Ep #283: Online Courses: Packaging and Selling Your Genius

The Design You Podcast Tobi Fairley | Online Courses: Packaging and Selling Your Genius

As designers and creatives moving through a changing world, we’re always looking for what’s next in our business. This week, I’m joined by four of my students from my Online Course Incubator. They created courses in just six months, helping their clients in a whole new way, and creating a new stream of revenue in their businesses in the process.

When these four entrepreneurs decided to sign up for my Online Course Incubator, they asked the question: What does this make possible? They took their ideas, expertise, and intellectual property, and turned them into amazing resources, and their insights will help you see how doing something similar will open up new possibilities for the future of your business.

Tune in this week to discover how to take your genius and make it into something you can sell over and over. Robineve, Katie, Marcie, and Allison are here to discuss their experience in my Online Course Incubator, how creating online courses has changed their businesses, and they’re sharing their advice if you’re currently on the fence about the benefits of building online courses.


My Online Course Incubator is launching again in the fall of 2023. We only have 10 spots, so click here to sign up before it’s too late!

Discover a new path to success in the Interior Design Industry with our live 3-part training: How To Create Additional Revenue Streams. Join us as we teach you the strategies to launch innovative income streams, freeing you from the limitations of traditional design services. Don’t miss this opportunity to revolutionize your business and thrive in today’s competitive landscape. Grab the Training Series now to prepare your business for today & beyond!

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • Why my guests knew it was the right time to introduce a course in their business.
  • How these entrepreneurs built the courses their people need.
  • The common objections creative entrepreneurs have around offering a course.
  • How to see the value and knowledge you have to offer through a course.
  • Each of these entrepreneurs’ advice to anyone considering launching an online course.
  • The clear benefits of being supported by a community while building your online course.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 283.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.

Hey there friends, happy, happy almost fall, my favorite time of the year. I look forward to it every single season and always on the podcast, I’m always saying, “Happy fall”, a little bit early because I’m always excited for it to roll in.

Okay, so I am on the heels of an extremely busy summer, which you all know if you’ve been following and the very beginning of empty nesting which is kind of fun so far I have to admit. I miss my daughter for sure but I’m loving the opportunity for something new. And I kind of feel that way typically this time of year because August and September and school starting feels like sort of the other new year to me every year.

It’s that time where I can say, “What do we want next? How do we want to finish this year? What do we want to get back on track from after we’ve kind of been in summer brain? What do we want to do new?” And today’s episode is all about that idea of doing things new. And so I have for you four of my students from the Online Course Incubator, and they worked with me from January to June, creating courses. And you’ve been hearing from some of my other students recently, and you’re going to hear from a few more in some upcoming episodes.

But I think this is so important because a lot of us are looking for what’s new or what’s next in our business or what’s new and what’s next for us personally. Or how do we want to change and shift things in the way we show up every day at work? How do we want to help people in a different way? What else could be possible?

That’s my favorite question. I need to do an episode just on that question, what does this make possible? Because it’s the question and the tool I turn back to again and again in my life when something is hard or something is new or just in a season when I’m like, what’s next? What does this current situation or state make possible?

And I think, as a lot of us in design and creative industries are looking at the changes in the industry, the changes in the economy, things like AI, all of the stuff that’s shifting. Instead of getting afraid and getting worried, we can do ourselves a favor by asking, “What does this make possible?” And that’s exactly the question that these four people were asking last fall when they decided to sign up for my first ever Online Course Incubator and say, “What would this make possible if we learned how to take our ideas, our intellectual property and turn them into something for sale, a course, a workshop, a program?”

And that’s exactly what they’ve done. And I’m so excited for you to hear from them and about them and see if this sparks a little something in you that you might want to see what that would make possible for you as well. If you took your genius and you made it into something that you could sell. Okay, so I’m going to be quiet and let you hear from these amazing four women, Marcie, Allison, Robineve and Katie.

And then I’ll see you on the back side of the show and remind you how you can work with me if you want to get in our Online Course Incubator or if you just want to reach out because I want to hear from you. I want to hear your questions. I want to hear what you’re struggling with. I want to hear all the things, because that’s what I’m here for. But for now, enjoy this episode.

Hi, ladies. Welcome to The Design You Podcast. I am so excited to talk about courses today, so welcome.

Katie: Yay.

Robineve: Great to be here.

Tobi: Amazing: Okay, so for those of you listening, we have four incredible guests today as I told you in our introduction. But I’m going to let each of you tell us in your own words a little bit about you, who you are, what you do. And then we’ll get into some questions about why you wanted to create a course and all the things. And what’s so fun about this is we have four of you here, but you are creating or have, you’re in the process of creating two courses, so it’s two partnerships working on courses together. It’s not for individual courses, so I love that.

So Robineve, why don’t you start by telling us about who you are and what your background is and then we’ll go to Katie and then we’ll go up to Marcie and Allison.

Robineve: Okay, great. I’m Robineve Cole. I’ve been an interior designer for about 30 years, oh, gosh. And prior to that I was in the fashion industry. I was a designer and manufacturer, and did evening gowns and did it kind of big on 7th Avenue and stuff like that. I also did a TV show designing women with Annie Potts, she was my friend and I did her wardrobe. So there was that whole kind of fashion background.

This was two businesses I had had. I was first a fashion designer in two industries and then when I went into interior design, I opened my own business. So I guess I’m a serial entrepreneur honoring your patterns.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that. So cool.

Robineve: Yeah, right. And this has become a family business over the last five years, which has been fantastic because my husband’s an architect. And when he retired he wanted to join my firm and then Katie, I’ll let her tell you her story but I always wanted to work with Katie.

Tobi: Amazing. I love that. Awesome. And I loved learning about you some things I didn’t know about you. Okay, Katie, tell us about you.

Katie: Okay, so Robineve is my mom. And so when she mentioned her husband is an architect, she’s talking about my dad. So I grew up with it. I did have another career first. I was an art history and lit major and I ended up going, taking the lit path and going into publishing and doing marketing. And I loved that but after about 10 years, I realized that I was just dying to do the more hands on creative side of things.

And I think that once I went into interior design, we kind of always thought maybe in the future we would work together but I went and worked at a few other firms first. I actually started out in staging. And then I worked at a couple of other interior design firms. And then the time just felt right about four, a little over four years ago and we’ve had a lot of fun working together. I was a little worried about working with family.

Robineve: We were all worried.

Katie: You want to be sure, but it’s been lovely.

Tobi: Amazing. Okay, Marcie and Allison, our other partnership, tell us about you and your business.

Allison: Okay. First of all, can we go back to Robineve saying that she was working on designing [crosstalk].

Robineve: Yeah, for both Dixie and Annie, [crosstalk], our favorite people in the world.

Allison: I love that.

Marcie: We didn’t know that about you. That’s great. Yeah, so I’m Marcie and got Allison here. So we are longtime friends. Our sons, my only son and her middle son are the same age. And unlike Robineve and Katie, we kind of fell into doing design just by working together on helping each other through our own projects and then people would start to come to our house and they’d go, “I love how you renovated basement. I love your living room. I love your kitchen. Can you come and help me?”

And so after a lot of time saying, “No. We just do this for fun.” Then people were insisting like, “No, and I’ll pay you.” And so we kind of fell into design that way. And so I come from a personal development background. I have a therapy degree and I was a life coach for many years. And so I kind of bring that to the table with really listening to what people want or what people are trying to say but they can’t quite face themselves in it. And hearing, “Just go for it, go big or go home.” So that’s kind of how I came into it and I’ll let Allison jump into her background and we’ll tell you a little bit more about how we work.

Allison: Well, like Marcie said, we kind of fell into this as friends and we had the same concerns. Because our whole family’s our friends, so our husbands were like, “Well, is this going to work and what if something doesn’t? What’s it going to do to everything? But it’s honestly, we knew going into it that based on both of our attitudes and kind of …

Marcie: Our commitment to personal development, honestly.

Katie: Honestly, our commitment.

Marcie: [Crosstalk].

Allison: Yeah, so I think we’re very similar in that. And I think working with people, that’s really what people resonate with us is the fact that we’re willing to really listen and hear them and excite them.

Marcie: And excite them. We’re both very excitable. I mean, you guys have been on the incubator calls with us. And we get super chatty and just happy about helping pull people out of their comfort zone a little bit, yeah.

Allison: Some of our best friends are like, “I just love being around you guys when you’re working together.” So I think that’s what’s been amazing about this for us, it’s been a journey for our business, but it’s also been a personal journey together.

Marcie: Yeah, exactly. So we, unlike typical interior designers, we actually really love the consultation model. So when we came into Design You with Tobi, we had said, “We’ve done some kind of full service stuff and we didn’t love it as much.” So our focus is on working with the people that kind of, I think there’s a gap in the market where there’s other stagers. We had done some staging. There’s full service interior design and everybody talks about going after the big luxury clients and the huge budgets and all that stuff.

But it’s like what about the normal people that just want some advice and help making decisions?

Allison: And want to love their homes.

Marcie: Yeah, and we’d kind of fall into that space, so we love doing short bursts of designer for days and consultations.

Tobi: That’s so good. I love that. And I do have to say I’m jealous of both of you to have your sidekick. I actually do kind of have my design sidekick which is my mom and she’s worked alongside me for years. And so she’s my sounding board especially when we’re doing the actual design and decorating work, but not so much. I mean, she’s definitely my sounding board for business, but I don’t have that partner.

I know it’s hard and you have to make sure that you are mindful of getting along with each other, but there is something beautiful about having another person there to support you when you’re making those decisions. So I have to say that I’m a little envious of you all’s amazing partnerships.

Okay, so let’s talk about courses. So all of you came and really the four of you I think were the first four people when I put this offer out into the world. Were like, “I’m thinking about doing this thing, helping people create courses because I see people with these amazing ideas and they just don’t get around to creating the thing for a multitude of reasons.” And we’re going to talk about individually what those reasons were for you all.

But it’s funny because I think you all were the first people to immediately raise your hand and say, “I think this is for me. So let’s start with that, either Katie or Robineve or both, whichever. Talk to me a little bit about what was intriguing to you? Had you been thinking about a course? What sparked in you when you heard this idea of the incubator and thought about whether or not it was right for you?

