After learning the ropes of owning a design business alongside a friend, Cortney Bishop set off on her own to create a new firm based in Charleston, S.C. A decade and lots of hard work later, she’s built a successful business teeming with creative collaborations, a passionate staff and plenty of new and innovative ideas. In part, Cortney credits her company’s success to the changing tides of the Charleston cultural scene, which has been a big source of inspiration for her firm.
Today, you can find the Cortney Bishop Design team in an open, airy space ideal for collaborating, tossing around ideas and maybe even for sharing a few yummy Charleston dishes! As part of our Charleston co-working space tour, we looked in on the company’s portion of the building to see where the magic happens and to find out what’s on Cortney’s desk (spoiler alert: not much, but she’s got a great excuse as to why).
Where did you get the idea for Cortney Bishop Design?
I started my first design firm with a friend after marrying and moving to Knoxville, Tenn., in 2000. After a successful five-year run, a newborn son and a much-anticipated move to Charleston, I decided it was time to branch off on my own and dig my heels in.
Sum up your mission in three words.
Creative, inspiring and collaborations.
How does Charleston’s culture inspire your work?
Charleston, despite all of its momentous history and architectural charm, is in the throws of change—a Renaissance, really. It’s very inspiring. New ideas and possibilities are coming to the table every day, and that momentum is very exciting to be a part of.
How do you utilize technology and apps to enhance the productivity of your business?
Oh, wow. My iPhone is often my lifeline to the business. I count on it all day as I jump from project to project and place to place to stay in the loop. And social media-wise, we’ve only really just started to capitalize on the power of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter over the last six months. It has brought former clients back to us for more work and introduced us to new folks, too.
Why did you decide to set-up shop in a co-working space?
I loved the idea of getting out of the heart of Charleston and moving to the city’s outskirts. I was impressed by the development company’s hope to revitalize an area of Charleston that could use some TLC, and to bring together creative-minded businesses and professionals.
Did you design the space yourself? Take us through the process.
Yes! Back in the day, our space was a major oil company’s headquarters, which had layers of different materials packed on the walls. The beauty was in the original plaster and brickwork. We used local students from the College of the Building Arts to provide continuity in the aesthetic by applying marmorino plaster finish to the wainscot. We also painted the concrete floors to showcase the plaster walls. The result is a tribute to the old and an homage to the new.
Spill! What’s your favorite Charleston dish to indulge in?
Xiao Bao Biscuit’s Okonomiyaki with a fried egg on top, paired with its Mapo Mule—delish!
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since becoming a business owner?
How much time do you have? Biggest lesson: surround yourself with good people who are better at the things you’ve come to realize you are just not great at. Second biggest lesson: you can’t do everything—trust your people.
What’s on your desk right now?
Not much because the truth is that I rarely sit at it! My team sits outside my office in a big, collaborative open space and I want in on that action! But on my desk, you’d find tons of scribbly Post-it notes, some vintage boxes, copies of floor plans and elevations, a Maidenhair fern in need of water, and probably some chocolate candy wrappers.
What’s been the most exciting opportunity for you and your business so far?
Working with Jamestown Properties on all kinds of projects, but mostly Mixson, which is a multi-faceted community located in the center of the city. And now we’re currently custom designing a neighborhood there with one of our favorite architects and builders.
Flats or heels?
What’s one design trend you wish would just die already?
“That pop o’ color.” Trends are moving toward more color—let’s embrace it!