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As a new class of interior designers prepares to enter the industry, Jaipur Living opened the floor to Savannah College of Art and Design textile student Alejandra Fiallos. From tips for new graduates and breakthrough career moments to favorite colors and artist inspirations, she asks award-winning designer Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs her nine burning questions. Here’s an exclusive look inside their conversation.

A tan rug in a living room with white furnishings and black and white art

Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs placed this Second Sunset rug in the living room of a Dallas home. Photographed by Matti Gresham

What would you consider the No. 1 tip for navigating the design industry as a recent college graduate?

Get involved in industry events and associations to find your like-minded tribe. Not only will you discover valuable resources, but you make new friends who become trusted industry colleagues. One of my favorites is the Interior Design Society. I can name 10 friends just off the top of my head who would drop everything to help me if I needed it.

See also: 3 Design Pros Reveal Their Most-Asked Client Questions

What has been a breakthrough moment in your career?

Hiring my first employee. This was one of the scariest decisions I ever made—knowing I was responsible for another person. We are now 10 people strong and clearly that was a good decision! You have to do the things that scare you. Breakthrough is just on the other side.

A wooden chair on top of a blue, cream, yellow and pink rug with square and circle patterns

The Aakar Natural rug is hand-knotted by artisans in India and has a lustrous finish thanks to its rayon from bamboo fibers.

At what point do rugs and textiles come into the process when designing a space?

We typically build the framework for the main pieces in the room, then select the rug and textiles to complement those choices and bring that element of texture to the space.

What color do you keep returning to?

Always neutrals! Don’t get me wrong I love mustard yellow, rusty oranges, and reds, but I never tire of soft taupes, beiges, and off-whites that soothe and relax.

“One of my favorite things about textile design is its multidisciplinary nature. When designing there are many aspects to consider. How will these materials interact with one another? Do the colors make sense? Will the fabric hold up for its intended use? I am forced to exercise and express my creativity, but also be very logical. It’s through the merging of these two that the magic happens. I have to be innovative and always think one step ahead. It’s like a puzzle… a beautiful, structurally sound puzzle.”
—Alejandra Fiallos, textile artist and designer

What was a challenge you faced when starting your design business? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced was feeling alone. I felt like every hard decision was mine alone to make. I would second guess myself and desperately wish I had someone who understood my world and could offer advice, support, encouragement. I finally put myself out there, as scary as it was at the time, and joined local design chapters. This was life-changing. I very quickly made friends and found my tribe. These individuals have not only celebrated my successes, but have helped me weather the storms.

Is there a designer or artist who really inspires you? What is it you admire about them?

I really love Lauren Liess. She has a fresh and unique approach to her interiors—warm, organic, and inviting.

An artisan stands in front of her handmade one-of-a-kind rug

Part of Jaipur Living‘s Manchaha program, this one-of-a-kind rug was handcrafted by Ganga, a 35-year-old weaver from Ajeetgarh, Rajasthan.

What interiors textile—rugs, throws, pillows, tapestries, upholstery, etc.—are you most drawn to?

I am really into one-of-a-kind vintage textiles. I love to explore flea markets, antique shops, or some of my favorite retailers to source these one-of-a-kind treasures. I also look for something handmade. You just can’t beat the character and story pieces like this bring to a space.

When working with textiles do you prefer color or texture?

Texture all day

See also: How To Brand Your Interior Design Business

What goes into consideration when you’re thinking about collaborating with another creative or brand? What makes you choose to work with them? 

First off, do they share my values? Are they deeply authentic, kind, and are they people of their word? No matter how creative someone may be, if they can’t deliver on their promise, you are stuck with a big fat nothing. I look for relatable, trustworthy people who are truly enjoyable to work with.

Abstract rug with blue, gray, pink, and yellow hues

Fiallos handpicked the best-selling Project Error collection as one of her favorite examples of textile design.