Textile designers, furniture makers and home decorators have been making their mark on Toronto’s streets for decades.
But now, with the home decor industry booming, many are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living.
And with it, many designers are finding themselves competing for limited, and often lower-paying, work.
“I think for us the industry is very competitive right now, and the designers are really struggling to make money and get clients,” said Liz Zayas, who runs the Canadian company Lingerie Factory in Scarborough, which specializes in custom handbags and jewelry.
“It’s really a challenge for them to find clients.
They can’t afford to buy them out and put them up for sale.
And so, they’re just working really hard to build their business.”‘
A lot of work’A shortage of designers and other designers who have the skills to compete for a limited amount of jobs is making it increasingly hard for businesses to survive.
“If we’re not having designers, we’re having people who don’t have the right training,” said Elizabeth Pardue, president of the Canadian Association of Designers and the Canadian Apparel and Home Furnishings Association.
“A lot, a lot of people are just not working in the fashion industry.”
Pardue said the market for designers is a “very competitive environment” and the industry has grown by more than 500 per cent since 1980.
“In the last couple of years, I think we’ve seen a lot more innovation,” she said.
“We’re seeing more of a movement into online design and other creative endeavors, which are very challenging to find work in the industry.”
The Canadian Apparels Association is warning designers not to underestimate their job prospects.
“When I first started designing, I thought, ‘I’m going to make sure I get good design training, because it’s a really challenging profession and it’s going to take a lot,”‘The supply of designers is limited’In order to get through the first few years of a designer’s career, the association says designers need to work for as little as $20 per hour, a minimum wage of $14.25 an hour, or a full-time job.
“But we’re seeing an increase in the number of designers starting to make $10 to $15 an hour,” said Pardues association president, Marjorie Whelan.
“The demand is there, and I think that’s why it’s such a challenging market.”
The industry is also growing in number and complexity.
According to research from the Canadian Institute of Professional Engineers, the number and sophistication of work-related tasks in design is increasing at a rate three times faster than in any other industry.
In addition to the physical tasks, the most common jobs include interior design, interior design and interior design design, carpentry, electrical design, mechanical design and architectural design.
Many designers say they are struggling to find quality work.
A study commissioned by the Canadian Home Furnishing Association in 2016 found that only 15 per cent of designers surveyed felt their skills were “good enough to be in the market.”
A lack of qualified designersThe lack of good designers in the home-building industry means designers often struggle to find a good fit with clients, especially those who want to decorate their home.
“You have to have a sense of what you’re looking for and what you want to make your home beautiful,” said Liana Eisner, who is in her 30s and lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons.
“I don’t think anybody can make a home look the way they want to.”
“The quality of design is important, but the supply of design talent is not,” she added.
“There’s so many jobs that we don’t even know how to fill, because we don�t have the staff that we need to hire.”
The shortage of qualified home designers, coupled with a shrinking market for skilled interior designers, has created a situation where designers can’t find clients, said Eisner.
“Many of us are struggling just trying to keep up with the supply and demand of designers, and then trying to find new projects to try to keep our job,” she explained.
“Most of the time, we just don’t know how many designers we need.”‘
There’s a lot, and a lot can be achieved’In addition, designers are being turned away from many of the companies they’ve been pursuing.
“This industry is a very competitive environment,” said Whelans association president.
“To get into the industry, you need to be able to do a lot with a lot.
And a lot is being cut in the middle, where a lot could be achieved with just a little bit of effort and a little amount of creativity.””
I would never advise anyone to go into this industry if you don’t want to work,” said Eisners husband, Robert.”
So many of us have worked so hard