Katie: Well, Robineve has been doing talks about something called universal design and should I tell people what that is?

Tobi: Yeah. Give us the background. Yeah, give us the background of what that is and how that was already infused in your business.

Katie: Okay. So, Robineve, can tell you a little bit more about how she came to universal design. But she had been a practitioner of it for many years. And she had developed talks that she would give to local, the Rotary Club or The Chamber, whoever was interested in hearing about it. And so she had a presentation together already. And when I had been sort of thinking about different revenue streams and a course, possibly.

And then I saw that you were offering this incubator. And I thought, we’ve already got something that’s kind of maybe, I don’t know, quarter or half baked, something like that, that worked really well for speaking engagements. And we wanted to get the message out there into the world. And so this seemed like a really great opportunity to pull it together and make us focus on it, make us accountable, make us put in the time. And it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy.

Tobi: Yeah, we’ll talk more about that because I hear that a lot and we know that. How many of us have those ideas that we think about creating them, it’s kind of like a little seed. And then sometimes we’ll see somebody else create something almost similar and we’re like, “That was my idea, but we did never get around to doing it.” And that’s what I was seeing from a lot of people, including you all, when I’d hear people talk about ideas or things they had, but it wasn’t happening. And so yeah, it was so fun, that that’s the very situation I was hoping would kind of spur some of you to leap in, which it did.

Katie: Yeah, it makes you do it and we had to rearrange our schedule. We ended up taking most of every Friday off and working on the course, but it took us a few weeks to at least a month before we were able to arrange our schedule so that we could do that.

Robineve: It was the busiest season. We were just underwater as it was, and then to carve out this time.

Katie: Seemed impossible, but we had to.

Tobi: Yes. And it’s never a good time. That’s the thing, if you just keep waiting and waiting and waiting. And that’s what a lot of us have done, whether it’s the book we want to write or the course we want to make or gosh, other life decisions, people think about having children, something. You’re waiting for the time to be right. And the time never, ever ends up being right for something, you just have to leap.

Robineve: We had to shoehorn it in but this makes you do it. And that’s the thing, the thing was, this actually happened. Katie was sitting there during one of my talks and she just walked up to the front after everybody was all done and they had left. And she said, “Hey, what would you think about making this into a course?” And it was just exactly at the right moment because I was feeling so strong. People in the audience had such a need, they were expressing such a need and they were so responsive.

And I just keep feeling that I’m trying to get this information out there and I have never been able to reach enough people. And I really cared a lot about people. So when Katie brought that idea of a course, suddenly that just expanded all the possibilities of getting it out to the people that I really wanted to know about it. It was just so synchronous for this, it was just the perfect moment.

Tobi: I love that. And so for those people that don’t know what universal design is, and especially even why it’s so important to you. Can you give us just a little bit about what it is and why this feels like a really important message that you want to bring to the world?

Robineve: Sure. I’m going to tell a little bit of my story and I’m going to explain what that is as well. So first of all, I knew about something called Aging in Place. My mom came down with Alzheimer’s, which was absolutely crushing to me and she was on the other side of the country. And I was flying back and forth trying to make her house safe for her, trying to make things work for her. My dad had designed the house. It had steps down. It had all these cute little things that were just really dangerous.

So I started studying something that I found out about called Aging in Place because I wanted them to be able to stay in their home as long as possible. And I was going all over the place, getting certification. But then when I started actually working in her house to get it up to the point that it was going to work for her with me being far away. I started realizing I was doing accommodations in her house that were a lot like what I had done in my own home when my own little girl was really small and I was just trying to keep her safe.

And so I was like, “Oh my gosh, there’s a continuum here. So I started going deeper to try to find out what, Aging in Place which is limited to older people. And my practice was for clients of all different ages. And what was it that was kind of, this umbrella that had held it all. And that’s when I discovered something called universal design. Now, I had traveled a lot in Europe and I had been in a lot of homes and Airbnbs and things like that and they were designed very differently, very compact and elegant and efficiently than what I was finding in the United States at that time.

So universal design in Europe is called design for all. The whole idea is how can you make an environment that works for people of all ages as well as all abilities as well as all sizes? My nephew is 6’4. He just became engaged to a girl who’s 5’ tall. I mean, they’re going to have challenges in their home. So universal design is a way of effecting and designing the home environment, the home environment we’re talking about so that it really does serve all the people who live there.

So that it functions in a natural way, in a mindful way so that people don’t have obstacles that they have to overcome. So that it makes for greater ease in your living situation, greater safety for everyone concerned, the older people, the younger people.

Katie: It also incorporates, I mean as designers, it’s our job to bring the beauty. And that’s what universal design has a focus on, it’s not just the functionality. It’s about how do you integrate this functionality in a way that is beautiful or invisible. Sometimes the use is equitable or the same as someone with more ability. And so it’s inclusive in that way. The way that I started to think about it when I learned more and more about it was that there’s links between kind of the way we live in society and how we segment our society.

And I just love this idea of multi-generational living, of communal, semi-communal living and kind of integrating all of society in the way that we used to when we lived in villages. And I think there’s a strong movement back towards that in some places. And I wanted to tap into that with universal design and how it, like Robineve was saying. It’s not just about baby proofing. You can build it in and plan for it so that it can be done in a beautiful way, it’s not just putting a band-aid on something.

Robineve: I have a lot of clients, we live in California, so I’ve got a lot of clients who are perhaps Southeast Asian, maybe they’re from India or China. And their parents come to visit them and when they come to visit, they’re here for three, four, five months, it is very typical. So these multi-generational households spring up suddenly. And everything has to work for someone who’s not just here for a week to visit. But it has to be able to function fully. And so they were having this need how to make this whole end of the house function in the same way as the other end of the house where the little kids were.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that. So good. Okay, so let’s switch gears for a minute. We’ll come back to you in a minute, but Marcie and Allison, you have a completely different niche, a completely different course and it’s an extension of the work that you do, but not anything you’ve talked about yet on today’s show. So why don’t you tell everybody what it is that you are creating, that you’re building and why you wanted to create a course on this topic.

Allison: Well, it’s funny because I remember like when we were together and we had been following you for a while and then first came across your Design You. And then we went to do that. And then all of a sudden, we saw this opportunity to do a course and we both had this immediate kind of visceral reaction. We’re both like, “Yes, let’s do this.” Because we work with a lot of people, we work with a lot of real estate investors because we are real estate investors ourselves.

So we work with a lot of people who want to know how to do these things themselves, a lot of [inaudible] minded people who are like, “I can do this but I just can’t.”

Marcie: They just need some guidance and some advice, yeah.

Allison: Yeah. And that’s kind of where we felt like we could be helpful with a course for them.

Marcie: Yeah, exactly. So our course is about how to design your short term rental like a designer would. We’ve worked with a lot of investors to help everything from going the ground up when they’re turning over a unit from a long term rental to something short or midterm to just consulting. And somebody says, “I’m launching this new beach house and I just need to revamp some things, what advice do you guys have?” And we just kept saying the same things over and over and over to people. And by nature, real estate investors are, I’ll say thrifty.

Allison: Frugal.

Marcie: Yeah, they’re frugal because every single dollar that goes in, if you buy a $300 pillow versus a $30 pillow, that’s coming right out of their bottom line. So their goal is to make the photos look good. And that’s where kind of our staging background comes in to help. So for them, they want the designer look without the designer price tag, which I know for a lot of designers, well, that’s laughable. You can’t have it without the price tag, for a lot of people.

But to educate them as to some of the basic principles that if they can just rinse and repeat or train someone on their team, a lot of investors, it’s like “My wife loves HGTV, so she wants to be the designer.” So, well, if we can train them to look for some of the things that we see and the mistakes that we see, they can have this rinse and repeat system that they can use to grow their real estate portfolios.

Allison: Right. And we’ve come across investors from all different levels. So the other end of the spectrum for them is not only do they not want to spend money, but they don’t have time. They’re so busy and they’re so busy networking and finding deals and working on deals that they also don’t have the time for it. So we work with people who have teams, so we want to kind of say, “We have this resource for you.”

Marcie: And for your in-house person.

Allison: And for your in-house person, if your listings aren’t making the cut, make these tweaks and we can help with that.

Tobi: So one of the things that’s coming to mind and it’s really probably a question for all of you. But starting with the two of you is, what was it like to kind of, did you ever have reservations? Did you have to do any mindset work or overcome this idea of teaching other people how to do things?

Because what I hear a lot of people struggle with is they think, well, if I did go teach somebody else how to do this, won’t I just be replacing myself? I don’t want to be their designer. Do I really want to go out and teach everybody how to be a designer? So did anything come up around that when you were thinking about the course or could you already just see that there was kind of room for both? Yeah, what was that like?

Allison: I think for us there’s an automatic mindset work with everything we do.

Marcie: There’s always mindset work, Tobi. There’s always mindset work involved.

Allison: Yeah, we’re always working on the mindset so it was not a surprise.

Marcie: Well, we come from the side, again, we’re not formally trained as designers, so who are we to share this? But yet there’s people that call us constantly asking us for advice. So there was some of the scarcity mindset, but it was more about getting over ourselves of well, people are asking us for help. We do have something valuable to teach people, so there was that hurdle. But then there was the other side of it of like you had said, well, if I teach people how to do what we know how to do, then there won’t be room for us.

And honestly, it’s part of why we wanted to do the incubator course because we wanted to duplicate ourselves and not have to be there showing up with every client saying the same things over and over, as I said before, so there was that. And then I’ll add a third layer of mindset work because we’re not self-aware.

The third layer would be, and we had talked on the calls too of, “We want to do this thing, but there’s other people that are already launching this, that have more experience, larger portfolios, that are doing so much more.” And so just realizing that there’s people that are going to connect with us over others and people are going to connect with other people over us and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a place somewhere. We all have something valuable to offer.

Allison: I think that’s why we really resonated with you, Tobi, is we know that you’re into the self-development stuff as well.

Marcie: That’s huge for us.

