Going for gold when life delivers unbelievable loss…
We’re honored to welcome Lisa Mende, nationally published interior designer, blogger, mom and three-time High Point Market Style Spotter.
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Dana Helms: Can you tell us about how you got started doing what you’re doing now?
Lisa Mende: I graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1981 with a degree in home economics and a concentration in apparel design/fashion merchandising. I worked as a buyer for a regional clothing chain but the hours weren’t conducive to family life, so I reevaluated my options. I’d helped friends with their homes and returned to school for interior design in 1995 and launched my own design firm in 1998. I happily ran my residential design firm until 2009, but in May of that year I lost my 22 year old son to a kayaking accident on the Tallapoosa River near Auburn , Alabama. I was so devastated by his loss I was unable to work for two and half years. I truly thought I would never work again.
DD: What do you love most about what you do?
LM: I absolutely adore fabrics, paints and various design styles, so to work in a profession where I can engage with all three is sheer heaven.
DD: What’s the proudest moment of your career?
LM: Returning to work when I didn’t think I would ever work again was a proud moment but my proudest moment was being published last year in Traditional Home Magazine with my partner Traci Zeller for the Gentleman’s Dressing Room we designed in the Adamsleigh Show house in Greensboro,NC.
DD: Is there a project that you think of as your absolute best?
LM: I’ve been fortunate to design some amazing projects and one of my favorites was the Hooper- Kyser House which is the oldest house in Chapel Hill, NC. It was built by William Hooper who was the grandson of one of three North Carolinas who signed the Declaration of Independence. In the 50’s, it was bought by Kay Kyser, the famous band leader and his movie star wife, Georgian Carroll. I bought things like Kay Kyser’s original sheet music and had framed for the study. It was a fun project.
DD: Who/What inspires you?
LM: There are so many designers who inspire me like John Saladino, Barry Dixon, Kelly Weartsler, but Tobi Fairley has been my main inspiration. If it had not been for her, I might not be a designer today. She took me under her wing and had faith in me and in turn, I regained faith in myself. I had lost my passion during my grieving and Tobi helped me rekindle the desire to work again.
DD: Has social media changed how you do business?
LM: Before my sabbatical, I never photographed my work or had a website. Once I returned to work, I discovered that everyone engaged in social media and had to jump on the bandwagon. I think it’s good because it allows me to do business anywhere. I love to do e-design with virtual clients.
DD: What advice do you have for others struggling with social media?
LM: I suggest you try to be active on only three social media channels. You can’t be all things to all people, so hone in on what works for your business and do that. If social media isn’t your thing, hire an intern and let them handle it. Make sure you convey your message in everything written if it represents you though.
DD: Can you tell us about what frustrates you about your career or the industry you’re in?
LM: Do it yourself shows on television makes people think that they should be able to get a project done in three days and for much less than it actually costs. I spend a lot of time educating clients.
DD: Tell us about the private Lisa? – What do you love most about your home/life/family?
LM: Life is short so we must make the most of every moment. I love nothing more than sitting in the family room with my family, a fire and watching a favorite television show.
DD: Tell us more about Lisa and what you have accomplished in 2013 that you set out to do and what’s on tap for 2014.
LM: I’ve always wanted to go to Europe but never had the opportunity. In 2013 not only Paris but also London. I was fortunate to receive an invitation from Design Trust led by Steve Nobel of NYC and then was invited to participate in Blogtour London with Modenus. It was an amazing September. In 2014, I have big news but not quite ready to share yet – hopefully soon.
DD: What’s the best advice you can give to someone following your career path?
LM: Get a good education followed by a great internship. It’s important to have a good education to learn history of design and the basics of good design but the real education starts when you are at the hem of an established working designer.
About Dana Helms
When someone says social butterfly, they’re likely referring to Dana Helms. With her ability to wander through conversations online as if she’s hosting a cocktail party, Dana brings awareness and excitement to the social media party. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Catch up with Lisa Mende online: