Interior design plays a significant role in our daily life, making our lifestyle more modern and stylish while also raising the functionality in our life. Designers understand the need of their clients and follow their hearts when it comes to designing the perfect homes and structures. Founded in 2015 to address a need in the renovation industry, Hedgeford & Berkley is one of Canada's top recognized designers. Hedgeford & Berkley has firmly established itself as a design and build firm that turns the traditional approach to construction and design on its head. We interviewed Martha Huk, the founder, and CEO of Hedgeford & Berkley, to know more about its services. Here are a few excerpts of the interview:
Q. Give me an example of a failure and how you changed the outcome to make it a success.
I think when people look at failure, it can be this daunting thought of how inadequate you are in some aspect. You try to feel better by telling yourself the typical, "fail forward and learn from it," but the truth is, failure hurts, and it sets you back. What sets you apart is the relentless nature of not staying down. The truth is that failure is inevitable when you're pushing into new territory because you don't have the gut instinct to guide you yet. A big failure for me was the breakdown of a professional relationship. No matter how hard I worked, this client always wanted more. It turned into a cycle of constantly trying to prove that I wasn't like the others they had hired.
After months of repeating an agonizing cycle, I realized our values would never truly align. They kept saying what I wanted to hear: "we want bespoke, luxury, high-quality design," but what they really wanted was all that, for half the price, mixed in with ever-evolving scopes of work. We painfully severed the relationship, and it took a long time for me to understand why I had continued long after I knew I shouldn't. That, for me, was the failure. It scarred me for a long time because I had never experienced this type of failure. However, my ability to understand whether projects are a good fit has come a long way. I've established the criteria for what it takes for a project to be successful, and since that day, things have been significantly different.
Q. What are the biggest roadblocks you've encountered during a project? How did you resolve them?
All small businesses have gaps, and understanding how to work with different business owners to bridge or sometimes fill these gaps has been essential in working seamlessly together. Before I had my in-house team, I would subcontract many of the trades needed on a project. I soon realized that the standards and manner in which people run their businesses vary drastically. Most trades operate as owners/operators, or maybe they have a handful of employees with them, but the way they schedule, buy material, and complete a job varies a lot. It made planning and relying on them difficult. I created systems that allowed our standards to be met: those who show time management, finish on budget and also were personable and up for a challenge. We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses before a project begins to mesh together from the beginning.
Q. How was your journey with a team of professionals? What learnings did you get?
By trade, I'm a mechanical engineer with a specialty in thermo and fluid dynamics. I taught myself construction, design and project management, and I suppose, entrepreneurship. I thought that if I could teach myself, then others could do the same. And if I were teaching them, it would be even simpler. It turns out I was wrong. Hiring people early into my business was greatly trial and error. If you had the energy and believed with passion in our vision, you were part of the family. That's just a costly way of supporting people you like. This is where the development of thresholds has come in. If I see you in action, it's obvious whether you have it or you don't. Small businesses don't have the luxury of getting it wrong. If you don't have the skillset ready to go, it is a rare candidate who can level up quickly and those you keep forever.
Q. Tell us about your residential and commercial projects.
Our residential projects are for those who LOVE being at home. We create spaces that inspire the homeowner; they create a change in the state of mind, which is why they love coming home. Our residential projects take our clients' dreams of the atmosphere they wish to experience, create the functional backbone and execute it with meticulous attention.
Our commercial projects are boutique in nature. They are highly specialized and meant for the same thing: to create a change in atmosphere for the client who enters. We've designed private recording studios, lounges, and boutique retail. There is one thing you do not get with us, and that's generic design. Every project is completely unique and always pushing the boundaries on bettering the client experience.
Q. How do you help those who are looking to transform their entire home?
We develop the specific elements that the end result must deliver on. These specifics are unique to the client and their needs and are developed through a deep understanding of how they want to experience and use the space. We simplify their life and make them beautiful at the same time. After developing the design plan, we create the construction details, and if it's geographically possible, we execute the design. If we are doing the project from afar, we create detailed construction drawings and installation packages and monitor the build as it progresses. Once the build is complete, it's styling time. We are with our clients every step of the way, and we always are the dedicated point of contact.
Q. Talk to us about your experience of participating in Search for Canada's Next Designer.
This was a funny one. It was terribly traumatic at the time, being voted off the island before I'd even gotten started, but I soon realized that I wasn't like the others, and that was ok. I was on my own path, and when asked to think outside the box, I didn't think like the others did, and it got me sent home. My brain is analytical and solves problems. It's not enough of a challenge for me to just design a beautiful space; I want to dig a level deeper and create the space first. When I should have been focusing on just creating something beautiful, I missed the mark.
Q. Have you planned for any expansion? If yes, kindly brief us on it.
I'm always thinking about expansion. The growth journey is organized chaos, and the excitement of standing back and looking at a completed project is a feeling I don't know if I'll ever tire of. We want to partner with exciting people who dream about beautiful designs. We want to push the envelope of what's possible and create something spectacular.
We recently opened a second office in the Middle East to expand our reach and work globally. Having the ability to work all over the World means it opens us up to finding those one-of-a-kind people who need the technical and creative stronghold we offer.
About the Founder
Martha Huk is the founder and CEO of Hedgeford & Berkley. She is always pushing the team towards growth but also recognizes to take pivotal breaks. One of the most incredible things about leading a small company is the ability to be so agile. Martha has shaped the company so that it can turn on a dime, shift gears and stabilize quickly. The team can restructure and mold to a project's needs because they are both technical, creative, and passionate.