Allison: It’s huge in our business. So to have somebody coaching us who gets that is super important, irreplaceably important.

Tobi: Thank you for saying that. I love that. Yeah, so many people don’t. The number of people I’ve had come to me over the years that are like, “I don’t need any help with mindset or coaching. I’m good there. I just need you to tell me how to run my business.” And then I always just smile and I’m like, yeah, I guarantee you every block in their way is going to be more about, like what you said, imposter syndrome or who are we to be teaching this? Or isn’t it already done? All of that stuff is truly like you said digging into your own thoughts and what you’re doing to stand in your own way of putting things out in the world.

So yeah, that’s beautiful. I love what you said and I’m really glad that you brought that up about, aren’t other people already doing it because that’s one of the biggest really obstacles I see people with all the time. And one of the things I reminded all of you multiple times in the program is that yes, maybe you can’t have two interior designers for your living room probably. You probably don’t need two people working on that at once, but you absolutely can read two books or buy two courses. It’s different when you get into this intellectual property space.

It’s not like you’re going to just find one person take one course and then for the rest of your life, you know everything you need to know about that topic. And so that’s one of the things I love that you brought that up. And I like to remind people, this is not the same thing as having a one-on-one service provider where it does feel sometimes more competitive to people, either her or him or me.

This is a situation where when I want to dive deep in a topic, I might buy two or three courses about something. I might buy multiple books about something. I might watch multiple webinars about something. And that’s definitely the difference in this type of a product, I guess we’d call it a product, it’s kind of a service too, than what kind of a lot of us are used to that come from that service sector, for sure.

So what about you, Robineve and Katie, did you all have reservations? Did you have imposter syndrome? Is there a need for that? What came up for you when you started thinking about teaching other people? Robineve was already kind of lecturing and teaching pretty much. But this is a little different, creating a product that people will pay to learn from you.

Robineve: Right. Well, I’ll just say quickly about imposter syndrome. Ten years ago I was in a car accident. I was hit by a car when I was walking across the street. And so I spent five months in a wheelchair trying to get around my house and trying to maneuver it. So I did not feel like I was an imposter.

Tobi: Yeah. You’re like, “Been there, lived that experience.” Absolutely, no.

Robineve: Right. And just really wanted to share it. So I didn’t have any hesitancy about that. And the day that Katie came up to me and said, what she said, “Hey, how about turning this into a class?” Of course, it was the day that a sweet little lady in the audience came up to me after I had just given this talk and said, “If I had known about this, about universal design a few years ago, before when I could have remodeled my house, I would have still been able to stay there instead of moving to a community, to a smaller place in order to accommodate me.”

And that just kind of touched my heart so deeply. So I feel a real calling to it. I mean, I’m a soapbox kind of person. If I believe in something I’m just like, I want everybody to know about it. But for Katie, I think she had more of a challenge just because she’s not accustomed to grabbing people by the lapel and shaking them.

Katie: No, Tobi knows I’m a bit of an introvert. But I wouldn’t say I had imposter syndrome, no. Because the course that we took where we got credentialed was actually more focused towards contractors. And there’s a lot of information you can find on the internet about universal design, but it’s usually this university or this college. And so it’s very academic and there didn’t seem to be a lot of people talking about it who were designers and who could talk about how to integrate things in a way that’s beautiful.

And then the other thing that we’ve done is we’ve added a module to our course that does deal with mindset. Because thinking about all of this, we put a lot more thought and effort into this course than kind of the short speaking presentation that Robineve had done, which was about half an hour. And so this was really intensive thought work about it. And to me, I felt like it was an opportunity to talk about what are the real reasons why you would do something like this.

It’s about independence and safety, but that kind of mindset that as someone’s aging or for a child who’s just learning how to do things for themselves. The pride that they get out of and the kind of positive feedback that they get from being able to do things for themselves. But especially for older people who have already led a very full life and probably been super active and independent and now that’s kind of changing for them.

And they’re having to accept that their bodies are different than they used to be. And so I think that talking about what kinds of emotions that brings up for people was something that I wanted to address as part of it.

Robineve: Yeah. You got really passionate about it. So I think when people feel really passionate about something, it just becomes a natural thing to try to share it. And you’re not concerned if somebody else out there is also talking about that. It’s like, “Yeah, let’s all [crosstalk] situation.”

Tobi: Yeah, I love that. And that’s so right and we talked about that a lot. Even if other people have done it, I mean, we’re not talking about thousands of people have done this, maybe dozens, maybe five, maybe 20. But we all know that the more awareness we bring to something that we’re working on the better, especially something like universal design, something that can help so many people.

I mean, honestly, every course that’s been created in the Online Course Incubator helps somebody at some degree, something that they wouldn’t know how to do or that they would have wasted money on or that they would have missed an opportunity, so I love, yeah.

Katie: [Crosstalk] a lot of synchronicity, I think, between, we talked about the story in the incubator course, about how many people were in that group that session where there was so much kind of tie in with each other.

Robineve: [Crosstalk] collaboratively, we still want to get together with Marcie and Allison and kind of share a lot of thoughts, yeah.

Katie: Yeah, I definitely think that there’s that an [crosstalk].

