If you ask Joelle Smith what she does for a living, she will tell you “I’m in the Business of Transformation”. For Joelle, her business If Walls Could Talk is about more than interior design – it’s about identifying potential, implementing a vision and transforming a mere dream into a beautiful reality. Her mission is to improve spaces and the way people interact with them.
We recently had a chat with Joelle to get to know more about her, her business, and why she decided to join Branson Centre’s scaleup accelerator programme.
Tell us about your business:
If Walls Could Talk is an interior design firm based in Jamaica. Our aesthetic is a modern, signature style that inherently represents the beauty of our island. We specialise in residential & commercial design & execution.
We believe great design is an art that infuses creativity, aesthetics and functionality. If Walls Could Talk aims to offer great design in every project we undertake. The joy we experience is in the transformation of, not only the spaces, but the lives we touch with every project.
How did you hear about the Branson Centre and why did you decide to join its accelerator programme?
I am also co-founder of The Hub Coworking, Jamaica’s first coworking space. I met Branson Centre’s CEO Lisandra Rickards at our coworking space soon after it opened, and immediately became a member of the Branson family.
In 2017, I was contracted to manage Branson Centre’s relocation project from Montego Bay to Kingston, collaborating remotely with Virgin Unite on the design. I also worked with Branson Centre on other business development initiatives.
After being involved with Branson Centre in so many other ways, the accelerator programme was a clear choice for me when I decided to scale my business.
Identify 2 – 3 transformational benefits you believe your business will experience at the end of the programme?
- How to plan and execute a growth strategy
- Clarity on the prerequisites for growth and the existing deficiencies within my business
- The ability to analyse and implement the necessary changes in business to create an environment for growth
Tell us a little about your background and where your passion for business began?
I have had a passion for designing and decorating spaces, since childhood, but instead of pursuing it full-time, I chose to pursue a corporate career in finance for 12 years, only executing design projects as a hobby on the side. As a child, I never considered entrepreneurship as a career path. In fact, I had no clue what I wanted to pursue until 2015 when I left my corporate job and launched If Walls Could Talk. Looking back, however, I can see that I have always had a passion for business. I had the knack for identifying a ‘problem’ and providing a solution at a cost.
At 15 years old, I used to sell personalised music CDs and was the first person to introduce what we called ‘burnt CDs’ at the time to many of my classmates. This, I would say, was my first business endeavour.
After that, I started several other initiatives including a mystery shopper business, a maternity clothing manufacturing business, and a Mary Kay Makeup business. But, these were never operated with any real intention for sustainability.
What is the most important thing that running a business has taught you?
Being an entrepreneur has taught me the value of running a customer-centric operation. I have also learned the value of managing cash flow. Running a business is challenging, but I believe that mastery of these two areas can determine the success of a business.
How does your business benefit the wider community and the environment?
If Walls Could Talk employs tradesmen across various geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. We also ensure that we repurpose items/materials wherever possible in our projects.
What does the future hold for your business?
We plan to be able to meet the needs of our modern customer by incorporating a digital method of designing spaces into our portfolio. We understand that the way people interact with their environment and how they access information and services is constantly evolving. It is important for us, not just to keep pace, but to be a step ahead.