Meet Kristen Murney, the owner and mastermind of TEN by Kristen. TEN by Kristen specializes in organizational and design consulting services for Hoosiers and businesses looking to reclaim their space.
Full of creativity and fun spirit, Kristen looks at the world a little differently than most people. She brings beauty, comfort, functionality, and a little bit of whimsy to every space she designs. What excites her most is to be able to help individuals, families, and small businesses improve their surroundings and, in turn, their lives. Whatever your need with your space – inside or out – Kristen can come up with a solution. Get to know this design maven on a deeper level as she shares how she got started, why she swears by Feng Shui, and the best advice she has ever received.
Why did you decide to start this business?
I owned a business prior to this, but it was a highly stressful job. I wanted something new that allowed me to control my schedule and complement my family’s schedule. Fast forward to one day when I was in the car with my husband trying to decide where we should install a new water feature in our home. We were contemplating where to place it, then I asked, “I wonder what feng shui says?” Dan (my husband) looked over at me and said, “I have never seen you get this excited about anything before, maybe this is what you should be doing with your life.” I had always said that I would love to be an interior decorator. It was at that moment, I decided to make the jump and hire a career coach to help me get started.
Did you ever plan to become an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if I ever thought about it before. When I was a kid, we had a job shadowing day for school, and since I said I wanted to be an interior decorator my mom managed to set me up with a furniture store in Richmond, Indiana. I shadowed their interior decorator for a half day. She left me with some books and asked what I could put together for one of her clients in need of a furnished den. I could tell she just wanted to give me something to do, but when she came back she told me that my ideas were “pretty good.”
I would say that my interest in entrepreneurship evolved when I went into eminent domain work. After some time, I realized that there was not much opportunity for growth, and eventually decided to start something on my own. I was friends with and worked alongside other entrepreneurs, so it was kind of an easy transition. From working for a private firm to my own business, I had already made a name for myself in the area. However, I don’t think I ever envisioned myself becoming an entrepreneur, it just happened with time.
What philosophies or strategies are at the core of your business?
I think an aspect of how I operate was affected by the realization I had when Dan told me that I should consider quitting my previous role due to stress. At its core, TEN by Kristen is here to help people live comfortably in their space. I chose to do start this business because it is what makes me happy. I want to get out there and make a difference in somebody else’s life. Honestly, 90% I don’t feel like I’m “working” because I’m having fun! At the root of everything, I love my job and I want you to love the space that you are in.
You promote that you provide “Feng Shui concepts with Midwest sensibilities.” What makes Feng Shui different than other interior decorating methods?
I could do a whole deep dive on Feng Shui, but the bottom line is questioning “how does this space make you feel?” Coincidentally, a lot of Feng Shui concepts I had learned, I had already applied to my home.
For one of my clients (Office Evolution located in Carmel), I got to help create their office space from the ground up. I had to decide where the color would be placed, which artwork to feature, etc. The owner says that guests always comment on how nice the space feels. Although their clients are coming in to deal with legal issues (that may be taxing), the space itself should make them feel good (and it does)!
Why is supporting local important to you?
From a standpoint of supporting local, I try to go to as many local businesses as possible. Especially during the pandemic, I have seen one of my favorite restaurants go out of business, and I considered some of those staff members to be my friends. If we could have propped up local businesses more during the tough times, we could have more vibrant, unique businesses in our community.
Best advice you’ve ever received (career-related or not)?
My friend recently offered the simplest insight on this topic. She said, “just do it, just live your life.” When I look back on my career, it all makes sense. Joy comes from being your authentic self. Follow what excites you, and continue to live in the moment. Don’t hold too much value in others’ opinions. There’s a way to create a career out of your passion, in some way.
What advice would you give to those thinking of starting their own business?
It can be hard taking that first step. There’s a lot of planning involved, but just starting planning now! If you prepare yourself now, you’ll be ready for the future.
What is the greatest challenge in your industry?
There are two sides to my business: interior decorating and organization. Interior decorating is on the easier side. My clients are ready to make the change, espcially if they are requesting home staging.
On the home organization side, clients can be afraid to make that call. It can be hard to let go. I’ve felt that from clients many times, but I’m pretty good at making people feel comfortable.
Can you offer us one of your favorite organization tips you like to share with clients?
One of my clients very early on needed a spare bedroom organized and re-purposed into an office. I remember sorting through so many piles of her things. She always followed up with “where is this going to go?” I had to remind her that we were not that far into the process yet, and that “the mess has to get messier before it gets pretty.”
If you look at a messy room to tidy up, it feels like too much. Just sort through that first jumbled box/pile in a different room. You can focus on one thing at a time if you take that first step.
How can your clients maintain their newly organized space?
Every person is unique. Their “organization pitfall” can vary. I help them create a system that makes sense for them. I prioritize what they need to access regularly and make sure that their things are labeled very clearly.
For instance, there was one couple that I worked with who was overwhelmed by junk mail. I asked “why are you bringing this into your space? You can open the mail in the mail room, and shred it before you come upstairs.” I can come up with ideas on the spot tailored to my client as I get to know them.
As a second example, there was a client who had an abundance of nice clothes that no longer fit. I suggested that she donate to Dress for Success. Once I told her that her donation can help somebody get a job, she was totally on board. I remind my clients that they can lift others up with the things that they already have (but may not need anymore).
What is one fun fact about yourself or your business that people may not know about?
- I previously worked at Disney World, and I still carry that little bit of magic in me 😊.
- A lot of small businesses don’t realize that I work with small businesses. Many people think that I only work with homeowners. If you are a small business that needs a office refresh, I can help you. It makes a world of difference for your clients who come in. I would love to help you make your space “feel good.” I get a lot of joy helping people take what they love and creating their new space they use daily!
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