My Design Journey: Clara Jung on Switching Careers and Adding a Dose of Whimsy to Clients' Spaces

Clara Jung headshot.

Suzanna Scott

Clara Jung of Banner Day Interiors knows how to hustle. Having formerly worked as a lawyer,  the creative launched her company—now five women strong—seven years ago and hasn’t looked back. As part of our series, My Design Journey, we spoke with Jung about her major career transition, the process of building a business from the ground up, and one of her favorite career highlights thus far—it’ll probably surprise you. 

On Her Major Career Transition

Though this is Jung’s seventh year working in the design industry, she had previously pursued an entirely different career: law, which she practiced for six years. “When I realized that my heart was no longer in the legal realm and wanted to make the switch, no one would hire me since I didn't have the requisite technical skills,” Jung reflects. “So, I just jumped in with both feet and started my own firm.” 

Fortunately, as she moved into the design field, Jung was able to draw upon many of the skills that she cultivated in her previous profession. “Whether I’m running a case or a renovation project, they often require the same project management tools: attention to detail, strategic thinking, preparation, and dealing with many different personalities,” she explains. “Perhaps the strongest transferable skill from my experience as a lawyer is the ability to communicate directly and transparently with clients, vendors, and the building team.” 

Luckily, perseverance and the ability to hustle can take you very far.

Jung’s ability to stay motivated and proactive was key as she formed her own design firm. “It was extremely scary to make this career transition as an adult,” she says. “We all have financial obligations, and to leave a secure professional position for an industry I didn't train for was fairly daunting.”

Jung was unsure whether a lack of formal training would affect her chances of succeeding in her new role. “Luckily, perseverance and the ability to hustle can take you very far,” she notes. 

On Misconceptions Prior to Working as a Designer

“My main misconception about the design industry was similar to the misconception that the general public has about this profession: that designers spend the majority of their time designing, picking paint colors, fabrics, and furniture,” Jung reflects.

In reality, Jung spends a significant portion of her day focusing on execution and project management. “Of course we put a great deal of thought and care into our designs, but the majority of the focus is on execution and delivery, which is actually the most crucial part of the process,” she explains. 

On the Process of Building Her Company and Securing Clients

After launching her firm, Jung was responsible for developing a client roster, hiring a team, and simply getting her business off the ground. “Here, my legal background definitely helped,” she says. “Not in the way I anticipated though.”

Jung designed spaces for some of her former law school classmates, some of her very first and very loyal clients. She adds, “It helps significantly to have a strong personal network who is willing to hire you, and I think that's the case for any profession.” 

She abstained from hiring team members too quickly, at first hiring a part-time designer and gradually expanding over time. “I wanted the financial flexibility of contractor hours, which can ebb and flow with upcoming projects,” she explains.

Jung’s team slowly grew until recently, when she realized that our upward trend in work would be here to stay at least for the near future, she explains. “We’re currently a strong team of five women, and I feel that we're just starting to reach our stride.” 

On Her Design Style

Scroll through Banner Day Interiors’ portfolio of projects and you’ll be confronted with thoughtful pops of color, beautiful wallpaper, and delightful neutrals—truly a bit of everything.

“My personal style has a sense of updated timelessness, bursts of color, and definitely a good dose of whimsy,” Jung states. “There are common themes in all of our projects: some color, accessibility, warmth. Yet, I don't have a signature style per se. I strongly believe that my job is to help distill and edit my client's styles. This philosophy is reflected in our portfolio: each project has a distinct personality with a slight Banner Day overlay showing charm and personality.” 

There are common themes in all of our projects: some color, accessibility, warmth. Yet, I strongly believe that my job is to help distill and edit my client's styles.

On a Fangirl Moment and What Is to Come

Jung is proud to recently have seen her work featured on HouseBeautiful.com, and her projects have been published in other places, too, including Rue Magazine, Domino, and Dwell. But Jung, a spin bike enthusiast, has also witnessed some special unexpected recognition. “As an avid Peloton rider, I got a real kick out of Emma Lovewell liking one of the bathrooms I did on Instagram.” 

What lies ahead for Jung’s company? “I'm hoping Banner Day will continue to grow and keep getting more exciting projects,” she says. Jung is proud of the trust her company has built with clients and their friends. “I really emphasize that we’re very adept at design, but we’re also excellent at developing long-term relationships with our clients because we're really able to deliver a high level of service—something I’m extremely proud of. The vast majority of our projects come through referrals, which says quite a bit.” 

And as for the design industry as a whole? It’s “evolving for the better,” Jung says. “It has become more welcoming of not only designers of diverse backgrounds, but also those with different philosophies on how to run their design business. These are all positive developments, as innovation in any industry makes it stronger and more resilient.”

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