Owner, The Decorating Therapist, Columbia
What sparked your interest in your career field?
I grew up in one of the first houses in a brand-new neighborhood that was being developed and built by my father. My brothers and I watched the new houses being built, and it fired my imagination so much that I would often use my brother’s building blocks and Lego sets to try to build my own. My artistic and talented mother loved to entertain and wanted a beautiful home in which to do so, and she infused our home with her artwork and fashionable style. I may not have consciously thought about it then but can look back now and realize that I learned very early in my life how to appreciate construction and the finer elements of furnishings and design. Combined with a fascination for discovering what makes people happy, I was drawn to a career in architecture and design.
What’s been your greatest professional challenge?
People sharing a home often do not share the same sense of style, and it can create anxiety and emotional paralysis when it is time for them to make design decisions. Once they finally agree to get some decorating therapy, my challenge is to uncover their dreams and the stumbling blocks preventing them from achieving their goals. I help them discover how their surroundings can support their lifestyle and upgrade their mood and then provide design solutions to create a home where they love to spend time.
Several years ago, a woman I knew professionally was unhappy with her home. She and her husband had been arguing for years about how they wanted their home to look, and because they couldn’t agree, they did nothing. Even though he didn’t believe that I could create a home that they both loved, he agreed to get my professional help. The redecorating process took almost a year, and they were both thrilled with the results, and happy that their individual tastes were represented and there had been only a minimum of compromises. She expressed to me that I was the best therapist she knew.
What’s most rewarding about your work?
It’s the happiness factor. I am so fortunate that I can make a living in a profession that I love and that through my skills and talents I improve the quality of my clients’ lives, which is the ultimate win-win. I am passionate about working with them to create their special place where they will thrive and be happy, homes that will nourish them, nurture them, excite them, soothe them — whatever qualities they need and want their homes to provide.
What advice can you offer women trying to establish their careers?
Be passionate about your field and express it. That excitement and enthusiasm will shine through as you discuss your profession with others. Continually educate yourself about your profession to be able to bring the freshest knowledge and products to your clients. Be conscious of listening, a valuable asset to anyone in a service profession with one-on-one interactions, and business and sales training will provide skills and insights that will give you confidence, strengthen your position in your company and also provide the foundation for being an entrepreneur if that’s your goal.