(Photo by Brian Baiamonte: Beth Claybourn)
What they do: Design timeless home interiors
Address: 17731 Highland Road; Baton Rouge, with locations in New Orleans and Miramar Beach, Florida
Next Goals: Make the new New Orleans store location as successful as the business in Baton Rouge
DESIGNING A BOTTOM LINE
As a young, silver-tongued Mississippi girl, Beth Claybourn knew she wanted to be an interior designer. With a Paris-schooled interior designer as her early mentor, a person whom she characterizes as “one of the shrewdest business women I ever met,” Claybourn learned the importance of being able to run a business in order to succeed as a professional designer. Just the vision is not enough. “You can be the best designer in the world, but if you don’t know business, you will be a failure,” Claybourn says, recalling the words of her mentor. Since opening her own business more than 30 years ago, Claybourn’s elite clientele are a testament to her success—not just in Baton Rouge, but across the country. She visits each and every home herself and with the help of her staff brings each client’s vision to life.
Claybourn’s business is predicated on a strong base of recurring customers and her reputation. Her success stems from honesty with her clients. And her reputation precedes her. “Everybody tries to copy what Mrs. Beth does,” she muses. “I think I’ve achieved that by making my store different.” It is intentionally designed to provide customers with inspiration and a vision of what could be. To achieve this, Claybourn travels to Europe annually and typically purchases a 40-foot container or two on each trip to transport back the treasures she finds. She visits all of the markets of Italy and France searching for the “unusual.” For Claybourn, there’s not much competition around. “I’m different. I’m expensive, and we are good. When you come to us, you get our service that we do not charge you by the hour for. … Nobody [else] does that.”
‘MAKE IT BEAUTIFUL’
A Mississippi native and former New Orleans resident, Claybourn recently celebrated more than 30 years in business with the opening of a long-planned New Orleans location—a roughly 5,000-square-foot space at 401 Tchoupitoulas St. Claybourn spent about $2.5 million renovating the blighted space. In addition to doing her part in the city’s rebuilding effort, she also hopes to capitalize on the New Orleans tourism industry in her new, industrial-style building in the heart of the central business district. “I want people to go home with a part of New Orleans,” Claybourn says. But that’s not all that’s new to her business model. Beth Claybourn Interiors recently established a bridal registry to cater to a younger generation. “Girls get married and they don’t realize they can have the best,” Claybourn says. “Why wouldn’t you want to let us come in and make it beautiful?”
Claybourn prides herself on taking her clients’ visions and bringing them to life. She insists it is never about what she as the designer wants. On occasion, she has even brought some to tears with her work. Many high-end clients repeatedly have employed her creativity and expertise, spending millions throughout her 36-year career. “We’ve grown together,” Claybourn says. Many of them are now top executives of Baton Rouge’s biggest companies. “I think that I do gear up for the upper 3% because I feel I’m not a furniture store,” she explains. However, that doesn’t mean she can’t help clients with more modest budgets. “My spectrum can be whatever your money is worth.” As long as clients are honest about what they are willing to spend, Claybourn prides herself on stretching the value of any budget to maximize its power.