With her Maltipoo, Brooks, tucked under her arm, Stephanie Bradshaw was ready to get down to business.
Three employees were buzzing about her Clipper Mill office, preparing for a bridal photo shoot. Bradshaw rattled off questions about the session, scheduled for later that day at the Four Seasons Baltimore. Nearby lay the props: oversized dominoes and mounds of candies.
Just as quickly, her attention turned to an upcoming fashion event she's styling at Towson Town Center.
"Do you know any good runway models?" she asked with a laugh.
On any given day, Bradshaw's life can take her in a different direction. She could be producing a fashion event, such as the annual FashionEasta Fashion Show in Harbor East; picking out furniture for an interior design job; or putting the finishing touches on an opulent wedding.
"The business has definitely evolved as the economy has evolved," said the Roland Park resident. "When the economy went down a little bit, I found myself doing a lot of different things."
Bradshaw won't discuss the specific size of her business, but in the past year, it has grown in many directions. She has ramped up her website to sell art and other home decor in the "SB Shop." She moved her creative studio from Cockeysville to the Clipper Mill neighborhood of Hampden. She has increased her presence online and now has more than 19,000 Instagram followers. And she plans to expand into the Los Angeles market, where her employee, Nikki Scott, is opening an office in September.
Although she's still settling into her new digs — an airy space filled with plush couches and colorful art — she's glad she made the move. Bradshaw, 38, feels more a part of city life.
"It's a very eclectic, up-and-coming area," she said. "It's a hidden gem. There is a resurgence in the area."
Bradshaw earned a bachelor's in communications/journalism at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvana but is self-taught in design. She left Gettysburg, Pa., and a job at a national wedding magazine 10 years ago to move to Baltimore. When she arrived, she initially specialized in event planning. But she quickly incorporated other skills — wardrobe styling, interior design, fashion show production — as clients requested her assistance.
"Every month is different," said Bradshaw, who is known for her long, wavy brown hair and flashy high heels. "Right now it's wedding season, so we have crazy brides. We go from the intense work of a wedding to an interior design project that might taken 14 weeks to a photo shoot to growing my brand identify. No day or month is alike."
Martha Morningstar has worked with Bradshaw through the National Association of Catering Executives and in her role as director of catering for the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore.
"She has impeccable taste and great style," Morningstar said. "We tell our clients that she is a true master of interior design and will transform their event into a vision of beauty and elegance."
It's apparent from her work that Bradshaw has a refined eye and a resourceful attitude. She describes her design style as "eclectic."
During a series of conversations with The Baltimore Sun in person, over the phone and through email, she spoke about her inspirations, her fashionable finds and another well-known Bradshaw.
When did you get bitten by the styling bug?
I remember helping my mother move the furniture around in our house. I think it started then.
What's your favorite interior design/structure in Baltimore?
We have some beautiful churches. They remind me a little bit of things you would see in Europe. But we also have some beautiful contemporary buildings. I also like the homes in Roland Park.
What is the most beautiful wedding location in Baltimore?
It really depends on the type of wedding you would like to host. I love the Peabody Library (inside), Ladew Gardens (outside), and the Four Seasons (service and that view). The 24th floor of the Legg Mason building ... has by far the best view of Charm City — hands down.
What's your favorite place for home decor?
I am definitely a designer whose style is eclectic. I mix high-end pieces with consignment shop finds and blend them all together. I love a good "find."
You love a good deal? What's your best recent purchase?
I recently found a vintage midcentury buffet for my dining room for $100. On the fashion side, I am still eyeing a pair of studded Valentinos [on eBay].
Who's your style icon?
It sounds cliche to say Sarah Jessica Parker, but I love that she takes risks and will try anything. The thing about Sarah is that she does the best with what she's got. Kate Moss is another. I like that she is not traditionally beautiful. She's shorter than most models. I like that she walks to the beat of her own drum and that she's able to take risks. Kate photographs well. I also like that they both enjoy fashion.
Are you living a life similar to the characters on "Sex and the City"?
I'd like to think I live an artful life. I surround myself with very smart, creative people, and while I am often in the public eye, it is all just part of the job. It is no secret that I love fashion and style, which makes going to events a fun perk. Oh, and I do think "Carrie" would enjoy my shoe collection.
You have an impressive collection. What are your favorite pair?
I love my studded [Yves Saint Laurent] platforms. They are a little edgy, comfortable and make me feel really tall.
What's the key to great style?
Confidence and not being afraid to take risks.
You tried out for HGTV's "Design Star." What was that process like? Would you ever put yourself out there again?
It was a very long process, and I had to really prepare a great deal with portfolios and video submissions, etc. There were over 8,000 applicants, and I made it to the final 30, flew to L.A. for the casting and then didn't make the final 10. It was certainly a bit disappointing, but a great learning experience. ... I have considered auditioning again, but the business is much busier now, so it would be challenging to get away.
Talk about your new space.
It is about 1,200 square feet and we completely renovated it prior to moving in on Valentine's Day this year. We have great light, and I designed it to be open, efficient and a place that encourages collaboration. The walls are painted light peach, and I love how soft and feminine it feels, yet it isn't really "girly."
What advice do you have for a party planner? A wedding planner? An interior designer?
Love what you do and infuse that passion into your daily work whether it be an event, wedding or interior project. Be thoughtful in the details and always think (in advance) of the type of environment and experience you want to create. Then bring that to life!
If you weren't doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?
I probably would be a creative director for another company. I also would love to be a horse guide on the trails in Colorado or Montana. I definitely have a love of the arts, but a side of my personality that no one sees is that I like to be outside, on horses, and I love to run.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun