I haven’t always had a simple relationship with my complicated and funny last name, I’ve certainly learned to love and embrace it. We specialize in residential design, with an emphasis on remodels. We approach each project with an eye to the architecture and context of the home, with the goal of bringing the best version of a client’s style to life. We’re not here to change what you like, just to help you expand your tastes, execute well, and create a beautiful home that is simultaneously reflective of your personality and respectful of your budget.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
I’m so fortunate to have a fantastic partner (screenwriter/producer Isaac Aptaker) and three crazy and completely delightful dogs. I am someone who loves cooking dinner at home with a glass of wine in hand just as much as she loves dining out with friends. I’m a traveler at heart. I really love sharing our home with loved ones, and I can’t believe that I get to have a career working in a field that I love and running my own business.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nursery: Charmaine David @charmizzle All other photos: Michael Clifford Photography @michaelcliffordphotography

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