Pursuing Passion

I have always loved houses. I remember vividly, a conversation with my Dad before going off to college.  He'd asked me what I wanted to study, and I answered something like historic preservation of houses.  In his own, Dad-only-wants-the-best-for-you way, he suggested I pursue something a little more likely to offer, say, a job when I got out of school. 

When I visit with peers and potential clients, they often ask how I got from point A to B.  Let's just say it was a circuitous route.  It seems a bit self-indulgent to post, but my journey might offer some insight to others who may be searching for their True Path, so I thought I'd share.

 
Alison-63.jpg
 

When I landed at The University of Texas (hookem!) I knew it had a renowned School of Architecture, but didn't think it was for me. I ended up majoring in Nutrition, and despite sharing the (dismally-named Home Economics) building with the Interior Design students, I never knew Interior Design existed as a profession. Forgive me, but I thought it was a place-holder degree for women waiting for their MRS. Little did I know!  After graduating, I went on to work in medical sales.  It was a good living, I enjoyed meeting with patients, but I just didn't feel a connection to the sales aspect, and after about five years, decided to leave the business.  

At the time, I was dating my soon-to-be fiancé, and when I told him I was thinking about leaving sales, he (who was just finishing up law school), suggested I get a law degree.   

So, I did what anyone trying to find a fitting career does - wrack up a lot of debt!  In the meantime, my new husband and I were renovating our first home - a 1920s bungalow.  Maybe I should've seen it as a sign that I was WAY more interested in the space planning and finish selections of my house, than I was in keeping up with my studies!  Ultimately, law school was a good experience, I made great friends, but by the time I earned my JD, I think I knew in my heart I didn't want to practice law. But who wants to admit the last three years were potentially a very expensive mistake?  

I floundered for a few years as we moved out of state, started a family, and moved overseas to Brazil.  There's a sort of limbo you go into when you first move to a foreign country.  You know you're not in Kansas anymore, so to speak, but you're also not acclimated to the new culture.  It was in this time of semi-seclusion that I first learned of design blogs.  I poured over blogs written by people who were schooled in Interior Design, were practicing it, and writing about it in a way that showed it in its true, professional light.  It was one of the biggest lightning bolt moments I've ever had - I knew it was what I was meant to do.

I started a blog as a way to channel my thoughts and inspiration about interiors, but being overseas, wasn't sure how to make my way forward with actually becoming a designer.  I used the time in Brazil to absorb as much design as possible - the Country offers a fantastic study of classic mid century design, mixed with cultural aplomb.  There's no doubt that living in Brazil significantly impacted my aesthetic, honing my preference for eclectic design.  It was, in itself, an education in design.

When we returned to the States, I focused on settling our family, and personalizing our home.  Once again, I felt that rush of excitement of having a design project to dig into.  Truth be told, I probably crave renovations more than straight up decorating, but am happy as a clam doing both!  It gave me time to think about how I wanted to pursue a design business in an area where I have no friends or family to do those "freebie" design projects for to build a portfolio.  I decided there was NO WAY I was going back to get yet another degree, but still wanted some street cred, so I enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College's Interior Decorating Certification program.  It's a great program that provides sound fundamentals in the design process, and was just what I wanted in terms of credentials.  

Sometimes, I feel like I'm getting such a late start, but I also can't imagine coming to the table with any different experience.  My story comes through in my work, and I dare say, will ultimately make me a stronger designer.

 

Alison Giese