Robineve: Definitely, we always wanted to spend some more time with you guys.

Marcie: Likewise.

Katie: Yeah, if investors, this is my thinking is that if investors can market their place as being accessible, it just opens up a whole other market and it’s really [crosstalk].

Marcie: [Crosstalk].

Allison: [Crosstalk] interesting, yeah.

Katie: So there is a crossover.

Tobi: So fun, yeah, there was so much crossover. We had another person who I’m going to have on the podcast separately, Rebecca. And she’s an MD that talks about basically her program unSandwiched, which is this idea of being sandwiched between the aging parent and the child. And so it’s just about that whole experience. And then you bring this design element to it and then like you said, there’s crossover between you and Marcie and Allison.

We have another person in the group that also did a short term rental, but different than theirs. And then we have people who are working on wellness, personal wellness. We have somebody who’s creating a course about kitchens that support your health and wellness and your weight management and all these. It was so fun to see really topics come to light.

We have another person, Tina, who has a course on, it’s also about aging essentially, but it’s about silver style, your age in your 60s and how she’s come into her hair going silver during the pandemic. And what that meant for her. She’s an architect actually, but how that showed up in her personal style, which kind of reflects back to your concepts about mindset about aging.

So yeah, it was really incredible to see the overlap and the relationships you all had been building, which is what’s so fun about a close knit small container like the one we create for what we internally called OCI. But Online Course Incubator where we just keep it to 10 people or so.

Robineve: [Crosstalk]?

Tobi: Yeah, it’s a peer group, yeah.

Katie: Yeah. No, there was so much support from everyone.

Robineve: Right. We’re always, thumbs up, yeah, that was great. What did you think of this?” I don’t know, I feel a little bit nervous. And everybody goes, “That’s really great.” You might just add a little more of something else but it was really, really fun.

Tobi: Yeah, so good. What about Marcie and Allison, what do you all have to add to that?

Allison: I was just thinking, I think that’s what was amazing about it is that design is life. So it’s all of our thoughts and ideas and kind of hopes for what we want to accomplish. We’re all based in life and real life of real people of all kinds of sorts. So I think that that’s kind of what brought us together and that kind of thinking as a group, it was an amazing experience too.

Marcie: Yeah. And I’ll add to each other, on to Katie, I think, I don’t remember when it was, but you were saying something in the course of being vulnerable, saying like, “I’m nervous about being on social media.” And was like, “Are you kidding me? You have so much to share.” [Crosstalk] inside.

Katie: I think it was just in the chat and you just said the sweetest, sweetest things about how people need to, but it’s not about me. It’s about the message that people need to hear and I think that helps a lot me put myself aside and do the work that is going to help other people. So thank you for that, by the way.

Marcie: Yeah, no, of course.

Allison: Katie, I resonate. I too, am an introvert. So I understand not wanting to be upfront and but wanting to do good things.

Tobi: Yeah. Amazing. So Speaking of, we’re talking a little bit more about the container and your peers and the process. What did you all love about, so anybody listening to this, that’s like, “Should I do this? It’s a lot of money.” What did you love about the experience, the sessions, the tools, the process? Can you all speak to that, any of you all? I don’t know who wants to go first, but what stands out to you besides just the relationships and the support that you built in the program?

Robineve: Well, you really gave us direction. I mean, yeah, so I had a talk that I could spiel any time, but it wasn’t structured with the way that you were making us think about it. And we actually had formats that we could base it on and that’s when I knew I couldn’t have pulled together myself to get it out.

And then once we had already gone through all of our own personal work on it. Then you were able to give us your experience and your background of don’t think about this, think about that. Don’t cut yourself off at this edge, just take it broadly. I mean you had on the ground experience whereas we would have been trying to second guess ourselves left and right and that just wouldn’t have happened.

Katie: Yeah, second guess yourself right out of a job.

Tobi: Yeah. Well, and most people do second guess themselves out of ever creating the course because you think you overthink. And then so we spend a lot of time saying things like, “There will be revisions of this for sure, but let’s first just get a version out in the world so you can get feedback from people.” And so we tried to help you push the second guessing onto the other side of letting something come out in the world first and hearing people’s actual feedback.

When most of the time what we do as humans is we imagine what people may think about something and how they might judge it. And we do all the second guessing before we ever even put it out in the world and see if people like it. So you have done such a beautiful job of getting uncomfortable and vulnerable and going, “I don’t know if this is going to be good or not, but I’m willing to trust that, we’re going to put it on paper, we’re going to create it. And then we’re going to be willing to see what happens with it.”

Robineve: I think that inevitably once you had pushed us gently to do our own work and we presented our very first take on it, which we thought, we’ve got to show it to everybody, but they’re just going to tear it apart. And you guys said, “No, that looks really good.”

Marcie: Yeah, it really did.

Robineve: What a surprise that was, but it’s because we had already done our own internal work and then we could trust what you were saying, if you could see that.

Tobi: Yeah. What about you, Marcie and Allison, what did you like about the process?

Allison: I really loved your thought process, helping our thought process and break things down and kind of bring everything together in an organized, cohesive way. Your guidance in that was probably, that’s the piece that I think is hard, to have all these good ideas but then to put them together cohesively, I think was more of a challenge than we expected. So your guidance there was super helpful.

Marcie: Yeah, I definitely agree with everything that was said. And also there were no questions after, Tobi. You guys thought about every step of the process from the idea conception to the content to then the logistics of how do we actually create this course? What’s the best mic to use? Even something that came up and then to market it and price it. There’s literally no stone left unturned and it was so helpful.

And it’s again, a repeatable system that if we want to do another one, our course kind of took a little bit of a different direction in terms of the format of it from an online course to a daylong in person workshop. But we can follow this over and over and over again. And the principles will remain the same for future courses too. So anybody who’s looking at it and saying, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t know, it’s ‘expensive’.” But you can get so much out of this, you’re learning a whole other arm to your business.

And I think that that’s where a lot of the value really comes in. And then on top of, [inaudible] keep going, on top of that then you get the one-on-one feedback with you, with your team. People are reviewing everything and then you get to bring it to the group and ask questions and have the group weigh in. There’s no lack of support or feedback any step of the way. So just, yeah, it’s so valuable.

Tobi: Yeah. So good. And I love that you mentioned that about your workshop because when we were getting ready to record this episode, you’re like, “But ours kind of turned into something different. Is that still relevant to this conversation?” And I think it’s so important. I love that your course turned into something different first. You’re like, “I thought we were going to have modules ready to go.

And then what we found was our audience really wanted, there’s an opportunity sooner to bring a live workshop to the table and even just record that and potentially sell it as a full video of the recorded workshop.” Which is very much one way to do this and then you can always come back and tweak and record and break it into modules or anything you want. But I love that even though both of you said, “We brought you a system or we gave you step by step things to do.” It’s not just like a one size fits all cookie cutter system.

It’s more of like, well, what do you want to create? How do you think you want to create it? What format are you thinking? What price are you thinking? And we help you think through and often validate what you’re thinking or maybe give a little tweak to it. But for those of you listening, there are all kinds of courses that were created in this first round, different formats, different shapes, different, some are still being tweaked and in the works. Some have already launched. But it’s not just that we put everybody through, “You need to do it this way.”

It was really we wanted to make sure that you have control over what you’re creating, how it’s launched and what feels right to you. And that’s been so fun to watch each of you find your voice, find your kind of platform, find your format. But I also love that what you’re saying is I think all of you immediately could see other possibilities of things you could do with this. We could then teach it in this other way. We could have a spin off course from this.

We could have consulting one-on-one options that somebody that wants to go deeper or does want our help could hire us for. We have people in the group thinking about licensing products to create that sell alongside the thing that they’re teaching, like Alisa, who’s done Christmas decorating and things. Next steps for me could be my own lines of Christmas products. And so I know a lot of you have had those sort of expanded, I don’t know, possibilities enter your mind about this is just the first step, right?

Katie: Robineve’s always wanted to design a line of grab bars.

Robineve: [Crosstalk].

Tobi: Yeah. Amazing. I love it. So good. Alright. Well, anything else that you all would like to share? I mean, it’s been so fun to talk to all of you, but anything else if anybody’s thinking about a course in general or this program in particular that you would like to share as far as taking the leap?

Allison: Well, I think what you said about the thought process and you’re not giving necessarily actions, well, you were giving action steps, but it’s more action steps in the thought process. So I think that was so unique and like Marcie said, it’s repeatable because it’s not a one-time thing, it’s this is how you think through the process if you [inaudible].

Marcie: Yeah, I think what you were saying before, Tobi is not a one size fits all because there were times, I mean, we showed up I think to just about every single meeting for the six months and there were a couple times we were like, “We feel behind because we’re not doing it like everybody else is.” And then you would call on us and we would speak up and say, “Here’s kind of where we’re at.” And instead of this sounds a little dramatic, but internally it feels like shame. Instead of shaming us of well, what’s keeping you guys?

You said, “Okay. Alright, here’s what’s coming up. This is what you’re getting feedback from, your real time students or people who would be learning from you so roll with it.” And embracing that I think was really helpful. So for anybody who’s feeling like it needs to look a certain way or I’m not sure if this works for me. There are people who are not designers in the course.

There were people coming from all walks of life and it’s just if you have a vision, I think that this is because it pairs the step by step with the mindset stuff to actually get it out into the world. I don’t think that there’s a course creation option that matches that. I’ve seen both sides of it, but none together.

Tobi: That’s good. Yeah. Thank you.

Robineve: I think that if somebody is wondering, if they’ve got a message that they want to get out there, but they really don’t know what their audience would be. I think that’s what was so clear or what emerges is something really clear in the class, that we don’t even yet know what we have to give. And the audience will be coming once we’re clear on what it is that we have to give.

Because the audiences that these courses are going to go to, some are going to be much more retail. Some are much more internal one-on-one kinds of things. Some are going to be shared among friends. Some are things that people just really have to know for their own ability to move forward. They were so broad and so varied. And so I think that you, for a person to have the vision that they’ve got something to say to say it and then you are helping us create who our audience is going to be and how we can angle it or pitch it.

