When Cameron O’Neill tells the story behind the name of his full-service architectural design firm, 2LS Design Inc, he describes growing up with his surname constantly being misspelled as O’Neil with one ‘L.’
The ‘two Ls’ in his company name reveals as much about his sense of humor as it does about his attention to detail.
“Staying on budget and respecting timelines, navigating the miasma of permits, regulations and municipal guidelines that both residential and commercial building projects are subject to — these are things we are glad to offer clients.”
For an architectural designer like Cameron, it’s exactly this type of pragmatic attention that differentiates his practice from other firms. 2LS Design provides the type of wrap-around services that take a client from vision board to finished product.
Based out of Nobleton, Ontario, Cameron partnered professionally with his spouse, the interior designer Kat Velez-O’Neill. The dynamic duo bring architectural design and lush interiors to the residential and commercial visions of his clients — on time and within budget.
Something good from COVID-19
Two years ago, when COVID-19 hit Canada and brought many industries to a halt, Cameron decided to use the rampant permit cancellations, supply chain issues and building delays as an opportunity to go out on his own.
COVID is what started my business! It helped me make the leap from 9-5 to full-time entrepreneur.
Cameron and his wife initially started out by designing homes and additions for friends and family while working full-time jobs for other prominent GTA firms. The results and feedback were extremely positive and they enjoyed the process of working as a team.
They knew they ‘had arrived’ as an independent design firm when they received their first referral.
“We had people in our lives who understood our design ethos and hired us. Then, during COVID, we got our first design referral for a large project and we felt it was a point in time we could make a real go with 2LS. It was a really, truly, a very exciting moment for us.”
Designing their online home
In order to build their customer base and showcase their innovative design skills, Cameron and Kat decided they needed a website.
After researching various options, they decided that GoDaddy’s Website Builder would allow them the design flexibility to create the right visual experience for their clients.
The website had to be an effective introduction to the work we do and display the structures and interiors we’ve created to date.
“As an architectural designer and interior designer we were challenged to find a platform that would allow us to showcase our work the way we intended it to be experienced.”
“We especially liked that we could upload and design the layouts of our own content photographs and 2D and 3D renderings. GoDaddy offers a lot of tools to refine the website so that it really represents our business. The integration between different social media platforms is invaluable.”
We were happy that the website builder was so user friendly.
“Often architecture-focused websites have serious lag and speed issues because of the large, detailed visuals displayed. We were very relieved to have GoDaddy hosting to keep ours loading smoothly.”
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Client and customer impact
“People take you more seriously when you have a website and an online presence. Your company becomes a more viable consideration for architectural work, especially when people lack the time to drive around and tour your completed past projects in real time.”
Cameron notes that the website showcases their ability to bring to fruition the vision a client may have. Many clients know what they want as an outcome but lack the expertise to get there on their own.
This is the essence of his role as an architect — to help people realize their needs through design.
“Clients often know what they like BUT they don’t often know what they don’t like. So the photos and pictures on the website help potential clients by giving them a touchpoint for our designs.
“They provide a reference point in uncovering the designs they prefer as they are still discovering that for themselves.”
Right place, right time
Cameron aims to continue to grow and build 2LS Design Inc. by bringing on junior architectural designers and interior designers as the opportunities for building in Ontario are exploding at the moment. “... currently, many of our clients are either upsizing or downsizing single family homes.”
We also continue to develop current and planned large scale developments.
He would love to one day pass the business on to his two children should they grow up and become interested in the industry, though they are still quite young. ‘Lots of LEGO building and architectural set construction should keep their interest high!” he jokes.
2LS Design Inc is on a roll
For now, Cameron and Kat remain focused on keeping their many projects moving despite the challenges COVID continues to bring to the building industry. Seeing the satisfaction and the positive impacts on clients when they move into a structure they’ve designed is what fuels their passion.
“One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the forecasting of budgets and commodity pricing, which can be unpredictable. I present designs and concepts that are flexible depending on what is happening with supply chains. We’re also careful to build in time for permits and possible construction delays.”
When asked what advice he’d give to those starting out or struggling right now, he responds quickly: “Be more aggressive in your goals.”
Remember, clients are coming to you for YOUR experience, YOUR knowledge, YOUR skill set.
“Anyone who has taken the leap to get a business up and running should bet on themselves. Take the trust a client puts in you and run with it!”
Cameron O’Neill and Kat Velez-O’Neill are available for consultations, architectural design projects and interior design projects and can be reached at 2lsdesign.ca.