• Lauren Leopold

Changing career: From teacher to interiors business owner

Updated: Feb 18

Career Change Chronicles is my regular column about brilliant women who’ve changed careers to follow their dreams. Here, we meet my client Nikki Deakin, who side hustled alongside her 9-5 before making the leap from her teaching career to go full time with her business ND Interior Design. She lives in Kings Newton, Derbyshire with her husband Ben, 2 year old Edward and Stanley the dog. You can find her on Instagram @ndinterior_design


When did you change career to start a business & what made you do it?

I’d always loved interiors and was starting to get disillusioned with teaching. The business actually began as a side hustle about 4 years ago. Then I got a big interiors job while I was on maternity leave from my teaching job and my challenge was being brave enough not to go back to it after my leave was up. But I knew deep down, as scary as it was I’d be so annoyed with myself if I was weak and didn't take the jump. But being a teacher meant that I always would have the option to go back to it, maybe not as high up, but the option was there, which was comforting. But I also knew I might not have all this potential business again.

How long had you been thinking about a career change and what made you decide to finally do it?

I don't know if I ever was. Subconsciously I think I knew deep down when I went on mat leave that I wouldn't return, although I guess it must have been written in the stars as it just organically evolved. It is funny though because I know the people who were talking behind my back when I started are now the ones asking my advice!

What process did you go through to decide on the type of business you anted to start into & how did you get started?

I’d always loved interiors, so it was a no brainer. When I did up my house I shared it on instagram. I didn't think, I just posted on the ‘gram (well after I hired a professional photographer to take photos of my house! ). I then started offering consulting on the side, at first helping my family for free for more images for my portfolio. I then used these on my website.

During that time I also trained with KLC as a part-time course and moved on to a full diploma with the Interior Design Institute. It was a learning curve and it still is. Maybe it’s my education background but I love learning and developing, so I’m always looking to evolve.

When you were side hustling, how did you manage your time between your 9-5 and your hustle?

It was evening and weekends. It was always fun, never a chore though.

How did you make the leap?

On maternity leave I got the biggest job of my career with the best client, designing not just a room but renovating a whole house. Looking back now I still don't know how I did it with a newborn. But it allowed me freedom and flexibility. Plus gave me an outlet from just being a mum and it helped my mental health. Also during my maternity leave it made me realise actually all the work you put in at school is often overlooked and ultimately I felt undervalued and not appreciated. So I thought why go back to that? It was a long and hard decision to make because giving up a full time job I also loved and losing that security is scary. But I have the most supportive family and friends who said it was a no brainer.

What’s life like for you now that you're running your own business?

It’s awesome as I now have flexibility, an income and freedom. I can work from anywhere. So much so I moved to Spain in the winter once for 2 months - it just meant more calls and emails. Although it can be stressful, I love it. I feel so proud to have created something like this. Watching it evolve and looking back at how far I have come is wild. Some days it's hard, but most days it's awesome and I feel so proud I have made this work.

What have been your biggest achievements?

I’m so proud of my portfolio in general. I just need to showcase that more with an updated website, which is coming soon. See, there’s always something to improve! I also was headhunted for a podcast on interior design, which made me feel a mixture of scared and extremely proud - it’s taking me out of my comfort zone but it was worth it. Some of my work will also be featured in a magazine this year too so watch this space...

What have been the challenges?

Late payers are always awkward and people messaging on social media for free advice at all hours. These are both things I still struggle with. Not to mention managing trades people!

What have you learnt along the way?

  • To take my time

  • Be proactive rather than reactive

  • Have confidence in my beliefs

  • Stand up to contractors and ensure the end result is how I envisioned!

  • To challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone.

What 3 tips would you give to people wanting to change career?

  • Believe in yourself.

  • Don't think just do

  • You got this!

How has having a coach helped you along the way?

I didn't understand until my 121 zoom chat with Lauren how powerful that 90 minutes would be. It was a game changer. I came away with targets, growth ideas and confidence. Just having someone to talk to and understand was amazing. What I have learnt I am still sticking by today. I can’t wait for another one!


Do you feel like you've got a business inside of you like Nikki did and need some focus and clarity on how to make it happen? Or maybe you already run a side hustle or business and want to take it to the next level. Either way, book in a free discovery call to see if we vibe!https://laurenleopoldcoaching.as.me/DiscoveryCall


Meet Lauren


Career Change & Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen


Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women change career, start side hustles and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.


Find out how I can help you.


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