– Our Journey so Far – Our Journey so Far

We’d like to thank you for being part of our interior design community. Some of you have been with us from the start in 2003 – others may have just joined us now, and we treasure your choice to learn from us.

Chris and Lee Brown of Willow College

Lee has made a video to explain our journey to you so you can understand how committed we are to educating people on interior design.
See below or read on, whichever is easier.

Watch video by clicking on the following link The Beginning of interiordezine com

Once you have watched the video

Please visit to preregister and start receiving free interior design tips and stay up to date with whats happening. Bye for now.

Others – read on……

Our Journey

For 15 years now, we have been sharing our knowledge of interior design online with you and thousands of other design enthusiasts from around the world. It’s been a journey filled with hard work and hard times and for the last 8 years we haven’t been able to give as much time as we wanted to write new courses or online content – just a few blog posts and keep the website online as we had to get jobs to pay the bills to look after our family.

As you can see from our recent emails we are heading for change, so I thought I would give you our story from the conception of to where we are heading in the next few weeks.

We worked together in Chris’s Architectural Practice, it was a medium sized business of about 10 staff undertaking a wide variety of commercial projects from Hotel refurbishments, storage garages, office fitouts, restaurant and bar remodeling and high end residential properties. Christchurch is not a large city so we had to be adaptable and able to undertake a wide variety of work and often in other parts of the country.

Restaurant and Bar Design

In the year 2000 we downsized the business to just the two of us as the economic climate in New Zealand was very stagnant and there was a hold on most construction development in the country. This business model was efficient and worked well but we needed a challenge.

So, Chris’s brother Tim who worked in IT at the time said, “why don’t you teach what you know online? It’s easy, just set up a website and away you go!” Well for the record it wasn’t easy and it took hours of writing what we knew and researching what we didn’t!

It was a very steep learning curve. In the middle of this we had decided to move to Australia, we sold our house and moved in with my parents on their farm until we had our plans in order. Change of plans – Emily our daughter arrived, and we decided to stay in New Zealand, build a house and keep working on our new challenge –

Emily Brown

We launched on Emily’s first birthday – 1st October 2003. We were very excited.

After a few years of experimenting and learning about SEO (search engine optimisation), the website was a success. Traffic beyond our dreams. Alex our son had arrived by this time and life was very busy. We did one or two design projects a year and worked full time on Life was good.

Alex Brown

We had found a way to deliver ecourses via email, we were still growing and improving our offering to students and casual readers. We had big plans for the ecourses. Corporate sponsorship to keep them free for the student and provide us with an income to write and deliver them. At this stage child number 3 had arrived, meet Charlie, our second son.

Charlie Brown

We decided to sell our house and take the leap to sell advertising or sponsorship direct to United States companies involved in the interior design industry. We had agents that were managing this for us, then one day as Chris was putting lunch on the table – the ground started shaking, Lee couldn’t stand up and everything was smashing around them – it was terrifying.

February 22nd 2011, 12:51 a 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand. It killed 185 people and seriously injured 164, creating widespread damage to the city. It was a day that changed our lives forever. This was the first of thousands of other earthquakes and aftershocks for years to come.

Christchurch Earthquake Damage    Christchurch Earthquake Damage

We were very lucky and so were our family but our city and our normal way of life was pretty much destroyed. This was also about the same time as the Global Recession. Our plan of selling sponsorship for our ecourses and our dreams were now on hold. So off to get jobs it was.

We kept the website online but were unable to add new content or ecourses which was frustrating for us. We both worked for insurance companies to help with the rebuild of our city but it was a very emotionally draining task seeing dislocated people and devastation, feeling helpless on a daily basis, and the rebuild process was slow.

We were also dislocated as we had not purchased another house before the earthquakes hit so we didn’t really have a home and moved several times, living out of boxes. We both took on other roles that had less direct involvement with the earthquakes and we managed to finally find a house.

Christchurch Earthquake Rebuild     Christchurch Earthquake Rebuild

As you can imagine, a vast majority of houses were demolished or needing repair after the earthquakes there weren’t many left to buy so the prices went through the roof. We finally found a house that suited out price bracket, it had been neglected for several years so we set to fixing it and make it our home, whilst still living out of boxes as we could only inhabit half of it!

After working for others for a few years we really wanted to get back to doing what we really loved – teaching design online as we hadn’t forgotten our dreams and passion, our passion to share our design knowledge with you and give you the opportunity to make your life even better. We were still receiving positive life changing feedback from students which helped with the decision to keep going.

Our creative juices kept flowing and coming up with idea after idea until we settled on one – Willow College and flexible learning. A place where you could learn interior design online anywhere anytime in small bite size pieces.

Willow College

With today crazy mad pace way of life it is often a chore to try and upskill and change career, so we decided we would help out and make interior design easily accessible and able to fit into today’s busy schedules.

We will leave this story now as we know your time is precious, but we’re sure you’ll want to know more about where we are heading and how you can be involved in Willow College and what it can do for you. Thanks for listening or reading. We’ll be in touch in a couple of days with the next stage of this journey. Since you made it to the end, please visit to preregister and start receiving free interior design tips and stay up to date with whats happening. Bye for now.

The next stage can be found here –  From to WillowCollege.Com

We are crowdfunding now to get WillowCollege up and running. Please visit from teh links below and take a look at the great early bird Foundation Member deals you can get by coming on board before we launch.

Foundation Member Status Foundation Member 1 Month, Foundation Member 3 Months, Foundation Member 1 Year

Get earlybird subscription rates

Scroll to Top