On paper, Caitlin Flemming is living the dream. She owns her own design business, runs a successful blog, lives in one of the coolest cities in the world, and has a beautiful family. Behind the perfection, though, you’ll find what built that dream — hard work, undeniable creativity, and unbreakable passion.
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Together with these skills and talents, Caitlin has created a career trajectory and life worth watching — we can all learn something from her work, whether that be how to balance home and work or how to design the perfectly neutral living room. Read on to learn more about Caitlin and her amazing career!
Name: Caitlin Flemming, Principal Designer of Caitlin Flemming Design and Founder of Sacramento Street
Location: San Francisco, California
Education: BS in International Business and a BS in Marketing (University of San Francisco)
What was your first job and the one transitional skill you learned from it?
My first job in college was working for clothing designer Erica Tanov in San Francisco. I had worked other retail jobs in high school but Erica Tanov was different. Most of the women I was working with were much older than me. They were a close-knit group of confident women who cared about others and taught me great lessons on living in the moment and enjoying even the smallest tasks. I’ve tried to take this with me in everything I do — whether it’s in my own business or how I relate with my children.
I love the thrill of the hunt or designing a custom piece of furniture to fit a client’s needs if we can’t find the piece they’re looking for.
How did you decide to pursue a career as a designer and what’s your advice for those who are also chasing their passion?
I was working for a publishing site right out of college and I was feeling that my creative side was wilting. This is when I started my blog — Sacramento Street. This provided me with a space that I could express my ideas and thoughts. I soon realized I wanted to pursue a career in interior design in addition to my social media work. I transitioned to a job working with a designer in San Francisco. After a year, I decided to strike out on my own. I haven’t looked back since!
What pushed you to create your own design company and how has it been different from what you imagined?
You have no one to answer to when you have your own company. This can be a great thing and also a challenge. There are so many aspects of owning a business — you definitely have to wear each hat. Staying on top of the paperwork can be daunting, but I try to stick to a schedule and always create deadlines for things such as billing, taxes, and accounting. If I didn’t, they would never get done.
The fabulous thing about having your own company is being able to make your own schedule and letting your own inspiration direct your work. Every project I do is fully my own vision. I love the thrill of the hunt or designing a custom piece of furniture to fit a client’s needs if we can’t find the piece they’re looking for. I’ve been lucky to have such wonderful and amazing clients that truly value working together on the space that means so much to them.
Speaking of your company, the styling and design you do is absolutely beautiful. Can you walk us through the process — from meeting the customer to finishing the project?
When I first meet with a potential client, I try to have our initial meeting in their home so I can get an idea of how they live before I begin the process of designing their home. I then ask them to fill out a questionnaire to get an idea of the design style that fits their aesthetic.
After I receive their input, I brainstorm with fabrics, textures, and potential furniture styles. The choices are then narrowed down and presented to them with a moodboard to make sure we are headed in the right direction before we begin sourcing all of the furniture. I try to keep my clients involved in the process so they feel that the end product fits their lifestyle and taste. I always strive to have their personality come through in the design.
When you work with clients so closely you become friends and almost part of their life for a year or more. It’s so rewarding to see how happy a finished home can make your clients feel.
You clearly have a lot of experience through working on various projects. What has been the one you’re most proud of and why?
Each time I finish a project, it’s both exciting to move on to the next project and sad that I won’t have those clients to see on a regular basis. When you work with clients so closely you become friends and almost part of their life for a year or more. It’s so rewarding to see how happy a finished home can make your clients feel.
Recently, I’ve begun to help a client with a total remodel on a house I decorated a few years ago. They are finally creating their dream home. I find helping the client figure out the best way for a home to function to be highly rewarding.
How would you describe your design style and in what ways can it be seen in your everyday life?
My design aesthetic is neutral, serene, and effortless. I don’t like over-decorated rooms and believe every space should reflect my clients. I don’t want a cookie cutter look. I like to bring in their own artwork or even items they’ve purchased in their travels. Clients complete a comprehensive survey before I ever begin designing a home.
Your lifestyle and design blog, Sacramento Street, is so uplifting and fun to read! You cover different topics that span from entertainment to food. What’s your secret to keeping up with your blog while also producing relatable content?
I have some topics that I do on a monthly basis. For example, Natalie Bowen, a florist and dear friend, puts together a flower shoot once a month. I have to say, I don’t always feel that I’m keeping up with the content. I do my best to keep it fresh and alive. Writing is a passion for me so I actually enjoy the process.
Does having your blog affect your company? If so, what’s the most important way it has influenced it?
My blog is where it all began. It gave me a forum to explore what I love. It definitely affects my design business since many of my clients were followers prior to becoming my clients. It’s a great way to demonstrate what my style is and if readers like it, they may become my clients.
My blog is where it all began. It gave me a forum to explore what I love. It definitely affects my design business since many of my clients were followers prior to becoming my clients.
We love that traveling is important to you! Tell us your favorite place you’ve visited and how it has impacted you as a designer.
Yes, I love traveling and consider it an important part of developing my aesthetic. Mexico had a tremendous impact on my love of design. I grew up in Mexico City for much of my childhood and I have family still living there. I would say my trip to Morocco and another one to Istanbul had tremendous impacts on the direction of my design work. I find stepping into unfamiliar worlds heighten my senses. This is when my creative juices really start to flow!
As a stylist, designer, and blogger, you’re constantly tapping into your creative side! Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from everything around me. I live in a beautiful city and I try to fully appreciate it. Daily walks into the Presidio, views of the Bay, or crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge, are all ways I can find nourishment for my creative side. I also like to travel as much as possible. Lately, it’s less, with two small children.
What does the future hold for your company?
As social media bends and changes, this aspect of my business continues to sway and change. I enjoy that aspect and like that it is ever changing. I want to continue writing and see where that leads me. And the homes I decorate will always keep me developing my style as a designer.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be present in life and don’t dwell too much on the past or the future.
Caitlin Flemming is The Everygirl…
Most recent beauty find?
I’m mildly obsessed with True Botanicals skin care — it completely transformed my skin.
Your camera roll is full of…
Photos of my kids, inspiration, and projects. I’m constantly taking photos everywhere I go because they bring me inspiration later on for all of the things I design.
The music playing in your car right now?
Your favorite weekend activity?
Lazy mornings with family at home.
If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it be and why?
I would have to say Oprah Winfrey. She has so many layers to her life and I would love to hear stories from each part of her journey to where she is now. I’m not someone who obsesses over celebrities but she’s been incredibly influential to my generation.