Hailey McGinty of H & G Designs

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The introduction of social media into our lives has opened an endless stream of information, inspiration and opportunity for all, especially when it comes to building and interior design. One person who can vouch for this is Hailey McGinty, one half of H & G Designs on the Sunshine Coast.

Hailey is a self-made designer who, alongside her partner, Glenn, transformed her passion for building and renovating into a full-time career, with a little help from social media. She’s catapulted from humble side-hustle beginnings in 2014 to astonishing success of having her design and build products featured in Home Beautiful, Inside Out, Real Living, Grand Designs Australia, and more.

You’re probably wondering; how’d she managed that? It’s your lucky day, because we had a chat with Hailey to find out exactly how she used social media to drive growth and achieve incredible results for her business.

 H & G Designs Instagram feed.

1.     Firstly, let’s get to know you. Can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Of course; I’m Hailey, founder and owner of lifestyle and interiors company H & G Designs. H & G Designs is a multifaceted business comprising an online store featuring a range of functional and aesthetically pleasing storage and display products. Think; shelves, hanging rails, mirrors and the like. The other side of the business is interior design consulting, which involves designing spaces, purchasing furniture and choosing finishes for a range of clients, from home renovators to building companies and everyone in between. Additionally, my partner, Glenn and I design and build houses for our own portfolio.

2.     What does a day in the life of Hailey McGinty look like?

Each day is so different, and that’s what I really love about what I do. Generally, the first few work hours of the day are spent distributing orders from my online store, whilst the rest of the day depends on the types of jobs I’m working on at the time, and can include time spent on site for client or personal build projects, computer design work, cabinetry planning, completing client finish schedules or on the backend of the online store. I also set aside time to visit local suppliers and stay in the loop for new products for my clients.

3.     What triggered H & G Designs – can you tell us how it started?

It started organically! My partner, Glenn, and I had just renovated our first property and we’d managed to secure a block to build our first house from scratch. Once we finished the build, we realised we didn’t allow a large chunk of the budget for furniture, so we’d spend our weekends designing and making custom pieces to fill our home. I began posting photos on social media; one thing lead to another and before I knew it, a high-profile Melbourne interiors store had contacted me with the intention of stocking my products. Not long after, H & G became my full-time job, and almost five years on, I haven’t looked back

 We’re loving this leather strap side table!

4.     In what capacity do you use social media for H & G Designs? What are your platforms of choice?

Design is a highly visual industry, so Instagram is my platform of choice. It serves as an online portfolio of my design work and products. To maintain an authentic reflection of my work capabilities, I exclusively post my own work, or images that feature my products. Screenshotting content and reposting inspo images can be an easy way to create a following, however I think my Instagram community trust and recognise my work as my own, and it provides confidence that I’m representing H & G designs authentically.

5.     How do you use Instagram to drive business?

Instagram has recently made the sales link a lot more efficient for consumers through tap shopping facilities, and I think it’s a great way to draw sales. To avoid being too in-your-face sales oriented, I don’t use the feature on all my posts, rather I find scheduling tap shopping posts every four or five posts provides a convenience for customers to easily access direct links to purchase whilst maintaining the pure passion I have for sharing the pieces I’ve created.

6.     What do you love about social media for your business?

I love interacting with my customers, receiving DMs of spaces from customers asking for advice, or getting tagged in customer shots and seeing where my products have ended up. It’s rewarding for me to connect with my customer base. From a business perspective, I love the fact that you can essentially reach an audience for *free*. I say ‘free’ however there’s still a lot of time and energy that streams into the final product/project shot, however having the ability to avoid a huge outlay of money is a great thing for small business owners.

7.     What do you think the future of social media for business looks like for you?

I think the future of social media for H & G Designs will head towards more video content, collaboration with other small businesses and sharing the design process with followers.

8.     Time to spill the beans – what’s the secret formula you’ve used to gain a 31.5K (and rising) following?

Complete honesty - timing! I was fortunate enough to start my business and Instagram five years ago, before the algorithm and paid posts arrived on the scene. Back in the day, you could curate a cool image, post it and instantly it’d appear throughout all your followers’ feeds at the precise moment you posted it.

Nowadays, Instagram is a trickier platform to navigate for small businesses, and there seems to be more value in stories now. As for a secret formula; I think that’s where the value of specialists like the April Ford team come into play!

9.     Where do you seek inspiration for your social media content?

Mainly from my home or projects I’ve worked on. Glenn and I build and move every year or two, so having new spaces to design, style and shoot provides me with plenty of content.

 SUNDANCE - One of the prints available on the H & G Designs website.  Sundance is created by Sunshine Coast’s Cass Deller, and is the perfect mix of muted tones and lines.

10.   Do you believe in growing your audience organically, through paid advertising, or a balanced combo?

Personally, I’ve grown my audience organically, however I’ve also maximised opportunities to use influencers and other design professionals where I’ve provided products in exchange for promotion through their channels. I haven’t used paid advertising on social media yet, however it’s something I’m currently considering due to all the changes happening within all the big social media channels and the push for pay to play.

11.   How do you leverage your success on Instagram into your daily role as a designer for H & G Designs?

Instagram is a useful reference tool for customers seeking recommendations. I’ll often tag customers in photos on my Instagram to show what a product looks in a similar concept to what they’re trying to achieve, Similarly, with design clients, if I’m talking about a specific detail I’ve used before, I can pull up my Instagram and find one of my pictures displaying that exact detail. 

12.   What are some hurdles you’ve overcome in your pursuit to find the perfect social media strategy for H & G Designs?

I’m still searching for the perfect social media strategy. My current hurdle is getting myself in front of the camera; I have so much to share but I’m not a naturally outgoing person which makes it a little more challenging.

13.   And, surely, you’ve had a fair chunk of wins – can you share some of those?

I always still feel so excited when I see my work published in magazines; there’s something about flicking those glossy pages! One of our builds, The Black House, featured in Home Beautiful Magazine with a 10-page spread early on in my design career and opened so many doors for me, including signing on with my largest stockist to date. It also provided a boost of confidence in what I was designing and cemented in that I had the possibility to maintain a career doing what I loved.

 The Black House Kitchen and Dining

14.   Any tips for fellow designers, start-ups or small business owners trying to drive business growth through social media?

Absolutely! Invest in excellent photography and a social media strategist if you’re new to the game. Great photography is so valuable, especially if you’re a product-based business. A professional photographer will showcase the best side of your business whilst maintaining consistency and professionalism for your brand.

15.    Lastly, we’d love to know - are there any accounts you follow religiously?

My feed is full of local talent, architecture, interior design, and small business pals, like @rikki_lancaster_commercial @crossconstructions @katecooperinteriors @cassdellerdesign @yakyak.design @vacayco @petiteinteriorco @thelocalproject @meanwhile_in_melbourne @designmilk

And, embarrassingly?

Mandy Moore. I feel like a giant fangirl, but it’s only because she has the most amazing home that I like to stalk every detail of!

There you have another brilliant social media – small business collaboration success story. April Ford Digital Marketing Agency specialises in helping small businesses achieve results, whether that involves raising brand awareness, increasing sales, marketing an event, managing your social media, providing professional photography, or turning your side hustle into a full-time job like Hailey of H & G Designs. The opportunities are limitless, so contact us today for a chat.

 Interior Design and styling + Selections- H&G Designs Photography- Rikki Lancaster

If you need help to use social media to help take your marketing to the next level, we would live to help - contact us today!

See you next week, Laura 💞

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