Tennille Burnup

Tennille Joy Interiors has been listed in House & Garden Magazines Little Black Book as one of the Best of the Best Designers & Decorators. Tennille seeks to create an extension of each individual client within every interior project that she takes on.


Where did you get the idea for your business?

The idea of starting Tennille Joy Interiors has always been dormant, ready to be unleashed.  Most of my family are business owners so it was natural for me to follow this path. It was still scary though! When travelling overseas, I explored options on how I might step out of my comfort zone creatively. Over time, I discovered that my talents weren’t being used to full potential in a role of the ‘yes boss’ ‘no boss’ corporate style of interior design. The idea of running my own studio gave me the freedom and purpose to help clients achieve their goals in a creative manner.




How did you get your business started?

Four years ago, I dove in head first to launch my business in order to share my eye for design - to help busy people and businesses fulfil their interior design dream. It's been a journey and I'm forever learning and sharing! I established Tennille Joy Interiors in a sliding doors turn of events. The company that I was working for had a business restructure and my department was made redundant. It was the director of this company who suggested that I go out on my own. I took off two weeks to travel and came back excited to launch my business. It was humble beginnings with limited capital outlay, yet a strong sense of self-belief that I could offer a unique personal service to clients. Slowly I built up the business by ticking off the daily list, completing good projects and soaking up as much relevant information about successful business practice as I could. I researched office spaces for a decent amount of time until I found a space where I could establish my business on a long-term basis.

What inspires you the most?

I'm inspired by experiencing the colours of far-off places. Travel has a way of energising my spirit.

One thing that has helped me grow over the last 15 years in the industry is my notebook. It's my bible attached at the hip. I take it everywhere to jot down ideas or sketch through observation - whether at the tram stop, gallery, or meeting with friends. If I need inspiration, I’ll flick through these notebooks to find something. I'm constantly working on my business, my calling, not because I feel like I 'have to' -  it's because I love to.

How important has it been for you to have a mentor?

I have two mentors. They have been there and done it, so to ask their opinion and to listen is truly invaluable. I wouldn’t have jumped out of my comfort zone and taken risks if it wasn’t for these special people in my life.

One of those mentors is my father. He has been a business director for a very long time and learnt the ropes from his father. I have learnt so much from sitting around the family dinner table, especially how to stand up for myself and have inner self-belief.  It's important to have a mentor that you feel comfortable with contacting on a whim. I feel assured that I can pick up the phone and hear my Dad's sage advice when I'm having a bad day.  Everyone needs a mentor, one that aligns with your ethics and keeps you in check. I now feel that it is my duty to delve into helping the next generation of undiscovered talent.

 What are your top three tips for starting a business?

1. Learn from your mistakes. I like to call them ‘tuition fees’ ( a Warren Buffet line). Be open and positive to see what the catalyst is and something good is bound to happen.

2. Live creatively. Create yourself and do it fearlessly. There will be roadblocks along the way, particularly naysayers – listen to them and do the opposite if it feels right. Make those decisions that make you feel exhilarated. It’s your life to develop your own unique approach to everything.

3. Write and review your business goals every three months. Never underestimate the power of writing down your dreams. Are some goals more difficult? Step out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals. Look at the big picture first and then back track on the ‘how’ to make it happen. Create a plan on paper and break down the goals into small steps diagramming or mapping them out. Your comfort zone will become bigger, like a muscle, once the difficult steps of the goals are complete.


Tennille Burnup is a graduate of the RMIT Advanced Diploma of Arts (Interior Design) 


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" Live creatively. Create yourself and do it fearlessly." - Tennille Burnup
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