Interior designer and blogging inspiration Bryn Alexandra exudes exploration in life and design. As a designer who changed careers and swiftly corralled success, she not only creates intriguing interiors, but also constructs an attainable path from daunting dream to raging reality.
photographs by ashley sellner // written by ariene c. bethea
If you created a Pinterest board called “following your passion” what would you pin? I would create six boards, passion, discipline, organization, drive, boundaries and travel. If you want to be your own boss you have to be passionate about your business. You have to be disciplined about your schedule and getting things done. Organization is critical to have because you have to wear many hats. Drive is what pushes you to do better. You have to constantly keep reaching. It is easy to get stuck in your comfort zone. Boundaries are important since it’s easy to be working all the time with no clock to punch. If you work in a creative field, travel and exploration are important to get re-inspired. You can get stuck in your daily grind, so getting out and re-energizing yourself reminds you why you got started.
You left a career in advertising for a shot at interior decorating. Was there a single incident that led you to follow your heart? Do you have any regrets? My husband and I relocated from Los Angeles to Charlotte for his job. I used this opportunity to launched Bryn Alexandra. Now I work at Isabella Studios as a designer and have no regrets, it’s been the best experience.
What does your typical day look like? At Isabella, I start my day arranging the store, then I put on my blogger hat and start researching stories for upcoming posts. On the retail side, I answer questions and assist customers. By the end of the day, I’m heading home for dinner and then off to catch up on Pinterest for inspiration.
What was your first client project? Were you nervous? Yes, I was nervous! We had a great relationship and they knew I was just starting out in the industry. We became like family. Believe it or not, they responded to an ad I posted on Craigslist for potential design clients. Looking back it was a crazy thing to do, but I lucked out with a great client.
What things did you teach yourself and what did you learn the hard way? You either have a creative eye or you don’t. You can’t teach creativity or style. My advertising background made it easier to transition into design. The hardest thing was learning the business side, like ordering to the trade, and how to bill clients. Practice and research along with the help of other designers was invaluable. You can’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you could have a private tour of anyone’s home, who would it be? Who doesn’t love Jennifer Lawrence and her down to earth personality? I would love to see her home! I bet it’s so warm and comfortable and inviting, just like how she comes across in interviews.
How do you stay motivated and inspired? Pinterest. It has changed the game for everyone. Never has their been a source for easy access to inspiration of new and fresh ideas. Also, travel. I was recently inspired by a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home. The architecture was amazing.
What is the coolest part of your day? It doesn’t happen everyday, but when a vision you have comes to life in a room or window treatment, it’s magical. Clients can’t always see the room as you imagine it, so their reaction is priceless.
You were recently featured in HGTV Magazine, tell us about the experience. It was insane, but very cool. It’s such a big production with props and changing floor plans. We had a great time with the team.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Maybe I will own by own store!
What tips would you give readers about starting their own business?
1. Don’t be too proud to take a junior position (entry level). I started as a shop girl two days a week at Isabella, and I wouldn’t be where I am without that position.
2. Be smart about your decision to start your own business. You still have to pay the bills, so don’t quit your job unless you can afford to.
3. Surround yourself with inspiring people. They will constantly push you to be better.
4. Always ask questions. Seek out people you admire; you’d be surprised
how much information they will share.
5. Make time for yourself. Have a life outside of work; downtime is important.
This interview was conducted early 2014.