December 30, 2014
Do you often find yourself drawn to someone’s jewelry, purse, or even overall taste in wardrobe before you even speak to them in person? It’s a sense of style that may draw you to that individual, however once you find yourself in a conversation with them you feel that you have found a fellow kindred spirit. Ever wonder why we are so interested in the artist themselves just as much as the art they create? I think it is because we all have an innate sense of curiosity about a person’s background and what might inspire them to curate colors, pieces, textures, et al.
This is one of the reasons I love reading about fellow designer’s and their career history. I think when choosing someone who is going to help you design the environment where you spend hours of your life it only makes sense to know them on a deeper level than what their portfolio may represent (of course, just like that beautiful statement necklace or purse, I hope my designs are what have helped many of my clients find me). After answering some similar questions recently, I thought my blog would be the perfect place to do a quick introduction to my background and where I find inspiration.
I’ve always been a designer at heart, and as such I graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a Bachelor of Science in Apparel and Textile Design. I believe my tenacity and eye for certain lines allowed me to land a position as Assistant Designer for Healthtex where I assisted in creating apparel for the girls division 12 months to 12 years.
In 2010, I had reached Director of Corporate Sales for my company. I felt grateful for my successful career, however I was searching desperately for my creative outlet. I found myself continually being referred by friends for interior design jobs. I finally decided to start a home staging business called Simplicity Staging and Redesign. I became a jill-of-all-trades, creating a website and portfolio to showcase what I had done in the short few months since I had started my endeavor. Soon I not only garnered my first official client, but the calls and referrals kept coming so much so I decided to officially change the name to Simplicity Interiors, LLC. I knew that success could only be attributed to hard work and complete commitment, so in 2013 I resigned from my corporate job and never looked back. I plunged head first, working seven days a week at my new enterprise. My true support came from my husband Scott (a former fireman and policeman), who helped me in my vision to grow my expanding business. As a team in business and life, we grew Simplicity Interiors, soon opening up a storefront in Cornelius, North Carolina, while also meeting the design needs of clients with my design firm Ally Whalen Design.
In October of 2013, Better Homes and Gardens featured a project I had recently completed in Davidson, North Carolina. Soon after Cottage Style magazine showcased my Vermont project and since then I have had the pleasure of decorating both commercial venues and residential homes across the United States.
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing my client’s faces when the project is complete. When possible, I try to plan a “reveal day” so they can see the space in its entirety. The sweet emails, cards, and texts I recieve after they’ve had time to enjoy the space is always so gratifying to hear and read as well. Overall, I feel extremely fortunate to work with my better half and spend time with my children. Wonderful clients, a loving family, and following my true passion- what more could a girl need?
I think the biggest challenge was probably letting go. I was so used to doing everything on my own for several years, so it was difficult to delegate tasks and loosen my grip on the reigns. The other challenging part of owning your own business is just figuring out what works. I made mistakes early on, but I pushed through and figured out how to work more efficiently and effectively. Perseverance truly is the essence of a successful career.
I think the remodeling trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. As we slowly pull out of the recession, I think people are smarter about how and where they spend their money. They are willing to make their home work for them if at all possible even if it means living through a remodel, which having lived through one last year can be challenging, but so worth it.
A typical work day? I don’t think that is possible in my life. One thing is for sure- It certainly is not boring. I usually have a strong cup of coffee with Scott and cuddle my youngest daughter on the couch before our day gets started. I then drive my oldest daughter to the school bus, return home for a quick shower and then out the door. I’m either heading to a client briefing or to the shop to do a little work before a project meeting. If I’m with a client, we are either picking out furniture, looking at fabrics or shopping the marketplace. When I’m in the shop, I’m either working on proposals, placing orders or playing store with my daughter who is known as the “shop helper.”
Boy, hard to say because it’s been such a whirlwind since leaving my corporate job. I would have to say when I was flying to Canada for a wedding in September 2013 and seeing the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens on a newsstand in the airport. It was incredible to see the kitchen project I had completed spread across the glossy pages and my name in print. I think I may have plowed over a dozen people trying to get to the racks and then I kept squealing…thank goodness they had no idea who this crazy girl was drooling over the magazine. My clients and family have truly helped me achieve the career heights I have reached today, and I am so thankful for the opportunities that have come my way thus far.