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Meet Gina Hacken of Gina Lauren Interiors in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Hacken.

Gina, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I knew a long time ago back in my college days and probably before then, that I wanted to be an interior designer. Back then, when I was a child, my friends and I would gather in my bedroom and dream up all the different ways to change up my bedroom. I’d even experiment with moving furniture around and I even bought my first antique desk when I was 16 years old. It was just pure instinct. I didn’t even know there was such a career as interior design. I also took a lot of painting and drawing classes as a child, and I was always drawing.

I was trained in high school and in college in fine arts and history of art. When I studied for a year in the south of France, I knew that I had to do something in the field of art. It wasn’t until I sat next to a girl in my final art history class that I saw she always had an architect’s scale with her, furniture templates and rendering pens. One day she told me that she was an Interior Design major, and then that was it. I knew right there I had to do that. That was going to be my career. So I worked for a few years after college and then went back to school and earned a BFA in Interior Design. And I’ve been working in the field since then.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Its been pretty smooth for me. Of course, there are always challenges in your job, or with clients, and with balancing family life. But for the most part, my career path has been pretty smooth. I always knew I wanted to do residential interiors. So I first started working doing kitchen and bath design.

Then the 2008 crash happened and that was huge because no one was doing any design or remodeling projects anymore. Everyone lost their money. So I then went to work for a furniture design company that manufactured and sold their products in retail stores and it was a commission only job. I really loved that, because it was a job where I really had to hustle and learn business skills and how to conduct and sell yourself and your design. I also learned a lot about furniture, drapery, the application of fabric on built-furniture, reupholstering, etc. So I had built up a pretty well-rounded skill-set with my knowledge and expertise in both the kitchen and bath industry as well as furnishings and draperies. This set me up for eventually going out on my own.

But over the course of my career, I always felt that I had to keep up with the technical side of interior design. That is so important when communicating to architects, builders, and clients. If you let it slide, or don’t do it for a while you really can fall off the wagon and it’s very hard to get back into it and that happened to me. When I graduated design school in 2008, I had learned Autocad. But when I went to work, none of my employers were using Autocad. So I didn’t need to use it. But when I went out on my own, I had to re-learn all of it again and I had to teach myself how to do cad all over again.

One of my other struggles I had to learn early on, is that it’s not enough to know how to design. You have to know how to sell yourself because clients want to work with you first. Then comes the design. You can be the best designer in the world, but if you can’t connect to your client, and realize their vision, then you won’t earn their business. And that has been key in how I operate and run my company.

We are dream-makers. We make their dreams reality. And in that process, we become friends with them, and the client-designer relationship then becomes more of a symbiotic one, where you can feed off each other. Those projects end up being the most successful outcomes.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you guys do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
Gina Lauren Interiors is a residential and commercial interior design firm based in Orange County. We specialize in creating interior spaces that allow our clients to thrive in both their personal and business lives. Our interiors inspire and allow our clients to live and work in their most authentic aspects.

Not one of our projects is alike because we are so specialized and cater to that specific need. In doing this, each space is filled with the client’s unique life and business style. The majority of our residential projects are large-scale remodels and build-outs. And our commercial clients are mostly TI.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I think each of my first design jobs both in kitchen and bath design as well as furnishings deserves a lot of the credit. Without that first work experience, learning and building my skills, I would not be able to do what I do now. There is something so vitally important about those first jobs out of school. They teach you and allow you to learn everything about your field/business.

I’ve always had fantastic mentors, who were inspiring and kind and patient. Even though they probably had a lot of pressure to meet sales goals and profitability, they really taught me so much. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to build rapport with a lot of business/industry people that keep me going as well. I’m always learning from everyone I meet in my field. It’s so important to always be learning, to always be in a position of learning something new. You can only grow and get better from there. My family, friends, and my kids are such amazing cheerleaders for me and my team. They are always rooting for me.

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Image Credit:

Tim Manning, Adrian Henson

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