Tobi: Yeah, and there’s not a right or wrong answer for that either. Because even for your course, we were like, “Well, you could talk to designers. You could talk to contractors and architects. You could talk to all three of those people at once. You could talk to the consumer, should we have two courses, should we have one course? Are there just bonus modules that deep dive for any of these industries? Is it for the general public? Is it for corporations?” And there’s so many possibilities and it’s so easy to get stuck.

And there’s not a right or wrong answer. It’s more just kind of sifting through your thoughts and finding the one that feels like you’re most ready to speak to first and then just starting to create it. And some of you started there and then shifted in the middle and said, “I thought I was talking to this person, but the more I thought about it and the more we created, we’re actually talking to this other person first.” And that’s okay too.

But it’s kind of just I guess, holding your hands and keeping the action happening while you move through a series of decisions. Because so often when we do that on our own, we’ll stop when we get stuck, we’ll be like, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll just stop right now because I don’t know if it’s this group or this group.” And so something about being in this container and this group and having the guide and having the experience of my team and I having done this keeps you from getting stuck at all the points you could get stuck because there’s a lot of them.

Katie: There’s so many, every single thing all of you just said is one point that could stop someone for months or years from moving forward. So I think that’s probably the most valuable thing, yeah.

Robineve: And worth it is specifically the best thing.

Tobi: Thank you so much. Okay, well, if everybody wants to come find you and some of you, your course may be finished or you might still be in the progress. But if they at least want to come see who you are, check out your business, be on your mailing list for when your things all launch if they haven’t launched yet, why don’t you all tell everybody where they find you.

Katie: Okay, we are and we’re on Instagram @robineeveinteriors.

Tobi: Okay, perfect. And then Marcie and Allison.

Marcie: Yeah. So you can come play with us over on Instagram @elatedspaces or check our website

Tobi: Amazing. Okay, well, I’m so proud of all of you. It has been such a pleasure. I mean, I worked with all of you anyway. Well, I worked with Katie and Marcie and Allison before in Design You and continue to. And Robineve, I’m so glad that Katie brought you to the party because it’s been so fun to get to know you. But it’s been a joy to watch you create the things that you’re passionate about.

So thank you so much for letting me just play a role in that. I feel so honored and I can’t wait to see the success you have. And I know these are just the very first things you’re going to create of many now that you have this process down. But thank you so much for sharing all of this today because I know you just helped a whole lot of people who were wondering, who had all those questions in their mind and you all answered so many things for them. So thank you.

Marcie: Yeah, absolutely.

Robineve: Thank you.

Katie: Thank you, Tobie.

Alright, super inspiring, isn’t it? And so fun to hear about all of the different things and topics and courses that the people that worked with us in the first ever Online Course Incubator created. Because it’s not just interior designers. It’s not just people doing what you might find typical that a designer would create, it’s really fun, creative stuff. And we work together to help craft those programs and courses and workshops that were just right for our amazing, what we call the OGs, the original people that joined our very first incubator.

So if you’re thinking about joining us in the next Online Course Incubator, which will as always be even better because we learned so much. It was amazing and we learned so much, then go to And check out the Online Course Incubator, because we’re going to be starting in a few weeks, but there are only 10 total spots, so once those are gone, they’re gone. And I want you to be one of those people that are taking your ideas, your genius, your intellect and turning it into something that you can sell.

And remember, it’s not just about what you can sell, it’s about how you can serve because the world really does need what you have to share. There is somebody right now who would be better by learning the thing that you have to offer. So I can’t wait to help you create that course or workshop or program in the Online Course Incubator.

If you have any questions at all just DM me on Instagram. I’m always the person behind the DM. It’s not my team. Well, I mean, they pop in occasionally, but I see everything that comes through there. I’m the person answering you. So DM me @tobifairley or if you’d rather send us an email, you can send that to We can’t wait to hear from you. We can’t wait to get you a spot. And if you’re ready to go, just grab a spot in the incubator.

You’ll see that there’s two options. There’s the regular option of joining the Online Course Incubator. And then there’s the bundle, which is adding in the tech support, which you may really be glad that you have. My team is amazing on this. They are genius. They figured it all out and they will hold your hand every step of the way with the tech. So even if you’re like some of our other members you heard from like Alisa Berry, who I think is pretty tech savvy, but sometimes says she’s not, that you heard from a few weeks ago about her Christmas course or some of the ladies you heard today.

If you need that extra hand holding, we are holding your hand. We’re getting the tech stuff done with you. And I personally can’t wait to work with you on the content, the ideas, the structure, the marketing, all the goodness that’s going to bring the thing you create to life. Okay, friends, so I will see you next week with another great episode of The Design You Podcast and another exciting reveal of one of our OCI students. Okay, bye for now.

Thank you for listening to The Design You Podcast. And if you want to discover a new path to success in the interior design industry, then join me for my three part training called How to Create Additional Revenue Streams. In this training I’ll teach you the strategies to launch innovative income streams and free you from the limitations of traditional design services. Don’t miss this opportunity to revolutionize your business and thrive in today’s competitive landscape. Grab the training series now to prepare you and your business for today and beyond. Go to

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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