What made you decide to set up your own interior design studio?
I love working with lots of different clients and getting to know them, which I find you can do more when you’re working for yourself. Although admittedly a key part of the decision was really to do with my children. I have twin daughters, Freya and Chloe, who I need to work around like any other parent. Freya also has autism which has meant a very different set of challenges.
She was diagnosed with autism at a very young age. From birth she was different – she was difficult to settle suffering from silent reflux and found it hard to sleep. At 2 years 8 months we received the official autism diagnosis, it was shortly after that we were told by a private speech therapist that she still had no idea about communication – she didn’t recognise her name and couldn’t respond to simple instructions.
What astounded me at the time was the lack of support available for Freya. Feeling isolated, all of a sudden finding good care and importantly a way to bring Freya on was a very big challenge.
I was then approached by another parent who wanted to start a free school for children with autism – I joined the team and one year after starting the process the school was open.
I really wanted to make sure that I could take Freya to school and to see more of both my daughters. It was important that my work was flexible around that. So I made a decision that when Freya went to school I would start working for myself and set up Tracy Holliday Interiors.
We’re lost for words. Tell us more about the school...
When looking for schools for the twins I realised that a mainstream provision may not be the right answer for Freya, especially having just turned 4 and being non-verbal. It was when looking at other schools that I met Jo, the lead parent founder and started this incredible journey with the others to apply and set up the free school.
We particularly wanted the school to follow an approach to teaching children with autism called Applied Behaviour Analysis and feel incredibly lucky to have been approved and to have found an amazing team of teachers and tutors. We are now in our second year and have 58 children – we will eventually grow to 96 children from the ages of 4 – 16 years old. It sometimes feels surreal when I drop Freya at school, it has been the best thing I have ever done – especially when I see how happy she is in her new setting.
Supporting a new school and opening a business in the same year is an incredibly brave decision! How do you find the time to do all of this?
I have created a lifestyle that allows me to ability to flex between the two, however that is not to say that long hours aren’t involved! Managing my time is probably the biggest issue in my job however with the school now open and being ran by the professionals means much less involvement than the early stages. In truth, I love both.
You can find out more about Tracy and her work at tracyhollidayinteriors.co.uk
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Discover Tracy's latest residential project in Kensington: