Ashley's Window /
Sasha Bikoff is known for her vibrant, maximalist designs. Bikoff has been a hugely influential player in the design community ever since her splashy debut at Kips Bay Decorator Show House in 2018. She recently collaborated with Versace and has launched her own line of products, from carpet to lighting. Sasha talked with collaborator and friend, Chad Stark, about her process and advice for building a brand.
How did you start your design business?
When I first started out, I basically decorated all my friend's apartments and they didn't have any choice! I made my best friend paint her dining room lacquered Emerald green. And I made her wallpaper her foyer and I told her what to buy. I installed everything, and then I [photographed] them. In the beginning you have to be pushy and you have to make it work.
How do you develop your signature style?
I start my job with a theme. And [the theme] really resonates with who they are. All the furnishings and fabrics and fittings revolve around that theme. People ask, what's your taste, what's your style? And I say my style is good style. So, you have to be able to design all different types of things and with all different types of styles. All my work is so different, but if you look at a project of mine, you can immediately say, oh, that's a Sasha Bikoff project.
What's your advice for a young designer looking to build a client base and possibly start a business?
My advice is to accept every opportunity you can get, even if you're not getting paid or you're getting paid very little because you want to build a portfolio. So in the beginning, make sure you [photograph] everything, get a website up and try and get press. Put your work out there and the clients and people will come in. But you need to have something to show and there's nothing wrong with reaching out to people who may need your service--friends, friends of friends, family members. But the only way to do that is to be able to have work to show. So, make sure you photograph everything.
What’s your advice for getting people to notice your brand?
You get jobs through your website and through Instagram. Email editors, blogs, other Instagram accounts, ask them to post your work. You have to push your brand. It's so competitive nowadays. So, you have to really find your own style, your own aesthetics.
Would you ever do a free zoom consultation with someone in this environment?
I give advice, I tell my clients everything that I would do. The initial conversation is important to getting a job. It's important to share and having open communication of what you would do [with a project].
Do you have any good advice for other designers and sourcing leads to keep their business alive?
Support your vendors that you have long standing relationships with. Places like 1stdibs, Instagram, and Chairish are amazing. I spend a lot of time on Instagram and I find great designers and great furniture companies from all over the world. Sourcing is research and you just need to put the time into research. I save things on my phone, I make folders. So, when it's time for me to hit the ground running, I've created a lot of content of furniture that I love, that I can buy.
How do you manage balancing the client's needs and wants with your vision for them?
I look at it as a collaboration. My job is to push my client as far as possible. My job as a designer is to get them to cross boundaries and to give them what they don't think that they want and what they didn't think that they need. You push as hard as you can for that bold color. You push for those wild pieces of furniture. And if you get some, you've succeeded in your job.