Inclover Design: Singapore Prestige Class Award 2021/2022
Jess & Kacey, Co-Founders
The Golden Tandem
Inclover Design was started in February 2014 by two friends, Jess and Kacey. Kacey has had 16 years of experience in the interior design industry, previously graduated from interior design school. Jess, who had been in the banking industry for 10 years, was one of Kacey’s clients. She had always wanted to leave the corporate world and embark on an entrepreneurship journey. Upon seeing the opportunity to do so, the two decided to join hands and start their own ID firm previously called U & Me Interior. In 2019, they did a rebrand and changed the company’s name to Inclover Design to better reach out to their target market and position themselves more strategically. “‘Inclover’ also signifies peacefulness, to be at ease. That reflects our goal to provide our clients with peace of mind during their renovation process,” Kacey says. Apart from residential clients, they have also undertaken commercial projects such as beauty salons and office space.
Kacey was born in a family of artists and crafters, as her father worked in carpentry, while her grandfather was an excellent wood-carver.
Those creative genes were passed on to Kacey as she herself developed a passion for design. She thinks interior design presents many opportunities and allows her to meet people from all walks of life, which is something that she enjoys. “I personally do not like desk-bound jobs,” she shares. With her design background and expertise, Kacey serves as the Creative Director of Inclover Design, overseeing the creative and construction work.
For Jess, switching career paths from a decade of banking experience to becoming an interior designer was quite a change. However, she finds joy in designing beautiful and cozy homes that serve as a shelter and family abode for people to come together and make memories in. “I find this job to bring more satisfaction compared to my previous profession,” Jess says. “I also like the fact that you get to manage your own time, unlike a typical 9-to-5 job. That being said, the stress level is definitely higher and the job is also more creatively challenging.” Using her background as a banker, Jess acts as the Managing Director of the company, being in charge of the financial and business decisions.
In order to set themselves apart from the competitors, Jess and Kacey make sure to be detail-oriented and pay extra attention to the quality of the carpentry work. “We do not buy or outsource 3D drafts from freelancers, like what some of the ID companies do. We oversee everything from the conceptualisation, design, to workmanship and construction work,” Kacey says. “The design has to be innovative and meets the needs of the clients, while still being aesthetically pleasing. There is no single corner that is left unthought of. In terms of workmanship, we really ensure that even the finest details are done well. This is how we believe we are able to satisfy our clients.”
The team at Incover Design also often goes the extra mile in helping their clients make a smart renovation decision. “We are never pushy and encourage our clients to do as much as possible in order to earn more profits. In fact, we often help them prioritise what is important for the renovation. We also provide value-added service by helping our clients with their budgeting, using my financial expertise,” Jess adds.
Their commitment to delivering only the best work proves to be fruitful, as Inclover Design managed to be CaseTrust-accredited in 2019, and also HDB-licensed this year.
Jess and Kacey hope to slowly expand the company in the future. One of the things they are set out to do is to bring onboard more designers with true passion for design. “Ideally, we look for someone who is honest and design-driven instead of sales-driven. The right addition to the team has to be someone who is able to put themselves in the client’s shoes. The ideal candidate also has to possess strong communication and interpersonal skills,” says Jess. “Both Kacey and I are not a ‘yes person’. We will honestly advise clients on the downsides of their ideas, if there is really any. We believe in helping our clients to think long-term and build genuine rapport with them. It is not just the individual client that we are serving, but also potentially their friends and family in the future.”
The same principle is applied in the way they treat their subcontractors as well. Jess and Kacey have engaged the same group of contractors from the start and maintained a good working relationship with them. “We are really grateful that our subcontractors are disciplined in their work, and actually get along really well with each other. In fact, we were connected to some of them through referrals. Our tilers know the plumbers, who also happen to know the electricians,” Kacey shares. This harmonious working relationship proves to be helpful in the renovation process, where sometimes the different contractors may end up blaming each other for any issue that arises on the ground. Fortunately that is not the case for them.
As with running any business, there are times when things get tough and it is easy to be discouraged. For Kacey and Jess, their constant motivation to keep going comes from seeing their satisfied clients. “We make sure to send clients with photos of the work progress from time to time. Even halfway through the renovation, when they see those photos, they really show their appreciation towards us. Those simple yet heartwarming words of appreciation from our clients are what keeps us going,” says Jess.
If given the chance to take up any project they want, Kacey and Jess share that they would like to try their hands on designing and building a landed house from scratch. “The design course that I took was actually more architecture-oriented, so it would be really fun to try doing a landed house complete with a garden, swimming pool, as well as all the interior,” Kacey shares. Being someone who values originality, she does not like to copy existing designs that have been done by others. Instead, Kacy opts for a trip to the beach or a long walk in nature to gain inspiration.
The duo also share a few tips that one should look out for when searching for an ID firm for their house renovation. “Look for a consultant who really listens to your concerns and makes you feel comfortable, instead of being pushy or demeaning. Always try to go for a licensed ID. Lastly, beware of renovation packages that seem too good to be true, as they usually come with a lot of hidden costs later on. Payment terms are also ideally progressive,” Jess points out.
Jess and Kacey highly encourage aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of entering the ID field to be prepared to take risks. “Be realistic with your goals, and know that starting your own business always comes with risks. Make sure that you are financially prudent and have an emergency fund for the rainy days,” shares Jess. Having problem-solving skills is also crucial in their eyes. “Inevitably you will find yourself challenged with criticism, so learn how to overcome those. In this line of work, it is very important to have the ability to think out of the box and rectify any issues that may arise. Lastly, make sure that every unhappy client who comes your way leaves as a satisfied client at the end of the day,” Kacey concludes.