Q&A with Dara Deshe Segal

Dara Deshe Segal launched Simply Framed in 2014 to make online custom framing more convenient, less expensive, and available from home. She shared with us her personal design style, career inspiration, and who she looks up to in the world of female entrepreneurs.

Describe your style in 6 words or less.
Timeless, eclectic, modern but always comfortable.

What inspired this career path for you? 
I started Simply Framed to solve a problem. I love collecting art, and my biggest obstacle for showcasing my growing collection was the time-consuming and expensive chore of custom framing. I heard the same thing from friends and colleagues: it took them months—often years—to rally the time and money to get their art out of storage and on its way to the local frame shop. Our mission at Simply Framed is to provide a convenient, affordable mail-in service that makes it easy for people put the things they love on their walls.

What is your go-to source for inspiration? 
I am addicted to reading interiors magazines for décor inspiration and check Instagram often to discover emerging artists.

Who do you look up to in the world of female entrepreneurs? 
Dr. Katie Rodan, founder of Proactiv and Rodan + Fields, is a visionary. She’s always thinking 20 steps ahead of everyone in her field. And you’d think she would have been satisfied with just one powerhouse business, right? But she’s continued to evolve and redefine her success. I also really admire Liz Libré, founder of Lewis (the sweetest children’s bedding!) and creative studio Linda & Harriett. She’s stayed very true to herself, puts family first, and she sticks to what she does really well. I’m constantly inspired by her latest side project. I also admire Jenni Kayne as a female entrepreneur because she epitomizes what a modern lifestyle brand can be.

What have been the highlights and challenges of starting your own business?
Seeing the growth of our business over the past four years has been a huge highlight. We get to work with some of our favorite brands every day, like Rifle Paper Co., photographer Max Wanger, and West Elm. Our organic growth has really validated the fact that we created something, an online custom framing service, that the world was lacking, and that’s felt extremely rewarding. Finding the right individuals for our team has been both a challenge and a highlight. Since there are only a handful of us, everyone has to be comfortable multitasking and really being accountable for their realm of our business. But when you find the right people and all team members are doing their part, it’s extremely rewarding!

What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own companies, or grow into top leadership positions?
Nobody can do it alone, so you should feel comfortable asking for help and surrounding yourself with the right people who will be accountable for different parts of your business. I also think one of the main reasons I’ve gotten this far is by being fearless. If you want a meeting with someone, do everything you can to make it happen. And at the same time, get comfortable being told no! “No” often means “Not right now” so don’t be discouraged or give up. Working with partners is all about timing—their timing! I also have a few workplace mantras. “Done is better than perfect” helps me keep forward-momentum. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” gives me perspective and inspiration, even when it seems like things are moving too slowly. And then, of course, “Do what you love”. If you’re in a corporate job, it’s helpful to look a few steps up the ladder and determine if you want to be doing what your boss’s boss’s boss is doing. If you don’t, you might be on the wrong ladder.

Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase, or quote.
I have two. Conveniently, both validate my personal never-ending quest for more beautiful art and objects! “Design is never done” and “You’re not a collector until you run out of space”.

Which blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
Following Victoria of sfgirlbybay never gets old for me; she truly has a gift for finding the best of the best on Pinterest and from international publishers and tastemakers! Lately I’ve been devouring the old-world beauty and unexpected design ideas in The World of Interiors in print. As for TV show: Gilmore Girls.

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